Is O’Malley’s Handgun Proposal Basically a Poll Tax?

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The Baltimore Sun reports that Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gun proposal “would make the state more than twice as much as it would cost to administer the program.” How? Under the plan, anyone wishing to own a handgun would need to pay a $100 licensing fee, which would cover the costs of the expanded background check, the eight-hour training course, and processing the fingerprints twice over.

The increased cost (along with the increased hassle in general) is intended to function as a deterrent for “straw purchases,” but opponents say that the fee is too much like a poll tax — making gun ownership harder specifically for those with lower incomes.

We know that both sides of the gun control debate are pretty well entrenched, and that there are those ready to adopt the most convenient argument available against any given attempt to restrict access to guns. But as we consider measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, we should take care not to discriminate against anyone unduly. After all, owning  a gun is — sigh — a constitutional right.

Maybe we ought to lower the fee by half, and deter purchases by making handguns available only in pink paisley.



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