Reader Alan Smithee writes . . .
I keep hearing the word “compromise” used by politicians and anti-gun activists seeking to further restrict citizens’ access to firearms. Or even by those who want to take away guns, from law-abiding gun owners.
“Compromise” is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “an agreement or settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.”
Two proposals by the anti-gun set, the so-called “red flag” laws and universal background checks, are under consideration in Congress and many state legislatures. Those with a firm belief in the Second Amendment are naturally dubious of those pushing these measures.
For generations, we’ve experienced “compromise” after “compromise,” yet in reality, all we’ve gotten is the perpetual erosion of our right to keep and bear arms. All concession by us, no compromise by them.
In the spirit of “compromise,” if taken at word’s worth, let’s enter the Land of Make Believe, and pretend the anti-gun crowd is actually amenable to compromise toward achieving these two goals. Here are a few compromises they could make which would actually benefit gun owners.
‘Red Flag’ Laws
While nobody wants to see firearms in the possession of those who may harm themselves or others, the proposed “red flag” legislation, if passed, would be a violation of both the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, at the very least. Not to mention, the Second Amendment.
In the spirit of compromise, however, I would propose that those who file a “red flag” report against someone must provide indisputable evidence of their claim in court within 72 hours of its filing. No proof? The guns remain with their owner.
Furthermore, those who are found to have purposely and fraudulently reported someone must serve a minimum of three years in prison, be subject to a civil lawsuit by the accused, and are themselves henceforth banned from firearm ownership for life. This is the typical federal penalty for a felon convicted of firearms possession. If someone is serious about having guns removed from another person’s possession, then he or she should bear the penalty if that charge is unfounded.
Universal Background Checks
While the argument can be easily made that a universal background check violates the Second Amendment, for the sake of discussion, let’s presume it becomes federal law. One painless compromise could be made by the anti-gun crowd in regards to this measure:
If two private citizens agree to the sale of a gun and both undergo and pass the check, the record of those who buy and sell is immediately and permanently expunged from any federal, state or municipal database. Having been conducted legally, there is no reason for any government entity to maintain a record of this transaction from that point forward.
Maintaining a record of this transaction would be a blatant violation of the the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, which prohibits the federal government from establishing a registry of gun owners and their guns.
In addition, those possessing a concealed carry license — which is already subject to a federal background check — will not be subjected to a universal background check when selling or buying a gun from another licensee. Law-abiding gun owners should be free to conduct transactions with other law-abiding gun owners without interference if they have already undergone training and licensing.
As well, it would save time and resources for law enforcement to go after actual criminals. Pretty simple, really.
One more idea: all federal form 4473s, i.e. the firearms transaction record, must be destroyed by federal firearms licensed dealers after five years, versus the current 20-year rule. The rule forcing FFLs to retain records for 20 years is in itself a type of de facto gun registry. Five years (or less) of mandatory record keeping should suffice for the purposes of criminal investigation by law enforcement.
But wait, there’s more!
I would consider the compromises listed above only the beginning of the discussion. If the anti-gun set is so determined to make these ideas law, I am equally determined, or more so, to see more pro-Second Amendment legislation enacted.
Call me Veruca Salt, but as a gun owner, I want more and I want it NOW!
All concealed carry licenses, no matter which state has issued them, will be respected by all 50 U.S. states and territories. The Bill of Rights applies to the citizens of all 50 states, yes?
Furthermore, concealed carry will be made legal in public libraries, public schools, colleges, universities, and other taxpayer-funded institutions, as well as other places open freely to the public. The only exceptions would be courts, jails and police stations.
It isn’t licensed concealed carriers who pose a criminal threat to the public. A crime being committed with a firearm is perpetrated virtually 100 percent of the time by someone who is, by definition, already a criminal, or otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a gun. “Gun-free” zones are never gun-free, and in fact, are places less safe than where firearms are allowed.
I’m not finished yet.
As the right to keep and bear arms is a civil right, no state or municipality will charge a fee for issuance of a concealed carry license, nor deny a concealed carry license to anyone who is A) a non-felon, B) 21 years of age, and C) has successfully completed 8 to 12 hours of safety training conducted by a licensed instructor.
To take it a step further, these licenses will no longer be subject to renewal as long as the licensee has not committed any felonies. Much the like the poll tax was used in the 1800s to prevent freed black slaves and poor whites from voting, the ability of a citizen to exercise his or her constitutional right to keep and bear arms should not be subject to a government fee. And 8 to 12 hours of safety training isn’t an onerous burden on the gun owner. Additional training would be recommended, obviously, but not required.
Thankfully, many states have already established “constitutional carry,” wherein law-abiding citizens may carry their weapons legally, without licensure. For those who believe not only the words, but the intent, of the Second Amendment, this ideally would be the law of all 50 United States.
Ayy Tee Eff
All ATF rules regarding gun accessories will be abolished. This includes “bump stocks,” forward grips, pistol grips, and rapid-fire triggers. Furthermore, the use and ownership of suppressors will no longer be subject to ATF approval and no longer require a $200 tax stamp.
The use of any of these accessories on a gun do not constitute any additional danger to anyone. In fact, a suppressor acts as a muffler, helping to prevent hearing loss. It is not a “silencer” as Hollywood and the media have portrayed in countless films and television shows.
All ATF rules regarding the minimum lengths of guns will be abolished. The National Firearms Act of 1934 (yes NINETEEN THIRTY FOUR) made fully automatic firearms illegal, unless the would-be owner paid a $200 tax stamp. It also restricted the possession of so-called “sawed-off” shotguns.
This legislation was passed in response to violence being committed by criminal gangs during the Prohibition era. Remarkably, Prohibition was repealed in 1933, yet at that time Congress determined to crack down on gang violence despite the fact the primary reason for this violence was due to Prohibition.
The NFA needs to go away. That this law is still in effect is both antiquated and preposterous, as criminals aren’t apt to shell out $200 and undergo a background check to obtain these weapons. They do as they please despite the law. Because, well, “criminals.”
As the NFA is abolished, there should be no further legislative measures, by either the federal or state governments, to enact a so-called “Assault Weapons” ban against any semi-automatic guns, or otherwise. The passage of such, akin to the 1994 “assault weapons” ban, is undeniably at odds with both the spirit and the letter of the Second Amendment.
Semi-automatic guns have been in common use by Americans for more than 100 years. Just because a gun looks scary to someone is not a valid reason to violate the Bill of Rights.
Handgun, rifle and shotgun ownership, as well as sales of ammunition, will be legal for all law-abiding citizens who attain the age of 18. Old enough to vote? Old enough to serve in the armed forces? You’re old enough to be a firearms owner. Congratulations!
There should be no restrictions on the sale or possession of magazines, regardless of capacity. “High capacity” magazines have become a bogeyman for the anti-gun crowd. The problem is the definition of “high capacity.” Is 10 enough? Is 11 too much? For some vehement anti-gun folk, three rounds is too much.
A .22 long rifle Henry lever action rifle can hold 15 rounds of ammunition in its tube magazine, but because it’s not detachable and because it looks like a classic western rifle, it doesn’t meet the definition of scary much less something “tactical” such as, say, a Keltec CP33 handgun which comes standard with 33-round magazine. Or a GLOCK 19, with a standard capacity 15-round magazine. The examples go on and on.
Do you want “red flag” laws? Universal background checks? I believe what I have proposed are good starting points for a discussion.
Compromise is about each side making concessions, right? If these measures become law without concessions by the other side, then millions upon millions of law-abiding gun owners will become gun “outlaws” – a bad consequence for America and slap in the face to the Founding Fathers who used their “weapons of war” to free the 13 colonies from tyrannical British rule.