Gun Laws We Follow and Gun Laws We Ignore
Ireland, and later India, were once under British rule. At one point in their rebellions, they ignored the outside laws they didn’t like. We are doing that again in the United States. It is hard for me to imagine gun owners breaking the law. Once you’ve been around the gun culture for a while you learn that licensed gun owners are the rule-following type. Many gun owners would like to follow the law all the time, but they can’t. Gun owners are not alone. Neither the lawyers nor the judges who work with firearms law every day can keep up with the 23 thousand gun laws. Breaking our gun laws is more than a matter of ignorance. The very prosecutors charged with enforcing our firearms laws routinely ignore them as well. On second consideration, the government lawyers ignore far more firearms laws than do gun owners. Remember that when you hear a politician say we need more firearms restrictions.
I’ll start with gun owners first.
- The city council of Cleveland, Ohio imposed gun transfer registration with the police. Cleveland gun owners ignored those laws.. completely.
- Sunnyvale, California passed a measure outlawing all ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 cartridges. No one turned in their old magazines to the Sunnyvale department of public safety.
- The Los Angeles city council passes a law similar to the one in Sunnyvale. Look for similar results.
- Washington State passed a law requiring universal background checks for every firearms transfer. Neither law enforcement nor gun owners knew how to obey the law at first. Now, both the state police and the honest gun owners of Washington simply ignore the law.
- Oregon passed a similar background check law. Several law enforcement agencies have already said they would not enforce it. Some counties went further and passed resolutions telling their sheriff he must ignore the law.
- Both Connecticut and New York mandated registration of modern rifles. Only a few percent of gun owners complied with these laws. The state looked at its records and realized that only a few percent of law enforcement officers had registered their personally owned rifles as well.
- Knife laws are more widely ignored than firearms laws.
Think about that for a minute. Gun owners are rule-followers. They are a bunch of boy scouts and girl scouts. They want to obey the law. We know licensed gun owners are more law abiding than the police! Gun owners obey the law until the law doesn’t make any sense, until the law punishes honest gun owners rather than punishing criminals.
As a gun owner, I almost felt guilty for a second, but then I realized that prosecutors ignore firearms laws thousands of times every day.
- The Illinois State Police routinely exceed the 30-day time limit allowed for them to issue a state mandated firearms owners ID card. It is easier to count the few instances when Illinois returned an ID card on time rather than tally the many times they were late.
- Firearms purchase permits are delayed well beyond the 30-day maximum period in New Jersey. New Jersey citizens were murdered while they waited for state permission to buy a gun for self-defense. As the New Jersey Second Amendment Society has shown, any excuse will do when a government official denies a citizen’s request. The government officials are NEVER prosecuted for breaking these laws.
- Concealed carry applications in California are routinely delayed beyond the state mandated response time.
- Prosecutors routinely ignore the straw purchases that put guns into the hands of criminals. Even the criminal isn’t usually prosecuted for possession of a stolen firearm. That is the first charge prosecutors bargain away. In the rare case of prosecution, straw purchasers receive minor sentences. In contrast, many gun owners were sentenced to the maximum extent of the law for minor paperwork violations.
- The right to keep and bear arms is written into the constitution of 44 of our 50 states. I can only recall a few instances where a state attorney general or a local prosecutor pursued charges when the state or city abused the law and denied our human right of self-defense. Imagine if you said you were too busy to file your permits on time.. or too busy to pay your taxes.
That lawlessness is a sad legacy to leave our children. Remember that when you hear politicians call for even more laws.