Gun Free Zones for Politicians

Some smart-aleck petitioned the White House to eliminate armed guards for politicians, perhaps on the grounds that what is good enough for the little people is good enough for our leaders.

Gun Free Zones are supposed to protect our children, and some politicians wish to strip us of our right to keep and bear arms. Those same politicians and their families are currently under the protection of armed Secret Service agents. If Gun Free Zones are sufficient protection for our children, then Gun Free Zones should be good enough for politicians.

If gun free zones really deter people from committing violence with guns, then we could save a lot of taxpayer money by just putting up gun free zone signs all about the White House, right? The White House doesn’t agree with that reasoning.

Thanks for your petition.

We live in a world where our elected leaders and representatives are subject to serious, persistent, and credible threats on a daily basis. Even those who are mere candidates in a national election become symbols of our country, which makes them potential targets for those seeking to do harm to the United States and its interests. In 1901, after the third assassination of a sitting President, Congress mandated that the President receive full-time protection, and that law is still in effect today. Because of it, those who are the subject of ongoing threats must receive the necessary and appropriate protection.

At the same time, all of us deserve to live in safer communities, which is why we need to take responsible, commonsense steps to reduce gun violence, even while respecting individual freedom. And let’s be clear: President Obama believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. You can see him talk about that in a previous petition response:

But the common-sense steps the President has proposed don’t infringe in any way on our Second Amendment rights. We ought to be able to keep weapons of war off the streets. We ought to close the loopholes in the background check system that make it too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to buy guns — an idea that has the support of 90 percent of people in the United States.

That’s why the President and an overwhelming majority of Americans are calling on Congress to pass gun safety legislation that closes loopholes in the background check system and makes gun trafficking a federal crime.

A minority in the Senate is blocking this common-sense legislation to reduce gun violence, but President Obama is already taking action to protect our kids with executive actions. He is taking the steps available to him as President to strengthen the existing background check system, give law enforcement officials more tools to prevent gun violence, end the freeze on gun violence research, make schools safer, and improve access to mental health care.

I am not sure the person tasked with responding to the petition quite gets the point. The people in charge of the President’s security have a

Please start shooting here. No one will stop you.
Please start shooting here. No one will stop you.

good idea what works to keep him safe and what does not work. They must know perfectly well that declaring the White House a gun free

zone and disarming his Secret Service detail would be a disaster. Why would anyone think that declaring a place a gun free zone would work anywhere else? Isn’t that as good as telling a criminal or lunatic that he is not likely to run into much resistance?

More to the point, are any of the policies that the President proposes likely to be effective at reducing crime? There doesn’t seem to be a link between stronger gun control laws and reduced crime. Many of the jurisdictions with the strictest gun control laws seem to have the most gun crimes. On the other hand, the general liberalization of gun laws over the last decade or so doesn’t seem to have increased the crime rate. I am not sure I understand the president’s urgency on this issue, given that violent crime rates have been dropping for the last two decades. Maybe it beats talking about the economy or the mess in the Middle East.

Hey, this is my 1000th post. I didn’t think I could keep this blog going for so long.

Message from Maryland’s Martin O’Malley

Martin O'Malley, Governor of the U.S. state of...
Martin O’Malley, Governor of the U.S. state of Maryland. Enemy of freedom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bit of alliteration there. Anyway, I recently received a fund raising e-mail from Martin O’Malley, the governor of Maryland. He wanted to inform me of Maryland’s recent success in curbing gun violence and urged me to support the Democrats.


Throughout my career as a prosecutor, city councilman, mayor of Baltimore, and now governor of Maryland, I’ve had to attend too many funerals for men, women, and children who have lost their lives to gun violence.

I’ve spent my career working with law enforcement to drive down violent crime, and I am happy to say that today, we are taking another step forward toward curbing gun violence.

Yesterday, our state legislature passed a comprehensive public safety package that will make sure fewer mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters will lose a loved one to gun violence in Maryland.

What is this comprehensive public safety package? He doesn’t say. Here are some details, courtesy of Fox News.

The measure would require people who buy a handgun to submit fingerprints to state police, bans 45 types of assault weapons, and limits gun magazines to 10 bullets. It also addresses firearms access for the mentally ill.

Maryland will become the first state in nearly 20 years to require potential handgun buyers to submit fingerprints to state police. Only five other states have a similar requirement: Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

Gun control advocates say the fingerprinting requirement will help keep guns away from criminals, because it will make people reluctant to buy firearms for those who are not allowed to have them. Opponents say the bill erodes Second Amendment rights and ultimately penalizes law-abiding citizens without focusing on lawbreakers.

Although the measure bans 45 types of assault weapons, people who own them now will be able to keep them. People who order the weapons before Oct. 1, when the law would take effect, also would be able to keep them.

People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility won’t be allowed to have a gun.

The first question that should be asked about all of this is will this legislation actually reduce crimes committed with guns and will the public be any safer as a result. In general, criminals will likely be less affected by any tougher gun control laws than law abiding citizens for the simple reason that being criminals, they are not likely to obey any particular laws. This is not necessarily an argument against the Maryland legislation. It may well be that the benefits will outweigh the costs. The costs have to be considered, though. Is Governor O’Malley prepared to divert law enforcement resources to suppressing the illegal and semi-legal trade in firearms that will develop? Are these measures worth the irritation and aggravation they will cause people with a legitimate need for guns? Will they actually prevent enough crime to make it worth the trouble?

I notice that Governor O’Malley describes the legislation he signed as “a comprehensive public safety package”, without mentioning the detail that this safety package seems more designed to make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to obtain firearms. Why doesn’t he just openly and honestly say something to the effect that he thinks that private possession of firearms causes gun crime and that it is a matter of public safety to discourage such ownership by making the process of obtaining them by private persons as onerous as possible? Why are the Democrats pushing “gun safety” and not “gun control” as they used to? I imagine because they can’t afford to be so honest. American public opinion has been becoming more libertarian in the past few decades, and Americans are less impressed with the idea of government controlling much of anything they were  half a century ago. Note that our recent economic recession did not push American public opinion towards favoring bigger government as liberals had hoped it would. Public opinion has also shifted against the government telling people what guns they can own. So, the Democrats have had to change the slogan.

Here is more from Governor O’Malley.

Even though the proposal is supported by a large majority of Marylanders, we had to work harder than ever before to pass it into law. The interest groups who oppose actions to reduce gun violence are powerful, entrenched, and well-financed, and they fought us every step of the way in Maryland — just as they’re fighting tooth and nail to block any action at the federal level.

The governor does not cite any polls so I have no idea how many Marylanders actually supported the legislation. It would probably depend on how the questions were framed. If asked, “Do you support the proposal to limit gun violence?’, an overwhelming number of people would say “yes”. If the question was, “Do you support a law that will make it more difficult and onerous for citizens to acquire firearms with the ultimate intent of prohibiting gun possession altogether?”, then even in deep blue Maryland an overwhelming majority of people would expression their opposition.In any event, the number of people who support the governor’s proposal is irrelevant. Our constitutional rights are not decided by popular vote, nor is any law a good idea, just because a large number of people support it.

The comment regarding the powerful and well-financed interest groups is a curious one, if you stop to think about it. The idea seems to be that there is one course of action that is obviously the right one and which is best for the common good and anyone who opposes this action can only oppose it because they are selfish and uncaring of the common good. Hence, the unnamed special interests (the NRA or Gun Owners of America) oppose Governor O’Malley’s proposals not because they may think they are bad ones or that they have better ideas, but because they are selfish and maybe even want to see more gun violence. In practical terms this idea of special interests versus the common good means that the persons who are most affected by any proposed legislation, the ones with an interest so to speak, are the same persons who ought not to have any influence on that legislation.

What will happen next in Maryland? I have no idea. It is likely that the new laws will be tested in court and there is an even chance that they will be overturned. Gun stores in Maryland will be making record sales and profits until the new laws go into effect. Crime may well increase and this will be taken as a sign that Maryland’s gun control laws are not tough enough and need to be strengthened. Maybe they will end up banning knives and clubs. Or, maybe politicians like Martin O’Malley will someday learn to leave people alone.Well, I can dream.


Well, I’ve gotten my first assignment from Organizing for Action. I am supposed to forward this e-mail.

David —

President Obama has asked Congress to pass legislation to help protect our kids and reduce gun violence — and we need to do everything we can to help. Forward this email — and spread the word today:

Tell Congress it's time to act to reduce gun violence.

The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw this was the old classic advice from everyone’s mother; if 92 of all Americans decided to jump off a bridge, would you jump too?

Without commenting on the advisability of universal background checks, I would say that it does not matter to me in the slightest whether 10% or 99% of the population supports any given policy. If it is unconstitutional, it is still unconstitutional, no matter how many people are for or against it. If it is a dumb idea, it is still a dumb idea no matter how many people support it. If Obama’s people want to convince me that something they want is desirable, then they are going to have to give me good and logical reasons to support it, not just tell me to support x because everyone else wants it.