Dave Buchannon: Legislation Can’t Fix This.

Congress returned to work this week and the first order of business is gun control legislation, at least according to all the news we’ve been reading since El Paso and Dayton.  The mission seems to be, “do something, anything, to make this stop.”  Everyone’s talking about banning this gun or that high capacity magazine.  There’s also the movement to pass a national red-flag law that will take guns away from those who shouldn’t be allowed to have guns because of their mental state.  Or the best one yet – comprehensive background checks for every gun transfer.

It’s all hogwash that might make some people feel they’ve done something meaningful, but it will not change anything.  Sadly, not one thing. 

Because, no matter how horrible gun violence has become in America today, it is not something we can legislate away.  The problem goes much, much deeper than anything a new law or background check can solve.  Some would say its root is in bad parenting, genetics, is the result of our overcrowded prison system, a failed mental health system, gangs, the list could go on and on.

Dear Congress, write all the new laws you want (whether the President will sign them or not), wanna know why they won’t put a dent in gun violence?  Because the bad guys don’t care about laws – isn’t that part of the definition of “bad guy?”  No matter how many laws are enacted, the bad guys have already figured out a way to get around it.  I could give two hoots what the NRA says about this, I’ve seen it first hand as a cop – if a bad guy wants a gun, he’s going to get a gun and there’s no law that’s going to stop him.  Nice try.

Universal background checks are a great idea, if all of the agencies across the country are reporting as they are supposed to.  They aren’t.  Remember the Sutherland Park, Texas  church shooting in November, 2017?  It most likely wouldn’t have happened had the US Air Force reported Devin Patrick Kelley’s less than honorable discharge after his court-marshal for a domestic violence arrest.  You see, he passed the NICS check when he bought the rifle he used in the shooting… because the US Air Force failed to report.  Many states and municipalities do not report criminal or mental health issues that would prevent someone from buying a gun. So long as there are states, agencies, and armed forces that are not fully reporting to NICS, universal background checks will not work.  Another nice try. 

So what about those red flag laws everyone is crowing about?  Congress can pass a national red flag law with the best of intentions.  At some point an angry ex-spouse, ex-business partner, angry neighbor, or other person who is upset with a legal gun owner will fraudulently report that person as being a hazard to self or others.  The lawyers will be circulating, waiting to sue the reporting party and challenge the law.  The legal beagles will probably be successful because many of the state red flag laws currently on the books completely disregard any due process for the legal gun owner.  In my home state of Massachusetts, no hearing is required before the police show up at the gun owner’s door with a warrant to seize his guns.  After the gun owner has sold his house to pay the legal bills and proves he’s in charge of his faculties or never made any threats, how does he get his guns back?  He doesn’t, because in Massachusetts there is no mechanism in the law to return the guns to the original owner.  He winds up having to keep paying the bonded storage charges (yep, the owner has to pay for storage when’s guns are taken away).  I give the red flag laws about a year before the courts over turn them. 

What can be done?  My point is that there is no single answer to the gun violence problem.  Anyone who tells you passing a law will solve the problem is flat-out lying to you.  If you believe and embrace this hokum-filled philosophy, I’m sorry, but you are sadly misguided.  This is a much, much larger problem that has less to do with the gun than with larger societal issues. 

5 thoughts on “Dave Buchannon: Legislation Can’t Fix This.

  1. I could not disagree more. Peer nations have greatly reduced gun violence with many of the measures the GVP community wishes to pass into law. But true,they have to be tightly written. They are not in our country!
    And criminals have little control in how universal background checks work because BCs are upstream of the illicit gun pool.

  2. “This is a much, much larger problem that has less to do with the gun than with larger societal issues.” This is the counter-argument the gunnies are using to any proposal over control of their favorite toy, but it’s also largely true – when about half of gun deaths are determined to be suicides and the shootings in densely populated and undeserved areas pretty much dismissed and abandoned by the culture of popular politics MIGHT be avoided with decent educational services and employment opportunities and conflict resolution programs, the incidence of gun violence would very likely greatly diminish. However, this does not in any way reduce the problem of stolen handguns and combat-ready long rifles. But it’s a more productive start on reducing all the brouhaha and deflection around the allegedly untouchable Second Amendment.

  3. These are not “combat ready rifles” and that’s part of the problem with the anti gun movement–lack of precision, leading many of us to not trust you as far as we can throw you.

    yes, semiautomatic rifles with massive magazines fall in between the regulatory rubric of old fashioned semiauto rifles that have always been legal, including WW II vintage “weapons of war” and modern assault style rifles patterned after the M-16/M-4 and AK-47/74. That has resulted in a lot of bad air being passed back and forth and sloppy laws written. But when you tell ten million Americans who have never crossed paths with the law that you are going to come knocking at their door to round ’em up, you are going to be further polarized.

    Mike and I have owned these dastardly, dangerous weapons for a long time and its not like he and I are just too lazy to “do the only thing these are useful for” to use other people’s rhetoric. Its about time we realized that progress will be with compromise, like progress has always been made in the USA before the Age of Polarization.

  4. Peer countries of the United States(?) How many of these peers have a Bill of Rights or a right to bear arms?
    Mexico has a right to bear arms. Yet, nobody seems comfortable in comparing them to the USA.
    Great Britain has legislated pointy knifes out of existence and actively arrest and charge people with murder for those with the audacity to defend themselves from the Queen’s criminals.

    You want gun owners to compromise? Every time gun owners compromise we breathe a sigh of relief until the next legislative session where our ability to possess guns is further eroded.

    You are an advocate of some kind of additional set of restrictions similar to those who own and possess fully automatic weapons for those who own semi auto rifles, no? Will that solve anything? Would you be willing to extend that to handguns?

    The 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act provided for no gun registry. Are you are willing to give that up to achieve ‘compromise’.

    Why is it that Gun Control and its advocates have never been satisfied with anything but the complete abolition of firearms from civilian hands?

  5. I completely agree with you as far as the idea that we need to set the goalposts in stone before we agree to anything else. We have a registry of cars because no one is worried about Uncle Sam knocking on the door and demanding your SUV. Well, that may change with Ocasio-Cortez and her Green New Deal, I suppose. “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them in because of the Climate Crisis”. So no, I’m not willing to compromise on too much more without a firm set of boundaries that will not change with the next whim or election.

    The problem is, it is so easy for your average thug in Albuquerque to get hold of a Glock and shoot up Dodge or your average 18 year old to get hold of the same gun I’ve owned safely for years and take out his anger on his high school. Sooner or later, the innocent among us will pay the piper unless we, as my brother (a Daniel Defense owner) says, figure this out; I think absolutists are fighting a losing battle.

    The old concept of a social compact comes to mind but frankly, neither the Left, as embodied in this batch of Presidential candidates or the Right, as embodied in the NRA and GOA, don’t want much less than the whole loaf.

    I’ll retire to Bedlam.

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