Several weeks ago I posted a column to give an award to the dumbest pro-gun legislator this year. The award went to a State rep in Michigan who showed up at a hearing on a gun bill with an AR slung over his back, and then had the rifle plus a handgun stolen out of his house. Now maybe someone else will top this guy for being the dumbest pro-gun legislator around, but it won’t be easy.
In the interests of fairness and honesty, however, I’m also obligated to give an award to the dumbest, anti-gun legislator each year. And while it’s only March, I’m willing to bet that the award I am about to present might also be regarded as the dumbest, anti-gun legislative idea for 2020, or maybe of all time.
I am referring to Massachusetts House Bill 2091, filed by Representative David Linsky, which can be downloaded right here. The bill is entitled, “An Act Requiring Live Fire Practice For A Firearms License,” which is a tip-off that no such licensing requirement exists in the Bay State right now.
Massachusetts is currently a B+ state according to the Brady campaign, which means it is one of the 10 most-regulated gun states within the country as a whole. In 2018, it also registered the second-lowest rate (3.63) of gun violence of all 50 states, a situation usually explained as resulting from its strict gun laws. The state’s most restrictive and comprehensive law took effect in 2000, and it not only required all gun transfers to be done with a background check, it also mandated that all new guns meet certain design and safety features before they could be brought into the state.
In the interests of what my medical friends refer to as ‘full disclosure,’ it should be pointed out that the 1999 gun-violence rate in Massachusetts, the year before this new law took effect, was 2.99. In other words, the result of the law which made Massachusetts one of the most heavily-regulated gun states, was that gun violence went up, not down. Oh well, oh well.
Representative Linsky has decided that perhaps a pathway to reducing gun violence in Massachusetts might be to require some kind of live-fire exercise prior to applying for a license to own a gun. Currently, any state resident who wants to own a gun must first take a safety course approved by the State Police, the usual nonsense where you sit in an overheated room, some old guy drones on and on from some book for a few hours, you take a quickie test which everyone passes and you’re good to go.
Several years ago our friends at The Trace discovered that 26 states did not require any live fire in order to apply for a license to walk around with a concealed gun. Massachusetts happens to be one of those states. In fact, for all the talk about how the gun restrictions make Massachusetts such a safe state, it happens to be one of a handful of states in which the license to own a gun and the license to carry a concealed weapon are one and the same. The cops do have the authority to restrict the right to carry, making Massachusetts a ‘may issue’ state, but this authority is almost never exercised outside of Boston and a couple of other large, urban sites.
So now along comes Representative David Linsky who’s going to solve the whole problem because his bill mandates a five-hour practice session at a shooting range before a gun application can be approved. Not to carry a gun, but just to own a gun. There is no other state which requires that an applicant for a gun license first engage in no less than 300 minutes of range time.
But the five-hour time requirement is not what makes Linsky the dumbest, anti-gun legislator to date. The bill says and I quote: “Said curriculum must include a minimum of at least 5 hours of live discharge of firearms, rifles, and shotguns at a license gun club, including the discharge of at least 50 rounds of ammunition.” Note that it’s not either 5 hours or 50 rounds. It’s both.
I can just see it now. Some newbie will show up at the Rod & Gun Club, pop off a box of reloads in about 10 minutes, then sit around for the rest of the afternoon until his five hours has expired and he can go home. Incidentally, according to the way the bill is written, the would-be candidate could fire all 50 rounds into the air.
If any of my Gun-nut Nation friends can come up with a better example of stupidity on the part of any legislator who wants to promote restrictions on guns, please send it along and we’ll consider it as competition against the Linsky award.
Thanks to Dave Buchannon for this tip.