Tuesday, August 21, 2007


A story in today's Washington Post notes that the state of Virginia was one of the top sources of guns used in crimes in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas, in addition to D.C., Maryland, and Virginia itself.

One of the experts the Post called on for a comment about this was this guy:

...Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, said he was surprised that Virginia's guns were turning up in significant numbers in other states -- 530 in New York, 301 in North Carolina, 140 in New Jersey, 110 in Pennsylvania, and so on.

"We have stricter laws than a lot of these states where the guns are showing up," Van Cleave said....

So, how do you get your name in the paper this way? By being a thoughtful, serious, sober-minded individual? Well, as the Post made clear in a profile of him back in '04, Mr. Van Cleave doesn't exactly fit that description:

Van Cleave ... always carries a gun because you never know when you'll need it....

Something of a night owl, Van Cleave likes to take walks around the lake in his subdivision around midnight. When he does, he "double carries" in case an assailant knocks one weapon out of his hand. It's not about fear, he said. "Who would do that if they were afraid? The word is preparedness."

... he [has] learned that an assailant with a knife can cover 21 feet in 1.5 seconds, that a bullet can travel 1,500 feet per second....

"I know the odds are slim that I'll ever have to use this. But you've got one life," he said. "If it got into a life-or-death situation, the person without a gun would take themselves out of the gene pool. And I would carry on."

Van Cleave has never shot a gun outside the shooting range. He's never had to draw one. He's never been the victim of a crime "except when someone stole my radio." Since 1984, he's worked out of his home in a quiet, planned community with neighborhoods named Willow Glen and Duck Cove, writing software. He rarely goes out, he said, "except to the grocery store."...

So, basically, to get your name in the paper, it helps to be Dwight Schrute.

No, that can't be it. Maybe it's that you have to have a well thought-out approach to foreign policy:

...Van Cleave shares the view of gun groups that it establishes the right to defend yourself, to defend the country against outside attack and "to take back your country should it ever become a totalitarian state."

"We're not envisioning America being taken over anytime soon," he said. "But with al Qaeda, you never know. The citizens will probably need to secure their own homes and restore order until the government got back on its feet."

Yup -- al-Qaeda will invade America, defeat the U.S. military, and turn into an Islamofascist theocracy ... but a few guys in gated communities with guns will soon have everything straightened out "until the government got back on its feet."

I'm joking, of course. Van Cleave gets his name in the paper, as the story notes, because his organization has many friends in Virginia government and has successfully lobbied for a long series of pro-gun changes to Virginia law:

...Although the league is visible and tenacious, its true power comes from the General Assembly, considered one of the most gun-friendly legislative bodies in the nation. Gov. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat who openly courted the National Rifle Association to win election, signed 15 pro-gun bills into law in the last session alone.

In two separate and largely unnoticed actions in recent years, lawmakers in Richmond overturned the right of cities and counties to make their own gun control ordinances. In 1987, lawmakers prohibited localities from making new gun control laws. This year, they wiped out any gun regulations that existed prior to 1987. Gone was Alexandria's handgun ban. Gone was the 60-year-old Fairfax County law requiring a three-day waiting period for gun purchases....

Er, Phil, didn't you say in the first story that Virginia has "stricter gun laws" than other states?

Oh, and his group also did this:

...The Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights group, organized the "Bloomberg Gun Giveaway" in large part to thumb its nose at New York's mayor. Bloomberg drew gun owners' ire by launching a series of out-of-state stings against gun shops suspected of allowing illegal straw purchases of firearms....

Yeah, that silly Mike Bloomberg -- he thinks the lax climate in Virginia guns is leading to the use of Virginia guns in too many crimes.

Hey, so what if he's right?

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