For some people, a “bad law” is one they don’t like. One that (also) doesn’t accomplish its purported goal – such as reducing violent crime. For others, a bad law is one that violates the United States Constitution – such as any law infringing on Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms. You could also argue that a bad law is any law that’s “unworkable.” What, then, are we to make of the gun control laws passed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook slaughter, laws that tick the box marked “all of the above”? The word that springs to mind is . . .
When a law – any law – is unpopular, ineffective, unconstitutional and unenforceable people tend to ignore it. Are we surprised that Colorado gun owners are finding ways to circumvent the post-Newtown magazine capacity ban, prohibiting the purchase or sale of ammunition mags that hold over 15 rounds? We are not. Nor will anyone in the firearms fraternity raise an eyebrow when they learn that thousands of New Yorkers have ignored the SAFE Act requirement to ditch or register their “assault weapons.”
Why wouldn’t gun owners ignore these new gun control laws? Who’s going to enforce them?
Cops in Colorado, New York, Connecticut and Maryland may or may not be in favor of the laws; support tends to run along urban/rural lines. But whether or not any given police force or police officer would disobey an order to enforce a gun control law on a firearms-owning taxpayer, every badge-wearing public servant knows that confiscating ammunition magazines and guns from armed citizens is an extremely dangerous business. Going home at night is not a given.
What we have here: a Mexican standoff between tens of thousands of gun owners and state governments. No one’s talking about it and it hasn’t erupted into violence. But that doesn’t change the fact that one spark, one stupid bust gone wrong, and the entire “gun debate” could go up in flames. Make no mistake: if and when a cop tries to take someone’s “assault rifle” and that someone kills a cop (or cops), all hell will break loose – in a way that will make Waco seem like a warm-up.
The standoff at Bundy Ranch tells us that there are hundreds of armed Americans ready to rush to the aid of a “innocent” gun owner swept up in a government gun grab. The recent capture of Pennsylvania cop killer Eric Frein by U.S. Marshals tells us there’d be a huge federal response to a lethal gun defense by a rural resident. Something significantly larger than the $1m-per-week PA manhunt, which involved both FBI and ATF SWAT teams. Imagine a Bundy Ranch standoff where “militia members” get into a firefight with hundreds of heavily-armed feds. Imagine the aftermath.
That’s not a pleasant intellectual exercise. The feds could use the bloodletting (on either or both sides) as an excuse to take proactive action against “domestic terrorists”: anyone giving aid and comfort to the law-breaking gun owner(s). Some states — many states — would not play ball, should the feds decide to broaden those efforts geographically. They’d oppose the federales in every way possible – exacerbating tensions between pro-gun (small government) and anti-gun (big government) states. Civil war much?
Now that’s a big leap. But keep in mind that any such move against “gun nuts” and “terrorist militias”would have its supporters, and events have a way of spiraling out of control. That’s especially true if the woman occupying the White House gets (keeps?) an anti-ballistic bee in her proverbial bonnet. And don’t forget how the mood of the country changed after Newtown, swinging towards anti-gun fervor by a whopping 10 percent. A large-scale terrorist attack before this state-gun-grab-gone-wrong wouldn’t help matters. At all.
The best way to prevent any of this occurring: deep-six the unpopular, ineffective, unconstitutional and unenforceable gun laws bedeviling Americans in gun control-heavy states. That could happen politically. It could happen in the U.S. Supreme Court. If it doesn’t happen in either venue, bad things will happen. It’s only a question of what, when and where.