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Jewish World Review May 1, 2000 /26 Nissan, 5760

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports


Zoo tragedy triggers dumb reaction -- LIKE BROOKE SHIELDS and her Calvin Klein jeans, there are few things that come between Al Gore and his campaign fund-raisers. Neither rain nor shine. Neither law nor conscience. Neither respect for his office nor concern for our national security.

But in the middle of a money-grubbing event in New York City last week, the vice president made an exception, and interrupted himself for good reason: an irresistible opportunity to exploit a tragedy.

Gore announced that yet another gun-related drama had unfolded in the nation's capital. The shooting happened at the National Zoo in broad daylight. At least six kids were wounded, including one boy who took a bullet to the head. Police believe the incident may have been gang-related.

While delivering this somber news to his deep-pocketed Democratic donors, Gore failed to note that Washington, D.C., already has some of the strictest gun-control laws on the books. Instead, he intoned: "We really have to have mandatory child-safety trigger locks." Heads nodded, tongues clucked, and Gore's gun-control buddies resumed dining on filet mignon in the welcome presence of armed Secret Service agents.

Gore believes a trigger lock mandate would have stopped the fugitive hoodlum who reportedly used a 9 mm handgun at the D.C. zoo shootout. But possessing handguns inside the Beltway is already illegal. The city's Firearms Control Act of 1975 banned the sale of handguns, with a few exceptions for law-enforcement and security personnel. The quarter-century-old law also requires registration of all firearms previously purchased, and background checks for those seeking to register those weapons.

What makes Gore think gang members and drug dealers will abide by a new mandate when they have spattered gallons of blood all over the paper thicket of existing regulations?

Image-conscious Republicans have now embraced trigger-lock sale mandates with the same zeal as Vice President Gore. Last month, New York's GOP governor, George Pataki, called for mandatory trigger locks for all guns. And GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush has pledged repeated support for requiring that trigger locks be sold with guns.

Craven strategists in both parties point to recent polls showing popular support for mandatory child trigger locks. But when given the chance to vote directly on the issue, an overwhelmingly majority of Americans will oppose such mandates for the transparent political gimmicks they really are. In left-leaning Washington state, for example, a whopping 71 percent of voters rejected a 1997 statewide initiative requiring trigger locks on all guns. The measure, Initiative 676, was funded by such closet gun-grabbers as Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, and backed by national gun-control advocacy groups, led by Handgun Control Inc.

Yet, even the reliably pro-gun-control editorial board of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer opposed Initiative 676: "The initiative has no stated effect on crime or the criminal use of any firearm, except to criminalize what has been the legal possession of handguns." Liberals in Washington state realized what politicians in Washington, D.C., continue to ignore: Trigger locks may be a cheap and easy way to dull the senses and distract from the monumental failure of regulatory fixes for violence, but requiring the sale of these mechanisms won't do a thing to prevent fatal accidents, make schools safer, or rein in thugs.

Trigger locks are the crime-policy opiate of the elite. Republicans should be clearing the smoke, not inhaling it.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate