We’ve seen a number of blue states push the idea of mandatory gun storage requirements over the past few month, with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signing a bill into law just a few weeks ago and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown expected to sign a bill with even more draconian requirements that was approved by lawmakers last week.
Beyond the obvious Second and Fourth Amendment concerns, one of the biggest issues I have with mandatory storage laws is the fact that, while they can provide a criminal charge after a juvenile gets ahold of a gun, they don’t actually do anything to proactively encourage safe storage of firearms. And then there’s the fact that a lot of the people who aren’t taking the time to safely store their guns aren’t legally allowed to own them in the first place.
The gun that a 3-year-old boy unintentionally shot and killed himself with in Milwaukee on Saturday belonged to a relative who was out on bail on armed robbery charges and was barred from possessing dangerous weapons.
Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Devon L. Armour, 26, of Menasha with second-degree reckless homicide, possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts of bail jumping.
Armour was charged with armed robbery in Waukesha County in March and was released from custody after signing a $10,000 signature bond May 6, according to online court records. He was forbidden from possessing dangerous weapons as a condition of his release.
According to police, just two days after Armour signed that bond, he showed up at his cousin’s home in Milwaukee with a gun. He told officers that he put the gun down on a kitchen table where the 3-year old was sitting, but inexplicably left the child unattended with the gun sitting out in plain view.
In the aftermath of this completely avoidable tragedy, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett proclaimed to the press that “something” needs to be done. What exactly? According to the mayor, more gun control laws might have made a difference.
“There’s too many guns,” Barrett said during a tour of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. “There are too many felons who have guns, and a little boy has died. And it’s heartbreaking. Right before Mother’s Day, I just can’t imagine.
“People have a right under the Second Amendment to have a gun, I support that,” Barrett said. “But you have to also have in place sensible laws to make sure that minors, felons, people who are dangerous, do not have access to guns. We are failing miserably there and we need more enforcement, and we need to have the laws change, no question.”
No, the problem isn’t that there are “too many guns,” it’s that there are individuals in our society who don’t give a damn about the laws that are on the books. Why would Armour arm himself just a couple of days after posting bond on an armed robbery charge? Because to him, the risk of being caught with a gun (or leaving it out where a toddler could get ahold if it) was less than his perceived risk of being without one.
Instead of trying to reduce the number of guns out there (a ridiculous idea in a nation with 400-million privately owned arms), a more practical and constitutionally-sound approach would be to increase the penalties for prohibited persons found with a gun. The state could also look at increasing the bond for individuals charged with violent felonies, so that guys like Armour can’t stroll out of jail on a signature bond when they pose a danger to the community.
Even then, though, there’ll be some criminals who simply don’t care what the law says. Barrett talks about “sensible laws”, but the real issue is a lack of common sense in some people. The vast majority of us don’t need a law to know we shouldn’t leave a loaded gun within reach of a toddler sitting at a kitchen table, and slapping another law on the books won’t change the fact that guys like Armour don’t care about following the law in the first place. If he did he wouldn’t be facing armed robbery charges, much less the more recent charges filed after the 3-year old was killed.
This story is tragic, but it’s not an example of why we need more gun control laws. Instead, it’s yet another example of the disastrous consequences that come from a soft-on-crime approach to public safety.