Category Archives: Gun Control

Looking at Hillary Clinton’s gun control proposals

Hillary Clinton just released her proposed ideas for gun control that, if elected, she says she will implement. As expected, they’re nearly all politically-motivated non-starters. Also, she cites Everytown as an authoritative source and blames the NRA for a host of problems.

Evidently she thinks it’s 1993 and she has a chance at passing them. Let’s take a look at what she supports:

  • “Fight for comprehensive background checks” — this is the standard “universal background check” claptrap with some interesting additions: she’d remove the “default proceed” from NICS (“Sorry, NICS has been downsized. We’ll get to your request in a few months.”) and take unilateral, executive action to declare that anyone selling a “significant” (but unspecified) number of guns be declared “in the business” of selling firearms, and thus required to get an FFL. Personally, the current standard of being “in the business” is a bit nebulous so it’d be good to get a more concrete definition, but I don’t trust Clinton to set that standard.

    Also interesting: she seems to be abandoning the widely-debunked “40% of gun sales are made without background checks” claim and is now saying “20-40%”.

  • “Hold dealers and manufacturers fully accountable if they endanger Americans” — again, fairly standard gun-control stuff: repeal the Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms act (thus exposing law-abiding gun and ammo manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to nuisance lawsuits intended to bankrupt them) and crack down on “bad apple” gun dealers.

    Don’t get me wrong, shady dealers supplying criminals deserve to get penalized and shut down, but she claims that 38% of dealers inspected in 2011 were non-compliant with federal law. If true, this is almost certainly because of various minor paperwork errors (someone writing “Y” instead of “Yes”, for example), not serious criminal violations.

    It seems Hillary’s administration, if elected, would be as hostile to FFLs or more than her husbands administration.

  • “Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, and the severely mentally ill” — More standard stuff, some of it reasonable. She supports adding people convicted of stalking or domestic abuse to the list of prohibited persons, which seems sensible: current law doesn’t apply to people who abuse someone with whom they have a dating relationship (as opposed to a marriage). I can’t really argue with changing the law to cover people convicted of domestic abuse, regardless of who they abuse.
    However, she loses me by saying straw purchasing is only a “paperwork violation” rather than a proper federal crime, which she thinks should be changed. I’m not aware of any other paperwork violations that carry the threat of 10 years in jail and a quarter-million dollar fine.
    She’s a bit vague when she says she wants to “[i]mprove existing law prohibiting persons suffering from severe mental illness from purchasing or possessing a gun”, so I can’t really comment. People whose mental illness means they pose a danger to themselves or others shouldn’t possess firearms, but I strongly feel that nobody should lose their rights without getting their “day in court” (emergency commitments excepted), so this vagueness is worrisome.
    Lastly, she claims that “military-style assault weapons do not belong on our streets”, and that they are a “danger to law-enforcement and our communities”. She says she “supports keeping assault weapons off our streets”. I agree with her last sentence: no weapon should be left on the street. They should be kept in a good home, preferably in a good safe, and used for lawful, safe enjoyment, protection of the innocent, sport, etc. I’m happy to take in any homeless guns. More seriously, she doesn’t explain why the country’s most popular legally-owned firearms — some of the most rarely-used-in-crime guns, to the point where the FBI doesn’t even have a separate category for them in their annual crime reports — are so dangerous compared to other, unspecified firearms, nor does she offer any justification as to why they should be restricted.

In short, it’s Bloomberg’s wishlist, plus a little more. Someone needs to tell her than 1994 isn’t coming back.

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. []

More memes: pseudoephedrine vs. ammo

I’ve recently seen an image meme making its rounds on the Book of Face. It consists of two pictures, each with their own text. However, for the life of me I can’t find it now, so you’ll have to deal with my description rather than an example.

The first picture is of a sweet, grandmotherly lady with text along the lines of “I have to show my ID and sign in the logbook to purchase medication with pseudoephedrine for legitimate medical purposes, and even then I’m limited in how much I can buy.”

The second is of James Holmes, who murdered numerous people at the theater in Aurora, with text along the lines of “I was able to buy 6,000 rounds of ammo online with no background checks, no questions asked, and without the authorities knowing.”

The intended implication is that since society has restricted the sale of pseudoephedrine to reduce criminal misuse, it’s crazy that online ammo sales are essentially unregulated, and we should have similar restrictions on both.

I read it differently: the restrictions on pseudoephedrine present only the most minimal barrier to amateur criminals wishing to make illicit drugs (more serious criminal gangs get the precursors in industrial quantities and don’t bother extracting pseudoephedrine from over-the-counter drugs), and that restricting the sale of either over-the-counter drugs containing pseudoephedrine or ammunition is absurd, misguided, and ultimately futile in preventing criminal misuse.

In short, the meme is a clear example of the failure of such restrictions, not a good example for even more restrictions.

Don’t say nobody wants to take your guns.

The group “Occupy Democrats”, a “progressive” group with ~750k “Likes” on Facebook and which seems to communicate entirely by image-based posts, recently posted this image:


At the time I published this post, it had more than 61,000 “shares” and 40,000+ “Likes”.

Don’t let anyone convince you that nobody wants to take your guns. They do.

My response: “You want take my guns. I won’t give them up. Your move.”

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.

How many more?

Yesterday, 9 people died in South Carolina at the hands of a killer.

His victims were disarmed by the state and left with no effective means of self-defense.

Although I can’t say if anyone there would have carried at the church, they were denied even the freedom to choose by the South Carolina legislature who, in their <sarcasm>superior wisdom</sarcasm>, thought there was no need for anyone to carry in a church, and so made it illegal.

How many more need to die before the concept of a “gun-free zone” is universally realized as the dangerous and illogical absurdity that it is?

Thoughts on Jackson vs. City & County of San Francisco

So, the Supreme Court declined cert on Jackson vs. City & County of San Francisco.

Not surprising, really, as there’s not much case law in the lower courts, nor is there disagreement between the circuits. Sure, this should have been a slam-dunk Heller 2 for the gun-rights side, but not everything works out that way.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal: on a practical level, the cops aren’t going to search people’s homes to see if they’re leaving their gun on the bathroom sink while they take a shower or if they put a gun the kitchen table while they unload stuff from a vehicle. This law would only come into play if something bad happens (e.g. someone leaves a gun out and a kid or irresponsible adult fires it), and even then it’d probably a minor worry compared to the other legal issues one would face in such a situation.

Of course, I strongly support the notion of securing one’s guns when they’re not in one’s immediate control (especially when kids or irresponsible adults are around), but I dislike legal mandates that are effectively unenforceable and don’t make exceptions for practical, everyday situations.

In a way, I’m glad it worked out this way: the judges clearly are not of one mind in this regard, and it is better to have cert denied here and revisit the issue in the future when the composition of the Supreme Court may have changed — hopefully with an increase in the number of justices inclined toward individual liberty — and there’s more of a consensus.

Until then, residents of San Francisco (and other cities that may try implementing such laws) will have to deal with a minor infringement of their liberties. Fortunately, such laws practically have no effect on a day-to-day basis (unlike, say, the CA AWB).

In short: bummer, but probably better in the long run to wait and try again.

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. []

Good news: CA Sen. Boxer not seeking re-election

From NPR:

Four-term Sen. Barbara Boxer said she won’t seek another term in the U.S. Senate in 2016, ending speculation about the California Democrat’s political future.

Good. Senator Boxer has been a strong opponent to liberty for years, especially when it comes to gun rights. It will be good to see her leave office.

Due to the Democrats holding a strong majority in California, it’s likely her successor will also be a Democrat. Let’s hope that whoever they are, they’re more friendly to California gun owners.

Sen. Feinstein, another strong opponent of gun rights, is up for re-election in 2018.