In case you’re not conversant in Latin, reductio ad absurdum means “reduced to absurdity,” and is a principle of logic used to disprove a proposition by taking it to its ultimate conclusion. For example: “If you elect a man to the most difficult executive position in the world who has never run anything in his life, he will not only not fail, but will excel at the job.” If you apply reductio ad absurdum to this proposition, you have the United States of America from 2008 to the present.

What caused me to regurgitate reductio from the cloaca maxima that passes for my brain was signing for the delivery of a small, strangely shaped spring that keeps tension on the floorplate latch in a Remington 700. The spring on one of my old 700s had grown weak over the years and the floorplate popped open at inconvenient moments. Remington was nice enough to UPS a couple of replacements, and when the UPS driver showed up, he asked what on earth could be in such a tiny package that I had to sign for it.

“A spring,” I said, “but it’s part of a gun, so I guess Remington is obliged by law to send it signature required.”

This is the guiding principle behind government regulation: There can be no exceptions, no room for judgment or intelligence. The rules is the rules, period, end of story.

It is this principle that caused the TSA employee at JFK to snap the file off my nail clipper and hand it back to me triumphantly, serene in the knowledge that she had prevented a potentially homicidal geezer from running amok on the flight to Las Vegas with a 1-inch-long nail file.

Or the grade-school kid who pointed his finger at a classmate, said “Bang,” and was expelled for terroristic activity.

Or the late Marine ace Joe Foss, who was detained and questioned at Phoenix Skyport airport when his Medal of Honor was taken for a shuriken by the security nitwit who had never heard of the Medal of Honor, or Joe Foss, or World War II.

Here’s a proposition to which you may apply reductio in your spare time:

“Toughening America’s firearms laws will result in minimal inconvenience to law-abiding shooters that will be more than offset by the resulting decrease in gun violence.”
Have at it. Ave atque vale.