By Dr. Vino
Many who read this fine blog are wont to write off California, its increasingly insane anti-gun laws and, in the process, California gun owners who, despite our opposition, get steamrolled to one extent or another each legislative session. Case in point: With the new year, we lose the single-shot exemption which made it possible to buy new 4th Generation GLOCKs or Stoner and Kalashnikov pattern pistols. Another new obstacle to firearms ownership in the People’s Republic of California is the annoying Firearms Safety Certificate. It’s supposed to replace the Handgun Safety Certificate and cover long guns as well. Prior to January 1, 2015 . . .
safety certificates were only required for handgun purchases. More recently, if one wanted to buy a handgun, they went through a background check, registration and waiting period. And then some. To initiate the purchase, one had to present a valid Handgun Safety Certificate which was obtained by passing the Handgun Safety Test. The handgun is registered to the purchaser’s name recording make, model and serial number.
The study guide is only available in English and Spanish. Not Vietnamese, Russian, Hebrew or German and at times seems to promote a borderline hoplophobic attitude towards guns. The pleasure of jumping through this bureaucratic hoop costs about $25 and the card was good for five years. But wait…there’s still more! Prior to taking possession of the handgun, Californians also need to perform a “Safe Handling Demonstration.”
Until December 31st, 2014, Californians seeking to exercise a semblance of freedom could purchase a long gun after going through a background check and then putting their property in firearms purgatory for 10 days. This wait was a “cooling off period” that stopped Elliot Rodger last year. It’s the same waiting period which has been recently ruled unconstitutional. That ruling, of course, doesn’t sit well with America’s Best-Looking Attorney General, who’s appealing it.
So no “safety certificate” was required for long gun purchases until today. But for the last year — and to the glee of the Mexican president and his Federales — each long gun purchased in California and other border states had its make, model and serial number registered with the CA DOJ.
To obtain a hunting license in the Plundered State, we have to take an 8-hour class on “hunting safety”. Then pass a test. No license without the “Hunters Safety Certificate”. Then we have the privilege of paying the requisite license and tag fees. The curriculum of the class and questions on the test addressed, explicitly, the issues of safe carrying, handling, loading and unloading, shooting and storage of firearms. In general, these practices went beyond measures mandated by law.
As recently as December 30th, two of the three FFLs I spoke with could not tell me about the cost, process or whether valid Handgun Safety Certificates or Hunting Safety Certificates would be acceptable substitutes. One FFL seemed confident that the Firearms Safety Certificate would be essentially the same test.
It seems that the Hunting Safety Certificate (which I obtained a little over two years ago) and the Handgun Safety Certificate (which I obtained a little over a year and a half ago) – both of which were supposed to ensure I know how to safely handle and store my firearms – may be grandfathered in. I hope so, because my knowledge of the laws and safe handling and storage practices didn’t just vanish into thin air at midnight last night. I would like to think that those who spout off about “reasonable” measures would, in fact, be reasonable.
As the floats in Pasadena are rushed to Orange Grove Blvd before the flowers wither and wilt in the unusually low temperatures today, California’s gun owners, potential gun owners and gun retailers are in the dark about the finer points of the new process of gun ownership in this state. Here is a real-world example of how this expanded set of rules and regulations imposes undue burdens and restrictions on exercising one’s Second Amendment rights:
In 1997, my wife bought a Smith & Wesson Model 642 Airweight. She’d been shooting with friends but, in hindsight, feels she made a bad decision. The gun, with its 7 to 8 pound double action only pull, is hard to aim and control for her. She’d put less than an hundred rounds through it and kept it for home defense for all these years. Finally, we decided to sell it.
After taking it to the range I went to clean it and found that the frame was cracked under the barrel. I sent it to S&W for repairs in November. A week ago, I spoke to S&W and they said that they would not have it ready until after the first of the year.
Since they will replace the frame, they will be returning a firearm with a different serial number. After I explained that my plan was to sell the gun and get something else, they indicated that they could send us a different model. In either case, the gun would have to be transferred via an FFL. As my wife is the person to whom the original gun was registered, she would have to take possession.
But she doesn’t have a valid Handgun Safety Certificate. So in addition to paying the background check to receive a new firearm (replacing one she’d owned for 17 years), she now has to obtain an HSC. She has been shooting with me and has shot a number of different guns. In all that time, I’ve been there to make sure she observed proper safe handling practices. We discuss pertinent gun laws. We store our firearms safely. The only thing to be gained by her having to go through the time and expense of obtaining an HSC and background check is for the state to take in about $70. Public safety won’t be advanced. The FFL will have to spend time processing the transfer and store the firearm in their facility for the 10-day wait.
Those who live in free states will perform their perfunctory eyeroll and shoulder shrug, make some comment about California being crazy, its gun owners deserving the legislature they have and move on with their lives assuming this will never happen to them. The most populous state in the union, however, has more say in their lives than they’d like. Whether it’s by precedent, example or number of congressional seats, what happens here shouldn’t be dismissed. As goes California, so goes the nation. Or something like that.
We’ve been steamrolled. We became boiled frogs largely because those things which turned out to be credible threats to liberties were initially dismissed with shrugs and an eyerolls.