Monday, February 27, 2006

Gun Nuts: It wasn't that long ago that people could carry guns openly in public. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia says he even used to carry a rifle on the New York Subway decades ago (via Volokh). Now such casual bearing of arms would incite immediate cell phone calls to the police.

This is a shame, on a number of levels. There is no doubt that the world has changed since the days of Scalia's youth. Crime is much more of a problem today, especially on the NY Subway. However, the crackdown on guns hasn't had a demonstrable effect on crime.

As a result, though, there is now an irrational fear of guns among the public. There was a time when many people were comfortable handling and firing a handgun or rifle. Now the very thought of one sends some people into conniptions.

Kids are being educated that there are no safe uses for guns. A high-school student was told she couldn't include in a class project images of Marines holding rifles. And officials at an Indiana middle school erased the musket out of a mural of the school's mascot -- a Minuteman from the American Revolution.

Such unfamiliarity and paralyzing fear make society less safe. Guns should be respected, not shunned. Unfortunately, if you read on in Volokh's comments, this ignorance is spreading to even the handling of a basic lock-blade pocket knife.

People tend to fear what they don't know or understand. And it is these same people who want more and more gun restrictions. This is another area where simple education and familiarity will not only enlighten, but also save lives.


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