Saturday, June 1, 2013

When Idiots Write Gun Control Laws, We Get Idiotic Laws, Redux

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Radio guy Tom Sullivan is fond of saying that the "C" students are running the country. Tom may be an optimist. Here in California, we have yet another example of "We have to do something about all these shootings!". In this case, yet another onerous gun control law that will not make anyone one whit safer.

The genius savants in Sacramento have passed a bill in the state Senate, that would register ammunition buyers, forcing them to submit personal information and fifty dollars for a background check. The vast majority of people in this state and indeed the United States, are law abiding citizens who use their guns for sport, recreation and even self defense.

Let's look at this proposed legislation not from the perspective that finally the legislature is doing something, but will the legislation produce the desired results and at what cost?

Let's back away from firearms for a minute, since talking about guns makes some people crazy. Let's say that there have been a number of highly publicized, high profile, drunk driving incidents around the country. One drunk driver drove onto a school playground, killing and injuring a number of children. One drunk driver drove onto the sidewalk in front of a movie theater, killing and injuring a number of people standing in line to see a movie. Another seriously injured a popular, prominent politician on her way to a town hall meeting. The number of people who drive drunk and kill or injure people is very small compared to the number of licensed drivers, but...we have to do SOMETHING!

So, the brain trust under the dome in Sacramento puts their best minds on the problem. You can't drive drunk without gas in your car (all you drunken Volt drivers notwithstanding!). So, in addition to licensing cars and drivers, Sacramento lawmakers want to require you to have a separate license to purchase gasoline (or electric cars). A fee will be levied on every new licensee, and a questionnaire exploring every licensee's drinking habit will be filed away for law enforcement to reference. The fact that this file will be a virtual duplicate of the records on file at the DMV means that there will be an additional level of bureaucracy and twice as many files for law enforcement to go through to get the same limited results.

Now, ask yourself, how are drunk drivers typically apprehended? By police officers combing through DMV records? Or is it primarily officers on the street, following up the relative few who commit the crimes, rather than the millions who do not.

Let's look at some of the high profile gun cases that get everyone's blood boiling:

The Sandy Hook shooting. If the shooter's Mom had been required to obtain a license before she purchased her ammunition, do you think this would have deterred her son in any way? No.

The Aurora theater shooting. The miscreant guilty of that crime purchased a large quantity of ammunition, but apparently there was nothing criminal on his record that would have raised any flags. (He also illegally constructed bombs, which indicate that even if his ammunition purchases had been criminalized somehow, he would not have hesitated to attempt to obtain ammunition illegally.)

The Virginia Tech shooting. Once again, nothing on his record that prevented him from purchasing the guns he used. How would an ammunition license magically have turned up something different?

The Gabby Giffords shooting. Same story.

The Fort Hood shooting. I know people like Obama like to forget about this one because it doesn't fit the "template". Both guns and ammo are tightly controlled on military bases. Requiring civilians to obtain ammunition licenses would not have stopped this bit of terrorism ludicrously entitled "workplace violence".

The Columbine shooting. Same as Sandy Hook. When they obtained the weapons, they had access to ammunition.

The Boston Marathon bombers.
Duplicating the law that could not keep them from possessing a gun (or bombs) would not have kept them from obtaining ammunition.

In every case, some mythical ammunition license would not have prevented any of these horrific crimes. And to achieve that end, you would hassle millions of sportsmen and citizens, some of them lower income, from obtaining what they need to defend themselves against those who do not obey the law. Now put yourself in the shoes of a typical sportsman or hunter: How happy would you be to have to make an additional trip to the DMV before you purchased your next tank of gas?

Far better to have law enforcement vigorously follow up and prosecute every drunk driver and everyone who commits a crime using a firearm. The Obama administration has a notoriously low record in prosecuting people who have broken federal gun laws. (Eric Holder comes to mind!) Almost as if the Obama administration would rather have gun control as a political issue rather than to apprehend those guilty of crimes with firearms...

The fifty dollar fee, in addition to the fee required to purchase a firearm, the firearm itself and ammunition, will be a disproportionate financial difficult for the poor. The prohibitions against "Saturday Night Specials" was first instituted to try to keep guns out of the hands of inner city blacks, regardless of their disposition to criminal activity. Dianne Feinstein and her bodyguards will have all the ammunition they need. Some single mom living in a bad neighborhood, or some battered spouse whose better half is not particularly deterred by a paper restraining order may not.

The law will not work as designed. It will be costly to maintain and will yield virtually no benefit. Better to budget money for officers on the street, not file cabinets full of dead trees. Doing something just for the sake of doing something may please a political constituency, temporarily, but apart from hassling the majority of law abiding citizens will not yield any positive results, certainly not those the lawmakers supposedly want to achieve.

When Idiots Write Gun Control Laws, We Get Idiotic Laws (part I)
Cross posted at LCR.

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