The Senate 'gun safety' bill is worse even than I thought

Yesterday, I swiftly made my way through the compromise "gun safety" bill that the Democrats and RINOs crafted.  My conclusion was that most of the provisions were useless and that it was unlikely that face-saving constitutional demands in the provision funding red flag laws would matter, given that judges would invariably rule for seizing guns just to be on the safe side.  The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) scrutinized the bill more closely, and, with its deep knowledge of existing gun policies and their effectiveness (or risk to gun-owners), rendered its verdict: "This bill chills the right to keep and bear arms[.]"

Because the FPC wants its message to get out there, I don't feel like a cheat simply blocking and quoting its list of problems with the bill:

Enhanced background checks 

  • Seeking juvenile records for purchasers under 21 requires the engagement of numerous agencies and will cause delays to access of the right
  • Adding 7 days from the current 3 for National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to respond for just this one population is unequal treatment under the law based solely on age

Red Flag Laws

  • Incentivizes local disarmament proceedings, of which many states currently employ secret ex-parte hearings
  • Calls only for standards equivalent only to civil court
  • For all the bluster in the measure about protecting due process and the constitutional rights of the subjects of the hearings during the "appropriate phase", it implies that states will still be able to hold secret ex-parte hearings to deprive the People of their rights.
  • Entitles the subject to an attorney "at the appropriate phase", but it must be at the subject's expense

Image: Mitch McConnell when he pretended to believe in constitutional gun rights by Gage Skidmore.  CC BY-SA 2.0.

Private Sales 

  • Expands the definition of "engaged in the business" by striking "with the principal objective of livelihood and profit" in the current definition and replacing it with "to predominantly earn a profit."
  • This confusion could lead to new and successful prosecutions of private sellers who may fall under the broad and vague definition of “engaged in business” and therefore the need to be licensed.

New Misdemeanor Firearms Prohibitions

  • By expanding the definition of a prohibiting misdemeanor domestic violence in such a vague, broad, and subjective way it invites confusion, and potential firearms prohibitions.

Transfers and Straw Purchases

  • Expanded definitions and dramatic penalty enhancements on individuals who illegally transfer firearms
  • Prohibits the government from arming drug cartels, unless the government exercises more oversight on said drug cartels, thus allowing the free flow of arms to these cartels to continue in perpetuity.

As a reminder, the Second Amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms is inherent in individuals.  As for that throat-clearing about a militia, all adult men were automatically members of the "militia," a tradition going back to the Angles and Saxons before there was an England.

When they ratified the Second Amendment, the Founders had just ended a war against a tyrannical government (a war that started when the British tried to seize the colonists' arms in Boston) and had no intention of letting that happen again.  The best defense against tyranny is a government that respects its citizens, and the citizens being armed is an integral part of that respect.

Aside from rights (which are all in the People's favor, not the government's), there's a fundamental lie behind all these "gun safety" laws, which is that they'll keep you perfectly safe.  Nothing will keep you perfectly safe, although having a government that enforces existing laws would be a good start.

Everything is a matter of balance.  I would rather risk a few crazy, bad people with guns in a world in which good, moral people have guns than risk a world in which only the government is armed.  Just ask the Jews, Chinese, Russians, Poles, Cubans, North Koreans, and every other oppressed people how well that turned out.

If your senator is one of the Republicans who signed off on this bill, call or email him with the polite request that he change his mind.  If these senators care even a little about what their constituents think, maybe that will make a difference.

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