Big Government, lawn darts and those things that shoot bullets

Back when I was a younger, impish me my little sister and I would go over to my grandparents' house and play with lawn darts in their backyard. For all of you unfamiliar with the sport of lawn-darting, it consists of throwing a brightly-colored tent spike at a target on the ground. In the heat of some of our highly-competitive lawn dart games, there was always the temptation to throw the darts at each other. But before we had ever played our first lawn dart game, my parents had warned us never to throw them in anger. If they ever caught us, not only would we be in big trouble, but we would never be allowed to play lawn darts again. So we were content throwing the lawn darts at pieces of paper on the ground or small woodland animals.

I had nearly forgotten about these games of lawn darts until a couple of months ago when I read that lawn darts were federally banned four years ago. Anyone caught manufacturing lawn darts could not only be fined thousands of dollars, but do hard time for their crimes. I was shocked. Law-abiding citizens can no longer enjoy the freedom of getting together with good friends and playing a leisurely game of lawn darts. The only people who can enjoy the sport of lawn darting are the sordid criminal-types who buy "hot" lawn darts off the black market.

What justification did Congress give for banning lawn darts? People were losing their eyes. Kids were throwing the lawn darts at each other. Lawn darts were deemed "unsafe." Boo-hoo. What lame excuses. Lawn darts don't injure people. People injure people.

I'm sick and tired of Big Government telling me what I can and can't do. I can't buy lawn darts. I can't cut that tag off of my bed mattress. There are even four federal regulations dealing with the manufacture of teddy bears. Teddy bears? Shouldn't I have the freedom to manufacture any type of teddy bear I want without the Feds hovering over me? Need I bring up any more examples that conjure up images of the Orwellian state that the U.S.A. is quickly becoming? Let us fall down on our knees and pray that Brother Newt can provide us salvation.

Maybe the lawn dart and teddy bear manufacturers didn't have good lobbyists or the political action committees necessary to prevent such blatant over-regulation. I don't understand why lawn darts are banned, but those things that shoot bullets aren't banned. I don't understand why there are four federal regulations for teddy bears, but guns that are .50-caliber or less and not fully automatic can be manufactured with virtually no restrictions. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that guns are more dangerous than lawn darts and teddy bears combined.

Within the past three weeks, I've heard of a lot about gun-related deaths. A California man is on trial for fatally shooting his brother over the last bowl of Cheerios in their house. Colin Ferguson was found guilty of a multitude of charges for killing six people and wounding 19 with a semiautomatic rifle as he walked up and down a Long Island express train. A Pennsylvanian man went on a three-state killing spree that began when the man shot his brother after his brother's son woke him up by placing a gerbil on his head. A pregnant Tucson woman was killed when the gun her husband was showing to friends accidently went off. That story didn't make national news, though. Actually, that story didn't even make the front page of the metro section of the Arizona Daily Star.

There are more than 11,000 handgun murders per year in the United States. I've never heard of anyone throwing a lawn dart at a person in a heated argument and killing them. Guns, however, make killing easy. All you need to do is pick up a gun, shoot and your situation (whatever it may be) is over. You don't even need to think about it. Bang, bang, you're dead. 50 bullets in your head.

How come there was no major debate over lawn-dart regulation, but there has been so much about gun control? The lawn-dart measure may have been passed by a Democrat-dominated Congress, but a majority of Republicans voted for the measure too. Why didn't the Big Government bashers mobilize in support of a sport that the whole family can enjoy? I guess there wasn't enough money involved. By the way, isn't it ironic that some states have banned the sale of squirt guns that look like automatic guns, but they haven't actually banned the guns themselves? Go figure.

Right now millions of Americans are being denied the opportunity to hit a bull's-eye in the middle of their front lawn. Teddy bear manufacturers have to go through a whole rigmarole to make "safe" cuddly critters. But I can still buy a Saturday Night Special at the local K-Mart.

Lawn darts are stupid toys. Guns are deadly weapons. Those gun-people sure are lucky they got the Second Amendment to hide behind and the cash to back it up.

Jon Burstein is a senior in political science and journalism. And to all you gun-toting, John Wayne-wannabes planning to write letters to the Wildcat, why don't you spend your time more constructively writing letters of condolences to the families of Colin Ferguson's victims?

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