Our progressive politicians love to assert that they, and they alone, care about the poor and working classes. They bray about income and wealth inequality, and offer up plan after plan to “restore justice” in society by taking from the rich. They offer giveaway after giveaway, and in this election cycle seem to have amped up their pseudo-largesse (it’s not charity if you’re giving someone else’s money) to new heights.

Their acts belie their declared intents, time and again. They do countless things that keep the poor from becoming not-poor and keep the working classes from climbing up the economic latter – where, we might guess, they’d become less dependent on these largesse-distributing politicians and therefore become less useful to their re-election efforts.

The latest screw-the-poor initiative comes form New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who wants to substantially increase the fees the state charges for the privilege of owning a firearm within its borders.


Despite his assertion that “there’s no war on responsible gun owners,” raising fees imposes a disproportionate burden on the poor who wish to own a firearm. A six-figure earner can shrug off the higher fees, but the new $400 carry permit fee, up from $20, is a couple days’ pay for some people. The message there? If you’re poor, the State thinks you shouldn’t get to carry a gun.


Does the State think you’re more likely to be a criminal, or to be irresponsible, if you’re poor? That’s the sort of thing that, if hinted at by a non-progressive, would result in a figurative storming of the Bastille, or at least demands for an apology for unjust and inappropriate profiling and bigotry.

But, even if true, it’s also true that the poor are more likely to be victims, of violent crime, of sexual assault, and of burglary. Shouldn’t the poor have at least the same options for self-defense as the rich do?

As affirmed by the Supreme Court in its Heller decision, firearm ownership for the purpose of self-defense is a Constitutionally protected right. Blue-state progressives were not happy about this, and despite the subsequent McDonald decision incorporating the Heller ruling at the state level, have continued to look for ways to keep guns out of their residents’ hands. Their tactics have been a lot of nibbling around the edges: ban some types of guns, impose cost and time burdens, require that prospective concealed carriers justify their desires, and so forth.

I suspect that Governor Murphy would stridently deny aporophobia here, and for all I know he may not have put much thought into the discriminatory nature of his idea (no one ever accused politicians of being geniuses), but making guns less affordable is something we’ve seen before.

In the 1960s, inner city violence was blamed on “Saturday Night Specials,” cheap, low-quality small caliber hand guns. The data tells us otherwise: criminals preferred higher quality, larger caliber hand guns over the cheap stuff, meaning that the outcome of the 1968 Gun Control Act was to adversely impact the ability of the poor to acquire self-defense firearms.

In the early 90s, part of the outrage that prompted the now-expired Assault Weapon Ban was the availability of “cheap” Chinese-made SKS rifles. I recall many debates where an anti-gun person railed against the ability to buy “cheap guns that spray bullets.” The relevant question for the purposes of this essay is: why should “cheap” matter? What’s the reason to oppose inexpensive firearms? The logical conclusion is the same as above: a presumption that “cheap” means greater access coupled with a presumption either that the poor are more likely to commit crimes or that more guns = more crime. The latter is demonstrably false, given how many guns there are in American society, and how crime has dropped substantially in the past 3 decades even as the number of guns held in private hands has grown by nine figures. As for the former? Once again, the victims are dismissed or ignored.

Herein we find yet another example of how progressive ideology treats the poor as a lesser class, one to be leveraged in the pursuit of political power, one to be kept, in our own form of a caste system, from rising out of poverty and thus becoming less dependent on and less useful to the power-hungry.

A right that costs you money to exercise is a right that has been abridged and infringed. The higher the cost, the greater the infringement. That our politicians continue to look for ways to do so tells us what they think of our rights.

The reality is pretty simple. Government isn’t about helping you. It either gets in your way or gets out of your way. It’s up to you to decide which is better.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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