Monday, March 18, 2013

Rush To Gun Control Producing Bad Laws

Read the column here.

Of course, the primary effect (so far) of the call for more restrictive gun laws is panic buying on the part of the public.  I routinely browse the local gun shops – and by that I mean those area retailers selling guns, the big chain stores and the locally owned ones – and the trend has been apparent since December across them all, showing no sign of lessening: rifle and shotgun racks that used to be full have been seriously depleted (especially of anything that could be remotely considered a “black gun;” pistol cases are virtually empty; and ammunition shelves are noticeably bare (particularly of .22LR, .223Rem., .25ACP, 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP).  Whenever a shipment from a distributor comes in, the wares are immediately bought out.  In fact, retailers have resorted to moving their racks, displays, and remaining merchandise around so as to disguise the empty spaces.

This is a verbatim quote from the New York Sheriffs Association web site concerning the method used to pass the SAFE Act: “It is the view of the Sheriffs’ Association that anytime government decides it is necessary or desirable to test the boundaries of a constitutional right that it should only be done with caution and with great respect for those constitutional boundaries. Further, it should only be done if the benefit to be gained is so great and certain that it far outweighs the damage done by the constriction of individual liberty. While many of the provisions of the new law have surface appeal, it is far from certain that all, or even many, of them will have any significant effect in reducing gun violence, which is the presumed goal of all of us. Unfortunately the process used in adoption of this act did not permit the mature development of the arguments on either side of the debate, and thus many of the stakeholders in this important issue are left feeling ignored by their government. Even those thrilled with the passage of this legislation should be concerned about the process used to secure its passage, for the next time they may find themselves the victim of that same process.”  See

Last time I checked, the count of counties that have either passed resolutions opposing the SAFE Act or are contemplating such measures is at 52, out of 62 in the state, and the list of such municipalities is almost as long.  The Sheriffs Association has been joined by the New York State Association of Counties and the New York State Association of County Clerks in opposing the law.  Ditto the New York State Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors.  Granted, some of this opposition has to do with the state passing unfunded mandates down to the county and municipal levels, but not all.  Even the Department of Veterans Affairs has indicated that its doctors will not comply with the law’s “mental health” provisions for fear that veterans will not seek treatment if they think that their Second Amendment rights may be at issue.

Be that as it may, this past week a single member of the Albany County-based Supreme Court denied a request for a temporary injunction of enforcement of the SAFE Act on the basis of jurisdictional grounds.  That ruling is under appeal and as far as I know the 29 April deadline is still in effect for the state to demonstrate to the full Court how the law is constitutional.

And that bit about unfunded mandates is important.  As states dump more and more and paperwork, background check mandates, and licensing requirements on county and municipal governments, just who is supposed to fund the new bureaucracies and increased workloads?  Gun owners, that’s who, by virtue of myriad new fees, fines, and taxes.  If showing a free government-supplied ID to vote is analogous to a poll tax, as so many assure us, how is charging taxes and fees to citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights as a matter of policy any better?

From a civil libertarian point of view, many of the proposals under consideration in the various states are rife with constitutional problems as they: shred any pretense as to a right to privacy; potentially create de facto, and in some cases de jure, databases of who owns guns, what kind of guns they own, and even if they have ammunition for them; allow warrantless law enforcement searches of gun owners’ homes to routinely conduct “safe storage” inspections (though any definitions of safe storage are conspicuously absent); rendering private property unusable or illegal without due compensation (either by rendering guns and/or magazines inoperable or removing them from the state); slow-motion confiscation by grandfathering current gun owners in and allowing them to keep their weapons, but forbidding them to sell or otherwise transfer them to anyone else, even through inheritance; and yes, even outright confiscation.

Here is just a small sampling of such proposals:

Dianne Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (S.150)

New York SAFE Act (S2230/A2388)

Maryland SB281 – require digital fingerprints to obtain a license for all gun purchases

Missouri SB124 – would require parents to notify their child’s school district (public, private, or charter) if they own guns

Missouri HB545 – confiscation

Colorado SB13-196 – makes users, owners, sellers, distributors, and manufacturers of firearms liable for harm caused by any firearm that was under their control at one point in time, but is later misused by someone else
(it is easy to access the other Colorado bills from this link)

Colorado HB1224 – bans magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds, magazines owned prior to the ban can be kept but cannot be transferred or sold.

Colorado HB1226 – prohibits concealed carry on public college campuses; this is important because the Colorado Supreme Court has already ruled that a previously enacted state law that did the same as this proposed one was unconstitutional

Colorado HB1229 – requires a background check to be conducted by a licensed firearms dealer before any sale or transfer of a firearm, “transfer” includes lending a firearm to a friend or family member on a temporary basis.

Washington SB5737 – The exact language of this bill as introduced language read as follows: “In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall ... safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”  Once word of this provision leaked out, two of the three sponsors of the bill claimed that they had no idea the provision was in the bill (the third admitted nothing one way or the other) and it was stricken.

Washington HB1588 background check and fee for any transfer between non-dealers including family members, meaning something as innocuous as the gift of a shotgun from father to son has to go through the state’s regulatory and permitting bureaucracy

Oregon HB 3200
Storage inspections as above; gun owners allowed only one such weapon
Finally, of course, the lists of “military features” used by the various states to denote “assault weapons” are arbitrary and completely devoid of meaning insofar as the actual functioning of the firearms at issue is concerned.  But what else is new?

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Stereotypes Not Helpful In Gun Debate

Read the column here.

Note that, as stated, I did not delve into policy questions in this column. I merely recounted my own experiences as a law-abiding, responsible gun owner and asked that policymakers differentiate between folks like me and the bad guys (which, unfortunately, is what routinely does not happen with proposed gun control legislation).

That said, I will offer a brief bit on policy here: even my friends on the left of the political aisle should be alarmed at the baldly political maneuvers employed to secure the hurried passage of New York's SAFE Act. More than half of the Empire State's counties have adopted resolutions opposing the legislation and several more are considering doing the same. Even the New York Sheriffs Association, which agrees with many parts of the Act, has criticized the brazen manner in which it was enacted. Also, the New York Supreme Court has given the state until 29 April to explain, in detail, how the law is constitutional or have an injunction issued by the Court against it.

Be that as it may, while the GLOCK 17 was not the first firearm with a plastic/polymer (plastic in the scientific sense meaning malleable) stock or receiver, it was the first pistol so equipped to be commercially accepted outside the narrow confines of pistols suitable for hunting.

To my knowledge, a couple of Remingtons were the first to have plastic/polymer stocks or receivers.  The Nylon 66 rifle, chambered in .22LR, appeared in theNylon 66 rifle, chambered in .22LR, appeared in the 1950s and was very well received.  The same company’s XP-100 bolt action pistol, chambered in a variety of hunting calibers, made its appearance in 1963.

Heckler und Koch’s VP70, chambered in 9X19mm, debuted in 1968: the “M” variant (Militรคr) allowed for semi-automatic and three-round burst fire (the latter when fitted with a specially designed shoulder stock that housed the burst mechanism); the Z variant (Zivil – civilian) fired in semi-automatic mode only.  Sales, outside of a few military contracts never amounted to much.

I remember when the GLOCK first hit the American market – and the near hysteria it caused among the gun control crowd, who claimed that it was a “plastic” pistol that could not be detected by existing airport metal detectors.  Of course, this was (and remains) pure fiction.  I also remember how some handgun traditionalists disparaged the newfangled GLOCK with terms such as “drastic plastic” and “tactical Tupperware.”

The GLOCK 17 was first devised in 1981, a marvel of engineering comprised of just 34 parts (perhaps a couple more with the latest “Generation 4” designs), including three separate internal safety mechanisms.  The pistol was adopted by the Austrian military in
1983.  A year later, following the GLOCK’s passage of NATO durability testing, the pistol was adopted by the Norwegian military.  In 1986, the company established an American subsidiary and established its U.S. headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia.

And the folks at GLOCK have been laughing all the way to the bank ever since.  In fact, according to the company’s web site, by 2012 more than 65% of the nation’s police forces issued the company’s pistols to their members.

GLOCK (the company always uses all capitals)

GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation

International Defensive Pistol Association

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