Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Yesterday the voters in my town decided that it should be against the law for anyone to possess a handgun in the city of San Francisco. Handgun owners in SF are supposed to surrender their weapons to the police by April 1, 2006. The thing I wonder about is, who is going to pay for the pistols?

The average Glock costs between $500 and $700. Some Smith & Wesson's are over $1000. Why should a citizen be forced to just "give" that away? If the police are taking handguns away from people who purchased them legally, then the city should compensate the owners for the purchase price. I didn't see that written in to the law anywhere.

The other aspect of this that strikes me as interesting is that gun violence in SF is largely due to criminal activity. So, what makes SF voters think that criminals either A: bought and registered their weapons legally in the first place, or B: will obey a law to turn their weapons in to the police? If I'm the sort of person who is not afraid of killing someone (which is against the law) why on earth would I be afraid of hiding my gun from the cops?

This new law is completely misguided. It penalizes a small percentage of SF residents who like to go down to the range on Saturdays and shoot their S&W40's. It does nothing to address real safety concerns for all weapons, like mandatory trigger locks, or mandatory separate locked storage for ammunition.

People shouldn't carry handguns on the street (or any other weapon for that matter). Trigger locks should be mandatory for all firearms. Firearms should be stored in a locked room or cabinet. Ammunition should be stored separately in a locked cabinet. And people on both sides of this issue should should stop being so damned paranoid. Gun owners: odds are you will NEVER defend your home using a gun. Gun opponents: odds are you will NEVER be shot at (and if you are, odds are even slimmer that it will be with a legally owned weapon).

I am not a raging redneck. The NRA scares me. I'm socially liberal. I am a reasonable, thoughtful, clear headed person, and I think that there are better ways to deal with gun violence.

There is a business opportunity here: It is illegal to possess a handgun in the city. So why not open a handgun storage facility in Brisbane or South San Francisco? For $10-$20 a month, you could store your handgun in a locker in a locked, guarded facility outside the city limits. Then when you want to shoot, you just stop at your locker before heading to the range. It's not an ideal situation, but it beats handing over your $1200 .45 Auto to the police.

Here's another interesting article on this issue.