If you read some of the other articles I have written for Medium, you will learn in great detail, my thoughts on gun control.
Sadly, Bernie drank the Democratic Party Kool-Aid.
What’s wrong with business as usual? Especially since none of the proposals that Bernie is now promoting, in lockstep with the others, offer any hope of changing it.
The “epidemic” of gun violence is a myth. According to the FBI, the homicide rate in 2014 was the lowest since 1958. As you can see from the chart, it has risen since then, but it’s still low compared to most of the past 60 years.
If you look at the 10-year averages of homicides reported to the FBI, the period from 2008 to 2017 had the lowest average rate of any 10-year period going back to 1958. The homicide rate in 2017 was nearly 24% lower than the 60-year average.
How about those 340 mass shootings reported by the Gun Violence Archive. I find it strange that nobody has ever mentioned where those mass shooting incidents occurred. To save time, I did the research and then created a chart showing each state’s rate of incidents and casualties (fatalities and injuries) per 100,000 population.
California and Illinois led the nation in the number of incidents. California had the nation’s highest number of deaths and total casualties; Illinois had the most non-fatal injuries.
You might notice that gun control laws do not seem to be a factor.
The excuse that guns are being brought into states with strict regulations from states with fewer laws doesn’t wash. The shooters are almost all from the state in which the shooting happened. If there wasn’t a ready (and profitable) market for smuggled guns, there would be no incentive to risk becoming a long-term guest in the federal or state prison system to smuggle them.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s use of that excuse in a statement following the murders at the Borderline Bar & Grill was laughable. Ian Long purchased his Glock pistol from a licensed dealer in the area and the transaction was in compliance with all of California’s laws. The intensive background check was performed; the 10-day waiting period was observed and the mandatory handgun safety course was completed successfully. Even an incident that one would think would have triggered the state’s “red flag” law did not result in an arrest or referral to mental health authorities, despite the fact Long had been diagnosed with PTSD and was shooting into the walls inside his residence.
Red flag laws don’t seem to be all that successful in reducing suicides. A reduction in the use of guns to commit suicide is pretty useless if the overall suicide isn’t also reduced. California and Connecticut both have red flag laws; both have low suicide rates compared to the national average.
Connecticut enacted red flag laws in 1999; California in 2014. Rates of suicide by use of a gun have declined in both states; the total suicide rate has risen as suicides by suffocation, usually by hanging, have risen.
Connecticut’s percentage of total U.S. suicides has remained very stable from 1999 to 2017 at about 0.9%. So Connecticut’s red flag laws have not impacted the number of people killing themselves.
California’s percentage of the national tally has declined. The only problem with crediting this to red flag laws is that the majority of the decline occurred before the laws were enacted. In fact, the firearm suicide rate in California actually increased after the red flag laws were passed. The increase in suffocation suicides was slightly higher.
Put more simply, from 2000 to 2017, California’s suicide rate rose about 25%. The rate of suicides by firearm dropped nearly 7%. The rate of suicides by suffocation soared nearly 73%.
Universal background checks? Some states have passed them. Dr. Garen Wintemute, a well-known gun control advocate, examined the impact of these laws in three states: Colorado, Delaware, and Washington.
Using the volume of background check requests as a proxy for effectiveness, Dr. Wintemute found that requests increased only in Delaware. His conclusion was that the laws were being ignored by citizens and not enforced by the police. Since effective enforcement of laws governing private transfers requires universal gun registration, these laws can’t be enforced because, in most states, guns are not registered.
Incidentally, the homicide rates in all three states rose sharply after the background check laws were passed.
There is no real evidence that background checks have ever prevented a murder. There is, however, a great deal of evidence to indicate they have not.
Since background check laws went into effect in February 1994, the majority of mass shooters have passed them. Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas killer, passed at least two dozen of them. James Holmes, Jared Loughner, Seung-Hui Cho, Nikolas Cruz, and Omar Mateen passed them, too. [It is worth noting that, in the years since the Colt AR-15 Sporter went on sale in November 1963, Nikolas Cruz is the only mass shooter under 21 to use an AR-15 copy (Smith & Wesson M&P-15) that they had legally purchased with their own resources to commit a mass shooting.]
It is an example of a rather cruel irony that, just days after Paddock murder 58 people and caused injuries to 600, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy introduced a universal background check bill, claiming they would reduce mass shootings. That Senator Murphy did it without giggling is a testament to his self-control.
H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019, recently passed the House and was sent to the Senate, where it will most likely die. That’s a good thing; it would never have survived a constitutional challenge.
Congress does not have the power to regulate all of the transfers described in H.R. 8. That’s not only my reading, that is also the opinion of an attorney who specializes in the Second Amendment and has successfully argued cases before the Supreme Court. He described it as “facially unconstitutional” which means the entire thing would be tossed.
How about assault weapons bans? We tried them; they didn’t have a measurable impact on crime. In fact, the average rate of rifle usage in homicides is 21% lower since the ban expired than it was during the ten years the ban was in effect. Year in and year out, rifles are used in fewer murders than bare hands.
In addition, every single ban, proposed or enacted, has been drafted by people with no knowledge of firearms, other than cosmetic features they don’t like. Equally powerful firearms are exempted and some rifles that are much more powerful than the AR-15 aren’t even mentioned.
That’s on top of grandfathering in an estimated 16 million of these “assault weapons” that are already owned. Sure, there may be laws restricting the transfers but, without registration, who is going to know?
Magazine restrictions may be living on borrowed time. The recent ruling by District Judge Roger Benitez could very well set the stage for all laws limiting magazine capacities to be declared unconstitutional.
If you haven’t heard about it, Benitez declared California’s ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines to be unconstitutional on multiple grounds. He issued a permanent injunction against the state enforcing the law and directed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to inform all state law enforcement agencies that they should cease any efforts to enforce the ban.
AG Becerra has already requested a stay from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit pending a review of Benitez’s ruling but that court already upheld Benitez’s temporary injunction, so it would be in a position of reversing itself.
Moreover, Judge Benitez was very careful to craft his 86-page opinion with an eye toward possible review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
If Benitez’s ruling is upheld by the Ninth District, it applies only to the states in the Ninth Circuit — Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. If Becerra takes it to the U.S. Supreme Court and loses, it applies to the entire nation.
Magazine restrictions were a waste of time, anyway. Spare magazines are relatively inexpensive, not traceable and available online. All that’s needed is a shipping address that is not in a state with restrictions.
Elliot Rodger had three California-compliant pistols with restricted-capacity magazines when he set out on his shooting spree in Isla Vista, California. After Rodger killed himself, authorities recovered more than a dozen restricted capacity magazines from his car.
The theory that a shooter could be attacked while changing a magazine is a rather poor basis for a law.
Registration is the Achille’s Heel of much gun control legislation. However, the creation of a federal registry of guns and/or gun owners has been illegal since 1986. A few states also have prohibitions on registration.
Even if the law were to be repealed, it wouldn’t help. The window of opportunity for gun registration in the United States closed a long, long time ago. Efforts to register certain types of firearms in Connecticut and New York state were miserable failures. Non-compliance was beyond either state’s ability to enforce. Some New York county sheriffs didn’t even try to enforce the law.
Politicians and gun control advocates can’t seem to understand this. One politician, whose name escapes me, said the government has nukes, so no one will resist. Some have asked me how gun owners plan to resist the army. My answer is, “What army?”
Use of the U.S. military to enforce a civil law would be a huge blunder and perhaps the last blunder those making it would ever commit.
In the first place, officers and enlisted men would either refuse to obey orders or would simply leave. Those remaining would be constrained by an inability to use much more than small arms; it’s very difficult to bomb or shell a subdivision because it might contain resisters.
Make no mistake about it: there is already a resistance and it does have some teeth without needing to fire a single shot. Sanctuary counties are springing up all across the United States. Most are just resolutions, but some counties are taking the extra step by prohibiting the use of county funds or personnel to enforce laws that are considered unconstitutional.
Legislation was recently introduced by a Texas state senator to make the entire state a Second Amendment sanctuary and forbid the use of state, county, and municipal law enforcement personnel, all of whom are licensed by the state, or any state funds to enforce any federal law that was not also a state law.
Other than for setting up a conflict between the federal government and the states and counties, what good do these laws accomplish? Nothing.
So why promote them? Why keep lying to the American people, promising a miracle cure these snake-oil remedies can’t possibly deliver?
So what’s my solution? For starters, quit demonizing guns and gun owners. You make no friends and gain no allies by trying to shame them. “Gunshaming” doesn’t work, anyway, so quit wasting your time. You just make people mad.
Next, address the small number of deaths and injuries caused by accidental gunshots. How to do this? By acknowledging and promoting effective programs such as Project ChildSafe. We can reduce accidental deaths of children and those caused by children with proper gun safety habits. Don’t need a law; just awareness.
Quit attacking the NRA and get it on board with safety training for all gun owners. Work with companies that make guns and shooting accessories to offer discounts to customers producing proof of completion of an NRA-approved safety course. California law requires that the mandated handgun safety course by presented by an NRA-certified instructor; if it’s good enough for California, it is probably good enough for every state.
Incidentally, the NRA is only as militant as it has to be. When something is constantly attacked, it tends to defend itself. Besides, the NRA is the most reasonable of the major gun-rights groups. The Gun Owners of America believes that all gun laws are unconstitutional and it has the second-largest membership of any group.
Devote some major effort to combatting the gang problem we have. The chief of the Los Angeles Police Department said that two-thirds of the homicides in that city were gang-related.
Admit that use of illegal drugs is a medical problem and that efforts to treat it as a law enforcement program have failed miserably. This will cut off a significant source of income for gangs. It is quite likely that President Trump actually has the constitutional authority to have marijuana reclassified out of the Schedule 1 category. Congress certainly has the authority to leave it up to the individual states to regulate drugs within their borders. The states could retain the prohibition; allow medical use; or legalize it.
When crimes are committed with firearms or any other weapon make mandatory minimum sentences the rule, not the exception. Since all the nonviolent drug offenders have been released, there should be space in prisons. A Chicago police commander was gunned down by a four-time felon who had been convicted of drug and weapons charges. Due to reduced sentences, plea bargains, probation, and “good time,” he was on the streets instead of in prison.
Quit complaining that the U.S. isn’t like European countries and be grateful that it’s not like Russia or any country in the Western Hemisphere south of the U.S.
Admit that there are probably more than 80 million gun owners in the United States and that they own somewhere north of 350 million guns. Take it to heart, commit it to memory. If American gun owners were a nation, it would be the 19th-largest country on Earth.
There are at least 17 million active concealed-carry permits in the U.S. and the number of states that don’t even require a permit to carry a concealed handgun has grown from one in 2000 to sixteen now. These “constitutional carry” states are among the 32 that allow some form of permitless carry of a handgun.
The figures I have used aren’t from the NRA: they are from the FBI, CDC, state attorneys general, and state law enforcement agencies.
Last but not least, don’t say “business as usual is unsustainable” until you know what business as usual actually is.