Note: I will continuously update this as I get more information
Because this is such a divisive issue, my procrastination drive is in full gear. It isn’t obvious to you reading this, but this is really hard for me to write about because I need to walk a real fine line here. Before all else, I remind you that my two biggest core tenants are freedom and egalitarianism. So. Let me start this piece by giving you my very brief off-the-cuff one sentence thought on the issue. Hmm. Private ownership of weaponry or armaments for use in personal, home, or state self-defense is provided for under the second amendment of the Constitution, the act of owning a weapon doesn’t harm the bearer or their countrymen, and as such people are free to own them as it is their right and freedom to defend themselves from all threats both foreign and domestic (whether a burglar, a Russian soldier, or a fascist US government). That was entirely off-the-cuff (and atrocious grammar), but I think it more or less works. What I think that people who want stricter gun laws need to remember is this: Let’s pretend I’m able to write any law into effect right now. Any and all gun control legislation isn’t legislation that is giving people more liberties and freedoms. Any and all gun control legislation is legislation that is removing liberties and freedoms. Yeah, it’s basic stuff. You might be thinking, “Gah! William. Come on kiddo, how is a training, tests, registries, etc. taking away freedoms? It’s just a tiny change that inconveniences a little but potentially saves a lot. I hear you. I am fully empathetic and understand you. But I am also fully empathetic and understand gun rights advocates too. I want to find new solutions to bring all of us together. That’s just who I am. If you want your way, other side be damned… Well. I’m not your guy. Tyranny isn’t limited to only the right-wing like Trump. The soviets were left-wing tyrants. I love freedom and I love America. I feel, I really feel for every American. (Except the lizard-brained oligarchs that want people poor to stop overpopulation. You people are the worst.) If you’re even reading this you probably understand this much about me. So have faith that I will try to get to a solution amenable to both sides, and stick with me. Maybe you didn’t like my original answer on the stance page. Maybe you won’t like this new one. But this one is in part informed by feedback I’ve been given. I listen (crazy, right?). If you find issues with this post, let me know. I can honestly promise that I will hear you and give it some thought. I won’t just tuck new information under confirmation bias, but really analyze it. So. Back to guns. (procrastinated, sorry) I will endeavor to break down these questions: What changes do we want? Why do we want these changes? How does this conflict with the law and gun owners? What are some compromise solutions I can pitch to you?
What changes do we want? Well, let’s just go ahead and use the demands of the legislators that are pushing for changes: the DNC in Virginia. Are some people in favor of much more restrictive laws than the DNC? Sure. If you think the DNC isn’t doing enough with their goals, let me know. I will try to add a poll to this page so we can see if we as a country actually support what the DNC wants. (gripe: the DNC wants what the DNC wants. Not necessarily what their constituents want. Just look at how gun control is being handled in Virginia. Do you want gun owners to vote for Trump? So stupid.) That said, I am not in favor of taking guns from people and I seriously doubt you’ll ever change my mind on that. We’ll get to why that is in a bit. So these are the changes that the Virginia state legislature passed (to the ire of Virginians. Way to represent your constituents. SMH) They are adding:
(Note: To understand a gun rights advocate you need to look at every law and assume a lawyer (like Senator Palpatine) in the future will try to use it as precedent for taking away all guns in subsequent generations – it’s that simple. That same lawyer could be doing it as a way to bring about fascist control of the populace, we don’t know but it’s worth preventing)
(Note: To understand a gun control advocate you need to understand that they believe (correctly) that if guns were strictly regulated there’d be greatly reduced levels of gun violence by criminals and psychos. (I predict that this would really increase knife sales, though. Good luck to smaller men and women in a world without self-defense via guns) )
[the Jedi are gun rights advocates in cased you misread the metaphor, I suggest listening to the whole story of Palpatine’s rise]
* Universal background checks, closing a loophole allowing private citizens to sell guns without getting background checks.
This is just another way of saying something you’ve heard of before, “gun show loophole“. Basically when you buy a gun from a retailer, they run a check on you. But if you want to sell/give a gun to a friend privately, there’s no requirement to get a check. Essentially the laws want you to do the exchange through a licensed vendor so that a background check can be run first. I understand why they want it closed: anyone can claim a sale was private which in effect allows anyone to avoid running a background check. I will point out that it is a felony to sell a gun to anyone who the seller suspects wants to use it in a crime, or is currently wanted for crimes. I actually have some thoughts on this. I’m going to draft a proposal in a few days.
* Bans on assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines, silencers and devices that increase a gun’s firing rate (such as “bump stocks”).
So I’m going to go ahead and say that any bans are already a slippery slope when it comes to eroding gun rights. I mean, people can’t even agree to what assault weapon even means. If I slug you in the face, that’s considered assault. So is my fist an assault weapon? High capacity? What’s the delimiter for “high capacity”. That is also more or less completely arbitrary. I get that people don’t want AK-47s mowing down pedestrians, but even if we make all guns illegal – smugglers will still get them to criminals. It’s just a fact. It’ll only make them more expensive – unless they’re being supplied by a hostile government like Russia (who would give them to any murderer for free because, well, they get to hit America with little effort and that makes them happy). Same thing with ‘bump stocks’. Once these things have been banned and subsequently normalized in the public’s mind for 20-30 years some politician will stir people up by dramatizing acts of violence in the media until it becomes the new hot button issue. That’s what incrementalism is. The gradual erosion of a right provided under the Constitution. That would never happen? It already has and does. That’s where we are.. So I would vote ‘no’ if this ever came to discussion. Once we improve mental health screening and getting civil and societal mechanisms in place to combat delusion disorders and poverty then these people will get the help they need instead of becoming so desperate they feel the need for a weapon – gun or otherwise. Anyone can make a mass murder device out of a bucket of nails, a potato gun, and a handful of batteries. Just saying. Additionally, once we have social protections in place that prevent people from getting so hungry or cold they become desperate enough to use guns to stay alive or off the streets, those criminals will disappear too. The only would-be high-tech weapon murderers at this point are terrorists and they weren’t going to purchase a gun legally anyway. In that case you might appreciate a good Samaritan wielding one of these weapons in your defense.
* Reinstating a law repealed in 2012 that limited handgun purchases to one per month.
While slightly less arbitrary, this is still incrementalism. The constitution provides for private citizens to bear arms and create private militia. This was put in for a reason. We’ll get to that a bit later.
* Requiring anyone whose firearm is lost or stolen to report it to police within 24 hours.
This seems like a common sense law, but I was convinced otherwise. (Basically this needs to be done in a way that a registry isn’t created from data given to law enforcement). You’d report a stolen car. (I looked up if you legally had to report a stolen car. You don’t. That’s weird. Cars can be used in a crime too. Let’s add that as a law while we’re at it? Seems only fair.) It’s inconvenient but guns are dangerous and the potential catastrophe caused by a stolen gun outweighs the inconvenience of filing a police report. File the report. My way of writing this one would be this: You would only need to let law enforcement know a gun was stolen, and won’t be required to submit any data which could be used to create a national registry. If a stolen gun is used in a crime within 48 hours and law enforcement can prove you knew it was stolen for 24 hours beforehand and didn’t report it – it would then be a felony. We want to encourage reporting theft without having owners afraid they’ll end up on a registry. You know, a law that improves safety by whatever small margin while still keeping civil liberties intact (Extreme, I know).
* Creating an “extreme risk protective order” allowing courts to seize guns from people who a judge deems a threat to themselves or others. This is also known as a “red-flag law.”
The biggest red-flag here isn’t the people who are red-flags but the law itself. This is definitely never, ever, ever, ever, ever going to fly with gun rights advocates. While I am slightly amused at the notion that they expect people to follow this law, it’s not funny what people will do to defend their right to bear arms if the government tries to enforce this law. The “red flag law” essentially is giving the government the legal right to come and take your guns away if any lawyer convinces any judge that you’re dangerous. In Salem, the judges were convinced women were dangerous witches. That turned out pretty good. This opens the door to some next-level fascist crap so stop threatening to call in the national guard. By the way, DNC, the judge you want to give this power to was probably appointed by Trump. Did you think this one through at all? Yeesh. I reject authoritarianism from the right and the left. I love America and Americans love freedom.
* Prohibiting anyone subject to a court’s final protective order from possessing a gun. Current law applies a ban only to people who are subject to a protective order for family abuse.
So a protective order is something filed to prevent domestic abuse. It’s like a restraining order against people you are involved with, past or present. This restriction seems to only get put in place if your spouse or family members who are in or were in a household with you were abused by the gun owner. If one beat their wife and she gets a protective order against them, they lose the right to legally possess a firearm while it’s in effect. Since it’s so specific this might actually be okay, so long as there is writing on the law that says it becomes invalid if they want to increase it’s scope at any point in the future. To me, it seems fine and relatively protected from abuse by the government. People afraid their newly divorced abusive spouse will seek armed revenge should be a little safer if a person with a logged history of violence against them doesn’t own a gun. I would suggest they buy a gun to defend themselves just in case he does manage to get a gun, or comes by with a knife. Good thing the victims can buy a gun, am I right? So long as this is worded right, I support it. Note: Harsh penalties would be put in place for anyone who bears false witness to punish former partners and have their arms taken.
* Allowing cities and counties the ability to pass gun laws stricter than state law, such as banning firearms from public buildings or events.
This is probably the most subversive addition. When an entire state loses their gun rights or threatens to take guns away, gun rights groups are able to quickly respond. When a small city manages to pass it under the radar then suddenly there are significantly less people banding together to oppose the violation to their rights. They have less leverage when it comes to litigating their defense as well as less resources with which to litigate, unless the NRA is willing to shell out the cash to sue that city. This is actually the most open ended and abuse-prone addition. There was never a chance that any gun rights advocates were going to be okay with this. (How can you be a good person or gun control advocate if you don’t want to make guns illegal?!? Do you watch the news?!?! So bear with me please if you’re thinking this way. There’s a reason why I think the way I do and it’s a good one.)
Cool. So those are the changes. In case you didn’t already know, background checks that the NRA and gun rights advocates are cool with already exist and are part of existing federal law. They are being used as we speak and they prevent a lot of people from getting hands on guns who shouldn’t be able to. That’s great. I am in favor of ending the loophole through technology. When any gun goes through a private sale a background check can be easily run from a phone app. Just put in a person’s name and the last 4 of their social (or something I’m just generalizing) and it runs a quick check against a database for person’s with a red flag and then spits it back to you within a minute. If they’re clear the exchange can proceed legally. This wouldn’t be enforceable without creating a registry which is a solid no-go for good reason. So by opening up the NICS to free use by the public we get 100% more voluntary checks during sales than we do now (WHICH IS ZERO). However, if a sale occurs after a failed check and law enforcement finds out you sold a gun to someone who failed a check and they commit a crime… well, that’s a felony now. If the app takes longer than 10 minutes to respond and you weren’t doing anything to circumvent it from properly functioning, it would no longer be illegal at that point either. (No de facto bans where the government is purposefully stalling the app to prevent the sale) I would put into the writing for this that the law is reliant on free nation-wide broadband. (something we should have with President Sanders) This way no one needs to purchase internet access to be able to run a check from their smart devices. If neither party has a smart device, they can go to the library or a gun vendor. This makes sense and seems fair. Sadly it’s not this easy right now. The government also needs to be restricted from pulling GPS data on your phone when running this app, as well as passing any information onto any other agency. We want people to use the app, not scare them because of potential abuses. Gun owners have a healthy mistrust of their government, as tyranny can come from the right or the left or any ideology. Just because Sanders is (hopefully) a good person, it doesn’t mean the next progressive president won’t be a tyrant.
So what does it mean I’ll support?
Universal background checks — Yes! Make it as easy as a safe and secure phone app (or something).
Any kinds of bans of firearms or accessories — No.
Time-gated purchases (one a month) — No. Militias have to right to be formed and ready in a minute. Minutemen, if you will.
Losing gun rights for domestic abuse and protection orders — Yes, this seems fair while safe and free from would-be tyrants.
Allowing counties to make rules stricter — No. WAY too much potential for abuse.
I am working on a proposal for how we can go forward, stay tuned
Why we have guns and why people are right to fight to keep them
(I’m making this a separate post, will try to have it out 1/3/19)