Tuesday, December 23, 2008

America's New Sacred Rite: Purchasing a Gun

There are a couple more weeks before the new Oklahoma state legislature will convene for the first time with Republicans in control of both chambers, and many legislators have indicated several bills they intend to submit. There are at least two sales tax bills of interest. One bill from state senator Jay Paul Gumm would repeal the state sales tax on groceries. A similar bill died last year. Another bill from state representatives Eric Proctor and state senator Kenneth Corn (both Democrats) would repeal the state sales tax on guns and ammunition. This bill may gain traction. After all, owning a gun has become more sacred than, say, owning an Ipod or a Wii or a Tickle Me Elmo or any other consumer good.

After a several-decades-long movement by the conservatives in this country, guns have been converted from a mere tool to a sacred constitutional symbol. Hunters are now revered more because they are outspoken gun owners than because they provide food and/or clothing (because usually they don't). Citizens wanting in on this constitutional street cred need only to defend their purchase of a handgun by saying they intend to defend themselves and their family. Suddenly buying an item in a sportsman's catalog on par with fishing rods and tackle boxes becomes a sacred constitutional duty on par with voting and saluting the flag. And the legislative effects of this mentality of reverence for guns are spreading.

Eric Proctor, author of the bill that would eliminate sales tax on gun purchases in Oklahoma, used all of the right talking points when describing the need for such legislation.
“As Americans, we should not have to pay a tax to exercise our constitutional rights – especially our Second Amendment rights."

It's exactly the same as a poll tax on black people, you see.
"In Oklahoma, we have a long tradition of sportsmanship and hunting that precedes statehood and we should protect that heritage."

It's true, except before statehood it was the tribes with the weapons and the goal was surviving the winter.
"People shouldn’t have to pay a tax to the government if they need a gun in the home for self-protection,” Proctor said. “No matter what, the responsibility to protect your family is greater than the state’s need to generate taxes.”

And yet, house alarm systems, cars with airbags, sunscreen, bicycle helmets, and net nanny software all shockingly keep being taxed.

Another piece of legislation likely offered in the upcoming session is the issue of concealed weapons on college campuses. There are many legislators who are in favor of forcing Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma to allow individuals with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus. Private entities are already forbidden from banning guns brought onto their property by their employers. Defenders of such legislation argue that students having weapons on campus would stop other students from having weapons on campus.

This November Oklahomans approved a ballot initiative that enshrined hunting in the state constitution. No one really knows why this was even an issue. No one was challenging the existing hunting regulations, and the ballot initiative didn't create any new regulations or modify any old ones. But many defenders were afraid that some group like PETA or the Humane Society would try to fight a legal battle at some point in the future, so they decided to go ahead and officially deify gun-toting hunters.

But it was completely unnecessary! In Oklahoma, it would be hard to come up with more lax gun laws. There are no gun registrations, no bans on assault weapons, no requirements for childproofing guns or mandates that would require guns to meet certain safety standards, no licensing for gun dealers, no background checks at gun shows, no license requirements for handguns, and no restrictions on buying guns in bulk. There are laws forbidding city and county governments from suing gun makers or enacting gun control laws stronger than the state's, and laws forbidding police from keeping records on gun purchases.

Gun sales were widely reported to be on the rise after Barack Obama won the election in November. Many idiots thought that immediately upon inauguration, Barack Obama would take away the ability to purchase a gun, if not make guns entirely illegal. Along these same lines of thought, expect many more knee-jerk anti-regulation gun bills to come through the legislatures of many states.


Jacob said...

Pass a mandatory gun ownership law out there and I'll be really impressed.

Steve said...

Maybe in a couple years.