The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com
Rapist Empowerment Bill Passess Committee
by Ari Armstrong, April 24, 2001
On April 23, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to strip legal adults ages 18-20 of their Constitutional right to purchase a handgun for self-defense. Because women under 21 are the most likely victims of rape, the bill would assure rapists their victims are more likely to be forcibly disarmed.
Extending the strategy of declaring every targeted freedom a "loophole" which should be closed, State Senator Doug Linkhart said, "We need to close the handgun loophole." The four Democrats voted for the bill; the three Republicans voted against.
The discussion was educational. The arguments in favor of the bill include the following (as Dave Barry would say, I'm not making this up!):
- Both President Bush and Governor Owens support the measure. (John Head, Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease)
- Because Robyn Anderson bought long guns at a gunshow for the Columbine killers, no 18-20 year old should be able to purchase a handgun. (Senator Doug Linkhart)
- Alcohol purchases are illegal until the age of 21. (Linkhart, various)
- Handguns are not useful for hunting. (Linkhart)
- The bill still allows possession of a handgun in some cases by a legal adult ages 18-20, just not the purchase of a handgun. (Linkhart)
- 18-20 year olds don't NEED the right to purchase a handgun. (Senator Sue Windels)
- Because 18-20 year old gang members murder each other with guns, no 18-20 year old should be able to purchase a handgun. (Linkhart, various)
- Some 18-20 year olds commit suicide with a gun. (Linkhart, various)
- The right to bear arms is not absolute. (Head, various)
- We need to "balance rights and public safety." (Linkhart)
- State law should mirror federal law in restricting the rights of 18-20 year olds. (Linkhart, various)
- Because some 18-20 year olds may not purchase handguns, no 18-20 year olds should be able to purchase handguns. (Linkhart, various)
- Following a Denver law prohibiting possession of a gun by a minor, youth crime went down. (Bill Ritter, Denver DA)
I replied to many of those points during my testimony. In order, here is a quick rebuttal to each of the arguments made in favor of the bill:
- After the hearing, I offered to pay to enroll John Head in a logic course at any regional college or university. Please contact me if you wish to contribute to the "John Head Logic Education Fund." Head's argument is something akin to the logical fallacy of "appeal to authority," except neither Bush nor Owens are authorities on anything other than acquiring power over others. Perhaps future logic textbooks will include a variation on the fallacy of appeal to authority: appeal to a RINO.
- Even Senator Ken Gordon admitted Linkhart was "mistaken" in his use of the example. He also said we might come back next year to address further restrictions.
- a) The Constitution does not enshrine the right to drink alcohol. b) Alcohol is not essential for defending one's self or one's family against violent criminals. c) The age to buy alcohol should be lowered to 18. As Ayn Rand might say, "The chickens have come home to roost."
- The Colorado Constitution explicitly upholds the right to bear arms for self-defense. Hunting is not a right guaranteed either by the federal or state constitution.
- So it's ok to restrict the purchase of books and newspapers, just not the possession.
- Our government is not one based on what our legislators deem we NEED. Rather, it is based on unalienable individual rights.
- Gang members already break all the gun and drug laws on the books and are already expert at operating on the black market. Interestingly, it was Windels who noted gun violence is driven by gang violence, yet she voted for the bill anyway. More gun laws will not alleviate gang violence, and if anything will make it worse.
- The availability of guns is unrelated to the suicide rate. Suicides can easily choose alternate ways to kill themselves. For instance, the suicide rate in Japan is roughly 2.5 times the rate in America, yet suicides don't shoot themselves in Japan.
- True, the First Amendment does not permit one the right to violate others' property rights by, say, yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. A two-year-old does not have the right to sign contracts or to purchase firearms. However, rights are "absolute" for adult citizens who respect others' rights. 18, 19, and 20 year olds can be drafted, sign contracts, get married and have children, and vote. They clearly have the right to bear arms, whether or not the legislature chooses to recognize this right.
- We cannot achieve safety by sacrificing individual rights. It is only by upholding individual rights that we will ultimately achieve a society which is both free and safe. The safety-freedom dichotomy is a false one. In reality, you can't have one without the other.
- State politicians should demand the repeal of tyrannical federal laws, not seek to further entrench them.
- Notice the trend here. The politicians violate a right in a relatively minor way. Then they claim that, because of the inconsistency in the law, the right must be completely abolished in order to "close the loophole." This argument is used explicitly against the rights guaranteed in the First and Second Amendments.
- Bill Ritter's simplistic before-and-after comparisons are meaningless. Denver crime went down after I bought a pair of Doc Martins. What's incredible is that Ritter, so obviously ignorant of statistical reasoning, has the gall to criticize a first-rate scholar like John Lott.
The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com