All I keep hearing in the news lately is that we need to pass "common sense" gun laws to prevent tragedies like what happened recently in Orlando and before that in Newtown, CT. The two laws that are being presented as those "common sense" laws are No Fly, No Buy and Universal Background Checks. For the record, those laws are a waste of taxpayer resources as they would have no impact on the recent mass shootings. The doofus politicians pushing these bills, including RI's own Rep Cicilline, probably realize this but also recognize the opportunity to present themselves as politicians who act; politicians who "do something". It's all political theater aimed at getting themselves re-elected.

No Fly, No Buy

No Fly, No Buy sounds wonderful -- those who are on terrorist watch lists shouldn't be allowed to buy guns. The problem there is two-fold.

  1. If someone is so dangerous that they shouldn't be allowed to get on an airplane, why are they allowed to walk free?
  2. We don't know a great deal about the list but we do know it contains the names of "known" and "suspected" terrorists, some of whom are Americans, and the bar to end up on that list is as low as a single, uncorroborated piece of evidence -- something as minor as a Facebook or Twitter post. If you somehow end up on the list, it is extremely difficult to get your name removed. We live in a country where we have to be convicted of a crime to have our rights revoked. Revoking rights based on suspicion violates our right to due process and sets a terrible precedent. Perhaps we shouldn't allow someone to run for President if they're under FBI investigation for a crime.

Universal Background Check

Universal background checks also sound wonderful -- everyone should pass a background check to purchase a firearm. The problem with that is also two-fold.

  1. If an individual wants to purchase a firearm from a gun dealer -- whether at their store or at a gun show -- he already has to pass a background check. The only time a buyer doesn't need to pass a background check is when he buys from another private party. And that leads me to the second problem.
  2. In order to enforce private party sale background checks, there has to be proof of ownership prior to the sale. That means there has to be a national firearm registry. The implications of such a list are hard to ignore.  It's not a coincidence that the largest genocides in history were perpetrated against citizens unable to defend themselves. Do I think this government that we have right now would do that? No. Do I think a government sometime in the future would be willing/able to? Yes, and so did the founding fathers when they crafted the Second Amendment as a check against government tyranny.

Let's table my objections to those laws and just look at the facts. Orlando, Newtown and Aurora. The perpetrators of those shootings acquired their guns legally (which means they passed background checks) or they stole their weapons. Omar Mateen was interviewed multiple times by the FBI but it never went any further than that. These laws, even if passed, would not have prevented any of those crimes from occurring. They wouldn't have done anything to stop the 300 gun deaths so far this year in Chicago (despite the city and state having incredibly restrictive gun laws).

Gun homicides are still very rare (unless you live in Chicago) and have been declining steadily over the last 20 to 30 years. There were 11,000 gun homicides in 2013. For comparison there were nearly 3x as many alcohol-induced deaths. If #AllLivesMatter it would seem to me that we should be bringing back Prohibition.

What's that you say? Prohibition failed miserably and gave rise to the likes of Al Capone? Then why would you think gun control laws will be any more successful?