The Reality of Gun Registration and Background Checks
What will a gun background check and gun registration system tell us? Some politicians say they want to keep guns away from crazy people and criminals. As a law abiding citizen, how will I know when I’m legally in possession of a gun? I ask because I want to know I’m obeying the law.
Sure, it sounds simple, but can I shoot someone else’s gun at the target range, or am I now in possession of a gun that doesn’t belong to me? How close does my friend have to be to remain in possession of his own gun while I shoot it? Is it 5 inches, 5 feet, 5 miles, or 5 years away? All of this has to be clearly defined or I could go to jail because of the mandatory sentences that apply to gun crimes. I don’t understand the rush to registration. If we back up a step, I’m confused about the big problem that gun registration is trying to fix because we don’t see a lot of gun crime out here on the target range. The extreme point of view is that I could look, but could not touch someone else’s gun.
Does every person who pulls a trigger need to be a registered owner, or could my son use one of my guns while we’re at the range even though he is under-age and not yet allowed to own a gun himself? I sort of understand the state’s overriding need for caution. The state certainly needs to stop all the viscous crimes that happen on the target range with a child’s 22 rifle. Why, those boy scouts and girl scouts are terrifying the countyside. NOT!
You might think I’m choosing overly simple examples to demonstrate the problems of gun registration. Maybe I am, so let’s get away from the shooting range where you’re actually wearing a gun on your body. Now things aren’t always so straight forward and I wonder who is in possession of a gun when the gun is locked in the trunk of a car. Is it the registered owner of the gun, the registered owner of the car or the driver of the car? Is the passenger in possession of the gun if he is the only person in the vehicle while the driver gets out of the car to pump gas? How about when the driver steps away from the car to pay for the gasoline or use the bathroom? It sounds like possession is not well defined. I’d hate to go to jail because my friend drank too much coffee and left me with his gun as he dashed into the gas station.
The goal of all this legislation is to help a police officer look at your identification and at a weapon’s serial number and tell if the two of you belong together. That simple decision might not be possible unless we’re willing to criminalize most of the innocent behavior around firearms. This is a real problem. The ineffective “assault weapon” law in California is so convoluted the police cannot interpret it accurately. Even the California Department of Justice refuses to offer their opinion on what is and is not an assault weapon. The only source of clarification is the guide put forth by California gun organizations and defense attorneys.
What you see above is the crazy labyrinth of gun laws we’re proposing in order to “save one life”. I wonder how many fortunes will be lost and lives ruined as innocent people are swept up in a tangled net of conflicting gun laws and crazy prosecutors. Prosecutors won’t bring charges against the town mayor and demand enforcement to the letter of the law. No, they start with those who are not wealthy and politically connected (video). Arbitrary enforcement invites discrimination, and we already have too much of that.
We already let professional criminals go free after a crime because we don’t have room for them in jail. We don’t even prosecute criminals who try and buy guns but are stopped by the background check system. Let me spell that out for you in case you missed it; we already ignore gun crimes by criminals. Keep that in mind when you hear the politicians on the news ranting about how we need more gun laws. That is why this current discussion of gun prohibition seems ridiculous. Don’t criminalize innocent and non-violent gun owners while we let criminals walk away!
I’m ignoring the fact that all this registration will cost innocent lives when your neighbor has to wait weeks to get a gun for her own protection. Again, that problem is real, but we’ll ignore it for now. Suppose we take the most reasonable interpretations possible about who owns and possesses a firearm. We’re left with the old fact that anyone can be near a gun except someone who can’t pass a background check. That interpretation of the law won’t help the cop on the street unless he runs a background check on every gun and gun owner he encounters.. again, if and only if we can figure out who owns the gun.
Another bad gun law will not help the cop on the street.
Rob the realist