Thoughts on the Camel’s nose…gun control…and a proposed dog ban in Broward County

Awhile back, I came across an old Arab proverb. I didn’t know what to do with it at the time, but I liked it, so I wrote it down in my blog-notebook for future reference. I filed it under the heading “Camel’s nose proverb”. It goes like this:

“If the camel gets his nose in your tent, his body will soon follow.”

The gist of this quote, of course, being the old saying,”give ’em an inch and they’ll take a mile.” Gun control opponents are quite familiar with this chain of thought. It goes like this: “If they outlaw my AR-15 with its 55 round clip, then next they’ll come for my AK-47 with its 30 round clip, then they’ll want my Remington 12 gauge goose gun, and then they’ll want the .22 single shot, and after that Granddad’s antique muzzle loader…soon we’ll be left with a slingshot and a sharpened spoon to defend ourselves against the marauding gangs that will be roaming the streets in the wake of the inevitable upcoming  economic collapse…, and since marauding gangs will be armed to the teeth with illegally hoarded guns, the shit will have truly hit the proverbial fan…”

This is the oh-so-familiar ‘slippery slope’ argument. Once you begin to slide, there is no turning back. You have to tumble all the way to the bottom.

Personally, I have never (until recently) bought into the slippery slope line, at least when it comes to gun control. I have always thought that certain types of firearms, especially those that can be fired very rapidly and without reloading are too dangerous for the general public. Maybe we don’t really need armor piercing ammunition either – at least not in the hands of anyone with a wad of cash or a few bucks of credit left on their MasterCard. I have always held that the law and the legitimate ownership of guns could coexist. I mean…can’t we all just get along?

Obama’s proposed ban on ammunition clips in excess of 10 rounds sounds sensible to me, but who the  hell am I? I’m not a really big gun guy. But should this become law, and somewhere down the line you could ask the eleventh potential victim in a crazed maniac’s line of fire what they think of such a law, he or she will probably say that it was a very good law indeed. But now we are going down the road of why a crazed maniac has access to any weapon, and that is not where I want to go here.

What I want to say is this. I was perfectly comfortable with my opposition to slippery slope arguments, then that camel pushed its nose into my home turf, Broward County, Florida.

We have a big problem down here with dogs. Not just any dogs, but specifically the pit-bull breed. In the past 2 years, there have been 225 pit-bull attacks in Broward County. That is a lot of dog attacks. Couple that with the 269 calls to the county authorities (over the same 2 year period), to report pit-bulls roaming ‘at large’, then you can see why some people around here are upset. That’s why today, February 26, a hearing is being conducted at County Hall in Ft. Lauderdale to consider a ban on the pit-bull breed in Broward County. Don’t think folks are taking this lying down. Nothing gets the public more politically engaged that issues related to animals. Emotions are running high on both sides of this proposed pit-bull ban. A Facebook page has been set up to help save the breed, and a crowd of people on both sides of the pit-bull issue are expected to descend upon County Hall to make themselves heard in the democratic process — as they should.

So I was discussing this pit-bull issue yesterday, with my friend Patrick who works at the same place I do, the place where I go to write stuff and get paid for it. Patrick knows that I am a huge dog lover, and dog owner. He also knows that I am not the biggest fan of the pit-bull breed. He cornered me at the water cooler yesterday.

“Where do you come down on this pit-bull ban,” he asked. Then before I could answer, he went on to say, “it’s high time if you’d ask me.”

“Well,” I said after thinking a bit. “I’m opposed to it. It makes absolutely no sense to ban a breed of dog, just because some owners are irresponsible. I mean, people who are going to abuse animals and teach them to fight aren’t going to be deterred by the law. What we need are laws to hit irresponsible dog owners where it hurts – in the wallet. If we ban pit-bulls, then next it’s going to be Rottweilers, then German Shepards, and maybe Labrador Retrievers – who knows where it could end. Wait until they ban your Yorkie, Patrick.”

“I see,” said Patrick. “It’s kind of like the slippery slope argument. Once you ban one breed, then it becomes easier to ban another breed.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s sort of like that.”

“It sounds a bit hypocritical,” he said, “especially after you said that the slippery-slope argument made no sense when it came to gun control, remember?”

I did remember saying that…I confess to some hypocrisy. But nobody is perfect. I still believe that guns can be effectively regulated with well thought out legislation, and I still believe that pit-bulls should not be banned in Broward County, Florida.

If you believe that the President’s gun control proposal is sound policy, then contact your Congressional representative and make your voice heard. If you believe pit-bulls should not be banned in Broward County, then make your way down to County Hall at 11:30 AM today and join the fray