The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America (GOA) are single-issue organizations. They are dedicated to protecting our Second Amendment rights, the right to keep and bear arms. They don’t care where a candidate for office stands on immigration, taxes, trade, or anything else. They only grade him on where he stands on Second Amendment issues.
My brother Jim, who is retired to the country, recently sent me the following link:
Over the next few days we discussed this topic at great length. What I’d like to do today is share our thoughts with you. By the way, the title of this Commentary—Knee-jerk Reactions Are Dangerous—was his creation, not mine—although I agree.
Unfortunately, some voters are single-issue voters. They only look at a candidate’s position on a single issue, like immigration…or taxes…or trade…or guns. They don’t care what the candidate’s position is on anything else. If they have a preferred candidate, and that candidate isn’t strong enough on their single issue, they usually don’t vote for his opponent—they just stay home. They don’t vote.
That allows the opponents to elect someone like Bernie Sanders or Corey Booker, who probably doesn’t support their issue, either—and who wants to push a bunch of socialist policies, like Medicare for everybody including illegal aliens.
To me, the key question is what the bills actually say, what’s going to become law if the President signs the bill.
Take the topic of background checks, for example. Despite what the NRA and the GOA claim, the so-called “gun-show loophole” actually does exist.
Anyone who has been to a gun show knows there are individuals there offering their privately-owned guns for sale. They aren’t in the business of being a gun dealer. They just want to sell one or two of their guns so they can use the money to buy something else.
You or I can buy a gun from them without going thru a background check. We could be a convicted felon…or a member of MS-13…or have a restraining order against us. It doesn’t matter. They can sell us the gun, and it’s a legal sale.
Granted, the MS-13 gangbanger isn’t going to go to a gun show and pay me $400 for my XD40. He’s going to buy it for $50 from the guy who stole it from me. But a crazy man who plans to shoot up a Walmart might go to the gun show, knowing there will be guns for sale there that he can buy without being denied because he’s a convicted felon, or has a history of mental illness.
The same thing is true of classified advertisements, either in newspapers or on Websites like SoutheastTexas.com, where individuals offer their privately-owned guns for sale. Those guns can be bought without having a background check.
That’s how the “gun-show loophole” works. In my opinion, it needs to be closed.
Granted, too, that the NICS system is far from perfect or complete–especially since many Democrat-controlled states are open about the fact that they don’t put illegal aliens on it, no matter how heinous a crime they commit.
See my Commentary No. 33, published in February of 2018, for more on the NICS system.
On the other hand, if my grandson (who is now getting into guns and is getting his license to carry) wants to buy one of my guns, I should be able to sell it to him without the government getting involved. I’ve known him since he was an infant. I know he doesn’t meet any of the five conditions that would prohibit him from buying or owning a weapon. To make me a felon if I sell him a gun, or for that matter, give him a gun, doesn’t serve any useful purpose to society.
My brother suggested that perhaps private sales, i.e., sales between individuals, could be covered by a law requiring the seller to get a bill of sale. The bill of sale would contain the purchaser’s name and address, and something traceable, like a driver’s license number. The seller would be required to keep the bill of sale for a minimum period of time—say, two or three years.
My point is that something needs to be done. The present law has too many holes in it.
Then there’s the question of timing. The Constitution says that laws cannot be made retroactive. In other words, we can’t make a law today that says something has been illegal for the past year.
So every law has an effective date included in it. That’s the date on which the law will go into effect. For the U.S. Congress, it’s usually Jan. 1 of the following year. For the Texas legislature, it’s usually Sept. 1 of the same year as the session in which the law was passed.
So suppose the Congress passes an “assault weapons” ban, prohibiting the sale of weapons like the AR-15 and the AK-47. I’d guess that 95% of the people who want ARs or AKs already own them. I do. Of the remaining 5%, probably 4.8% will buy them before the law goes into effect. If I’m anywhere near right, only 0.2% of prospective buyers will be negatively affected by the law.
All of that being said…there is one idea being floated these days that I believe to be clearly and unquestionably unconstitutional. That’s the so-called “red-flag” laws.
In summary, the red-flag laws being proposed would allow almost anyone who knows you—friends, relatives, coworkers, your doctor, your pastor—to petition the court to take away your guns, based on the allegation that you’re a danger to yourself or others.
If the court so orders, the police will show up at your door with a court order allowing them to seize your firearms.
The concept of “due process of law” is repeated throughout the U.S. Constitution. An American citizen may not be fined, imprisoned, or otherwise penalized without being tried and convicted by a jury of his peers. The Fourteenth Amendment actually uses the phrase “due process of law.”
Red-flag laws as proposed would convict you of being a threat to yourself or society without due process of law. Your Constitutional right to keep and bear arms would rest solely with a judge, not with a jury that would hear both sides of the allegation against you. There would be no appeal mechanism.
In fact, you would have no opportunity to defend yourself. Your first knowledge of the proceedings against you would be when the police showed up at your door with a court order.
As I said, I believe such laws are clearly unconstitutional, and I believe they would be overturned by the Supreme Court in due time. My fear is that while the challenges to the laws are working their way thru the lower courts, hundreds (maybe even thousands) of law-abiding citizens will lose their guns and their ability to defend themselves and those they love. And some of those people who live in the bluest of blue states, like California, Oregon, New York and New Jersey, will never get their guns back.
Democrat Party “leadership” is currently crowing that President Trump agrees with them on the need for “enhanced background checks” and red-flag laws. When you read that, consider the source. You’re hearing the Mainstream Media, the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party, proven purveyors of fake news. It’s been my observation that this President has a real talent for making his opponents think he’s with them—until they discover he isn’t.
So we need to be careful. The Second Amendment is a complicated issue. “Gun control” is a complicated issue. “Assault weapons bans” is a complicated issue. “Background checks” is a complicated issue.
Knee-jerk reactions are dangerous, sometimes resulting in the opposite of what we want. We need to recognize that if we allow ourselves to become single-issue voters, we may end up worse off than we are now.