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Why should the deaths of 8,358 be more important than 10,839 lives?
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Mark Leno is an interesting politician.

The San Francisco Democrat is all about gun control. The reason? People use guns to kill people. Subtracting suicides, there were 8,538 people killed by bullets in the United States in 2011.

The state senator from the City by the Bay is also the man behind a push to give cities and counties the ability to extend the hours that bars, nightclubs and restaurants can sell alcohol from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. People over-consuming alcohol and then getting behind the wheel of vehicles killed 10,839 people in the United States in 2011.

So why are the lives of 10,839 people less important than the lives of 8,538 other people? Leno wants to give San Francisco the ability to compete for tourist dollars. He claims cities such as San Francisco are losing tourist dollars to places like Las Vegas and New Orleans where you can drink away your liver to your heart’s content 24/7. You can also do that in Arizona, but only on election days and holidays. Arizona must have an exception for election days due to politicians who use situational ethics in pressing for new laws to restrict the rights of citizens.

Leno expects opposition from those who contend such a move would be a public safety issue. Leno says he has not seen evidence that later alcohol service leads to increased alcohol-related deaths. Nor, do I imagine, has he seen evidence that guns in the hands of responsible law-abiding citizens increases the death rate. That, though, hasn’t stopped him from pursuing laws severely restricting access to guns.

Yes, more people die in alcohol-related crashes in later hours due to the simple fact more people drink then. It is highly unlikely extending bar hours will increase the carnage.

But why stop at whittling down the window for no sales to two hours from four? Why not just make selling alcohol in bars legal 24/7?

I neither own a gun nor drink. I don’t like the prospect of being killed by someone wielding a weapon or steering a vehicle. And even though the odds of me being killed - and especially injured - by a drunken driver are greater, I don’t advocate restricting alcohol sales to two cans at a time like politicians who are pushing to limit bullet sales.

Booze of any quantity in someone who abuses alcohol and also drives is dangerous, just like bullets in the hands of someone unbalanced and has a weapon is dangerous.

What is scary about government efforts to impose restrictions on our basic rights based on their personal value judgment. Yes, we need restrictions, but it must be a balancing act between too much and too little.

There is middle ground. If you are against gay marriage, then you should embrace civil unions - for gays and straights - and leave your value judgment on marriage to whatever faith or belief sets you have. Leave marriage to the churches. Leave legal ramifications of people committing to each other to the government and call them all civil unions.

The same applies to gun control and even drinking. Middle ground must be found that protects the rights of responsible, law-abiding citizens. There are those that kill and use guns for illegal purposes and there are those that don’t. Separate the two when pursuing gun laws. The same is true of alcohol.

Why have restrictions on alcohol sales at all as long if the individual is consuming it in a proper manner and not endangering others? The same goes for sale of most guns and rifles as well as bullets.

Yes, we need restrictions on alcohol abuse and gun abuse. But we also need to have a government that respects and protects the rights of law-abiding individuals.


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.