Banning Sale of Fur in West Hollywood is Like Banning The Sale of Firearms in the District of Columbia

October 1st, 2011

What you say? How can those two possible be similar? Well, more similar than you think, at least as far as the intents of the legislatures go.

As Ilya Somin notes at this Room for Debate post, this ban will likely have no effect on stopping th,e killing of animals to make fur. Anyone can go outside of town (East Hollywood, if it exists) to buy a fur. Yet the law still has a rational basis.

Now how does this relate to guns? When the DC City Council passed their draconian handgun ban in the 1970s, members quite publicly stated that they knew it would have absolutely no impact on gun safety. They knew anyone could buy a gun from Maryland or Virginia and smuggle it in. Their predictions were quite right. The murder rate in DC steadily increased even after the ban. But their purpose was to stigmatize guns. They wanted to start a social movement that would lead to banning guns throughout the entire United States.

I think the fur ban is similar. These Hollywood elites are (likely) under no pretenses that this ban would make any difference. Rather, they wish to stigmatize the owning of fur, and perhaps hope these laws will catch on elsewhere.


This post was based on some reading I did in Adam Winkler’s interesting book GunFight, which I am reviewing for the Texas Law Review. Stay tuned though, I have some substantive critiques of the book.