We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ 2nd Amendment.

              Now that H.R. 8 has been filed, I am beginning to see the outlines of the campaign narrative that Gun-nut Nation will employ in an effort to beat back any attempt to implement universal background checks, a.k.a. UBC.  Judging from the emails that have come flying in plus comments on various pro-gun blogs and forums, the anti-UBC strategy will embrace two, basic ideas:

              (1). Giving the government the power to control what I do with my private property is a violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments, which protect private property against unlawful seizure.

              (2). Making every gun transfer subject to a background check will create a national gun registry which will lead to confiscation and is a violation of the 2nd Amendment.

              As to the first argument, that people should be able to do whatever they want to do with their private property, I only wish that this had been true when I sold my house in South Carolina but first had to shell out four thousand bucks to Harold and Willy. Who were Harold and Willy? They were two guys who showed up after the house was inspected and informed me that the house couldn’t be sold until they went around and killed all the termites in the walls and the floors. In other words, we have long accepted the idea that you can’t just sell your private property to someone else if in so doing, the sale creates a risk. And even the nuttiest of all gun nuts agrees that selling a gun to someone who has committed violent crimes creates a risk. That was the easy one. Now here comes the hard one.

              Incidentally, I’m hoping that my friends in the gun-control movement will use what follows to prepare themselves for the arguments they might get from the other side. I still have a survey on my website which asks gun-control advocates 12 simple questions about gun laws (there is the same survey for people who considers themselves pro-gun advocates) and to date, I have received 87 responses and the average score of correct answers is 6. So I hope you’ll read what follows here.

              The 2nd Amendment means what the SCOTUS said it meant in the 2008 Heller decision, the majority opinion written by a dear, departed friend. And what it means is that keeping a handgun in the home is a Constitutional ‘right.’ Which means that a state government can pass any gun law it wants, as long as it does not prevent someone from owning a handgun, assuming they are not considered a risk to themselves or to anyone else. Who determines whether someone’s ownership of a handgun might create a risk?  The government. Who determines whether the existence of a particular type of handgun might create a risk?  The government. And that’s it. That’s what the 2nd Amendment means.

So, for example, if you live in New York City and a handgun is found in your home and you cannot produce the requisite paperwork which takes the NYPD Licensing Division about six months to issue on your behalf, you will be convicted of a felony because New York City decided back in 1912 that you can’t keep a handgun in your home for self-defense, or any other reason, until the NYPD says it’s okay. If you go into Court the day of your sentencing and tell the judge that New York City is abridging your 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ because you would have to wait six months to get a permit, I strongly urge you to bring your toothbrush because you ain’t going home.

Between 1966, when I bought my first gun, and 2008 when Heller was decreed, I probably bought and sold at least 500 personally-owned guns. Not one of those transactions had any Constitutional protection at all. So what? My friends in the gun-control movement should stop worrying about whether something as timid and non-intrusive as UBC is a violation of any kind of rights, Constitutional or otherwise. It’s not, and you can take that one to the bank.

6 thoughts on “We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ 2nd Amendment.

  1. I’ve no problems with UBCs between strangers or in most cases. Plus, as Mike said, we already regulate private property transfers like homes and cars. I can sell you my car, but unless you register it, when it gets abandoned after it breaks the state comes after me with the towing and storage fee. That happened to me once in Hawaii. Luckly, I had my copy of the bill of sale that I had mailed to DMV.

    Some of the stuff in the temporary transfer section of HR8 seems over the top. For example, its OK to have someone shoot your gun at “a shooting gallery or other area designated for the purpose of target shooting;…”. Here in Flyover, NM, “designated” places are few and far between, but public land where you can legally go blow holes in paper are all over the place and in common use at the time out here. Now I doubt the Federal marshals will chase us down when I hand Mike my M1911 to try out in a field off of Old Buckman Road out west of Santa Fe, but still, why write the bill so wrong-headedly? Also, the imminent death or bodily harm section generally means the perp has already kicked down the door. “My ex said he is gonna drive over here and kill me” might not be good enough. Its the fine print I quibble with, not the big picture.

    So it goes.

    • Here is the Florida version of “imminent”

      (2) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using or threatening to use defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
      (a) The person against whom the defensive force was used or threatened was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
      (b) The person who uses or threatens to use defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

  2. I think that with the issue of loaning guns to friends & relatives for short durations, it’s tough to find a happy medium. We wrestled with it when we wrote a comprehensive BC bill here in Minnesota about ten years back. Bad characters will take liberty with it if the language is too lax. It’s the same concern with lost-or-stolen gun bills. You don’t want to entrap law abiding people, but you also need the bill’s language to be effective.

  3. With respect to exempting friends & relatives from the BC requirement, that can also lead to mischief & misuse. Our MN BC bill allowed transfers between close relatives when the the transferee was known to be “non-prohibited”.

    • But that is an arbitrary definition. I have avoided one of my brothers since my mom died in 1993 and know next to nothing about him. OTOH, I had a post-doc who is now a scientist at a nearby institution who kids us that we are more like family than co-workers. He is a fellow gun nut and we have shot each other’s firearms.

      Which is why I suggested a system that put the onus on the seller to vet a buyer on legal pain of responsiblity or get a UBC and be immune from liability.

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