Tag: Firearms

Sorry. They *Are* Coming For Our Guns

Whenever conservatives oppose a gun control law, we are mocked in the media for our delusions that “they’re cummin’ for yer guns!” Mother Jones included this in their list of ten gun control myths (that weren’t really myths).

Well ….

Yesterday California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that strips people of their Second Amendment rights based on claims that they pose a danger to themselves or others. Under AB 1014, a cop or “an immediate family member”—which includes not just spouses, children, siblings, and parents but also in-laws and roommates, both current and former—can seek a “gun violence restraining order” that prohibits an individual from possessing firearms and authorizes police to seize any he currently owns. Such an order can initially be obtained without any notice or adversarial process.

The guns will be taken away for three weeks after which the petitioner will have to convince a judge by “clear and convincing evidence” — not “beyond a reasonable doubt” — that he can’t be trusted with guns. After that, a one-year restraining order is issued that can be renewed every year. I’m sure this will work out as well as asset forfeiture has.

I’ll give you three guesses as to why this law was passed:

Assembly Bill 1014, by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, was the Legislature’s central response to the lethal shooting in May near the University of California, Santa Barbara. It will allow family members of someone who is displaying signs of mental instability to request a court order temporarily barring gun use and purchase.

Families of people killed in Isla Vista had lobbied for the bill at the Capitol, and Skinner cheered Brown’s action Tuesday.

As I have said any time a mass shooting occurs, these events are are rare and any legislation designed to prevent them is unlikely to do so. Law passed in the wake of a mass shooting — or any mass tragedy — are almost always laws that some interest group has wanted for years and finally has an opportunity to ram through. Whether it’s grabbing guns, arming teachers or locking down schools, it’s simple political opportunism.

(Another provision requires toy guns sold in California to be brightly colored because of incidents in which cops have shot kids carrying toy guns. Because God forbid we should train cops not to shoot first and ask questions later.)

It’s not unreasonable to take away the guns of someone who is mentally unstable. The problem is that the standard here has been set pretty low. Cops have to have “reasonable cause” to get a judge to issue the order. But our system defers to cops’ judgement in almost every circumstance. Judges have routinely issued warrants for violent no-knock raids based on the ramblings of drug addicts and the justifications of criminals. Juries refuse to indict cops who gun down unarmed people on video. Unions and politicians rally behind cops even when bad behavior is proven and quietly pay millions to cover up abuse rather than deal with it. If a judge will let police launch a SWAT raid because a meth addict says someone is dealing; if they’ll excuse the resulting bloodshed because the cops “acted in good faith”; if prosecutors and juries will refuse to punish cops even when abuse is proven … why on Earth would anyone stop cops from grabbing someone’s guns if they claim an Isla Vista rampage is imminent?

This is the problem with how people approach infringements on our liberty. They see what they want — guns being taken away from crazy people — and miss what’s actually going to happen: the law will be given yet another tool with which to attack our basic freedom.

In fact, this point is so obvious, you have to wonder if that’s the point. Remember that the gun grabbers want a society in which no one is allowed to have a gun unless they can justify it to the government. It’s not that hard to see the infrastructure being put in place for such a society. They only need a couple more seats on the Supreme Court to make it happen.

Ferguson is All About … Gun Control?

There are many issues that the ongoing situation in Ferguson has raised. Racism. Race-baiting. Media surpression. Militarization of police. But what it is really about, when you get down to it is … wait, what?

The current issue of The Economist contains a striking factoid: “Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero.”1 By contrast, there are about 400 fatal shootings each year by local police in the United States.

When I tweeted out this stunning stat earlier this week, no shortage of people noted an obvious explanation for why British police were so much less likely to fire their guns: there were far fewer guns around them. The U.K. has some of the world’s strictest limitations on gun ownership—handguns are all but prohibited, while shotguns and rifles require a police certificate and special justification (self-defense does not qualify.) There are an estimated 14,000 handguns in civilian hands in the U.K. (population 63 million) and slightly more than 2 million shotguns and rifles. Estimates for the number of total firearms in civilian hands in the U.S. float north of 300 million. Simply put, if the police in the U.S. seem a lot more on edge than those across the pond, they have good reason to be.

As obvious as this explanation for the militarization and trigger-happiness of U.S. police may be, it has gotten relatively little attention amid the alarming spectacle that has played out in Ferguson, Missouri following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old and, more recently, the fatal shooting just a few miles away of a mentally-ill man holding a knife.

Every comment thread on Ferguson and police militarization has devolved into liberals screaming that this is really about gun control. If only we got those nasty guns out of the hands of the law-abiding, they say, our police wouldn’t need to be so militarized. They’d be just like the British cops.

Never mind that Michael Brown was unarmed or that Kajieme Powell was armed with a steak knife. Never mind that the protesters were unarmed when police were pointing assault weapons and sniper rifles at them. Never mind that the tear gas and rubber bullet response was justified because of people throwing rocks and bottles (and supposedly, Molotov cocktails). Never mind that our inner cities actually have low rates of legal gun ownership (in DC, the rate of legal gun ownerships is a tenth of the rest of the country). Never mind that fewer officers were shot to death on the job last year than in any year since 1887 (PDF) and that violent assault on cops are down by an equal amount. Never mind that the vast majority of weapons in this country are handguns and rifles, not military-grade weapons. No, it’s really about guns!

In his book on police militarization, Radley Balko talks about the North Hollywood shootout, which was used to justify some police militarization. But the North Hollywood shootout was a rare event, not a harbinger of more violent attacks to come. And the militarization of police throws its roots down in the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. Rarely has gun ownership been used to justify it. And we have certainly never been told this was happening because of the 300 million guns that are owned by law-abiding citizens and are never used to commit crimes.

If we banned guns today, would the police give up their sniper rifles, flash bang grenades, armored vehicles and assault weapons? Of course not. They would claim that we still face danger from terrorism and drug gangs. They would still claim that any raid faced a danger of illegal military-style weapons. They would still default to an armed stance. Compare how officers responded to Kajieme Powell, emerging close by with guns drawn, to how British police dealt with a maniac wielding a machete. These are different approaches to policing, not a response to the phantom menace of super-predators with machine guns.

But gun control is the Left’s religion. Everything, including the finish of teams in the NFC East last year, proves we need more of it. This attitude comes from desperation: gun control is simply a non-starter for most of the country.