The single most helpful component of the weeks-long, emotionally-draining ordeal of passing a simple and sane gun control law by the City Council of the City of Falls Church this Monday was a surgical evaluation of it all by Council member Letty Hardi just before the unanimous vote.
With precision and acumen, Hardi stuck a pin in the big, bad, ominously inflated boogeyman that opponents of the ordinance spent so much time and effort, huffing and puffing to inflate out of proportion. These pro-gun advocates forced our government to sit through blizzards of angry complaints for weeks on end. But Hardi’s brief, calmly delivered data-based assessment caused the whole overblown uproar to wither. You would have thought she’d thrown a bucket of water on a nasty green witch: “Oh, no, not only is the corrupt NRA about to disappear under the burden of a massive legal action in New York, but I am melting!”
The gist of her comments was in her deconstruction of the numbers. She said that there were more than 676 emails and two petitions with 500 signatures each that she received, akin to what her colleagues on the Council also received, much less the some 100 comments received at the meeting Monday night. But rather than be blown away by the sheer force of such numbers as their backers intended, she instead deconstructed them.
Saying she’d read almost everything that was sent her way, she then spent hours “tallying comments from the residents I serve.” From that work, she said, “From my count, about 30 percent of the total comments and signatures are actual residents of the City of Falls Church,” and of those, there was nearly a 3-to-1 margin of City residents who support the proposed ordinance. The ordinance, she added, “reflects long-standing community values of how people feel safest.”
(She also ripped into the argument that ‘Gun Free Zones’ leave citizens helpless by saying that “statistics show that concealed carry guns are rarely used effectively in self defense, lead to more accidents and unintended injuries, ultimately doing more harm to others than their intent.”)
We at the News-Press are not happy that we were exploited by the pro-gun lobby which was able to stuff the ballot box, so to speak, on our simple and unscientific weekly online survey. While most locally-focused surveys draw a few hundred votes, at best, the question, “Do you agree with the F.C. City Council’s preliminary vote to prohibit guns on City property?” drew over 2,500 votes. Either the system was flooded with votes from far flung places, or minimal hacking allowed individuals to cast many multiple votes. Or, a combination of both.
We do not take lightly that someone cheating on any election, even a poll, effectively disenfranchises everyone else who’s honest. A poll easily susceptible to cheating becomes an bane to honest citizens and the will of the majority.