Different standards for different "communities"?

In what I think is an attempt at divide-and-conquer, Philadelphia legislators who first introduced a statewide gun registration measure are now seeking to impose local gun control -- limited to Philadelphia:

State Reps. Angel Cruz and Rosita C. Youngblood yesterday announced another effort aimed at reducing the flow of guns in Philadelphia, this time by allowing the city to create a gun-registry system.

Surrounded by reporters yesterday in his storefront office on North Fifth Street, Cruz said "something has to be done" to ease the wave of gun violence that has gripped the city.

Cruz said that while law-abiding citizens purchase guns, "bad people buy guns, too. This way we will know who has the guns."

Bad people buy guns? Yes, I suppose they do. But they (convicted felons for the most part) aren't allowed to buy guns under existing laws. The only people who will register their guns are law-abiding citizens. Not only will criminals not register them, they don't have to, because forcing felons to register their guns violates the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, as it compels them to be witnesses against themselves (by admitting they are felons in possession of firearms).

Thus, Cruz's comment that "We will know who has the guns" displays both a lack of common sense as well as a lack of knowledge of the legal system.

Hey, he's the legislator; I'm just a citizen. (Or should I be happy that the people who seek to take away my constitutional rights apparently have no idea what they're doing?)

The authors of this legislation seem to think that criminals will comply with the law:

Both legislators, however, conceded that their efforts have little chance of passing.

Cruz's original legislation, House Bill 760, called for establishing a statewide gun registry for anyone who buys a firearm. It also would have established a $10 registration fee for each gun purchased.

"If we could establish a significant gun registry system for the city, we could track illegal guns and discourage people from selling them for illegal purposes," Cruz said in a statement.

Again, illegal guns are not going to be registered. Nor would any registration scheme prevent legal guns from being stolen by or otherwise diverted into the possession of felons. The most that any registration scheme could hope to achieve would be to record the fact that at the time of registration, a gun was owned by a particular citizen. If the citizen was planning on selling it to a criminal, why on earth would he register it? The statement that registration would "discourage people from selling them for illegal purposes" assumes not only that criminals would obey the law, but that they are incredibly stupid.

The legislators expressed surprise that anyone would think they are trying to take away rights:

After receiving vocal opposition to the statewide registry, Youngblood last month offered an amendment that would limit the measure to Philadelphia.

She said gun owners in other parts of Pennsylvania have responded angrily to the idea of registering their firearms.

"People thought we were trying to take away their right to bear arms," said Youngblood, who represents parts of North and Northwest Philadelphia.

Youngblood said that by focusing the registry on Philadelphia, "I'm trying to relive some of the fear and stress out there," in other parts of the state.

I'm not quite sure what that last statement means, but I'm assuming it's a typo and that she meant "relieve." It is to be sincerely hoped that gun owners outside of the city limits of Philadelphia will not be "relieved" to hear that only Philadelphia will affected by unconstitutional laws.

It's probably worth pointing out that the Constitution was drafted in Philadelphia, at what was known as the Philadelphia Convention, with the Bill of Rights being officially added in Philadelphia in 1791. Did the founders know that Philadelphia's future leaders would consider the birthplace of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to be exempt from their provisions?

Cruz thinks it is, and he makes a statement I find absolutely incredible. According to Cruz, the people of Philadelphia are very different from the people in the rest of the state.

"The communities that I represent in Philadelphia are very different than many other communities across this commonwealth," Cruz said in a statement. "In other parts of the state, they hunt animals; in Philadelphia, guns are used to hunt people."
I'd say Cruz takes a rather dim view of the "communities" he claims to be representing.

Maybe he thinks Philadelphians won't notice.

I almost didn't. This was a small piece buried on page B-2 of the "Local News" section in yesterday's Inquirer.

How I fit into the Angel Cruz view of Pennsylvania, I don't know.

I don't hunt animals or people. While I recognize the legitimacy of hunting animals, I consider it only peripherally related to the right to keep and bear arms. But, hunter though I am not, I think characterizing the murder of human beings as "hunting" does hunters everywhere a grave disservice. Considering that "more than 80 percent of Philadelphia's cold-blooded killers have criminal records" (and thus do not typify Philadelphians at all), I think Cruz's statement does an even more grave disservice to Philadelphians than to hunters. Cynic though I am, I think it's one of the most outrageous (to say nothing of condescending) statements I have ever seen from a public official.

Or am I missing something?

(Maybe the rule is it's OK to say things like if the goal is to infringe on the Second Amendment.)

posted by Eric on 05.02.07 at 08:10 AM


I live in Canada with gun registration and part time in Finland where gun control is even more strict.
Criminals have guns, illegal not registered, get tough with criminals not gun owners.
In outright prohibited gun ownership people
kill other people with, knives, clubs, fire,
bombs, poison, strangulation need I go on.

Hugh   ·  May 2, 2007 9:16 AM

Merging the issues of gun control and dog control, I can't resist this old trick of modifying the above speech to this;
"State Reps. Angel Cruz and Rosita C. Youngblood yesterday announced another effort aimed at reducing the flow of DOGS in Philadelphia, this time by allowing the city to create a DOG-registry system."

or, even more ridiculous;
"State Reps. Angel Cruz and Rosita C. Youngblood yesterday announced another effort aimed at reducing the INFLUENCE of BLOGS in Philadelphia, this time by allowing the city to create a BLOG-registry system."

Sickening, ain't it?

_Jon   ·  May 2, 2007 1:13 PM

Thanks Hugh!

Jon, next you'll be saying blogs don't kill people!

Eric Scheie   ·  May 2, 2007 9:02 PM

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