Liability in gun-free zones?

The recent shooting in Oregon got me thinking about liability and gun-free zones.

Our opponents have proposed limiting gun ownership by mandating gun-owners carry liability insurance1.

Why don’t we, the gun-owning community, turn that around and use it to our advantage? For example, a place that’s open to the public (e.g. a university, stadium, shopping mall, theater, government building, etc.) should be partially liable for violent crimes committed on their property unless they have a “secure environment” in which all people are screened for weapons, security is provided, and unauthorized access is prohibited. Simply putting up a sign and calling it a day would no longer be sufficient.

Think of courthouses and airports: they ban guns, but have screening procedures to ensure that unauthorized people are not armed within the property, and police are readily available in case of any incident.

Can’t afford to provide screening and actual secure environments but still want to disarm law-abiding people? Then you should bear some responsibility in the event that people are victimized on your property. Don’t want to do that either? Easy: let people have the means of protecting themselves.

Naturally, private locations (e.g. homes, private businesses not serving walk-in customers, etc.) would not have such requirements.


  1. Somehow they ignore existing renters/homeowners policies that cover accidental injury or death, including those involving guns, and which are typically quite affordable, and think that “gun insurance” would be prohibitively expensive. []

NPR finally notices New Yorkers are ignoring the SAFE act

After New York implemented the SAFE act there’s been incredibly low levels of compliance: people aren’t registering firearms the law says they must — only 45,000 have been registered. Although this has been fairly widely known in the gun community, NPR finally noticed.

Interestingly, they didn’t just interview the anti-gun groups, but actually interviewed regular people:

“I just don’t see there’s any need to [register my guns -AZR],” says Joseph Fuller of Cohoes, N.Y. Fuller says he owns several guns, including at least one that he’s required to register under the SAFE Act. But he hasn’t.

“I don’t pay attention, to be honest,” says Fuller. “I have friends out in the boondocks. They won’t register their guns either. And they told me … don’t even bother. Don’t worry about it.”

They also interviewed the NYSRPA:

“[The SAFE Act] still may be law, but the people of New York state have repealed it on their own,” says Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. “They’re just ignoring the law.”

Upstate sheriffs don’t seem to care:

“When I prioritize what I need to do as a sheriff, the SAFE Act comes in at the bottom of that list,” says Christopher Moss, the sheriff in Chemung County, a rural area near the Pennsylvania border. “I do look at it personally as an infringement on Second Amendment rights.”

Leah Barrett with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence is a sad panda, but tries to spin things positively:

“I think 45,000 is a lot of assault weapons. I think it’s evidence of how long overdue this law is,” says Leah Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. Barrett points out that multiple public opinion polls — including one commissioned by her group — show that 60 percent of New Yorkers support the SAFE Act.

“They support the background check requirement. They support the state’s ban on military-style assault weapons. They even support the background checks on ammunition sales,” says Barrett, “because they know that these are entirely reasonable.”

No surprise: her definition of “reasonable” differs completely from my own.

The comments are filled with people saying “Hurr, durr. I thought [pro-gun rights people] always said ‘enforce existing laws’, but now they’re opposing the enforcement of this law.” and “So much for ‘law-abiding gun owner’.” Funny how it’s “civil disobedience” when people break the law to support something they like, but how it’s “let’s track down and arrest those felonious, cousin-humping rednecks” when people are breaking the law to support something they don’t like.

Obama says failure on gun laws makes him “most frustrated”

The President recently had an interview with the BBC. During the interview, the journalist asked what “unfinished business” he would likely have before leaving the White House, specifically inquiring about “race” and “guns”.

Mr. Obama replied with,

You mentioned the issue of guns, that is an area where if you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense, gun-safety laws. Even in the face of repeated mass killings.

And you know, if you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands. And for us not to be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing. But it is not something that I intend to stop working on in the remaining 18 months.

Sorry to disappoint, but our rights are not up for a vote.

Perhaps his efforts would be better served working on ideas that might actually reduce crime and violence, rather than do-nothing, “common sense” proposals that miss the point entirely and infringe on the rights of ordinary, honest people.

Spin and the NRA legal challenges in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania recently passed a law that allows membership groups (read: the NRA), including those without legal standing (that is, they haven’t been directly harmed by a law), to sue cities that have enacted gun laws that violate the state preemption laws. If they win, the plaintiff would be entitled to attorneys fees.

It’s no surprise that clueless anti-freedom people such as Elanor Clift (who recently penned this missive) try to spin this situation as horrible and the NRA as some sort of soulless monster intent on stripping “common sense gun laws” from poor, helpless cities.

For example1,

Ed Foley, the mayor of Jenkintown, a borough in the Philadelphia suburbs, told the Daily Beast that the NRA forced him “to choose between public safety and financial solvency.” […] Under the threat of a lawsuit brought by the NRA, an ordinance in place since 2010 requiring Jenkintown residents to report lost or stolen firearms at the police station was rescinded in a public meeting. “It was a hold-your-nose vote,” says Foley. “It’s such an innocuous law, and it doesn’t do anything to restrict anybody’s right to have a gun. I don’t know why the NRA isn’t a bigger supporter of the police. The police want the law.”

Naturally, they focus on how reasonable and “innocuous” that law is, and that the “police want the law”. Who could argue with something as sensible as requiring that someone who had their gun stolen report that theft to the police?

Indeed, I agree — in principle — that such laws are not an undue burden on honest gun owners, subject to certain conditions. I do, however, think that they’re useless: honest people would report their stolen property to the police anyway and seek reimbursement from their insurance company. Straw purchasers, who the law is seemingly aimed at, probably wouldn’t. Thus, the law would essentially only affect honest people while doing effectively nothing about straw purchasers.

But I digress. The effectiveness or innocuousness2 of a particular law is not the issue. The issue — which is conveniently ignored by anti-gun writers — is that such laws violate state preemption law and are thus invalid. The new law allowing challenges to such invalid, illegal “laws” seeks to remedy this without requiring that someone be made a sacrificial lamb by violating the law and challenging it in court.

If the people of Pennsylvania think that lost-and-stolen laws are a good idea, they’re welcome to write and submit a bill in the state legislature. Such a law would be perfectly legal everywhere in the state. However, cities and other localities lack the legal authority to pass gun laws — any gun laws — in the state, and it’s wrong for them to ignore preemption, even if they have the best of intentions.

Hat tip to Sebastian.

  1. I’m leaving out the absurd misunderstanding of the so-called “Florida loophole” that Ms. Clift makes and am focusing solely on the preemption issue. []
  2. Which is, I was somewhat surprised to discover, actually a word. []

MI5 boss: “we cannot hope to stop everything”

From the BBC:

The threat is growing, MI5 is stretched, some of its capabilities are at risk.

All of that means something is likely to happen. That was the bleak message from [head of the UK’s MI5] Andrew Parker.

While I disagree with Mr. Parker’s assertion that the security services need more powers to intercept and monitor all communications (which, in the UK, they pretty much do already, so I’m not sure how they’d increase that ability), I do agree that it’s unreasonable to expect 100% safety or 100% success in stopping bad guys from doing bad things.

Thus, as always, the answer is to be reasonably prepared to take care of oneself in various situations until the cavalry arrives: in this case, having a gun and the training and will to use it effectively if the need arises while hoping that one would never face such a situation.

Consider, for example, the photos taken of the killers in Paris by citizens sheltering on nearby rooftops. Had one or more people on those rooftops been armed, even with handguns, they would have been able to fire from an elevated position on the unsuspecting bad guys. At the very least, this would have caused confusion on the part of the bad guys, distracted them, and slowed them down — hopefully until the police could arrive.

Alternatively, if directly confronted by armed bad guys intent on murder, being armed gives one at least a fighting chance of surviving the encounter. Success is not assured, particularly when it comes to defending oneself from heavily armed attackers who had the element of surprise, but it’s better than nothing.

CNN: Bill Clinton: America has ‘bought the NRA’s theory’

Former president Bill Clinton talked with CNN on Wednesday and had a few choice things to say about the NRA. Those familiar with the former president should not be surprised that he looks disparagingly upon the NRA and gun owners:

The former president, in a conversation with CNN’s Erin Burnett at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, lumped together the NRA, stand your ground laws, and people surrounding themselves only with those who agree with them as problems that lead to a more violent climate in the United States.

He does have a point with the last part — diversity is the spice of life, after all — but he’s way off base on the other points.

“I think we have enhanced the risks by changing the environment, basically, because it seems we bought the NRA’s theory that we would all be safer if everybody in this audience had a gun that was a concealed weapon,” Clinton said. “Then if one of them felt threatened by another, they could stand up right here and stand their ground. And we could watch the whole saga unfold. That is what happens.”

I fail to see how someone being lawfully able to defend themselves when genuinely threatened, regardless of where they happen to be at the time, is a bad thing.

Stand Your Ground laws are not a blanket license to kill anyone for any reason, but rather simply say that a person has no duty to retreat from a place they have a lawful right to be and can use force (including lethal force) if they reasonably believe they face an imminent and immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury (emphasis mine). They’d still need to explain themselves to the authorities after the fact, and it’s not uncommon for people invoking “stand your ground” provisions to be found guilty.

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that even with the liberalization of concealed carry, the spread of Stand Your Ground, and other pro-gun-rights policies being enacted, gun-related violent crime is way down since Clinton was in office.

It looks like America has indeed “bought the NRA’s theory” and that theory is actually working.

911 should be part of a plan, not the whole plan

One of the key points of disagreement between pro-gunners and anti-gunners is on the concept of whether or not it is necessary, or even appropriate, for an “average” citizen to have ready access to a lethal weapon in case they are attacked. Anti-gunners often hold that the proper course of action when one is threatened by another is to call the police and let them deal with the problem. To the average person this might sound like a perfectly reasonable answer, but it reallyisn’t. The giant hole in the anti-gunner self defense plan is that even the best police response is going to be minutes out in a situation where seconds define the boundaries between life and death.

Tim at Gun Nuts Media.

Read the whole thing. Lots of good info.

Open Carry Rally this Saturday in Texas [corrected]

Updated: Whoops. Turns out I didn’t check the date on the DMN article — the event was this last Saturday and has already occurred. Mea culpa. Additionally, it looks like the group didn’t have permission from Home Depot and may have violated Home Depot’s “no solicitation” policy, which might end up getting open carry banned at Home Depot. Way to go, guys.

In the army we had a name for people who screwed over their buddies: “blue falcon“. It’s fair to say that applies to these guys.

Original post continues below:

Heads up to any readers in Texas: according to the Dallas Morning News, there’ll be an open carry rally in North Richland Hills this Saturday:

Starting at 11:30 a.m. supporters will fill the back of the parking lot at the Home Depot on Precinct Line Road to listen to speakers, have an open-carry education session and hold a raffle. Prizes include revolvers, an AR 15 rifle, over 1,500 rounds of ammunition and Rangers tickets, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Rally organizer Kory Watkins, 30, wants to make it clear that Saturday’s event is not a protest.

“Protesters are angry; and we are not angry people. If you come up to us, you will see we are smiling and friendly,” he said. “We are demonstrating, demonstrating our rights and demonstrating how the law lets you carry a long gun, but you can’t open carry a pistol.”

While I personally find the open carry of rifles in built-up areas a bit off-putting, so long as things are cool with Home Depot that sounds like a fun event and a good use of a large, otherwise-unused section of parking lot.

When you’re having a big event, it makes sense to coordinate with the property owner rather than just showing up. Doubly so when people are openly armed.

However, it’s not quite clear if that’s the case:

Watkins said his group has been meeting at the Home Depot for almost a year, and unlike other businesses and cities like Arlington who have clashed with the group, the home improvement giant has “stayed neutral.”

“They respect the rights of the people and we realize that,” Watkins said. “Their parking lost are always huge so we can park in the back and not bother nobody.”

A representative for the North Richland Hills Home Depot said he had no information about the rally.

“That’s not something Home Depot sponsors,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “They are not going to on the Home Depot property.”

Stephen Holmes, Home Depot’s corporate communications director, told Forbes, “Our feeling is that, ultimately, the voters direct the laws on gun carry issues, so we defer to the prevailing ordinances in states and communities.”

Emphasis mine.

Good for Home Depot to stay neutral, but it sounds like the group — even though they’ve met there regularly — hasn’t really coordinated with the store itself. That’d probably be a good idea.

Fortunately, they’ve let the police know ahead of time so there shouldn’t be trouble from the cops:

[A]ccording to Watkins, the North Richland Hills police have been helpful with the planned rally.

“The police department has been notified and is coordinating with us,” he said. “Everything is legal, as always.”

Naturally, the Demanding Mommies and a few others have posted to the Home Depot Facebook page saying they’re unhappy about the situation and will not shop at the store until they change their rules.

Honestly, Texas really should just allow open carry of handguns like Arizona and other states: with few exceptions, very few people notice or care a handgun holstered on a belt but they sure as hell will notice a slung rifle. It’d benefit gun owners in Texas and take the steam out of MDA by removing a point around which they can rally support and get media time.