How do you make gun owners innocent criminals? Over the past several years, there has been a noticeable increase in gun-related offenses in public and private areas. These offenses were perpetrated with malice and firearms were used to perform the intended harm. The outcome of the incidents was to restrict firearms types and sales and ban certain firearms. The idea behind the bans is to prevent certain types of weapons from getting into the hands of criminals.
When one looks historically at the use of firearms worldwide, there are many studies and investigated events that show the criminals used weapons that were not necessarily obtained from a legitimate source. In other words, crimes are committed using firearms that can be obtained outside of the monitored firearms market. Criminals, who have intent to cause mass harm, use weapons that are paid for by trading drugs, money or other favors. The guns are usually high capacity semi- or full automatic styles that are easily concealable and not traceable (i.e. stolen or serial numbers removed).
Let us compare that to honest, law abiding citizens who purchase firearms for hunting, professional target shooting or home defense. Those firearms owners are for the most part prohibited from owning:
• magazines that hold more than 10 rounds
• have a total length less than 30″ for rifles
• cannot have a pistol grip on the rifle
• cannot have an easily removable magazine
Criminals can easily obtain a firearm that meets all of the above criteria. The reason for this is due to the fact that criminals do not obey the law. Honest citizens do, innocent criminals. So the criminals have the better weapons. The citizens do not stand a chance against perpetrators who are better prepared. If a criminal breaks into a home for instance, and he/she has a firearm that holds 20 rounds of ammunition, that person can feel pretty confident that the home owner does not possess an equal arsenal. This in and of itself puts the law abiding citizen at a known disadvantage. To quote an officer at the Sandy Hook school shooting, “when seconds count, police are minutes away.” There is a viral video on YouTube, taken by a nanny-cam, that shows a woman being beaten in front of her 3 year old child. She never had time to call 911, but may have had time to pull a gun and stop the incident.
I am not here preaching vigilantism. But I wish to make a point that if criminals never know who is or is not armed, then they may be much more leery of committing a crime, or of breaking into a home. If mass killers had more obstacles stopping them from their intended goal, then those types of crimes may be less catastrophic. At present, in order for law abiding citizens in California to purchase a firearm, they:
• need to have a background check done
• cannot have any felonies or violence related crimes on their record
• need to prove residency
• need to have the firearm held by a dealer for 10 days
• are limited to certain types of firearms as dictated by the Justice Department
Basically, guilty until proven otherwise. Innocent criminals.
Let’s review some of the revelations from the recent shooting spree at the Navy Yard. The shooter was honorably discharged from the military with known mental issues, his security clearance was not taken away, and he had prior criminal behavior and had easy access to firearms. So, it seems apparent here that those in charge of dictating who should and should not get a firearm have failed in their decision making. With all of the hurdles that I need to jump, in order to obtain a limited capability firearm, how can I be assured that the check and balance system is actually working? I cannot, based on the outcome of the Navy Yard investigation.
Another point to be made here, pertaining to the title, is to keep making laws to restrict honest, law abiding citizens. If that group does not constantly review Justice Department and Firearms Division rules, they can easily fall into the trap of breaking the law. They can legally own something one year, and then the next year it can become a felony to possess it. Why? Because every time a new crime is committed with a firearm, politicians feel the need to take away more rights from those who obey the law.
I have a friend who shoots a long bow for enjoyment and also for competition. Here is a review of his deadly weapon:
• bows and arrows have a many centuries old history of being used to kill animals and people, long before firearms came into being
• his magazine (quiver in long bow terms) holds more than ten rounds
• the tips of the arrows might have lead, Cupids did
• the firing of the arrow is silent, but a gun cannot legally have a silencer
• there is not a background investigation done nor is there a 10 day waiting period with a dealer and fees involved in the transfer of the weapon
By comparison, the long bow has many similar aspects to a gun. It kills, it can be easily reloaded, and with practice it is very accurate. We can go a step further and involve cutting implements. Oh, wait, that has already been done. Recall what became a weapon in the airline hijackings of 911: box cutters. So now the cause and effect are, no sharp objects on flights, including cutlery. Unless of course you are in first class, since criminals always fly economy and thereby won’t get real metal utensils for in-flight meals. I hope nobody ever uses a ball point pen, or our writing ability will be restricted to licensed authors who are required to register their pens and pay supplemental tax on ink refills.
In general, there is a law pertaining to assault with a deadly weapon, aka ADW. In this crime, anything that is used to attack or assault a living person can become a deadly weapon. Automobile deaths have been called an ADW crime when the driver used the vehicle with intent to cause harm. When someone has raised an axe in a parking lot, and the police show up, the crime is ADW using an axe. The conclusion here is that anything can be used to cause harm, even someone’s own hands. Assault is not a type of rifle, assault is a behavior. What can help prevent the behavior? Education. Ask Malala, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban. What is her response to their behavior? Educate. Instead of using time, money, energy and resources on trying to find the next weapon to outlaw, try putting that same effort into our educational system. Changing behavior has a much more lasting effect than shooting from the hip on gun control. If we teach children that the world is one place and we are all here to grow together, then there just might be less violence. For sure, if you remove the ability for us to protect ourselves, family and homes, then we will end up with a world in which fear is an everyday feeling.
The country in which I was born and raised, was founded by people who took up arms against their aggressor (the English). Had they been underpowered, we could be answering to the Queen as we speak. Firearms are here and they are not going away anytime soon and taking away our right to have them only strengthens the position of the aggressor. Granted, there are many accidents involving firearms and many times they are preventable. For instance, young children getting a hold of an “unloaded gun,” or people being shot with their own gun during a crime. Again, here is where education can assist. The minimal safety test people need to pass before buying a firearm should be increased depending on what the reason is for purchase. Hunters are very highly trained in firearms use as are competition target shooters. Home defense purchases, on the other hand, are where many problems can arise.
The owner may never take the gun out of the nightstand for years, then pull it out expecting to protect themselves. It is one thing to point it, it is another to actually pull the trigger and hit the target. If you are not trained or if you do not practice, then owning it is not safe. A lot can be said for education. Not much can be said for creating laws that have no basis. Taxing bullet sales? What will that accomplish? It will be another cost added to already overburdened residents of this State. Are there any studies that show criminals shop at Big 5 retail stores? They buy from obscure sources. So again you are penalizing upright, tax paying citizens. Annual permit to buy ammunition? The people who use firearms to commit crimes, again, will not be registered with the DOJ. So how will this bill slow down or stop violent crimes involving guns?
Thank goodness a few of those bills were vetoed, but I imagine the authors will try again. We need something that makes sense, like enforcing the laws we already have and being more receptive to our desires for self-defense. There is not a peace officer on every corner. We need an alternative. I have heard the argument that “if one life is saved from these laws, then they are worth it.” That is true, but I am the only one who will save my life. So in the process of protecting people by making gun control laws, don’t strip me of the ability to protect my own life from those who do not follow your laws.
By Greg Galvin
The Firing Line, California Rifle and Pistol Association