This is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal and legislative news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights.
New Research on Red Flag Laws
It can be hard to keep track of what’s what in the gun debate. With so many old, new, and varied “solutions” being proposed, it’s hard to stay in the loop. That’s why Firearms Policy Coalition has started putting out publications on all the major issues in the debate today. The first two, a bulletin on “red flag laws,” and a memo on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, dropped in the last week.
If you’re looking for more information on the facts, history, and reality of these proposals, definitely check them out. Keep an eye on their policy page, as more are being released constantly.
More Noise Around the White House
We’ve seen a lot of headlines revolving around the White House, and it’s… weird. There was a big rumble, with little information, as it was reported the DOJ sent a list of recommendations to the President on “gun legislation.” The President then came out, voicing support for the death penalty for those convicted of mass shootings, cracking down on “straw purchases,” and expanding the number of records the background check system can access.
The death penalty fixation is the most curious thing here. For one, it’s not typically a federal issue. Each state has its own definition of murder, and while they are generally getting at the same things, it is the state’s purview to protect and police its residents, hence why there is no federal common law.
It’s also kind of pointless. People who commit a mass murder are not likely to be swayed by additional punishments. It’s not like someone gearing up to murder as many people as possible thinks they are going to get off with a slap on the wrist. They accept death as a likely outcome.
If someone is corrupt enough to murder innocent people, there just isn’t much likelihood tacking the possibility of the death penalty on to 20 consecutive life sentences is going to make any difference.
As for “cracking down” on “straw purchases,” I give that proposal a distinct “meh.” An illegal “straw purchase” is when someone buys a firearm for someone else, who the buyer knows is not legally eligible to own a firearm. The penalty here is already huge–carrying the threat of many years in prison for the original buyer.
It’s just hard to imagine a mechanism to “crack down” on straw purchases that doesn’t create more problems than it solves. This type of activity is necessarily secretive, and thus hard to detect. What would it take for enforcement of these purchases to be effective? Probably wholesale domestic surveillance.
That seems like a bad tool to hand a government that’s proven itself less than competent with the equipment it already has. “No-knock” raids and militarized police claim too many innocent people as it is. Let’s not let loose the dogs of war in search of text messages about firearm sales.
Think my concerns are ill-founded? That’s fine. Just remember that the administration already floated the idea of linking databases to electronic assistants like Amazon Echo, and others, with the intent of finding people to deem ineligible to own a firearm.
As for expanding the reach of NICS, the system is horrendously prone to false positives as it is. The focus should be on fixing the system, and the first focus should be on helping those Americans whose rights were erroneously denied, rather than expanding the system for some cheap political capital.
Crenshaw v. AOC On Loaning Guns
A Twitter feud broke out this week and showed us two things: 1) gun control advocates have literally no grasp on how their beloved policies actually work, and 2) twitter is still the worst thing on the internet. In response to universal background checks, Dan Crenshaw rightly tweeted that the law would make simple commonplace loans of a firearm to friends illegal. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez snapped back, asking why Dan Crenshaw was “loaning guns to people who couldn’t pass a background check.”
AOC obviously here thought that Crenshaw was talking about transferring firearms to prohibited persons. Despite her backpedaling, the fact that her original reply to Crenshaw included “The people you’re giving a gun to have likely abused their spouse or have a violent criminal record” shows that she could not conceive of a person privately transferring a gun to a law-abiding person.
What’s lost on AOC here is the effects a universal background check would have on regular people. Her thought process was probably that, clearly, if the other person could pass a background check, why not just get one done?
Well, the fact that the circumstances leading to you having to lend someone a gun can arise at night, weekends, or in the midst of a catastrophe are one thing. When, as Crenshaw pointed out, a loved one’s ex makes a credible threat in the dead of the night, should the right answer be to wait until normal business hours, drive to a gun shop, and pay a transfer fee (both ways) before helping that person?
If there’s one thing all this debate says about our society, it’s how far we’ve come. Truly, the fact that so many people cannot conceive of a situation where their life might be in danger means we live in a profoundly comfortable world. The only issue, though, is that the comfort AOC and other elites feel is not the reality for many Americans, who face a credible threat of unlawful force every day.
The Feds Ask Apple and Google to Hand Over Your Info, Because Someone Didn’t Pay Them
The feds are asking major tech companies to hand over data on anyone who downloaded a certain scope app, in search of people who exported the scopes without registering under ITAR. This is a preposterous, insane overreach on the part of the government. ITAR is a cold war era law that tightly controls the export of “significant military equipment,” which is defined to include just about anything and everything. It’s one of the most onerous export frameworks in the world, which is more than a little ironic.
If the order is granted, let’s hope Apple and Google stand up to big brother, as demanding the information of “everyone” who downloaded an app is far from “particularized” to prosecuting an ITAR case.