The second example of perverted local control involves the regulation of guns. Although many large industries prefer preemptive federal legislation rather than facing a plethora of state laws, others, such as the insurance industry, would rather be regulated on the state level, where they can influence regulation more easily than in Washington. When it comes to guns, they feel regulation works best at the state level, where it often is, in effect, no regulation.

At least 30 states have neither licensing nor registration for any type of firearms. Massachusetts is the only state that requires licenses and registration for all guns. Only two states have banned private sales of assault weapons. Only a handful restrict sales of assault weapons. Although federal law sets the minimum age for the purchase of a handgun at 18, several states, including New York, have set the age at 16. In Montana, a 14-year-old can buy a pistol. For rifles and shotguns, it's 16 in New York. In North Carolina, the age is 12.

The Prep School Grid Whiz
Gore's Kick Start

For those who wonder how a mediocre high school student like Al Gore got into Harvard, John C. Davis, retired assistant headmaster of the vice-president's old prep school, St. Albans, provided an answer recently. Davis told The Washington Post that "any nice big boy" like Al could get into the Ivy League as long as he excelled in football—and Al was captain of the St. Albans team. However, notes taken by the late Eddie Crane, who covered high school sports for the old Washington Star, recently were unearthed by his friend, Gregory G. Paspatis of Alexandria, Virginia. Reading from Crane's records of the time, Paspatis told the Times, "Don't tell me Harvard thought Al Gore could help their football program." He added, "The St. Albans team . . . that Gore played on as a senior was 1-7. They were terrible. They only scored 59 points in 8 games while giving up 210 points."

Stay out of Tyler

In Tyler, Texas, petty theft is usually a misdemeanor carrying a maximum $500 and no jail time. But because Kenneth Dude Payne III, 29, had a record that included 10 convictions for credit card theft, assault, and stealing a bag of Oreo cookies, prosecutors tried him on felony charges when he stole a Snickers bar from a mom-and-pop store. A jury convicted Payne, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Eight years ago, a Tyler jury convicted a man with 17 previous felony convictions for stealing a brisket of beef, and he was sentenced to life in prison.

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