Or, rather, ON target as far as the agenda is concerned.
The Weeks case is interesting for the light it sheds on “straw purchases,” meaning the purchase of firearms by buyers with clean records on behalf of felons or others who are legally ineligible to buy them. Mr. Weeks did not avail himself of the services of a straw purchaser; he bought his guns with a falsified Indiana identification card because he himself was under investigation for being a straw purchaser, a gun bought by him having been found to have been used in an armed robbery. You will not be surprised to learn that this was not Weeks’s first encounter with the law. And yet he was out and about, with nobody keeping an eye on him, though thousands of government employees are deployed to monitor the actions of law-abiding, federally licensed firearms retailers. That is what I mean by anti-policing.
The truth is that law enforcement is fundamentally unserious about prosecuting straw purchasers, and about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals broadly speaking. Doing so is, to put it bluntly, too much work for a unionized American government work force, whose idea of a good anti-gun program is the buyback: offering up taxpayers’ dollars in the hopes that criminals will bring the guns to them. (Way to work that shoe-leather, Joe Friday.) From the police’s point of view, criminals are an inconsiderate bunch: no fixed address, very little record keeping, no scheduled hours of operation, etc. Criminals do not keep appointments or offer even minimal cooperation. It is a lot of work keeping tabs on a Carail Weeks, or on an Eric DeShawn Floyd, a felon with at least 17 priors on his rap sheet who was involved in the fatal shooting of Philadelphia police sergeant Stephen Liczbinski during a botched bank robbery. (I wrote about the case here.) It’s a real challenge. Some cops are heroes; 100 percent of them are government employees.
Which is why Traver and the other gun-control types have focused their attention instead on gun dealers, provoking sufficient controversy to distract the public from such uncomfortable questions as: “Why exactly was a felon with a 17-count criminal history walking abroad to rob and murder?” . . .
The truth is that all these lavishly recompensed and richly pensioned cops and lawyers on our public payrolls have neither the will nor the wit to keep up with the most dangerous and dedicated sort of criminals, for the reasons catalogued above. Criminals are a pain in the butt by definition. Gun dealers, on the other hand, largely are law-abiding citizens by definition. (Try getting a dealer’s license if you’ve got a criminal record.) Gun dealers keep lavishly detailed records. They usually operate out of a fixed place of business and keep regular business hours. They will accept and keep an appointment, and most of them are quite keen on cooperating with law-enforcement authorities on all matters related to their business. They pay taxes and have phone numbers in the Yellow Pages. And that is why the Eliot Spitzers and Mayor Joneses of the world are coming down on them: because it is convenient to do so.
Which is to say, we treat law-abiding citizens like criminals because they are law-abiding citizens, not criminals. It is hard to keep up with the Weekses and Floyds and sundry trash of this world, but it is really easy to get law-abiding citizens to abide by the law. They sort of do it all on their own. That is the kind of law enforcement that you can execute with a donut in one hand and a BlackBerry in the other, from a sedentary position, which is the preferred position of the publicly employed. And when you want to look like you’re doing something, you can always pass some more laws and watch with great satisfaction as law-abiding citizens abide them.
LATER: Be sure and see the letter from the ATF Association Board defending Traver in the comments section.)