Sunday, January 02, 2005

Blagojevich & Gun Control

The Tribune had an editorial today about how Rod Blagojevich has softened his anti-gun stance since he went from the U.S. Congress to Illinois' governorship. Although my rabidly pro-gun father probably assumes that I am anti-gun since I have mostly liberal views, I think the word that best describes my feelings about the issue is apathy. I went target shooting plenty of times with my dad when I was younger. The hobby never caught on with me, but I don't have any problem with people who enjoy it. As a Chicago resident and the spouse of a police officer, I am concerned about gun violence, but I am not convinced that legally restricting gun ownership is going to solve our problems. I also believe that no statistics regarding guns exist that are not heavily tainted with bias from either side. Without a personal interest or reliable data, I choose not to take a strong stand on the issue. (For what it's worth, I thought Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's attempt to hold gun manufacturers responsible for gun violence was a ridiculous pursuit, and the courts recently agreed.)

There was one part of the Tribune article that irritated me, though:
Another initiative, an attempt to hike the fee for gun owner permits to help pay for better enforcement of gun laws, has become an absolute non-starter with Blagojevich. At $5 for five years, less than half the fee to camp at a state park for one night, the gun permits are one of the biggest bargains in a state government where Blagojevich has been pushing fee hikes left and right to make ends meet. The nominal gun fee, however, has become sacrosanct with the governor, largely because he pledged never to raise it during his campaign, to mollify the gun lobby.
Many pro-gun people say that what we need is not more gun control, but better enforcement of the laws we have. If they really believe that, then why would they oppose raising the permit fee to enforce those laws? (And as a small business owner whose fees have doubled during the Blagojevich administration, it bothers me that gun owners don't have to pony up extra money to help balance the state budget like I do.) One dollar per year is ridiculously low--people probably lose more than a dollar in change every year just getting their keys out of their pockets. Why not quadruple or quintuple the fee? It certainly wouldn't be a barrier to gun ownership if gun owners had to cough up $25 for a five-year permit.

The gist of the editorial was that Blagojevich grandstands about issues of dubious import, and I agree with that. While video games are more graphic and lifelike than ever, video game violence is a tired old issue. Perhaps he's just trying to jump on the post-election morality bandwagon (although the importance of "moral values" was way overblown). I would think that our governor would have more pressing concerns.

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