The Commentary
The Gun Control debate.

Saturday, August 09, 2003  

What about it?

Let's get something clear here: Are we discussing the gun laws of the U.S., or of England? Because if we're discussing the latter, I'm going to be a lot more agreeable to your suggestions. If we're discussing the gun laws of the U.S., then I'm going to be pretty obstinate.

I've said repeatedly that our Constitution guarantees to us a right to arms, and I'm not going to go along with anything more than the bare minimum restrictions on that right. Having to "show competence" to some higher authority in order for you to own a gun drops that "right" to a "priviledge," and I won't condone that. The legal precedent is that carrying concealed is not a protected right, and thus a "competence test" is not, legally, out of the question. But allowing a "competence test" for mere ownership is the foot in the door to eventual elimination of the right of ownership, as you in the UK should appreciate.

posted by Kevin | 04:01

Tuesday, August 05, 2003  

What about competence?

In order to ensure I properly understood what you meant by "shall-issue", I did a quick-and-dirty bit of research (i.e. I Googled), and came across this page. Now, I haven't read it all, but I did note the mention of safety classes and skimmed through some of it, stopping when I got as far as Montana.

I actually like the Montana legislation, but for firearms in general, as opposed to concealed carry. I'm not sure whether I actually see any point in differentiating between different levels of ownership. I think that, (these are newly-formed thoughts here) the Montana restrictions (e.g. convicted of a felony, mentally ill, required to complete "any of a number of firearms safety classes" etc.) on concealed weapon permits should apply to firearms ownership in general, and you shouldn't need anything extra for concealed carry.

I'm thinking that there maybe should be different classes of weapons (e.g. shotguns vs. semi-automatic pistols) and that the safety classes should reflect those differences (so, just doing the shotgun safety course wouldn't qualify you for carrying a pistol; you'd have to complete another course, to show that you understood the safety nuances particular to that type of weapon).

The problem with applying Montana-style restrictions to gun ownership in general is that they might preclude certain individuals from owning a firearms on a technicality. For example, a farmer who, in the past, was convicted of some kind of non-violent type of crime (e.g. fraud or something like that; I'm not familiar with exactly what crimes are felonies and which are merely misdemeanours) might find that he was prohibited from owning any type of firearm when common sense would dictate that it made sense for him to own a shotgun to deal with marauding bears/rabbits/invironmintls on his farm. So. there'd need to be some kind of a mechanism whereby an applicant who doesn't meet the 'shall-issue' requirements is able to effectively appeal to have the restrictions waived.

So, basically, I pretty much agree on the following:

  1. Registration shouldn't be required. Might be worth trying out a voluntary scheme, though. Why? Because gun owners might want to register their weapon and it's rifling pattern in case that information might be useful to the police if the weapon ever got stolen and used in a crime. Not sure how useful that might be, haven't thought it through yet.
  2. Background checks are good. National IDs are bad. The British government wants to introduce a national ID and charge us for the privilege. Bastards.
  3. Straw purchasers should be severely punished (research yielded an interesting story).
There are still some areas where we differ:
  1. The main area - I think I favour setting the gun ownership rules to be the same as you think should apply to concealed-carry, and just allowing people to carry concealed by default.
  2. Safe storage. Hmmmmmmm. I'd be more comfortable with something that encouraged gun owners to at least act vaguely responsibly in storing their weapon. I agree that they can't be held responsible for murders committed by someone who steals their gun, but I also think that anyone who, for example, leaves a loaded handgun on the passenger seat of an empty car where anyone can smash'n'grab it, is being a bit negligent. Perhaps some kind of three-strikes-and-you're-out rule (i.e. the first two times you're caught you just get a warning, but the third time something is done, like you're banned from owning a weapon for 12 months, or something).
  3. Suppressors. I'm conflicted. One part of me thinks "Why not?" but the other part of me thinks "Well, why would you want a 'silenced' weapon?" The only excuse I can think of is if a hunter wants to shoot game without scaring off it's flock/herd-mates, which seems distinctly unsporting to me, but there you go; maybe I've been living in England too long.

posted by Jack | 13:52