Skip to comments.Do We Want Better Enforcement of Misguided Gun Restrictions?
Posted on 01/23/2013 8:21:50 AM PST by Kaslin
"The single most important thing we can do to prevent gun violence and mass shootings," President Obama said last week, "is to make sure those who would commit acts of violence cannot get access to guns." Toward that end, he wants to require background checks not just for sales by federally licensed firearms dealers (as under current law), but for all gun transfers except those between relatives.
This idea seems to be the most popular of Obama's gun control proposals, supported by nine out of 10 respondents in a recent CBS News poll. Yet it is unlikely to stop mass shootings, and enforcing it would require the sort of surveillance that has long been anathema to defenders of the Second Amendment, exposing millions of peaceful people to the threat of gun confiscation and criminal prosecution.
Although an expanded background check requirement is ostensibly a response to last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., it would not have stopped the gunman in that attack, who used firearms legally purchased by his mother. Even if he had tried to buy guns, it seems he would have passed a background check because he did not have a disqualifying criminal or psychiatric record.
That is typically the case in mass shootings, observes Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. And if they could not pass a background check, Fox says, "Mass killers could always find an alternative way of securing the needed weaponry, even if they had to steal from family members or friends."
Meanwhile, to make sure that every gun buyer undergoes a background check, the government would need to know where all the guns are at any given time. Although Obama did not mention that little detail last week, The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the administration was "seriously considering" creating a system that would "track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database."
Second Amendment supporters historically have opposed gun registration, fearing that it could ultimately lead to confiscation, something that has actually happened in places such as Canada, Great Britain, Australia, California and New York City. While wholesale disarmament would be clearly unconstitutional in this country, confiscation of guns that legislators arbitrarily deem unnecessary or excessively dangerous is easier to imagine, especially given Obama's support for a new, stricter ban on "assault weapons."
Perhaps fear of confiscation seems paranoid to you. But consider what would happen if the federal government merely enforced existing law through expanded background checks and improved records -- another step nearly everyone seems to think is self-evidently sensible. Such a crackdown would reveal the folly of current restrictions, which prohibit gun ownership by several absurdly broad categories of people under the threat of a five-year prison term.
One disqualifier is a felony record, whether or not the offense involved violence or even a victim. It is doubtful that check-kiters, marijuana growers or unauthorized farm workers (another banned category) are substantially more likely to go on a shooting rampage than the average person.
Federal law also bars "an unlawful user of ... any controlled substance" from owning a gun. Think about that for a minute. If you smoke pot or use a relative's Vicodin or Xanax, you have no right to keep and bear arms. Survey data indicate that nearly 40 million Americans have used "illicit drugs" in the last year, and the true number is probably higher, since people may be reluctant to admit illegal behavior even when their answers are confidential.
One of Obama's "common-sense steps" to reduce gun violence is better sharing of data by federal agencies, including lists of employees or job applicants who have failed drug tests. Seeking such information from state agencies and private employers seems equally logical.
This is one of those situations where "better" could be worse. Although better enforcement of existing restrictions on gun ownership sounds unobjectionable, it would unjustly deny millions of people the right to armed self-defense.
The true “compromise” on this is to have a system where a background check is done (like being “carded”) without telling the government whether or what guns are being bought.
Make it a “universal background check” usable by prospective employers and those hiring babysitters, etc. as well as gun sellers. Make it a crime to be found to have sold a gun to an unqualified buyer who would have been rejected by the system.
This is certainly where the low information voters stop talking to you.
"That can't happen here."
They WON’T implement this (even if they can get it enacted into LAW) WITHOUT a registry to track those guns, period.
That is registration, it is a prelude to confiscation and outright banning, and I am totally against it.
Punish innocent gun owners who live abiding by the laws. Drive the industry out of the US. Create more unemployment. Take another step toward destroying our America, which is not Obama’s. He is an alien to America bent on doing harm, not good.
Actually, the single most important thing we can do to prevent gun violence and mass shootings is to give severe punishment to those using a gun in the commission of a crime.
How about the following penalties for everyone, including government employees or officials. No exceptions, no plea bargaining, no government pardons.
These penalties would not apply to innocent individuals defending themselves or others from harm or injury by criminals or from unconstitutional, illegal or unwarranted government attacks or home intrusions.
1 - Life imprisonment with no parole to anyone using a gun in the commission of a crime where no one is injured. Applies to crimes by civilians and government employees or officials. Includes those abetting the crime but not actually holding the gun.
2 - Life imprisonment for the theft of a gun from a legal owner. Applies to crimes by civilians and government employees or officials. Includes those abetting the crime but not actually stealing the gun.
3 - Death sentence to anyone using a gun in the commission of a crime where someone (criminal or victim) is injured or killed. Applies to crimes by civilians and government employees or officials. Includes those abetting the crime but not actually holding the gun.4 -
I love how a test performed in an environment completely absent the standards of legal due process retroactively becomes admissible as long as it helps enforce tyranny. No right to question the accuser. No right to review or challenge the technical standards at the lab because it's all done retroactively when there's no way to do any of that stuff. Wasn't preventing tyranny the entire point of due process protections?
Oops - left this out:
4 - Ten years in prision for knowingly possessing a stolen gun or an illegal gun as defined by federal law, not state law. The penalty increases to twenty years if the individual is a gang member.
Want to make us safer, and more prosperous, as a Country?
Repeal USC Title 18 Sect 922 in it’s entirety.
Enforce the 2A via the Art 6 para 2 Supremacy Clause and the 14thA’s “privileges and immunities” clause against State and local bans/idiotic licensing schemes.
Do just those two things and we’d be able to take out the trash on our own.
Best part of it? It’s free. Won’t “cost” the government a dime.
even low information voters understand “my rights”
they have no clue what miranda warnings are, they blab like maniacs to police, but they KNOW they have rights.
well now we can work with that.
low info voters know they have civil rights.
so now ownership IS a civil right.
Democrats want to take civil rights away.
Excellent idea. The anti-rights crowd are constantly saying they don't want to make a database out of the background checks. They're lying of course, but USE that opportunity! It puts them in the position of being unable to object to an anonymous background check system if one could be devised, or if the law mandated universal checks only after a provably anonymous system is fielded.
The only way to trust people like that is if it's physically impossible for them to break their word, yet no one calls their bluff and proposes a background check system that denies the government the information they have no right to, don't actually need to do the job, and which they CLAIM they don't want. I don't get it.
In addition to your idea, as another approach to anonymous background checks I also proposed distributing the names of the prohibited from the government to the FFL's, and have them do the checks against that database. ACLU types would probably scream about the invasion of privacy of the prohibited, though I've heard nothing out of them about the No Fly List, which I believe works like that. It's also dishonest to worry about preserving the rights of a small number of people who actually are prohibited if it means screwing hundreds of millions who are entitled to the presumption that they're OK. Nevertheless, you can even address THAT "issue" -- just distribute the names in encrypted form, so if the FFL's a busybody he can't troll through the list just for kicks to see who he knows that's prohibited.
Just infuriating that no one addresses this when it's so obvious and so easy. Maybe that's the reason. It attacks the anti-rights crowd using their own claims and they have no defense, so even the debate can't be allowed.
I think guns should be treated like any other item. I read somewhere the best guess is that there are 300 million in civilian hands in the country. Trying to regulate an item that plentiful is futile, especially considering that criminals, crazies, etc will always be able to get guns through theft, murder, smuggling, etc. Guns should not be registered, tracked or regulated any more than the axe, machete, chainsaw or gallon of gas I can buy that I could assault/kill people with.
Depending on my mood, I either get a kick or frustrated when statists draw one of these comparisons like "We regulate [X] so much more than [Y] -- why the difference? We should be regulating [Y] just as hard as [X]!"
The default in their "minds" is that if there's a difference it must be equalized by INCREASING goobermint power. Logic would say "If both scenarios are working OK, and one is far more regulated than the other, how do you justify the REGULATED case?"
What if the buyer claims that the system is rejecting him on some basis for which he has not received due process? Statute seeking to deny this person's liberty without due process are illegitimate on their face, and if the system offers no means of distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate denials, what basis would a seller have for presuming the denial to be legitimate?
The true compromise on a universal background check.
You have to have the universal background check to open a bank account, register to vote, sign up for social security, get a credit card, or sell a car. Then gun owners would be agreeable, but everyone else would say no, it’s a bad idea.
Just imagine the background check for registering to vote every four years. That would irk fifty percent of the population. Yet, it would point out non-citizens and folks registered in two or more states.
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