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Goldilocks Gun Control
Written by Timothy Wheeler, M.D.

Timothy Wheeler, M.D., is the Director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership

Once upon a time, a congressman learned about .50 caliber target rifles.  “Those guns are too big!” the congressman said, and so he introduced a bill in the Congress to outlaw them. But soon he found out that some people owned tiny little guns. “Those guns are too small!” the lawmaker warned, and he introduced another bill to outlaw them, too.

At this writing, Rep. Rod Blagojevich from Chicago, unlike Goldilocks with her porridge, has not found a gun that he considers just right.  Discriminating observers of political flimflammery would deduce correctly that he doesn’t like any guns and would ban them all if he could.  Rep. Blagojevich and his coauthor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, chose their buzzwords carefully. Their “Military Sniper Weapon Regulation Act” is crafted to portray .50 caliber target shooters as “terrorists, doomsday cultists, and criminals,” in the words of Sen. Feinstein.

In reality, owners of these big guns are the exact opposite of the villains that Feinstein and Blagojevich want us to believe they are.  Most are like John Burtt, a retired police officer with the demeanor of a Sunday school teacher.

As spokesman for the Fifty Caliber Shooters Policy Institute, Burtt has the task of undoing the legislators’ hatchet job on the sport of .50-caliber target shooting. In testimony before Congress he revealed the truth: the typical fan of this arcane sport has the demographic profile of…a golfer.

The average .50-caliber enthusiast is a successful businessman with an annual income of $50,000 or more. Of the 2,600 members of the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association, at least 75 are physicians.  A group of civilian experts on .50 caliber technology, the association freely shares its research findings with law enforcement and military authorities.

Weighing in at 30 pounds and sporting a 29-inch barrel, the .50 caliber rifle is not exactly the weapon of convenience for street criminals.  Contrary to claims from Blagojevich, there is only one known instance of a crime being committed with a .50 caliber gun.  It turns out that most .50 caliber target shooters are the kind of people we would want as neighbors.  When Blagojevich’s House colleagues learned the truth about “military sniper weapons” his bill screeched to a halt.

Undaunted by his failure to demonize big gun sport shooters, Blagojevich now is going after the owners of small handguns.  His latest bill has the ridiculous title of the “Pocket Rocket Elimination Act.” The congressman wants to send to prison for five years anyone who owns “the easily concealable pistols known” — only to Blagojevich and his staff — “as pocket rockets.”

Rep. Blagojevich defines a “pocket rocket” as any handgun that can hold two or more rounds of ammunition and measures less than seven and a half inches long.  But how would anyone unfamiliar with firearms know that his arbitrary definition encompasses many high quality firearms carried by police and used by civilians for nearly a century?  How many voters would know that Rep. Blagojevich’s seemingly good-faith effort to stop crime is in fact an outrageous deception?

From assault weapons to trigger locks, from sniper rifles to “pocket rockets,” the inflammatory rhetoric of gun control advocates teaches us little. But it grievously harms innocent gun owners in the court of public opinion.  That, of course, is the goal of gun control advocates. But not all efforts to ban guns are characterized by the crude mendacity of the Blagojevich bills.

The more sophisticated variety of gun controller calls for “common sense” measures, such as photo licensing of handgun owners. Often, this line is prefaced with a solemn oath that the right of hunters and sportsmen to pursue their hobbies will not be infringed.

But from the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans this summer came a stunning declaration from the Clinton-Gore administration.  It bluntly contradicts this promise to hunters and sportsmen. U.S. Attorney William Mateja laid out the White House’s position: the constitution does not guarantee an individual right to own a gun, and in fact allows the federal government to “take guns away from the public.”

So there you have it. All heirs of the great American tradition of firearm ownership, you are on notice. For if Americans give up their right to own firearms they will become a nation of subjects, not citizens. And that’s the kind of America that liberal politicians think would be just right.

Visit Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership More on the Second Amendment

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