By David Codrea
In it, the group advised against kneejerk reactions, and instead recommended enacting what it calls “useful ‘gun control’ legislation.”
I challenged the assumption that such edicts exist, and also the admonition that “public civility” is always the appropriate response to hostile subversives and useful idiots.
Those were general concepts. Let’s take a look now at the specifics being offered by IFoA.
“Let's agree that we are united in opposition to the misuse of firearms, especially the access of guns to criminals and mentally unstable individuals,” they recommend.
Not so fast. Opposed to misuse, certainly, but as for the rest, anyone who can’t be trusted with a gun can’t be trusted without a custodian. That was demonstrated by what ostensibly enabled the top three mass murders in this country, access to box cutters, fuel oil and fertilizer, and a container of gasoline. If a violent criminal is so dangerous that he poses a physical threat to innocents, letting him wander freely among us makes as much sense as opening the cage and letting out a man-eating lion because it’s served a designated time. And the same holds true for a person with mental issues that make him a danger to himself and others.
We hear proponents of mental health gun disabilities throw out the word “adjudication,” as if that somehow makes everything all right. Just remember the Soviet Union “adjudicated” its mental patients, too. The key here is to ensure that protections equivalent to those of a jury trial are available when loss of a right is the outcome, because politically-connected anti-gun judges, politically-appointed boards, and “expert” adherents of the American Psychiatric Association’s “Position Statement on Firearm Access, Acts of Violence and the Relationship to Mental Illness and Mental Health Services” all bring strong biases to the proceedings.
Will people who could benefit be discouraged from seeking help? And come to think of it — since they could be “incriminating” themselves, why don’t medical ethics and the law demand patients who could have their rights abrogated receive the equivalent of a Miranda warning, including their right to clam up and consult legal counsel?
Also of interest – or it should be – how will rights be restored when there is no longer a compelling mental health prescription to deny them?
What universal appeal mechanism – affordable to all, not just to elites for whom money is no object – will exist to declare a person is once more “eligible” to keep and bear arms? What guarantees are there that the same biases that colored the disability ruling in the first place won’t reassert themselves in the “parole” process? And have we identified psychiatric evaluators, risk management administrators and insurers who will be willing to subject themselves to malpractice liabilities should a person deemed “fit” be misdiagnosed? Or will the pressure be to “err on the side of caution”?
“Let's agree to enhanced penalties for straw purchasers and gun traffickers who put the public at risk by arming criminals,” IFoA suggests next. “A serious approach to gun laws requires getting serious about the consequences for violating them and backing them up with real prosecutions by the Department of Justice.”
I’m reminded of a Dr. Evil line. How about no? Again, if someone is a proven danger, what are they doing walking and stalking freely among us? And if I buy a gun from or for you, as is supposedly our right, it’s really no one’s business but ours. But that brings us to the next recommendation.
“Let's agree to require the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) at gun shows. NRA's Wayne LaPierre supported this to Congress back in May 1999,” IFoA offers next. “Our proposal is called the Gun Show Preservation and Protection Act …”
Let’s not. First of all, that’s not where criminals get their guns, and they won’t go through NICS, so what’s the point? How does mandating an end to private sales at gun shows comport with either the clear wording of the Second Amendment or with legitimate enumerated powers? And if we do it at gun shows, why not do it for all private sales? Or will that be what’s offered next?
Besides, if those demanding it are really interested solely in background checks, and nothing else, they’d be pushing something like BIDS, the Blind Identification Database System, instead of NICS. That would identify firearms-disabled persons without creating any kind of transaction record that could then be used for registration purposes, and without compiling records of innocent gun owners. For reasons that should be clear by now, I’m not endorsing such a system, even though it would inarguably be an improvement. I merely point to its utility as a “poison pill” to prove those who say they only want background checks would be lying if they objected to BIDS, and to note all the major gun rights groups have been aware of – and deliberately ignored – this much less intrusive alternative for years.
The suggestions go on, including “a national firearm safety awareness campaign” that seems to be offering a one-size-fits-all lock up your safety “solution,” and “giving ATF and all of law enforcement the technology tools,” without looking at the failure of existing oversight to prevent abuses against freedom committed with the tools they already have. And while “victims deserve action, not rhetoric, not sloganeering” makes for a pretty good slogan, the devil, as always, is in the details.
OK fine, I don’t agree with IFoA’s proposals. I’ve badmouthed ‘em all and called for throwing the whole legislative olive branch in the fire. So what am I offering instead?
That’ll be next column.
- Part One: IFOA Offers Concessions on Guns Following Roanoke Murders
- Part Three: Preemptive Surrender on Guns as Futile as Appeasement
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.