L. Neil Smith's

Number 9, June 1996

Bad Laws Have Unintended Consequences

by John Taylor

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         There has never been a better example of the immutable law of unintended consequences than that which has recently ensnared the governor of Maryland, the Baltimore Sun and its columnists Michael Olesker and Mike Littwin.
         These stalwarts have two particular things in common. They all favor so-called "gun control", and they all are incensed over recent incidents involving two hapless students who were expelled from their schools for violating a rule against the possession of"pepper spray" on school grounds.
         That these two students were punished for trying to protect themselves is the only crime evident in the two separate incidents. Neither student gave any indication of exhibiting criminal behavior, or intent.
         What continues to perplex me as time goes by is that those who are most indignant never seem to get around to pointing out that they themselves are the ones largely responsible for these students' actions having been made unlawful in the first place. Yet they continue to harangue a school system career bureaucrat who, so far, has merely enforced to the letter a rule of their own creation.
         The same legislation that has rendered it more and more difficult for ordinary citizens to purchase, possess, carry, and use firearms in Maryland has had the same effect on various other tools of self-defense -- like pepper spray.
         But have any of our elitist friends -- the Sun, the governor, or the "Messrs. Mike" -- pointed out that it was their unreasoning and slavish support for these unconstitutional measures that put these students in the situation they find themselves today? Not that I've been able to discern.
         Have any of these defenders of the practice of victim disarmament mentioned that their latest effort -- the "gun control" law passed this past legislative session, the one still waiting for the proper "media moment" to be signed -- "ups the ante" on punishable offenses by criminalizing the act of merely providing pepper spray to a minor, whether sold, traded, or even given away? If so, I've not heard of it.
         Have any of these would-be power-brokers pointed out that it was previous "gun control" laws that insinuated into the Code of Maryland wording that makes it a crime for these students to possess pepper spray in the first place -- possession on school grounds notwithstanding? Perhaps I just missed it.
         As long as people like Olesker and Littwin, the Sun, and the governor (present or past) continue to draw no distinction between a criminal act with a weapon and otherwise lawful possession of such a self-defense tool, ordinary citizens will continue to be persecuted by the state while criminals laugh at us all.
         Even now, when these slow-witted "protectors" realize that something is wrong, they seem incapable of making the simple logical connection between these cases and what firearms owners have been telling them all along. They continue to come at the problem from the only angle they can understand. And, therefore, they will continue to fail in their efforts to reduce crime while everyday citizens remain disenfranchised.
         As long as the state insists on attempting to protect us from ourselves by denying us the means of self-defense, women will continue to be denied a means of warding off assault; residents of high crime areas will remain defenseless against predation; and citizens everywhere will continue to be artificially deprived of or restricted from some of their best options for defense of themselves and their loved ones.
         These are the unintended consequences of "gun control". And it gives firearms owners of Maryland precious little pleasure to be able to point out that we have repeatedly told you so.

John Taylor is the Maryland Coordinator of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus

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