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Take a step back and think

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I promised that I would expand on my thoughts for liking fossil fuels and nuclear power, and I will do so. However, first let us take a step back and think for a moment about the hottest "hot button" issue, guns and regulation of their use.

Watching the news coverage of various anti-gun marches last weekend I noticed signs calling for the police to be disarmed, no armed guards in schools, lots of anti-NRA signs, and a host of others. Lots of speeches were made, but only one side of the issue of violence in our society was presented. Many demands were made to ban "assault weapons" although nobody really explained what a legal definition of an assault weapon would look like. There was a lot of confusion on technical terms; many believe that the "AR" in AR-15 stands for "assault rifle." It actually stands for Armalite Rifle, the "15" being the model type.

We've tried a national "assault rifle" ban before, from 1994 to 2004 without any noticeable effect on crime. It didn't stop the Columbine High School massacre in 1999: The shooters used illegally purchased weapons via a straw buyer (who went to prison). The massacre that occurred in the Australian state of Tasmania, leading to a virtual elimination of privately possessed firearms in that country, involved a weapon previously recovered in a buyback program and scheduled for destruction. It was illegally sold to a gun dealer who then sold it to the shooter. No police officer was ever prosecuted as far as I know for that illegal transaction but hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Australians lost their privileges to own firearms. Australia has neither a Second Amendment nor a Bill of Rights, so they have only those rights the government in power chooses to grant them.

We have a 2,000-mile open border with Mexico, which bans the private possession or ownership of firearms. There's an obvious exception for the drug cartels who routinely murder police, judges, and anyone they choose while smuggling truckloads of drugs, people—and if the market exists—firearms into the United States. There are many downsides for allowing open borders as France discovered a few years back. Private ownership of firearms is virtually nil in France yet terrorists managed to smuggle automatic weapons across the European Union into France and murder more than a hundred virtually defenseless people. French cops also carry guns, unlike the Brits, where one man with a tire-iron can chase 10 British policemen around a car as none of the police were armed. It's a great YouTube video but a very sad reflection upon British law enforcement.

The Parkland Valentine's Day shooter didn't use high-capacity magazines, which were also called to be banned in many speeches. He was 19 with a long history of mental illness and violent behavior, (none of which seems to matter to anti-NRA and Second Amendment opponents) but was given a pass for discipline and arrest by an Obama Justice Department program that demanded that fewer kids be moved into the justice system; too many minority kids were being snagged. The shooter slipped through the system because he wasn't in the system far enough to be on a list of ineligible firearm purchasers.

I don't like tube-sock solutions as many seem to be proposing. Banning everyone under 21 (without exceptions) the right to purchase any firearm leads to absurdities like the city of Atascadero being required to purchase the sidearm for a newly hired police officer who had made it through the academy, rigorous background checks, and psychological testing by age 20. Such a ban would have denied thousands of returning WWII veterans basic rights after piloting bombers, fighters, and heroically leading troops in battle, like Audie Murphy, who won the Medal of Honor and a battlefield commission before he was 20. Thousands were under the age 21 at the end of the war. Colonels leading thousands of men weren't even 30 years old; it was a young man's war.

I will digress into a partial defense of my views on energy and why I would like states like California not to be able to block energy development.

Several decades ago, the media hyped toxic waste dumps, a genuine problem. Congress created the Superfund to clean up the worst toxic waste sites. During the first decade of the program, about 85 cents of every dollar spent went to environmental law firms without a shovel of waste removed. Far too little of the funds allocated by environmental legislation goes to actually improving the environment. As for energy exploration, a company can spend a decade and a billion dollars on studies and permits, receive permissions, and then be blocked by a citizen lawsuit at the last hour.

A trillion dollars in energy assets lies beneath our feet and would easily fund a plethora of socially conscious programs. A full-on program to develop our oil and natural gas resources would collapse international energy prices and demolish the Russian arms build-up without firing a shot, as oil and gas, which props up the Russian economy, is about the only export Putin and Company have that anyone wants. Δ

Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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