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Wilson Blasts a Hole in Logic

When Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed a bill last Friday banning the manufacture and sale of cheap little handguns in California, he complained that the measure would not keep guns out of the hands of thugs but would deprive the law-abiding of affordable protection. Criminals, the governor said, prefer the safer and more expensive models. So, he said, the legislation would punish the average Californian who wanted a weapon, albeit a small, shoddy, unsafe one, for self-defense.

This is the man who accused proponents of Senate Bill 500, by Sen. Richard G. Polanco (D-Los Angeles), of engaging in flawed logic--of ignoring “the obvious fact that millions of law-abiding Californians, including a growing number of women, have felt the need to own concealable weapons.”

This is logical? The criminals have the good guns, so honest folk should have the junk ones? And what logic is there in having a small, concealable weapon when it’s against the law to carry a concealed firearm without a permit issued by a law enforcement agency? Such permits are very difficult to obtain in most counties. During 1996, only 1,177 permits were issued for all of Los Angeles County.

And if it’s good for the average person to have small handguns, wouldn’t it be even more logical to make sure that everyone has one? How quickly what the governor calls logic becomes absurdity.

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We agree with Wilson about getting tough on thugs. Indeed, the day before the gun bill veto he signed into law a measure that adds from 10 years to life to the sentence of a person who used a gun while committing the crime. That’s good. California needs to be tough on gun-toting criminals. But we also need to use every weapon at our command to limit their access to guns in the first place.

The Legislature should revive its commendable assault on junk guns when it reconvenes in January.


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