The Scarecrow wasn't exactly a genius -- that's why the straw man wanted a brain.

Likewise, it seems that most "straw purchasers" -- people who buy guns for bad guys -- have heads more full of hay matter than gray matter.

And so you have to wonder: Does York city really need a complicated new law to torch them?

That's the question before the York City Council next week. Members are scheduled to vote on an ordinance requiring people to report lost or stolen guns within 72 hours after they discover them missing.

Maybe that seems like common sense -- hardly the kind of thing you'd need a law for. Good citizens who have legally purchased firearms would be foolish not to call police if their guns are stolen. That's just what you do when something gets stolen.

But should it be illegal to fail to do so? Should we run the risk of criminalizing people who, say, have a gun stolen, perhaps by "friends" or family members, who don't even know their weapons are missing, if they fail to report the loss or theft?

Isn't that a little like victimizing the victim?

And how would police sort out who knew what when in trying to enforce such a law? No doubt, in some cases it could be done, but not in all instances.

Granted, this proposal is well-intentioned -- the idea is to go after people with clean records who help arm drug dealers.

But that's already illegal.


And you have to wonder how much of a deterrent such a law would be: People who would help arm drug dealers or other criminals are idiots and criminals-in-the-making themselves. Are they going to be deterred by such a law?


It seems more likely that some innocent gun owners will be unjustly prosecuted.

That said, people who exercise their right to bear arms also bear a moral responsibility to keep them safely away from others. They should be stored unloaded and locked in safes, not under the bed or in a cookie jar where kids or others can easily get hold of them. Loaded, unsecured weapons in the house are far more likely to be instruments of tragic accidents than self-defense.

Finally, some have noted that such an ordinance would exceed the bounds of state law and would likely be challenged and overturned in court -- possibly an expensive legal odyssey for a financially challenged city.

It's just not worth the hassle and potential costs on the off-chance such a law would scare off some idiot scarecrow straw purchaser.


The proposed law regarding lost and stolen firearms will be considered by the York City Council at its next meeting, which starts 7 p.m. Jan 21.

Meetings are held in city council chambers, on the third floor at 1 Marketway West in York.