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Put an Uzi on the Bridal Registry By: Chris Weinkopf
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, July 09, 1999

AS A GROOM-TO-BE, I find myself discussing subjects I never before considered—combined checking accounts, gold-versus-platinum wedding bands, china patterns. My fiancée and I try to be thorough in our marriage preparation, covering all potentially difficult topics, like finances and child-rearing, well before the wedding day. So far, it’s been remarkably easy—no substantive disagreements—but we hit our first snag on Tuesday, when the love of my life asked if we could agree "never to keep a gun in our home."

Lifelong fidelity, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health—for me, these promises all come easier than the thought of waiving my right to bear arms. Which is strange; no one in my family, myself included, has ever owned a gun. I’ve never even held a loaded rifle or pistol, let alone fired one. I have no idea how to maintain, load, or aim one properly. Even if my bride had no objections, I would probably never buy a firearm.

But implicit in the wedding vows is the obligation of a husband to protect his wife and future children by any means possible. Consenting to my fiancée’s request might have calmed her nerves, but it would have compromised my ability to live up to that nuptial commitment. God willing, our home will never need a gun—we will live in a safe neighborhood, with a burglar alarm and a German shepherd. There are times, however, when even these safeguards are not enough. Our home is Los Angeles, which only seven years ago hosted three days of rioting. Police stood idly by as thugs ransacked and looted their neighborhoods. Should our family ever be so imperiled, I want no limits on our self-defense.

After hearing these concerns, my fiancée, who is as reasonable and brilliant as she is beautiful and dear, relented. We agreed that we would only buy a gun if we felt a pressing need for one. It’s an imperfect compromise, as pressing needs seldom announce themselves ahead of time, but it balances my desire for protection with her reluctance to keep a lethal firearm in a house that will likely contain carefree and mischievous toddlers.

Unfortunately, it’s not wholly tenable. If, because of civil unrest or a serial killer operating in our part of town, my future wife and I ever feel the need to buy a gun, we will be thwarted by a waiting period—forced to remain defenseless for ten days while the criminals we fear have free reign. Like all gun-control legislation, waiting periods apply only to those who choose to honor them. Murderers, robbers, and rapists—people the law rarely dissuades—can easily obtain their weapons in restriction-free black markets. As for victims of "crimes of passion," whom waiting periods nominally exist to protect, they are the most at risk. Their assailants can arm themselves immediately, while they must wait in terror.

The only legal way around the waiting-period hazard is to anticipate any potential calamities, and purchase a gun well in advance. In other words, all Americans should be armed at all times—a prospect gun-control advocates surely never intended when crafting such legislation. It’s inconsistent with their oft-repeated warning that household guns are more likely to kill innocent bystanders than intruders. (A disingenuous claim, as most weapons used in self defense need only be brandished, not fired. Only one in every 90,000 defensive gun uses results in an accidental death.) Waiting periods compel the families who are least familiar or comfortable with firearms—those most likely to discharge one by accident—to arm themselves full time, or else go undefended.

Trigger-locks and laws requiring guns to be kept unloaded and stored in locked boxes are popular among gun-control activists, but render the deterrent value of gun ownership meaningless. They reduce the risk of retaliation for late-night prowlers, who already have the element of surprise on their side. For crooks, such laws are a blessing; for gun enthusiasts, who are suitably trained and experienced, they are a mere inconvenience; for average families whose passion is not weaponry but safety, they are truly threatening.

For my fiancée and me, it means contending not only with L.A. crime, but also with state and federal governments that routinely devise new ways to make the criminal’s job easier. As difficult as my future wife’s proposed restrictions on the household armory would have been to accept, they are fair—the risks and dangers of owning or not owning guns are as much hers as they are mine. The same cannot be said for legislators in Sacramento and Washington, who use every new tragedy as a pretext for more harmful legislation. They won’t be invited to our wedding.

Chris Weinkopf is an editorial writer and columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News. To read his weekly Daily News column, click here. E-mail him at chris.weinkopf@dailynews.com.

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