Chris Powell Ammunition, vaping bills distract from public health
Just days after two Democratic state legislators — Rep. Jillian Gilchrest of West Hartford and Sen. Will Haskell of Westport — proposed, as a public health measure, taxing ammunition at 50 percent of its price, gun violence exploded again last week in New Haven and Bridgeport.
In New Haven four people were shot, one seriously, in three incidents within 24 hours. In Bridgeport a woman was killed in her home by a shot that came through her second-floor window following a brawl on the street outside.
The New Haven and Bridgeport shootings will be claimed as arguments for the punitive tax on ammunition, but that will be as silly as the proposal itself. For in the depraved world of the underclass in Connecticut’s cities, bulk purchases of ammunition are not necessary. Just a few bullets here and there at the strategic moments of crime will do the job. A single box of shells might last a gang of thugs for a whole month.
No, a punitive tax on ammunition will impede only target shooters and hunters.
Since the right to bear arms remains in the state and federal constitutions and a gun isn’t a weapon without ammunition, a punitive tax on ammunition also would be dubious constitutionally — as dubious as, say, a punitive tax on printer’s ink, which also might be framed as a public health measure by people aggrieved by “fake news.” For printer’s ink gives off fumes and can be a pollutant, even as it is essential to another constitutional right, freedom of the press.
Of course Gilchrest and Haskell are not really pursuing public health at all but trying to impair a constitutional right they detest, just as some conservatives are always trying to put irrelevant impediments in the way of abortion, a constitutional right they detest. Gilchrest and Haskell also are trying to distract from the catastrophic failure of Connecticut’s poverty and urban policies.
Guns and ammunition have not caused those failures. For while gun laws and ammunition tax rates are the same throughout the state, there were few shootings in Connecticut last week outside New Haven and Bridgeport. Gun crime is epidemic only where welfare policy has destroyed family formation and concentrated the poor, robbing children of fathers and causing the social disintegration over which Gilchrest and Haskell now will help to preside so obliviously.
With their ammunition tax Gilchrest and Haskell pose as liberals, but liberalism used to pride itself on addressing the causes of problems, not mere symptoms. Today liberalism aims mainly to use mere symptoms to distract from causes, now that ministering ineffectually to symptoms comfortably employs so many liberals. Actually solving any social problem might put them out of work. So results are never audited and false premises are never questioned.
The liberal Democrats who control the General Assembly are about to legalize marijuana for recreational use, less out of any realization that drug criminalization is futile than in hope of gaining tax revenue that can be spent on other policies that don’t work.
Meanwhile some of those legislators propose to criminalize certain electronic cigarette “vaping” flavors believed to be especially appealing to children. Proscription of “vaping” flavors also is being called a public health measure, as if marijuana doesn’t cause health problems and as if legalizing it won’t sharply increase its availability to minors.
Nothing correlates with physical and mental health problems for kids more than their growing up in a fatherless welfare household. But the “vaping” flavors ban will distract nicely from that too.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.