Between the ongoing civil disorder in various cities, the release of thousands of convicted criminals to “protect” them from COVID-19, and the ongoing defund-the-police movement, millions of people have suddenly discovered a need for defensive implements. About five million, according to best estimates (as of early October, 2020).
Many of these new gun buyers were conned by decades of lies about how “easy” it is to buy a gun. Then they were surprised to discover that guns are actually regulated far more than they thought.
If you’re part of this legion of new gun owners, welcome. My first bit of advice is to get training from a knowledgeable instructor. Second, I suggest you learn more about the history and laws surrounding gun ownership that the so-called “common sense gun safety” liars have ignored or…uh…glossed over.
It’s also important for you to know about the constant attacks on our Second Amendment freedoms — both overt and covert. They’re all too common and you are now one of their targets.
The overt attacks are simple to spot. Outright gun bans, concealed carry restrictions, and limits on the kind or frequency of guns you can buy. Then there are the less obvious restrictions put in place to trip up law-abiding gun owners.
Several states have passed “safe storage” laws. Touted as a way of protecting children from inanimate objects and preventing theft, the reality is that they are intended to keep you helpless, even in your own home. Typically, these laws require you to lock up or disable your firearm any time it isn’t in your immediate control (in your hands or on your hip). You wanted to keep a shotgun by your front door? You can’t.
Heck, in some jurisdictions you’re required to lock ammunition in a separate container in a separate place from your locked firearms. For instance, in Philadelphia (see sub-section 3, specifically):
§10-834. Responsibility to Avoid Possession and Discharge of Firearms by Children.
(c) (1) All firearms licensed to be sold, owned or carried in the City of Philadelphia shall be equipped with a trigger-locking device.
(2) All firearms kept in a home with one or more individuals younger than 18 years of age, shall be kept unloaded and stored in a locked container, except when an authorized user is carrying it on his or her person or has the firearm under his or her immediate control;
(3) All ammunition kept in a home with one or more individuals younger than 18 years of age, shall be stored in a locked container in a separate place from the firearm, except when an authorized user is carrying it on his or her person or has the firearm under his or her immediate control.
If someone unlawfully accesses your firearm, you are, by default, assumed to be liable for any bad thing that happens. After all, if you had adequately secured it, that person — child or thief — wouldn’t have been able to pry your lockbox open. If a minor gets their hands on it, in many states there are enhanced penalties for you. And you can be held civilly liable, too.
Another 2A pratfall you could face is from theft/loss reporting laws, which supposedly “incentivize” owners to quickly report a lost or stolen firearm so the police can get right on the case. That argument presupposes that, for some unexplained reason, gun owners, especially those who have guns for protection from criminals, don’t already have a vested interest in recovering their valuable property and keeping guns away from said criminals.
Reality check: Reporting laws are all about straw purchases. A criminal who can’t pass a background check can get another person to buy a gun for him (some gun control advocates go so far as to refer to the purchases as “legal;” they’re absolutely not). When the gun eventually turns up at a crime scene and is traced back to the buyer, said criminal claims it was stolen, and he just hadn’t gotten around to reporting it quite yet.
Somehow, it’s never explained why a straw purchaser wouldn’t simply lie and report it stolen just after he passes it to the intended user. Criminals tend to lie and almost never get their guns through a legal purchase. These reporting laws are just another threat to hold over the heads of honest gun owners like you. One more hoop to know about and jump through.
One reporting requirement bill I saw gave the owner 72 hours to report a theft or loss, with the clock starting from the time of the theft, not from when the owner discovered it.
So your gun was stolen and you report it, as required. Are you safe then?
Maybe not. Are you going to self-incriminate by admitting you did not “safely store” the gun? Or are you going to risk arrest for not reporting the loss at all? Flip a coin; heads you lose, tails the victim disarmers win.
Report the theft. It’s better than a possible federal straw purchase charge down the road when your stolen firearm is traced back to you. Keep good records of the police report. You’ll want to be able to prove — even years down the road — that you reported the loss.
If you lawfully sold your firearm (Do you know it’s a crime to sell to a prohibited person? So many things for the honest gun owner to keep track of.), keep that record, too. You really don’t want them to think you own a gun that was used in a crime, or that you provided it to a criminal.
You’re the careful type, though. You’ve kept your guns away from unsupervised children and gun-hungry thieves. But your nice neighbor Charlie, whom you’ve known for years, is thinking about getting a gun, too. He’d like to borrow yours and take it to the range to see how that model suits him.
No problem, right? You know Charlie and you know he has a clean record.
Two words: Negligent entrustment. In Texas and other states, you can be held civilly liable for anything Charlie may do with that gun. If Charlie has been angry or depressed lately, maybe it would a better idea to take him to the range where you can supervise his use of that handgun.
Concealed carry of a firearm for self-defense is common. But the hoops you have to jump through to lawfully do so vary from state to state. In several states, anyone who can lawfully own a gun can carry one concealed, no license required. We black collar types call this “constitutional carry.”
Other states require you to be licensed to carry a concealed firearm, but don’t require a license for an openly displayed gun. Others don’t allow open carry at at all. Many states have different regulations for long guns vs. handguns. Do you know what your state’s laws are about carrying a gun?
Another gotcha is where you can have a firearm…and where you can’t. Say you live in a state where no carry license is required. You decide to go for a walk with your handgun carried openly on your belt. As you approach a neighborhood school, the police officer running the school zone speed trap notices you and places you under arrest.
You just violated the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 by having a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school without a license.
State laws vary on other locations one may not have a firearm, licensed or not. Common locations are bars and banks (and always post offices, per federal law). Know your state laws. And even that still may not work.
Where you may or may not carry can vary from town to town within the same state. Richmond, Virginia says you’re breaking the law yourself because someone else started an impromptu protest nearby. Convenient for Antifa thugs, not so much for you.
Wait…the gun controllers may not be finished with you yet. In California, you’ll need to pass another background check to get ammunition for the firearm you passed a background check to get. Good luck with that just now.
Similar to California’s inability to properly run the background checks they imposed in the first place, Georgia requires a weapons carry license in order to carry a firearm. You have to apply to your county probate court for a permit to exercise a constitutionally protected right.
But, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, probate courts stopped accepting license applications. Fortunately for your rights, the fine folks at Georgia Carry have your back. In Illinois, people are suing over delays in processing Firearm Owner Identification applications. Those are the state-issued cards that are mandated before you can buy a gun. But the Illinois State Police are taking months to get applications processed.
Finally, though, you’re good. You navigated all of the mazes and water hazards put up in front of legal firearm ownership. You filled out all the forms. You kept control of your firearm. You have nothing to worry about, right?
Not so fast. Maybe you got a little too sarcastic one day, and the authorities use the newly-popular “red flag” laws to seize your firearm — without giving you so much as a hearing — even though you’ve committed no crime. Hopefully they don’t kill you in the process.
But you’re polite and you stay off social media, so you have nothing to worry about. Except…you are now a gun owner, presumed guilty of something. Thanks to gun laws you are just now discovering, your firearm(s) can be taken away because someone else got “red flagged.”
Or you might have a dictator of a mayor who’s itching to take advantage of an emergency who — out of the blue — unilaterally declares that you no longer have Second Amendment rights.
The dirty little secret is that gun owners — remember, that’s you now — are one of the most despised, put-upon, and discriminated against alleged-minorities in the country. I have been stopped by a stranger in a supermarket who excoriated me for daring to have a holstered firearm. They stormed off in search of manager to eject me for exercising a natural, civil, and Constitutionally-protected right (and a responsibility to protect myself).
People will think nothing of using graphic, vulgar language to ridicule your genital size. Even if you are a woman. Government officials will drive up ammunition prices through bizarre bulk purchases, making ammo so scarce that exercising your 2A rights is difficult.
There are those who think that because you’re gun owner, you’re also an NRA member, and thus responsible for Chicago gangbangers’ deaths. Stores and restaurants will post “no guns” signs reminiscent of certain discriminatory signs once seen in the Jim Crow South.
On the upside, as you learn more about guns and your rights, a whole new area of humor opens up for you. Although if you go too far down that path, you’ll drive friends and family crazy as you critique Hollywood’s gun portrayals and freeze-frame films to see if that was a Gen 3 or 4 GLOCK. Then again, you’ll have plenty of fun of ridiculing “gun experts”. It balances out.
You bought your first gun. Yes, it was more complicated than you thought. It took a lot more than just plopping down some money on the counter. But that was the easy part.
As I said at the beginning, welcome. We need all the informed, responsible gun owners we can get to watch each other’s backs and oppose these limits on our civil rights. It can get rough, but if we work together, we may make it.
ED: your rights are under attack. Vote to protect them. Today.