Sorry for the lack of a roundup last week, I had failed to properly send it in. Mea culpa. Luckily though it wasn’t a tremendously active week for the controllers either. Last week’s events at the end of this post. This week, though, we’ve had some interesting developments.
Washington State is Scared of Ghosts
This week Washington state governor Jay Inslee signed a package of bills clamping down on guns. It includes yet another red flag provision, restricts possession of firearms by minors, and banned “3D-printed and other ‘ghost’ guns.” Oh boy.
Governor Inslee said his measures would “not only reduce preventable gun violence,” but also “serve as a model for the rest of the United States.” I’ve written extensively on the topic of homemade firearms, and their presence in violent crime is… await for it… undetectable. Not because of their spooky qualities, but because they just aren’t used that way.
Banning homemade firearms only restricts ambition. Nothing more.
Booker’s Big Blunder
Okay, that’s enough forced alliteration for one roundup. This week Cory Booker made headlines for pushing for the most “ambitious” gun control mechanisms we’ve heard of in years. This includes mandating licensing to buy and own firearms, and a universal registry.
The concept of a universal registry was snubbed the first time it was tried in the 1930s because, even then, it was clear firearm registries had an overwhelming potential to cause government to respond with excessive force when interacting with gun owners. A national registry is so repulsive that even when federal background checks came into existence, the government had to destroy all records at the end of each working day to prevent the existence of a registry.
Anyone who thinks registries a safe solution to any problem should think about how much they might agree with Joseph McCarthy.
Damned Minnesota Public Safety Omnibus Passes House
Last Monday, the Minnesota House passed a public safety omnibus bill that includes two gun control provisions. Expanded state background check requirements and another incantation of “red flag” law. The bill passed 70-64.
This passage was largely symbolic as the Minnesota Senate has indicated it has no interest in taking up any gun-related bills. Still, the growing practice of including contentious gun control provisions in larger bills – this one including everything from a ban on private prisons to the establishment of a marijuana legalization task force – is hugely troubling.
Most states have single subject rules for exactly this reason: we want bills to pass because they’re good ideas that stand on their own, not because they come packaged with other things we like.
Florida Buffs Armed Teachers
The Florida House voted 65 to 47 for a bill enabling armed classroom teachers on Wednesday, buffing up a program that was originally intended to do the same in the aftermath of parkland, but was stripped down to only enable the arming of a handful of school personnel. The new measure adds classroom teachers to the program, an opt-in program requiring many hours of training before teachers can participate.
Governor DeSantis has since signed the bill into law.
Colorado Red Flag Lawsuit
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Coloradan gun rights group filed a lawsuit on Thursday, alleging that state House Democrats violated the state’s Constitutional legislative process. Colorado’s red flag law is pretty typical, but this lawsuit focuses on a procedural defect, rather than a Constitutional challenge. Democratic lawmakers failed to intelligibly read the bill aloud in the state House, despite requests from House Republicans. Certainly an interesting twist on the question.
Ohio Picks up the Red Flag
As is often the case, as more states manage to pass “red flag” laws, it becomes increasingly attractive to lawmakers seeking to seize on the ever-valuable gun control political capital. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said on Friday that he is considering “red flag” legislation “in the wake of mass shootings that target places of worship.” This is not to say that red flag laws are calculated to prevent such shootings in any way, but it still seems the impetus to “do something” lies there.
I’ve never been one to say that “red flag” laws are defective as a class of themselves, but they pretty universally lack sufficient procedural due process protections before the order to seize firearms is granted. A spokesman for DeWine said that “robust due process” would come before seizure. As the bill is yet to be drafted, only time will tell whether Ohio will manage to actually incorporate a proper hearing before confiscation as the rule, rather than the exception.