huffingtonpost.com‘s editors have seen fit to republish a civilian disarmament screed from 2014 penned by Navy Vet Shawn VanDiver. (Seriously.) The self-professed “former weapons instructor” reckons the recent Mississippi revenge shooting at Delta State is reason enough to resubmit his gun control plan to the HuffPo’s anti-gun audience. Which is reason enough for us to fisk it again, and point out that his understanding of the Second Amendment’s stricture – the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed – is sorely lacking. Clock this . . .
Licensing, to be renewed every five years with full background checks and mental health screenings, is the first step. Adding a checkbox to a driver’s license and another form would make this easy to implement. My driver’s license tells folks that I am a donor; it could very easily also indicate whether or not I am a gun owner or authorized to carry concealed firearms.
Before you tell me how I am violating your rights by proposing a record of gun owners, note that the constitution does not say that you have the right to bear arms and not tell anyone. We regulate chemicals, elevators, airplanes, and financial transactions–and none of those are specifically designed to kill anyone.
I guess the Fifth Amendment’s right to silence – albeit during a criminal investigation – evaded Mr. VanDiver’s attention. That and the fact that the Constitution does say you have the right to keep and bear arms and not tell the government. More precisely, it prohibits the government from infringing on Americans’ right to keep and bear arms by requiring firearms registration.
If that’s not clear enough – and sadly it isn’t – there’s a little something called the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. That piece of legislation states:
No such rule or regulation prescribed [by the Attorney General] after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or disposition be established. Nothing in this section expands or restricts the Secretary’s authority to inquire into the disposition of any firearm in the course of a criminal investigation.
But again, the Second Amendment. Question: would the Founding Father have regarded firearms registration a violation of the U.S. Constitution? Put it this way: did they resist surrendering their arms, ammunition and gunpowder to the British in Boston?
The next step is requiring 40 hours of training prior to license approval. I’m here to tell you that there is little value to having a firearm if one is cannot employ it tactically. I’m not saying we need owners to be trained to the level of Navy SEALs or SWAT teams, but if you claim to want these weapons to protect your home, then you should at least have a baseline knowledge. The training hours should jump to 80 hours for a concealed carry permit. This training should be done by the government to ensure consistency and quality control and should be covered by the tax on ammunition.
And finally, to pay for the licensing process and training as well as the background and mental health screenings, we can add a modest tax to ammunition sales (think five to ten cents per round–a manageable amount). This way, the costs are spread amongst those who wish to own guns.
dictionary.reference.com defines “infringe” as “to commit a breach or infraction of; violate or transgress; to encroach or trespass (usually followed by on or upon).”
If the government requires firearms training, that’s infringement – in the same sense that if the government mandated training for those wishing to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech that would also be a clear infringement. While we’re at it, government firearms taxation is also infringement – in the same sense that a poll tax is an infringement on Americans’ right to vote.
Yes I know: many states require firearms registration and mandatory firearms training. I’m also aware that there’s a federal tax on ammunition and state and local taxes on the sale of ammunition and firearms. Just as I’m aware that the NSA’s collection of “mega-data” infringes on the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against indiscriminate search and seizure.
We can argue about the social utility of gun laws, but one thing’s of sure: they are unconstitutional. They infringe on Americans’ Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. The same Constitution that Mr. VanDiver swore to defend and uphold. [h/t JM]