In the wake of a mass shooting, gun control gets a massive push. Usually, it dies down after a few weeks to a few months, but Parkland has kept the push going for far longer than anyone really expected.
That’s a shame.
Among the proposals that have gained a lot of traction are universal background checks. The idea that this requirement will keep guns out of the hands of people like the Parkland killer seems to permeate the minds of anti-gun activists and politicians, yet there are problems with it. Big problems.
An op-ed in Miami Herald points those problems out.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, or H.R. 8, does not target criminals or those intent on breaking the law. Instead, it curtails the normal, law-abiding behavior of everyday gun owners. Worse, anti-gun advocates are deceptively marketing this legislation as a “safety” bill that will keep guns away from dangerous people.
As a rape survivor, I know firsthand the need for self-defense against an attacker with a weapon, and I find it particularly helpful in my own journey of healing to instruct women in how to use a firearm and empower themselves so they never become victims. I have a standing notice to my personal network, that if they want firearm safety and instruction, I am willing to provide that to them at no cost.
A few months ago, a close friend took me up on that offer, and we headed out to a local gun range where I taught her how to shoot. I remember the giant smile on her face when she realized she hit her intended target. I was proud of her for stepping out of her comfort zone to learn a new, important skill.
If H.R. 8 had been enacted, and I had lent my friend that firearm to go back to the range and continue her education, I would have committed a crime punishable by up to $1,000 in fines or one year in prison. That’s because the bill makes it illegal for someone to hand over possession of their firearm to most other people — even if they know the person well. Further, innocent mistakes would not be excused under this law. A person would not have to know they were committing a crime in order to be prosecuted.
When it comes to something like Parkland, it should also be remembered that the killer passed the background check.
Now, that only happened because despite dozens of calls to his home for domestic violence. Just one charge may have been enough to have led to a conviction, thus keeping a gun out of his hands.
But, like the author of this piece notes, just loaning a gun to a friend for a range day can easily become criminal. We treat almost no other products in such a way. You can loan someone your car without concern despite the fact that more people are killed with cars every year than with guns. You can loan someone anything you want so long as it’s for a legal activity.
Hell, there’s no law against loaning someone a toothbrush, for crying out loud.
Yet this bill will negatively impact those who would like to help others with firearms. Rather than me taking friends out to the range to teach them how to handle a firearm safely, I’d be required to go through the hassle of treating it like a sale–thus making it so I’d just tell them to buy their own gun first. The problem is that between their purchase and when we can get to the range, you’ll have an untrained person sitting there with a weapon and no clue how to use it properly.
Every law has the potential for unwelcome side effects. This is called the Law of Unintended Consequences. Anything you do may create consequences you didn’t mean to happen but do. Sometimes they’re annoying or even beneficial but with this bill, that’s not what’s happening. What it will do is push people into shells. That doesn’t make us safer.
It does the opposite, to be honest.