Pistol Pique

By Bill Maher

A state legislature can't just up and decide that gun violence is a plague and ready access to guns does more harm than good, so they're going to ban sales of certain types of guns - say the semi-automatic kind - within their borders. They can't because the Constitution says something about "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." Which, if I'm if reading our founders' original intent correctly, means we get to take a machine gun to the movies.

So, California didn't ban semi-automatic handguns, but they did pass a law that requires all new semi-automatic pistols sold in the state to have micro-stamping technology, which encodes each bullet casing, matching it to the gun from which it was fired. The idea is that law enforcement can then trace bullets used in crimes back to the guns that shot them and their registered owners, giving the cops a huge leg up in their investigations.

Well, Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger said they're not going to abide by the new law and, instead, will stop selling new semi-automatic handguns in California. Good. Good riddance. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

Now gun nuts - I mean "Second Amendment proponents" - are pitching a fit that California's new micro-stamping law is just an end run around established gun rights and a de facto ban on new semi-automatic handgun sales in the state.  

I say, "So, what if it is?" Conservatives use nibbling-around-the-edges laws all the time to establish rollbacks of rights they don't like. Take abortion: an established, Supreme Court-verified right. They can't ban it outright, so they employ their version of California's micro-stamp law: imposing pre-abortion trans-vaginal ultrasounds, requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges and mandating unnecessary equipment and certifications for abortion facilities.

You can't say these tactics are fair game when it comes to the rights you don't like and an outrage when it comes to the rights you hold dear. Maybe we should call some sort of truce with conservatives: you stay away from hoo-hoos and we'll stay away from handguns.