The Huffington Post’s Mike Weisser is over-the-moon about the following provision in Massachusetts’ new proposed gun law (Bill H.4278): “The task force shall study and report on suitable and feasible options for the safekeeping of a distressed [i.e. potentially suicidal] person’s firearms in a location away from the household, by his or her relations or community nongovernmental organizations including, but not limited to, legal protections for: (1) private citizens acting as good samaritans, who are of direct relation to the distressed person by family or affection; (2) turn-in and temporary storage of a distressed person’s firearm by a licensed gun store or gun club; (3) and turn-in and temporary storage of a distressed person’s firearm by any other type of organization or facility under registration as a firearms safe harbor.” Apparently, this is ground-breaking stuff! Here’s the HuffPo’s take . . .
The bill creates a task force to consider ways to create “safe harbors” that can be used by families and friends of “distressed individuals” to remove and store their guns temporarily — and informally — until the mental crisis is considered as having passed. The whole point here is to give loved ones, family members, and close friends a way to prevent a depressed parent, sibling or child from having access to guns while not invoking or involving formal contacts with the courts or the police. Maybe it would be another town resident, or perhaps some storage space could be set aside in a local church, but here is a law that will empower individuals to deal with controlling guns precisely so that the government doesn’t have to get involved.
Check the wording of the proposed bill at the top of this post again. Where does it preclude mandatory governmental supervision for this “temporary transfer process”? Remember: this bill doesn’t create a legal framework for that transfer process. It creates a task force to study the potential process; a committee whose findings might very well include a government-supervised protocol for identifying at-risk gun owners.
In fact, why wouldn’t they recommend government supervision? Down here in Texas, we call taking guns away from someone without their express permission stealing. Unless there is some legal protection for the person taking the distressed gun owner’s firearms, they’re committing a crime. And what of the background check required for all firearms transfers in the Bay State? Is MA going to forgo that little proviso to help prevent suicides? I don’t think so.
Weisser is dreaming of a better world, where people are responsible for themselves and others without Big Brother breathing down their neck. I share that vision. As do many, many gun owners. Rest assured, however, that Bay State statists do not. They want the government to intervene to make it as difficult (a.k.a., “safe”) as possible for Massachusetts citizens to keep and bear arms. Whether they’re suicidal or not.
Mike doesn’t see it that way. At all. But he knows a good opportunity to bash the NRA (i.e. any opportunity) when he sees one.
For the very first time a gun control issue will be determined not by the government, but by the people themselves. This is a remarkable precedent, and it has gone unnoticed in all the pro and con reactions to the bill. In typical fashion, the NRA wasted no time trying to gin up its membership to oppose the whole thing, stating shortly after its passage that the bill “still contains provisions which will directly and adversely affect your constitutional right to keep and bear arms.” The fact that the bill gives us the responsibility to protect people from using a gun to hurt themselves is something that the NRA wouldn’t even understand, even though We The People is emblazoned on virtually every NRA poster that you can find.
For the very first time gun control won’t be determined by the government? How about when our nation was young? When there were no gun control laws (only a government control law called the Bill of Rights)? Anyway, Mike’s so anti-NRA he happily repeats their objection to H.4278 – currently heading to the Massachusetts state senate – without specifying it. In the interests of fair play, here’s the NRA’s reasoning for their opposition:
While an improvement over prior versions of this bill that would have given essentially unfettered discretion to issuing authorities to deny applicants or renewal applicants, it isn’t difficult to imagine how this provision will be abused if H.4278 becomes law. For example, a government official with a personal grudge against an applicant or an opposition to individual gun ownership could use almost any “bad” conduct in an applicant’s past to deny the applicant, which might include any number of menial acts that wouldn’t normally prohibit a person from possessing a firearm. Simple speeding tickets might be enough to show that a person “has exhibited or engaged in behavior that suggests the applicant or card holder could potentially create a risk to public safety . . . .” Like current law, denials of a FID card would be reviewable by a court, however, because the bill does not include a standard for review of a denial under the new discretionary provision, a court would likely review those decisions under a very deferential “abuse of discretion” standard, which, in layman’s terms means that very few discretionary denials would likely be overturned.
Well, that doesn’t sound good. In fact, it sounds so bad who gives a you-know-what about what the bill’s task force on suicide prevention may or may not recommend, that may or may not become law? Mikey does! He likes it! Hey Mikey! What about the bill’s “shall issue” Trojan horse that lets bureaucrats deny Americans their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms? How “We the People” is that?
I’m hardly surprised by Mike “The Gun Guy” Weisser’s silver lining acceptance of Massachusetts’ post-Newtown clampdown. I am surprised that MA’s very own Gun Owners Action League is OK with H.4278. I’m not. And neither is anyone who believes that the phrase “shall not be infringed” means what it says: no gun control laws whatsoever. Which makes perfect sense: all gun control laws are inherently, fundamentally and irredeemably flawed. And that’s the truth.