Paul Greenberg

The Blair Holt Act he's sponsoring is more than a cheap way to exploit the memory of a 16-year-old honor student shot down as he tried to protect a girl on a public bus in Chicago from gang violence. It's a boomerang of a bill sure to energize NRA members and maybe gun owners in general. Not to mention anybody who can still read the unexpurgated Bill of Rights, including Amendment II. That's the one that says: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The title of Congressman Rush's 26-page assault on the Second Amendment gives the reader only a hint of all its aims: To provide for the implementation of a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and for a record of sale system for those firearms, and for other purposes. And, boy, those other purposes cover a lot of ground:

HR 45 would oblige every gun owner in the country, after being thumb-printed and passing a government-approved training class, to obtain and carry a firearms license bearing passport-sized photo identification. In order to acquire that license, gun owners would have to prove that they have a government-approved storage place for their firearms. Each sale would be recorded by the U.S. government. The licensed gun owner would then face criminal prosecution if he failed to report every firearm he (or she) owns, or if said gun owner changed residence without informing the Attorney General of the United States, or if his firearm were stolen and the theft went unreported. As for you deer, duck or turkey hunters out there, this means, you, too. No exemptions.

There's more, much more. There would be fees charged for the licenses and unspecified other federal "services" at the time a weapon is purchased. A new license would be required every five years for each firearm. No firearms could be grandfathered into the law. All sales of handguns and semi-automatic firearms with detachable magazines, including antiques, would have to go through licensed dealers.

There are so many sweeping provisions in this horse-choker of a bill, space doesn't permit citing all of them. HR 45 is almost Soviet in its sweep, and probably would prove about as effective as that late, unlamented system.

Congressman Rush has all kinds of burdens in mind for law-abiding gun owners; the list above covers only a representative sample of its provisions. I say law-abiding gun owners because, in the highly unlikely event his bill did become law, you can just imagine how little attention would be paid to it by the kind of thug who shot up that bus in Chicago and killed young Blair Holt in the process.

But so far Bobby Rush's proposal hasn't attracted a single co-sponsor. Which figures. It sounds like nothing more than a publicity stunt, a bill only the most virulent anti-gun nut could support.

But, boy, if this bill did pass, can you imagine the nationwide reaction? One result, among others, might be the biggest rightward swing in next year's congressional elections since the Republican landslide of 1994. Which is another reason to suspect that Congressman Rush is just a plant for the gun-rights lobby. Even now it's a good bet the NRA is ginning up a fundraising campaign that uses HR 45 as Exhibit No. 1 to show that the right to bear arms is about to be swept away, so send your contribution in NOW!

Stay tuned. For next I plan to expose Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security. She's just issued an all-points memo telling federal agents to be on the lookout for veterans and "groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

Ms. Napolitano is obviously another plant of this vast right-wing conspiracy. Why else would she set out to offend -- and mobilize -- so many Americans? By now she's apologized to the veterans who took offense at her jab (like nobody else would?) but I have yet to see an apology to those Americans who dare voice opposition to abortion or immigration in this politically correct New Order. Or to those of us who believe others' freedom of speech should be as respected as our own.

These double agents, the Bobby Rushes and Janet Napolitanos, can't fool Sherlock Greenberg. I know they're really just provocateurs who've found a way to drum up support for gun rights and free speech. Inspector Clouseau, my hero and role model, would spot 'em in a minute.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.