Monday, February 07, 2005

A Surprising Editorial in the NYT

A fellow named Walter Olson has an editorial in yesterday’s New York Times. Now you might be thinking that it must be an anti-gun hit piece. If so, you’d be wrong. Olson criticizes New York City for a regulation its mayor signed recently. It would sue gun sellers and makers

unless they adopt a "code of conduct" that, among other things, would limit the number of handguns they can sell to one person and require background checks on prospective buyers at gun shows. The strange thing about this new law is that it applies not only to sales within New York City, but also to sales in other states and cities.
He points out that the law is just too New York for the rest of the nation:
…it's an act of aggression against citizens of other states to try to control gun sales nationwide, as the new ordinance would do. The residents of Georgia, Idaho, Indiana and Vermont happen to prefer a different balance on gun liberty, and New Yorkers have no more right to pass a law overriding their chosen policy than, say, social conservatives in Salt Lake City or Cincinnati have a right to pass a law about the sale of alcohol or indecent literature in New York - no matter how annoyed they may be that some of those products make their way into their states.

However, the new law could backfire further and give Congress even more impetus to pass a lawsuit immunity bill for gun makers and sellers:
Mr. Bloomberg's new law is likely to serve as a prime exhibit of the case for federal pre-emption on the issue of gun liability. The new city law makes it absolutely clear that anti-gun enclaves intend to inflict their will on other states. Lawmakers from the rest of the country will then, appropriately, move to defend their states' preference through federal legislation.

I fervently hope he is right. Go read the rest of his editorial (registration is required).

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