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Sound Bites are Easy, but Safety is Hard- notes from the 2019 Gun Rights Policy Conference

September 27, 2019

It takes more than virtue signaling to make us safer. That is the message I took away from the 2019 Gun Rights Policy Conference. I met the people who are doing the real work of making our homes, our offices and our schools safer. They live with the real-world problems that go far beyond 144 character solutions and political press-releases. I came away with hope, but progress isn’t easy.

We live in an imperfect world. Crime and accidents are real. Mental illness is real, and our laws are deeply flawed. The great news is that people can have an episode of mental illness and get better. Quoting Michael Sodini of Walk the Talk America, “We don’t say, watch out for George, he is on his meds. We say watch out for George because he’s off his meds.

Life is hard. People suffer through loss and addiction.. and they heal. We talk about the horrible mass murders we’ve seen in the news but we ignore the much larger number of suicides that happen every day. The mental health community is only starting to figure out armed america. Here are some of the real-world problems we face.

  • Your friend is having some emotional problems. He wants his doctor to adjust the dosage on his medications. While he and his doctor are sorting that out, your friend wants you to hold his firearms for him. In your state, the legislature deliberately confused temporary possession of a firearm with ownership of the gun. You can’t help keep your friend safe without buying his guns and transferring them through a gun shop. You both commit a felony if your friend hands you his guns. Would you break the law to help your friend stay safe?
  • Your neighbor was attacked by a stalker and filed a police report. Unfortunately, due to mandatory background check laws, you can’t loan her a firearm for self-defense. To make the situation worse, her stalker can submit an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) and demand that your neighbor undergo a psychiatric exam. Many victims of sexual abuse show post-traumatic stress. Due to red-flag-gun-laws, the court orders your neighbor to be disarmed. Would you break the law to help your neighbor protect herself?
  • Your friends have to move out of their house for a few days while the house is fumigated and repaired. They want to bring some of their firearms to your house for safe storage. Mandatory background check laws require that all of you go to a gun shop, conduct background checks even though you already have lots of guns, and then pay for the transfer of every firearm. Your friends decide to leave their guns at home in a locked closet. Does that make us safer or leave us in greater danger that their guns will be stolen while their home is open to strangers?
  • You were involved in a car accident and you’re on pain meds. Because of the medications, lack of sleep, and the nagging pain, you know you aren’t thinking clearly. You want your friends to hold your firearms until you’re better. Since you can’t go to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) to make the exchange, both you and your friends become felons as your friends remove the guns from your house and store them at a gun shop.

Life is more complex than press-release-sound-bites about gun-control. The good news is that we’re slowly recognizing the problem of mental health. Responsible gun owners are building their own solutions to keep themselves, their families, and their friends safe.

In time, the law will catch up to the reality of armed america. Until then, it is up to us to look out for each other. Do the right thing and reach out to a friend.

More about GRPC in later posts.

I gave you 600 words. Please share them with a  friend. RM
Link to Walk the Talk America
Several online tests for mental illness

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