Jeff Jacoby in the Media
Interview with Jeff Jacoby and David Weprin
Fox News: Hannity & Colmes
COLMES: Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I'm Alan Colmes.
Has gun control gone too far? Some police departments say toy guns are being mistaken for the real thing, and are increasingly being used in violent crimes. Here in New York, some city council members have introduced a bill to ban the sale of toy guns.
We're joined by one of the co-authors of this bill, New York city councilman David Weprin and "Boston Globe" columnist Jeff Jacoby.
Jeff, before we say hello to you, let me ask the councilman. Tell me about your bill. What do you want to do?
DAVID WEPRIN, N.Y. COUNCILMAN: I want to outlaw the sale of all toy guns in the city of New York.
COLMES: All right, they're going to say it's crazy, you can't do it, you prevent people's rights to go and buy a product. What's your -- you know what the arguments are. What do you say to that?
WEPRIN: My response is just today, today after I was already scheduled to be on this show, there was a 17-year-old on 148th Street that shot dead by a New York City police officer because he had a toy gun that looked like a real gun.
COLMES: All right, so if they're banned in New York, what does that - - people buy them in New Jersey, people buy them in Connecticut, people buy them in elsewhere. They mail order, buy them on the Internet, what are you going to accomplish?
WEPRIN: Well, I'm hoping it will start a trend. And I think a lot of other municipalities will follow suit.
COLMES: Jeff, if you use a toy gun, and we've seen cases where it's been used, it's been used in crimes, the fear you instill in somebody is the same as though it's a real gun. How do you address that?
JEFF JACOBY, BOSTON GLOBE COLUMNIST: You don't make society safer by banning more and more and more things. Listen, I understand, everybody understands what the councilman is thinking and what he's feeling, but the fact is the problem isn't toy guns.
The problem is bad values. And if you're concerned about kids using guns inappropriately, teach them not to do it. Don't tell them that toys are bad. If it's going to be toy guns today, why not toy knives tomorrow? Why not take toy cars away?
COLMES: Well, guns and knives are a lot of different, as you well know.
COLMES: Guns and knives are different. You want to ban the sale, not the possession of these toy guns? Is that correct?
WEPRIN: I want to ban the sale of toy guns.
COLMES: So you can possess it, but you can't buy it.
WEPRIN: Well, actually, technically, it would be a violation to possess it in the city of New York.
COLMES: If someone, you know, I just -- when you tell a kid he can play with a gun, Jeff, what kind of a message is that? I mean do you, as a parent, feel you're instilling values? You mentioned the term values. Are you instilling values in a child when you say...
COLMES: ... here's a gun, use it as a toy. Doesn't that glamorize it?
JACOBY: You speak as though there's something inherently evil about guns, but I don't believe that. Guns are tools that can be used for good, and they can be used for ill. If guns were evil, why do we have policemen with guns? Why do our soldiers have guns? There's a good value that can be drawn from guns. And children who use them as toys, children who play with toy guns, should be made to understand...
HANNITY: Jeff, good to see you, by the way, one of my favorite all- time columnists.
HANNITY: The very atmosphere of guns everywhere restrains evil interference. They deserve a place of honor with all that's good. George Washington said that. Councilman, I mean, what, are we going to arrest kids 20 to life for having a toy pistol?
You know, you brought this gun with you, but you had to spray paint it. My son and I, we have water pistols, we shoot at each other. They're yellow, they're orange. This one was blue before you painted it an hour ago.
HANNITY: It's, you know, you can see the difference between a toy gun and a real gun.
WEPRIN: Not once it's spray painted and from a distance.
HANNITY: All right, so outlaw spray painting them. But most of the toy guns I see, they're purple, they're orange, they're yellow, they're neon colors. It's insane.
WEPRIN: Just today...
WEPRIN: Try explaining that to the mother of the child that was killed today.
HANNITY: Did you spray paint that kid's gun? I mean, what did you -- I mean...
WEPRIN: No, but likely, he spray painted it himself.
JACOBY: Councilman, your problem in New York is violence. The problem is criminals who use guns for -- to commit crimes. That's what the problem is. That's where the solution lies.
To tell children 99.9 percent of whose toy guns are never going to be used for anything inappropriate, that they can't have them because some bad people do a bad thing with this, sends them completely the wrong message.
HANNITY: Isn't this...
HANNITY: Isn't your attitude, though, councilman, you think guns are bad? You think guns are horrible, don't you? See, this is the difference in the mindset. I think guns could be used for good. And they are every year, more guns, less crime, look at the statistics. It's been well proven and well documented.
We're going to use guns probably in Iraq and bombs. It's going to make the world a safer place. It's going to save people's lives. The people in Afghanistan are free because of weapons. You look -- you view them always as negative. Isn't that a philosophical difference?
WEPRIN: No, it isn't. I believe children and guns do not mix. And guns in the hands...
HANNITY: Toy guns?
HANNITY: Little toy water pistols?
WEPRIN: Well, toy guns can lead to real guns, and get -- they can be mistaken for real guns, as they were today, January 2, in the city of New York.
HANNITY: You don't have a gun in your house, do you?
WEPRIN: They're toy guns.
COLMES: We got to take a break.
HANNITY: This is a toy gun. You're going to be breaking the law.
COLMES: We're going to pick it up right after this. We'll continue to debate. Don't forget, log on to foxnews.com. You can become a Fox fan. By the way, while
you're there, check out the HANNITY & COLMES hats, mugs, and T-shirts. And these are real items.
HANNITY: And cups.
COLMES: And not spray painted. We'll be right back.
HANNITY: As we continue on HANNITY & COLMES, all right, councilman, you're in New York City. You don't have a gun permit, do you?
WEPRIN: I do not.
HANNITY: what are you going to do if some criminal what 800 deaths -- murders in New York last year, 700, whatever it was, what are you going to do if somebody breaks into your house, wants to kill your family?
WEPRIN: Well, I call the police.
HANNITY: It's over, it's done, they're dead.
HANNITY: Why wouldn't -- all right, that's fine for you. That's your choice. Why would you deny me the right to defend my family?
WEPRIN: Because I think more people are killed in accidental shootings.
HANNITY: Think, that's not true, statistically wrong.
HANNITY: I would urge you to read John Lott's book, "More Guns and Less Crime."
WEPRIN: But in the city of New York, it is true.
HANNITY: He debunks that myth that has been perpetrated by the left.
WEPRIN: Well, when I was a kid, I used to enjoy candy cigarettes, and I used to look forward to real cigarettes, and I used to buy candy cigarettes. If you see now, they don't sell candy cigarettes too often.
HANNITY: You don't believe in freedom, though, do you? You don't believe in freedom of choice? See, left in America says they're pro- choice. You're not pro-choice on vouchers, you're not pro-choice on gun rights. You want to dictate how we all live our lives. A
nd the Second Amendment guarantees the right of the people to keep and to bear arms. You don't -- you want to just abolish that document, don't you, throw it in the garbage, get rid of it, and rewrite it to your way of your thinking?
WEPRIN: No, no. Well, first of all, I don't think you can label anybody just all liberal, all conservative. I think there's a...
HANNITY: You're certainly not a conservative.
COLMES: You know, Jeff, they keep leaving out a well regulated militia whenever they quote the Second Amendment.
HANNITY: The rights of the people.
COLMES: I want to get back to toy guns. That's why we're here tonight. And you know over and over again, toy guns have been used in commissions of crimes, and that people brandishing toy guns have often been killed or injured because cops couldn't tell the difference. Right?
JACOBY: Then people who use toy guns to commit a crime should be punished just as if they were using a real gun. You're not going to make New York or any other city safer by telling children that they can't have their toys.
The problem with so many people like the councilman is that with all the best intentions in the world, they're convinced that it's the things that's bad, that evil comes from things. And if you can just make the things go away, the evil goes away.
COLMES: I'm not so sure...
COLMES: You may have a point, in that, David, I'm not sure you can successfully outlaw toy guns and have that stick unless you do it nationally. I'm not sure that would work. I just question the idea, Jeff, of -- as a parent giving your kid a gun as a toy and saying this is a wonderful thing and go ahead and play cops and robbers...
COLMES: ... and his is a wonderful role model for kids.
JACOBY: Well, you pick a good example. If my son, who's 5.5 years old, were playing cops and robbers, I would want him to understand that the cops are the good guys and the robbers are bad guys. And that's the way the game is played.
COLMES: But you also -- are you not glamorizing a gun when you do that?
COLMES: Good job.
JACOBY: ... is because it's a lot of fun to play with it. It's not turning him into a criminal. It's not making him more violent. I'm trying to raise him in such a way that he knows that violence is wrong.
COLMES: You know that air guns, for example...
COLMES: And you know air guns have caused injury and death. It's happened. And it continues to happen. And as the councilman's pointed out, there was an incident today in New York City. Shouldn't we do everything we can to make sure these incidents don't recur?
COLMES: Not like guns can.
JACOBY: There comes a point at which you say look, commonsense says toys are toys, real guns are real guns. Punish criminals, don't punish kids.
HANNITY: We better ban baseball bats and tire irons and knives and everything else. Jeff, good to see you.
HANNITY: Great columnist that you are. Councilman, you're wrong, but we're glad you came. Happy new year to both of you. Appreciate you being with us. And that is all the time we have left this evening.
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