Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Well, here's your political landscape: Senate majority leader (and possible future GOP presidential candidate) Bill Frist is rejecting a compromise with Democrats on votes for judicial nominees (he must have gotten an earful from religious conservatives for even talking to Harry Reid), and now, in Florida, Governor Jeb Bush (also a possible future GOP presidential candidate) has signed an NRA-endorsed bill that gives residents of his state carte blanche to shoot anyone they feel threatens their lives, in private or in public.

Gee, aren't we always being told that it's the Democrats who are too much in thrall to their interest groups?

I'd be worked up about this gun bill, but I actually don't think it's going to lead to more shootings. It's clear that most gun-owning Americans already feel they have the right to shoot anyone at any time when they feel threatened, regardless of the law -- think of Rodney Peairs in Baton Rouge:

Yoshi Hattori was headed to a Halloween party in Central on Oct. 17, 1992, when he and a friend knocked on the wrong door. After Hattori didn't obey commands to "freeze," Rodney Peairs shot him in the chest. Lewis Unglesby, Peairs' attorney, has said his client was protecting his home and family from what he thought was a threat. A jury later acquitted Peairs of manslaughter, but the Hattoris won a civil lawsuit against him.

For that matter, think of Bernhard Goetz, who turned a subway car into a shooting gallery when he felt threatened by four black youths, in the gun-control city and state of New York.

(Incidentally, a generation after the Goetz shooting put him on the cover of Time magazine -- "Rising Fear of Violent Crime ... Public Anger at the Justice System," the cover read in part -- we learn that New York City, with its still-strict gun laws, is on track to have its lowest murder rate in forty years. Hey, John Lott, what was that again about "more guns, less crime"?)

Meanwhile, Wayne LaPierre wants you to know that he thinks the entire country is now the NRA's bitch:

Mr. LaPierre of the N.R.A. said his group would introduce the [Florida] bill in every state, and he predicted it would win broad national support.

"We will start with red and move to blue," he said of the states. "In terms of passing it, it is downhill rather than uphill because of all the public support."

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