By LC Judas
As a law enforcement officer I find that most laws have a purpose and a place. But whatever my opinion of a law may be, I have a duty to uphold those laws without question. That means laws on the books are enforced and carry corresponding charges and penalties. But a lot of people aren’t aware of the latest the flavor of the month charge that’s being used to bring gun control to more and more people: Weapons Under Disability . . .
Typically, a Weapons Under Disability charge is added onto other charges related to crimes in which guns were possessed by a prohibited person. Basically, if you are a felon, on parole, have other disqualifying factors in your past that keep you from owning a gun, such as being declared mentally incompetent or subject to an active 0rder of protection (restraining order) granted by a court, if you are caught with a firearm you can be charged with Weapons Under Disability in addition to whatever other hijinks you may have been involved in when you’re caught.
Does this list sound familiar? It should. It’s the same list of prohibiting factors on a Form 4473. That’s that long form you fill out and sign whenever you go to a gun store to buy a firearm. There is a small difference, though. Don’t worry, though. Weapons Under Disability doesn’t apply if you don’t have the weapon yet. So you can’t be charged if your 4473 application is declined. It only applies after you have the gun and commit another infraction of some kind. But, looking at the way WUD is being applied, you can also see that adding new laws to prohibit ownership would make this additional felony charge a nice cherry on top of a pile of other charges.
One example that worries me is if some sort of registration is eventually mandated. They can evaluate you on whether or not you can own a firearm every time you register one in the name of “universal background checks.” Regardless how regular the occurrence of registering and asking for permission to own your property occurs, it comes with one big hook. If, since you last bought a firearm, you’re caught in any of the new “stronger” gun laws designed to prohibit gun ownership…you’ll get yourself a felony charge.
How so, you ask? Simple. Even though requiring self incrimination is prohibited by an amendment to the United States Constitution, you essentially ask someone else if you are fit to register property you want to own. Let’s say you’re found unfit and they only confiscate the single weapon in question. Any other firearms you may own make you guilty of – you guessed it – Weapons Under Disability. A felony.
The charge was originally added to the books discourage gun crime. But nine times out of ten, whatever aggravated assault, robbery, murder or other serious felony is committed is more serious and carries a much stiffer penalty. The amount of time you’ll do for weapons possession is relatively small compared to 15 to life for manslaughter. Unless, of course, you’re an average Joe who may have taken Zoloft in the past and just wanted a nightstand gun.
Now, with the goal of “protecting the children”, we are stacking the deck against people who are trying to do just that. If you want stiffer punishment for “gun crime,” you’re going to start increasing the penalties for Weapons Under Disability and laws like it because “criminals shouldn’t have guns and be able to hurt people”. I use quotes because these are the things you hear in the media from people clamoring for action. These are people who don’t understand crime or the law, but think they can legislate away predators with strokes of a pen and by screaming “it’s just common sense”.
If I sound frustrated, I am. If gun control, as envisioned by liberals who think Congress is failing to protect us, actually existed as they want it to, it would place every police officer in the position of having to enforce the law on people who are otherwise upstanding citizens. I haven’t run an official poll, but I sincerely doubt my stopping by to raid your gun safe with my friends, using force, would be welcomed. I would venture enough people would take the forcible entry of my colleagues into their homes with search warrants for relatively weak felony charges would lead to potentially fatal altercations.
Weapons Under Disability was originally devised to nail small-time criminals because lesser crimes didn’t stick enough to provide deterrence. I’m not saying the charge serves no purpose. Most shoplifters don’t risk aggravated robbery by sticking a snub nose in their pocket with the rest of their ill-gotten gains. But making an add-on charge into essentially an unenforceable law is ridiculous.
‘Disability’ is simply a word. Its definitions can be amended and contorted to include just about anyone. I’d like to think that I’m not the only one this bothers, but disagreeing has somehow become the opposite of “common sense.” Who would’ve guessed?