mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Feel-good, do-nothing lawmaking

Last month I went to a gun auction. As they were running through the pre-auction stuff, they mentioned that people would not be eligible to purchase a handgun unless they had a card saying they had passed a hunter safety class (or other, more difficult to obtain documents like a gun dealer license or be a retired police officer). I didn't have one, so I turned around and left.

I'm hoping to buy a handgun in the near future - I want something small and cheap for occasional target shooting. There are a bunch of people from work who usually organize a cabin trip in the next month or two, so I wanted to get it soon - which meant I had to look into getting it fast. I figured it would be hassle.

Turns out it's not. You can actually get it online just by watching a half-hour online flash presentation, and then print out a PDF of my certificate. So I completed it today at work, running through the video while I waited for PC's to finish imaging or rebooting.

The video is there, according to the website, in order to meet the requirements of the Maryland Gun Safety Act of 2002, which requires people to take a gun safety class.

Now, I'm pretty libertarian, especially on stuff like gun rights - I would love to see things like concealed carry in Maryland, which I know will never happen. Still, it's hard to argue that making people take a gun safety class before purchasing a gun is too much of a restriction - it is good for people buying a gun to know how to use it. But the online class is useless - it doesn't teach much beyond the obvious ("don't point a gun at anything you don' want to shoot"), and there is no accountability - no test or other proof that you actually learned anything.

The law sounds good in theory - let people buy guns, but make sure they know how to use them. It sounds great to say that people who have purchased a handgun have had to take a gun safety class. But the class itself is pretty pointless, and nobody really gains anything from it. It's the kind of law that sounds good, but when you look at what it actually consists of, is entirely pointless.


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