As millions of Americans try to predict or anticipate Y2K-related
unrest — set to begin tomorrow if at all — there is one thing I can
say with certainty that indeed will happen at the stroke of
midnight, Jan. 1, 2000.

Perhaps as many as tens of thousands of “evil wacko gun nuts” will
become instant criminals in California if they own a type of
semi-automatic rifle called an SKS Sporter with a detachable magazine.

A year ago the state initiated a 365-day amnesty period after the
legislature made it illegal to own one of the rifles. State law
enforcement officials took a federal payoff of about $1.5 million to
“buy back” as many of the rifles as they could, paying participants as
much as $230 for their rifles which averaged about $150 apiece when they
were new.

If you think that sounds “fair” and “reasonable” and is “in the best
interests of the public safety,” think again.

First of all, the California legislature lied their collective assets
off to the owners of these guns when it told them some time ago that a
previous scheme requiring all SKS Sporter owners to register the
guns with the state would never lead to a ban or a confiscation
of them. We now know how truthful that was. In good faith owners of
these weapons — who are and always have been law-abiding people
— complied.

But how ironic indeed that Adolf Hitler got away with the same lie
some 65 years ago. And yes, let me be crystal clear: I’m comparing the
actions of the California legislature to those of Hitler’s Nazi Germany
because in this case, anyway, it is absolutely fitting and proper.

Secondly, according to the most recent report on the buyback program,
only about 600 of the guns have been turned in
out of possibly thousands that have been sold in the state since the ban
was announced a year ago. So clearly, despite the “best intentions” of
California’s most truthful and honest lawmaking apparatus, it would be
fair to assume that lots of SKS Sporter owners will be instant criminals
by the time they wake up tomorrow morning.

That is a fact not lost on the state’s attorney general’s office. Of
the amnesty and buyback period, Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for
Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s office, said, “The legislature said, OK,
we’ll give them a one-year grace period to take advantage of the buyback
and avoid becoming criminals.”

That is a helluva statement for a top law enforcement official
to make. Lockyer, by way of Barankin, makes this phenomenon sound so
normal and righteous, so cavalier.

Never mind for one second that the rifles these owners have are
not used in crimes, were legal when they were purchased, and are
supposedly protecting thousands of lives in homes all across the state.

Never mind all those bothersome studies that prove, beyond doubt,
that more guns in a society equals less violent crime.

And never mind, for one second, that “the right to keep and bear arms
… shall not be infringed,” per the language of the Second Amendment.

No, never mind all of that. The gods of California have
spoken, the people’s voice be damned, and ye shall fall in line or be
shackled to a wall like the scum that you are.

That’s a little dramatic, but it illustrates the arrogance and
presumptive disregard for the proper rule of law in this country
— the Constitution.

Worse, the recipient of the first and most important amendment in the
Bill of Rights, the press, is conspicuously avoiding this fight. Its
behavior on this issue reminds me of the image of a child guilty of
stealing cookies, but when caught assumes an innocent pose next to the
open jar by whistling and staring up at the ceiling, hoping you won’t
notice the obvious.

But imagine if you can that a similar ban was put on even a single
element of the establishment press. Imagine if some socialist element in
California determined one day that the incessant coverage of violence by
members of the press was harming “the children” and passed a law giving
them one year to fire their hard news reporters (the equivalent of
“turning them in”). If that’s too much of a stretch, then just imagine
if the state assembly required all newspapers to simply place the gory
stuff in the middle of the paper and get it off the front page. That’d
be “reasonable,” wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t that “protect the children?”

No, of course not. And neither will this absurd and patently
unconstitutional gun ban on a particular semiautomatic rifle
whose firepower and reloading capability can be readily duplicated by
dozens of other weapons.

I predict that by tomorrow morning thousands of Californians will
become “instant criminals” by simple virtue of owning a politically
incorrect firearm. If that’s not sad enough, I also imagine lots of
these people who still, in my view, rightfully believe they
should not have to abandon them at all, will not abandon them.
It’s likely those guns will have to be taken by force, their owners
killed by an overreaching and power-mad state bureaucracy that
will use those cases as an excuse to ban even more weapons.

After all, California gun owners have already seen just how badly
their legislators stick to their word.

I can’t believe this is happening in what is supposed to be the “most
free country” on the face of the earth. We ought to be ashamed to even
think that anymore.

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