We already have laws that prohibit not only sales of firearms to persons adjudicated to be mentally unfit, we have a law that prohibits the possession of firearms by such people. In fact, that particular law celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The Gun Control Act of 1968 went into effect in October of that year.

The law also applies to persons convicted of felonies or any crime for which the maximum sentence is more than two years of incarceration; persons dishonorably discharged from military service, users of illegal drugs, persons who are not U.S. citizens or resident aliens, fugitives from justice, persons under indictment for a felony or other crime punishably by more than two years in jail or prison and persons convicted of even misdemeanor domestic violence.

By “possession” the law applies even to temporary possession. Knowingly transferring a firearm to a prohibited person is a federal offense punishable by years in a federal penitentiary and large fines.

These are lifetime bans. In most cases, restoration of rights requires a presidential pardon.

Some states allow ex-convicts to have their rights restored following a successful completion of their sentence but these people are still barred from purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed dealer.

Background checks have been required for all transactions processed by a federally licensed dealer since February 1994. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) became operational in 1998.

Calls for universal background checks (covering private transactions) ignore their track record. A study of expanded background checks enacted in Colorado and Washington state concluded the laws were ineffective. It has been recognized for a number of years that monitoring private firearm transactions is impossible without registration and establishment of a federal registry of either guns or gun owners is illegal. In addition, some states have passed laws prohibiting the state from establishing a registry.

Even it if was legal, a law to require registration of firearms is doomed to failure. It’s far too late for any credible chance of compliance. Efforts to register military-style rifles in Connecticut and New York state had compliance rates that were, frankly, laughable. New Jersey banned the possession of high-capacity magazines with a deadline of last month to turn in, destroy or sell to a police officer or to a person outside of the state. A recent check revealed that the compliance rate, as best anyone can tell, is zero.

There may be more than 400 million privately owned firearms in the United States, but even low estimates indicate that there are more guns than people.

We don’t know how many gun owners there are in America. Surveys have yielded results that work out to anywhere from 43 million to more than 100 million. We know for a fact that there are more than 17.25 million active concealed-carry permits. Some people have more than one permit and there’s really no way to check for duplication as states do not release the identities of permit holders. However, there are 31 states that allow the open carry of a handgun without a permit and there are twelve states that allow their residents to carry a handgun openly or concealed without a permit. This means the number of permits issued in those states is reduced because many residents don’t need them.

Even those conducting surveys acknowledge their numbers may be flawed. People are increasingly reluctant to answer questions about firearms ownership.

However, they don’t appear to be reluctant to buy firearms. Even though annual sales are down from the boom that took place during President Obama’s first term, when gun shop shelves were stripped bare and ammunition was actually rationed, they are still healthy.

Stock in American Outdoor Brands (Smith & Wesson) and Sturm Ruger fell sharply after the Parkland shooting. This was widely covered in the media and was a cause for celebration among gun control advocates. As far as I can tell, nobody mentioned that Sturm Ruger stock recovered nicely, rising 61% by the end of September, before the turmoil began roiling the market. Even with the recent sell-off in equities, the stock closed nearly 23% higher than the post-Parkland price when the markets closed on Friday. American Outdoor Brands stock closed on Friday up 44% from its lowest price on February 28.

Contrary to the depiction of gun owners as white male would-be killers clinging to their weapons, the reality is that gun owners are a diverse group spanning all races, ethnicities and sexual orientations. The fastest-growing demographic groups among new concealed carry permit holders are women and blacks.

There are millions of us and we resent being demonized. Especially considering that the majority of things attributed to us are flat-out wrong.

The majority of homicides, especially in larger cities are the result of gang violence or the drug trade. Criminals seldom use legally purchased guns or guns bought at gun shows. Studies of federal inmates and inmates at the Cook County Jail found that between 2% and 4% of guns were acquired at gun shows.

Those mass shootings reported by the Gun Violence Archives? There’re an “inflate the numbers” tactic using a term that will provoke a reaction by association. But the tactic backfires when one examines the incidents. The leading states by number of incidents are California and Illinois, which are tied. California has the largest number of deaths and the highest total casualty count. California’s tally was twice the total for Texas. Both California and Illinois have strong gun control laws; California’s are the toughest in the nation.

The 95 school shootings reported by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS)? Only three were like Sandy Hook. A fourth was averted when the would-be shooter’s mother informed authorities who were waiting at the school. There rest of the list included gang violence, domestic violence, suicides, a murder committed by a school janitor, three cases where a body was discovered on school grounds, an incident at a fast-food restaurant across the street from a school, an incident where a motorist was shot and crashed into a school and an incident in which police chased a bank robber onto a high school football field. Among the cases were two where a police officer’s gun accidentally discharged.

In all of the shootings reported by the CHDS there were a total of 38 students killed. In 2018, more children died from heatstroke after being left in closed cars. The FBI estimated that 450 children were murdered by their own parents. Which deaths did we get hysterical about?

Did you know that Nikolas Cruz is the only person under the age of 21 to use an AR-15-style rifle that was legally purchased to commit a mass shooting since the rifle was introduced in 1964? The only other person to use a legally purchased military style rifle was Dean Mellberg, an ex-airman who shot up Fairchild AFB in 1994.

There are an estimated 12.7 million young American adults between the ages of 18 and 20. We are penalizing them for the actions of one individual.

On the subject of evil black rifles, the original Assault Weapons Ban was a bust. The ban was allowed to expire because it could not be shown that the AWB had any effect on crime. There have been all sorts of excuses but FBI data shows rather clearly that use of rifles in homicides was higher during the AWB than it was in the ten years following. The difference isn’t small, either. The average rate from 2005 to 2014 was nearly 33% lower than the the same rate from 1995 to 2004.

Since sales of AR-15s, AK-47s and similar rifles literally exploded after the AWB expired, it’s a bit hard to make the case that they are a significant threat to society.

Not only that, there were actually slightly more mass shootings during the Assault Weapons Ban than there were in the ten years before the ban.

One more comparison: the average homicide rate from 2005 to 2014 was almost 19% lower that it was from 1995 to 2004.

The talking heads and gun control advocates are fond of talking about the increase in gun violence. It’s true that the homicide rates in 2015 and 2016 did increase. However, that’s compared to 2014 which had the lowest homicide rate since 1958. In spite of the horrific massacre in Las Vegas, the homicide rate declined slightly in 2017. Even the 2017 rate was 15% below the average rate measured from 1960 to 2017.

How about background checks, said to be the cure for everything from gun violence to lumbago?

When Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy introduced a bill in the Senate to require background checks for all firearm transactions, he said his measure would help prevent future mass shootings. Ironically, Sen. Murphy submitted his legislation just days after a man who had passed perhaps two dozen of them had murdered 58 people in Las Vegas.

James Holmes passed four separate background checks before he invaded the Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado. Jared Lee Loughner passed a background check to get the Glock pistol he used to shoot Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tuscon, Arizona. Nidal Hasan, a psychiatrist in the U.S. Army, passed background checks before opening fire at Fort Hood. Seung-Hui Cho, passed background checks when he purchased the pistols used in the massacre at Virginia Tech.

If they weren’t stolen, the chances are very good that the guns used by mass shooters were purchased legally from a retailer, including the background check.

That’s the underlying flaw of background checks. Even with accurate and up-to-date information, they can only examine the past. They are useless for predicting the future.

They’re also useless for controlling most violent crime. One of the failings of most who advocate for more laws in order to fight crime is that they don’t seem to understand that criminals don’t obey the law. Most of the time, criminals get their guns from other criminals, from friends, family, fellow gang members. They steal them, too. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reports that burglaries and robberies of gun shops have increased sharply in recent years.

Almost immediately after the shooting ended at the Borderline Bar & Grill, Senator Dianne Feinstein called for passage of the current spate of gun control measures. With that statement, Sen. Feinstein showed she would be a formidable poker player because she made it with a straight face. Every law she was demanding was already in full force in California. Some of those laws date back to 1999.

The same laws were in effect when Kevin Neal went on his killings spree in Rancho Tehama and almost all of them were in effect when Elliot Rodger began shooting up Isla Vista.

While there are definitely gun owners who believe that all gun laws are unconstitutional, most gun owners understand that some regulation of firearms is not only needed but good. Law-abiding gun owners must already comply with thousands of gun laws and they are responsible to obeying every one of them.

What we do oppose is laws that harm us without doing anything to enhance public safety.

We also resent being told we don’t care about children by people who a promoting measures that wouldn’t have saved them.

In June of 2014, Mark Glaze, former executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told the Wall Street Journal that one of the challenges faced by gun control groups is that the laws the groups promoted wouldn’t have stopped a mass shooting. He’s absolutely right.

It’s also important to understand that the current agenda is composed mostly of legislation that has been promoted for decades. It was frequently said that in the wake of the Sandy Hook killings, gun control advocates had no solutions to offer so they dusted off what they had on hand.

It may be hard to understand how someone could defend the AR-15 — if you don’t know anything about guns.

The first American semi-automatic rifle that could accept a high-capacity magazine went on the market in 1911 and was marketed to hunters. This was 20 years before the U.S. Army began developing its first semi-automatic rifle, the M1 Garand. The first pistol with a high-capacity magazine was the Browning High Power, which was introduced in 1935.

Contrary to the propaganda, the AR-15 is very popular with hunters. It weighs less than a traditional hunting rifle, has less recoil, has superior ergonomics and more natural wrist and hand position and is extremely versatile. It is easy to change calibers by replacing the barrel or the upper assembly, allowing the AR-15 to be suitable for game from small varmints to deer or even elk. The AR-15’s big brother, the AR-10 can chamber cartridges suitable for any game in North America.

The AR-15 is rapidly becoming the rifle of choice for feral pigs. Feral pigs aren’t anything like Babe in the movie of the same name or Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web. They are very destructive and are the scourge of farmers. They are surprisingly tough to kill and boars can weigh hundreds of pounds. The smaller collared peccary or javelina is also a pest and quite capable of inuring or killing a dog and destroying lawns and sprinkler systems.

Due to the nature of its design, the AR-15 can be fitted with an adjustable stock. The sole function of an adjustable stock is to enable comfortable use of the rifle by people of different sizes, especially arm length.

Contrary to myths, a muzzle flash hider doesn’t hide muzzle flash. It reduces the flash seen by the shooter to prevent the brilliant flash from blinding the shooter in low-light conditions such as early-morning deer hunting. Viewed from the side, the muzzle flash is still easily seen.

The pistol grip allows the use of a more natural wrist angle. That’s it; there’s no other advantage.

To sum up, the entire premise of your argument is wrong.

When it comes to violence and killing, there is no correlation between gun laws, gun ownership and homicide rates. States with strong gun laws and relatively low rates of gun ownership are among the states with the highest homicide rates while states with fewer restrictions and high rates of gun ownership have among the lowest rates in the nation. The reverse is also true so it’s pretty obvious that the guns aren’t the determining factor.

Mental illness doesn’t play as quite as big a role in violence as is claimed by either side, even in the case of mass shootings. Looking at the motivations for these acts, it becomes clear that there isn’t a psychological “marker.”

While there’s no doubt that vast improvements are needed not only in our mental healthcare system and, just as importantly, in our national attitude toward sufferers, it’s hard to argue with the fact that millions of people with issues manage to live full and productive lives in spite of them.

As I mentioned earlier, it is already illegal for a person that has been adjudicated as mentally incompetent to handle their own affairs or who has been determined to be a danger to themselves or others to possess a firearm.

The key here is “adjudicated.” The Second Amendment protects a civil right and the Fifth Amendment prohibits the restriction or withdrawal of civil rights without due process. This means that the person must be allowed to appear and to defend themselves and even to have legal counsel. Messy and inconvenient, but that is one of the cornerstones of our justice system.

As far as children being injured or killed because a parent was negligent with a firearm, you have an ally you might not expect: The NRA and the firearms industry. The NRA has been offering gun safety education and training for well over a century and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, has operated Project ChildSafe since 1999. Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 37 million free gun safety kits through law enforcement agencies nationwide. These kits include tips on safe handling and storage as well as a cable-type gun lock. Since 1999, the rate of injuries and deaths among children 18 and younger has dropped nearly 48%. A total of 117 deaths were reported by the CDC for 2016. Deaths among children up to age 12 totaled 61 out of a population of 52.7 million.

Yes, every one of those deaths was preventable and every one of those deaths was tragic. Our national goal should be to reduce that number to zero.

But the gun control advocacy groups not only have nothing comparable to offer, they refuse to even acknowledge these programs exist. So who is actually serious about child safety?

Incidentally, every state has laws that hold gun owners both civilly and criminally responsible to injuries and deaths due to negligence with firearms. If every state already has these laws, why do we need Congress to do anything?

One more fact: The CDC has mortality data going back to 1981. From 1981 to 2016, the death rate from accidental gunshots has plunged 81%.

We don’t refuse to do anything. We refuse to do stupid things.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of onewordtexas.org

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