Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Democratic Response Is Annoying

I was listening yesterday to the Democratic response (no transcript seems to be available) to Gov. Pataki's State of the State Speech when I had to pull over and applaud Sheldon Silver for his bravery in bravely taking a brave stand in support of such unpopular causes as gun control and locking up sexual predators. Bravo... why don't you come out in favor of mom and apple pie while you're at it? I mean, really, this wasn't even an attempt at a real response; Sheldon was just up there patting the NY Democratic party on the back and spewing talking points. Pataki's speech referenced guns exactly once, and didn't mention sexual predators at all. They ought to drop the pretense and just call it the "Democratic State of the State Address". And why, oh why, are they focusing on these two issues? Could it be because they're... <dana carvey>easy</dana carvey>? I took a look at the changes to existing gun laws that they're going to implement and, really, they all appear to be minor tweaks in how violations related to gun trafficlking can be prosecuted. When a public official gets up and leads an address with "we're fixing illegal gun trafficking" I would surmise that the public expects more than "we're making the sale of a single gun a violent felony offense". And that annoys me as well. Selling a gun isn't violent, so why classify it as a violent offense? The obvious reason is that making it a violent offense tacks on larger penalties, which I think is the wrong approach for two reasons. One, classifying a non-violent act as a violent offense totally ruins the notion of having a special category for violent offenses. Two, it falls prey to the belief that increasing a penalty for a particular crime causes a meaningful decrease in the occurrence of that crime. That approach doesn't appear to work for the death penalty, so absent evidence to the contrary I have to believe that it will be totally ineffective in the case of gun trafficking as well.

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