Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe vetoed the Constitutional carry bill approved by lawmakers in Harrisburg last week, but the issue isn’t going to fade away anytime soon. With Republicans expected to keep control of both chambers of the legislature in next year’s elections, along with hopes of capturing the governorship as well, we’re going to continue to hear a lot of talk about permitless carry from both supporters and opponents in the months ahead, but one gun control supporter is ready to end the debate by proposing a deal for Second Amendment activists.
If lawmakers were serious about wanting to do away with concealed carry licenses, they could have gone to Wolf and suggested a compromise.
Support this, and we will require universal background checks and enact a red flag law.
Also known as extreme risk protection orders, red flag laws allow household members and law enforcement to ask a court to temporarily take guns from someone who has shown they are a danger to themselves or others. The subject of the order gets an opportunity to defend themselves in court.
The laws likely have saved lives in other states.
Having a red flag law would give Pennsylvania a tool to prevent many needless firearms deaths that occur with warning, following threats or erratic behavior.
I believe that would have been a good trade.
The Morning Call‘s Paul Muschick may believe he’s hit on a brilliant idea here, but in truth it’s a non-starter for both Second Amendment supporters and gun control activists alike. Neither side is interested in a compromise like this; gun control activists because they refuse to acknowledge the right to bear arms is an actual right, and 2A fans because the proposed trade would strengthen one aspect of the right to keep and bear arms, while weakening the right overall.
Just for the sake of argument, though, let’s look at Muschick’s reasoning behind his proposal.
The deficiency in Pennsylvania’s background check law is that it does not require a check for private sales of rifles and shotguns. Those weapons are unlikely to be carried concealed outside of a vehicle because of their size.
Most handgun sales are required to have a check. The exception is transfers between some family members, including spouses, and parents and children. If that were to be closed, then we could rest assured it’s likely that most people carrying a concealed weapon passed a check at some point.
And if they become a problem later, a red flag law would be a mechanism to take away their guns.
Would universal background checks really assure people that most folks carrying a concealed firearm passed a check “at some point”? Sure, if those people are absolute morons.
As Muschick notes, handgun sales are already subjected to background checks in Pennsylvania, with the exceptions limited to transfers between family members. Is he suggesting that the violent criminals in Philadelphia responsible for more than 500 homicides this year all got their guns from family members?
Criminals are going to continue to illegally obtain firearms no matter what background check laws are on the books. They’ll steal guns, buy them on the black market, and yes, even print them or build them at home. A universal background check law won’t stop a single criminal from illegally obtaining a firearm, but it will turn otherwise law-abiding gun owners into criminals for loaning a gun to their buddy for hunting, or letting a neighbor keep ahold of a pistol for a couple of days while her abusive ex is making noise about doing her harm.
Red flag laws, of course, come with their own issues, and even a gun control supporter like Muschick should be able to see the biggest flaw (besides the constitutional concerns that many gun owners have); a red flag law provides a legal mechanism to take guns away from someone deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others, but does nothing to actually address the supposed dangerousness of the individual. The vast majority of red flag laws around the states don’t even mention mental health treatment, nor do they address what the supposedly dangerous individual might do with access to car keys, gasoline, matches, knives, pills, and other items they could use to harm themselves or others.
Muschick’s basically proposing that Second Amendment supporters accept two bad laws in order to get one good one on the books. I can understand why he thinks the trade would be a good one, but I also know why the vast majority of Second Amendment activists would vehemently disagree.