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RIP: The Late Sen. Chafee, GOP "Moderate"

Dear editor,

Obituaries and other articles are describing the late Republican Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island as a “moderate.” Oh, really? In 1992 Chafee introduced legislation to completely outlaw the private possession of handguns. All Americans would have been ordered to turn over their handguns to the government. Anyone subsequently found with a handgun would have faced up to $5,000 in fines and five years in prison.

When Chafee introduced this legislation, he acknowledged there were about 66 million handgun owners. About one in four US households had one or more handguns. Almost none of these owners used their guns in any criminal activity. Yet Chafee would have made them turn in their guns or become instant felons, to be hunted down by a Gun Gestapo and punished with severe fines and lengthy imprisonment. Given that so many Americans passionately believe the Second Amendment protects the right to own handguns, one shudders to imagine the consequences of a government attempt at confiscation.

Furthermore, a large and impressive body of scholarly research – most notably that of John Lott of the University of Chicago – indicates that private firearm possession is a major crime deterrent. Thus Chafee’s legislation would have left millions of Americans exposed to criminal predators, and would have unquestionably driven up the numbers of robberies, murders, and rapes nationwide, by confiscating a primary means of self-defense.

This was police state legislation, and it would have required a police state to enforce it. Chafee was no “moderate.” He was an authoritarian, and a danger to the lives and liberties of all Americans. While I am sorry he was not removed from office by other means, I am certainly delighted that he cannot endanger us any longer.


James W. Harris

(Unpublished, I think.)

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