Tag Archives: Gun Control

Our rights are not ‘BS’

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Gov. Tony Evers is still pushing for the Wisconsin Legislature to pass new gun-control legislation and threatening to call a special session to do so. He went so far as to call people’s concerns over his gun-control measures as “BS,” as if adult deliberation and constitutional considerations are now unwelcome in Madison. At the risk of our governor stamping his feet and pouting, let us explore the legitimate concerns with his proposals.

Evers is advocating two new gun-control laws. The first law he wants is universal background checks. The concerns over universal background checks are not so much constitutional as practical. Under current law, any person who purchases a firearm from a gun store or licensed firearm dealer is required to pass a background check. This includes sale of guns at gun shows.

Current law does not, however, require background checks for a private sale or transfer of a firearm. Universal background checks would require that someone undergo a background check in virtually all circumstances. In some versions, this includes when a firearm is passed through inheritance, given as a gift, or even loaned. While probably not constitutionally prohibitive, such checks are monstrously unwieldy. It puts the burden of conducting a background check onto private individuals and criminalizes them if they fail to comply. In their worst derivations, universal-background-check laws require a firearm registry to track the movement and ownership of firearms. The cost and hassle of enforcement and compliance far exceed the usefulness of the law.

A red flag law is far more problematic. The premise of a red flag law is that people who are about to commit mass murder often exhibit troubling behaviors that could be reported so that government officials could confiscate their firearms before they do something bad. The problem with a red flag law is not even its flagrant assault on our Second Amendment rights. The problem it the fact that it tramples on our First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights to get to our Second Amendment Rights.

Under a red flag law, a person’s First Amendment right to speak freely would be infringed. If a person makes some uneasy, outlandish, or even violent statements, the government could seize their firearms. For every mass killer who said something stupid and violent, there are a million other Americans who have said something stupid and violent and never acted on it. A red flag law would have the government cracking down on people for the simple act of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time in front of the wrong people.

Our right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures” is protected by our Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. Under a red flag law, the government would be given the power to arbitrarily seize a person’s firearms because another person thinks they might be dangerous. Surely, such a low standard cannot be construed to be reasonable, or the notion of being secure in one’s person is rendered meaningless.

Our Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protects the people from being “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Under a red flag law, the entire point of it is that the government seizes the firearms without needing to actually convict someone of a crime. The person whose firearms are seized is utterly deprived of due process except for the process to get his or her firearms returned. Even then, the burden rests on the accused to prove that he or she does not intend to commit a crime in order to have the firearms returned. The shift of the burden of proof, coupled with the impossibility of proving a negative, undermines the rule of law.

With a red flag law in place, the government would bulldoze through at least three constitutionally protected rights before depriving a person of the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

When considering any proposed law, a good rule of thumb is to imagine the law being enforced by your worst enemy. Universal background checks and a red flag law could be brutally enforced by a despotic government and still not stop a single mass murder.

Governor Evers knows that the Republican Legislature is too responsible to pass these laws, so he has the luxury of posturing for the media. But the governor’s casual and crude disregard for the rights that these laws would trammel is precisely why they should not be passed.

Our rights are not ‘BS’

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Go pick up a copy, but here’s how I sum it up:

With a red flag law in place, the government would bulldoze through at least three constitutionally protected rights before depriving a person of the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

When considering any proposed law, a good rule of thumb is to imagine the law being enforced by your worst enemy. Universal background checks and a red flag law could be brutally enforced by a despotic government and still not stop a single mass murder.

Governor Evers knows that the Republican Legislature is too responsible to pass these laws, so he has the luxury of posturing for the media. But the governor’s casual and crude disregard for the rights that these laws would trammel is precisely why they should not be passed.

 

Gun Control as Race Control

It’s an important perspective.

Kenyatta, co-founder of Detroit’s Black Bottom Gun Club, points to the growing emergence of violent white supremacist sects and the persistence of structural racism as reasons to reject calls for gun restrictions.

Kenyatta believes that gun control measures are often a  response to black Americans’ attempts to exercise their Second Amendment rights. He points to Michigan’s adoption of gun ownership restrictions after Ossian Sweet, a black physician who bought a house in a heretofore white Detroit neighborhood in 1925, used a shotgun to protect his family against an angry white mob. Sweet was eventually acquitted of murder charges, but in 1927 the state lawmakers adopted legislation giving counties control over the issuance of gun permits, a move designed to limit black gun ownership.

[…]

Kenyatta, who resigned his NRA membership over its demonization of the Black Lives Matter movement, disagrees with 59% of Americans who said they support a ban on assault weapons in a recent HuffPost poll. He points out that out that many mass shootings have been committed by white men with connections to white nationalism, and he believes that if he gives up his weapons, he may be making himself vulnerable to racists who will be unlikely to surrender their firearms.

“I know that there are people who don’t like me just for the color of my skin who are heavily armed, and I can’t in good conscience relinquish my ability to defend myself, my family and my community knowing that law enforcement and even the government doesn’t have the capability and often times isn’t willing to protect my community,” Kenyatta says.

He adds, “It’s incumbent upon especially black men to be armed for means of self-defense. Being in tune with the national rhetoric and being conscious of our history and our present here, I see nothing wrong with being able to match fire with fire with those who have historically attacked our community with physical violence and social-economic violence as well.”

Seattle Sued Over Gun Regulation

I love the response here.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has filed a lawsuit against Seattle over the city’s new gun legislation.

The NRA, a gun rights group called The Second Amendment Foundation and two gun-owning Seattle individuals accuse the city of violating the state’s preemption statute with its new “safe storage” gun law, according to KOMO News.

The law, passed earlier this year, orders gun owners to safely store firearms or face fines of up to $10,000. The steepest fine would occur if a minor uses an unsecured firearm to cause injury or commit a crime.

The city of Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan (D), the Seattle Police Department and Police Chief Carmen Best are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, claims that Washington state law prohibits Seattle and other localities from adopting gun laws that supersede state authority.

“Seattle seems to think it should be treated differently than any other local government when it comes to firearm regulation,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told KOMO News. “We should not have to repeatedly remind Seattle that they are still part of Washington state and must obey the law.”

Durkan responded to the lawsuit in a statement, saying that the safe storage law is needed to “prevent tragedies,” and that city officials will “continue to push for more protection for our children.”

In the Mayor’s mind, it doesn’t matter if the law is illegal or unconstitutional. It’s for the “greater good,” as she sees it, so all opposition and finer points of law are irrelevant.

Sheriff Won’t Blame Guns for School Shooting

The media is really upset that this Sheriff won’t use a school shooting as an excuse to advocate for gun control.

The day after a Washington state high school student opened fire on his classmates, killing one and injuring three others, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich held a press conference to decry the frequency of such shootings.

“This is a situation that plays out in our society way too often, and we as a society need to make a determination as to what’s causing this,” he said Thursday afternoon. Knezovich then launched into a list of factors he believes were at play when 15-year-old suspect Caleb Sharpe, who has been identified in court documents, brought both a handgun and an AR-15 rifle to Freeman High School on Wednesday.

[…]

But when a reporter asked Knezovich how the shooter had access to the firearms used to kill classmate Sam Strahan and injure three others, the sheriff was reluctant to discuss gun control issues.

“Minors are not supposed to be in possession of a handgun until they’re 21,” he said. “You never know how people get ahold of weapons. Those are things we’ll be digging into in trying to figure out what exactly happened here.”

And, of course, the sheriff is right. It was already illegal for this to possess a handgun – much less carry guns onto school property and start shooting people.

Barrett Declines Comment

This is curious. Mayor Barrett never misses an opportunity to push for more gun control.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett declined comment on the gun control issue, saying he wanted to keep the focus on five arrests made Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of the housing inspector, Greg Zyszkiewicz.

Olympic Champion Frustrated By Oppressive Gun Control

Sad.

RIO DE JANEIRO — American shooter Ginny Thrasher won the first gold medal of the Rio Olympics, then spoke of her sadness at how America’s gun control controversy has affected her sport.

Thrasher, 19, set an Olympic record of 208.0 in the 10-meter air rifle event, clinching victory in a significant upset. China’s Du Li and Yu Siling won silver and bronze respectively.

“Some of the (controversy surrounding) gun laws in America is just distracting from our sport, which is very different,” Thrasher said.

The sport of shooting has become caught up in discussions over gun rights and the associated political debate. Thrasher’s teammate, six-time Olympian Kim Rhode, spoke earlier this week about how new gun measures in her state of California had affected her training because she must complete extensive background checks to buy ammunition for practice. Rhode is an outspoken member of the National Rifle Association and previously spoke on the matter at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Johnson and Feingold on Gun Control

This editorial disguised as a news story by the Wisconsin State Journal made me chuckle. Here’s the opening:

The ever-explosive gun issue creates potential pitfalls for both major-party candidates in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race.

For Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, the problem is public opinion, which runs counter to his opposition to gun-control measures being debated in Congress.

For Democrat Russ Feingold, it’s his mottled record on guns, which appears out of step with a Democratic Party that’s increasingly unified in favor of new gun restrictions.

So according to the reporter, the problem with both candidates is that they aren’t anti-2nd Amendment enough. If ONLY they would be more anti-civil rights, they would have a better chance of winning.

Whatever.

Senate Succeeds in Thwarting Anti-Liberty Laws

Good.

Washington (CNN)Senators couldn’t muster enough bipartisan support to pass a series of gun control measures Monday, the latest in a long string of failed attempts at enacting tighter curbs on firearms in the United States.

 

Boy, no bias in that sentence by CNN, eh? I’m glad to see the Senate supporting the rights of free Americans who haven’t done anything wrong.

Howard Stern on Gun Control

I don’t think I’ve listened to Stern in 15 years or more, but he nails this.

Gun Control Fantasy Study

Ha!

Paris (AFP) – Gun deaths in the United States can be slashed by over 90 percent through universal application of laws requiring background checks of buyers and easy tracing of every bullet fired, researchers said Thursday.

Conducting a background check on every single gun buyer could more than halve the national gun death rate from 10.35 to 4.46 per 100,000 people, said a paper in The Lancet medical journal.

Background checks for all ammunition purchases would cut the rate to 1.99 per 100,000 people, and “firearm identification” to 1.18 per 100,000.

Firearm identification requirements oblige manufacturers to store images of the unique markings that every gun makes on the bullets it fires, for cartridges at crime scenes to be easily traced to the gun that fired them, and hence its owner.

So if we shred the Constitution and have universal gun registration and a massively expensive infrastructure for the testing and identification of all fired bullets (which already failed in Virginia for obvious reasons), we will be able to lower the number of murderous criminals who use guns?!?!? Great!

Oh, but not really…

But the authors conceded that once laws are implemented, they could take “many years” to start having the desired effect.

Commenting on the study, David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health said the authors had failed to calculate the potential impact of factors like poverty, alcohol consumption and mental health.

And the study was unable to examine actual changes in gun deaths before and after the passing of any given law.

Debating Universal Background Checks

Well then

Despite the frequent calls for expanded background checks after mass public shootings, there is no evidence that background checks on private transfers of guns would have prevented any of the attacks that have taken place since at least 2000. Nor is there any statistical evidence that indicates that these mass public shootings are rarer in states with background checks on private transfers. What we do find is that fatalities and injuries from mass public shootings increased in states after they imposed background checks on private transfers. States with background checks on private transfers tended to have relatively low rates of murders and injuries from mass public shootings before the passage of background checks on private transfers and that these rates became relatively high afterwards.

There are real costs of expanding background checks to private transfers. In particular, the fees on private transfers. Law-abiding poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas and who benefit the most from protecting themselves will be the ones most likely priced out of owning guns for protection.

Without some benefits in terms of either reduced crime or mass public shootings, it is hard to see how these rules pass any type of cost-benefit test.

 

Anti-Freedom Nuts Look to Smoking Bans for Guidance

For those who thought that the anti-smoking campaign was about smoking or health… no, it was, and is, about control.

But with gun reform ideas dead upon arrival, some people are asking why they should tolerate guns in their workplace when they don’t tolerate, for example, smoking.

In the past, smokers were free to indulge in their chosen vice almost anywhere they pleased. Today, that’s no longer the case. Even a few short years ago, being barred from smoking in public places was thought to be a serious infringement on individual freedom. But today, lighting up in a restaurant can spark a sense of moral outrage from fellow diners.

You can walk into many restaurants and diners across America if you are carrying a loaded weapon and find yourself welcomed with open arms. But if you happen to be carrying a lit cigarette, you will be quickly shown the door.

The main driver of smoking bans was concern about human health. Naturally, then, shouldn’t the United States ban guns for health reasons, too? After all, just look at the statistics on gun-related deaths.

Making America Gun Free

Easy…

Slain Reporter’s Father Advocates for Gun Control

I’ll cut him a tiny bit of slack because he is still grieving and likely in quite a bit of shock, but how stupid.

Ms Parker’s father, Andy, acknowledged it would be an uphill battle to change the law, but said the president could take on the challenge as he had with other issues including healthcare reform.

“Mr President you need to do this. Please do it. Please do it for us and for other people so they’re not going to lose their Alisons and their Adams,” he said in anemotional message.

President Obama supported legislation to extend background checks for gun buyers and a ban on rapid-firing assault weapons after 26 people were killed at a school in Newton, Connecticut, but it was rejected in 2013.

It is a mindless reflex to attack the instrument of a madman before we have even learned the whole story.