It is an established fact that most criminals use stolen guns, often purchased on the black market. Studies confirm this, and it’s why many of us argue that gun control is perpetually doomed to fail. After all, efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals ignore the fact that criminals don’t obey the law.
However, a South Carolina lawmaker is using this fact to try and push for a bill that seeks to potentially punish the victims of crimes instead of those who commit them. In particular, the theft of a firearm.
Rep. Robert Williams of Darlington and Florence counties said he introduced a bill last legislative session that he thinks will curb gun violence.
Williams said House Bill 3683 would require people to report their stolen or lost guns.
“There are people who are stealing weapons and there is no accountability. For these weapons and these weapons are in the back on the streets. I wanted to make sure that folks are reporting their weapons when they were stolen. Or when they are lost. Or misplaced.”
The bill requires an “owner or other person lawfully in possession of a firearm, rifle or shotgun to report the loss or theft of each such weapon, to require the appropriate law enforcement agency to collect certain information regarding a lost or stolen weapon, and to provide graduated penalties for the failure to report a lost or stolen weapon.”
“Folks break into vehicles. Folks break into people’s homes. Steal weapons all the time. And all we are asking for all these reports to be made to law enforcement,” said Williams.
Williams also said his bill has nothing to do with gun control laws. He’s not trying to restrict citizens’ Second Amendment Rights.
No, he’s just going to punish the victim of a crime for not choosing to report it.
Now, why is this an issue? There are a few reasons. One is, why bother to report a gun stolen when you don’t have the serial number for it? Sure, you can say your Kimber 1911 was taken, but without the serial number, you’re never getting that gun back and we all know it.
Plus, let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t always put our eyes on all our guns all the time. We simply might not know a gun is gun until we’re being asked about it by the police. Even if you do, there’s no evidence that you knew a gun was stolen unless someone tells the police, thus making it almost impossible to prosecute anyone but the honest folks who answer that question honestly.
And that isn’t necessarily a question people are going to hear. South Carolina has too many ways for a gun to legally change hands for such transfers to be tracked. It’s just not likely the police will be able to find who owned the gun before it was stolen.
Finally, let’s not forget that laws like this seek to punish those who are already the victims of a crime. Victim blaming is a bad thing, as we’re told, yet bills like this are doing nothing but blaming the victims of crime for crimes carried out with property stolen from them.
Williams claims he’s trying to stop criminals, but I have to ask him just what good a mandatory reporting law will do. The guns will still be stolen and it’s highly unlikely most gun owners will ever get them back even if they’re recovered. It won’t reduce the guns on the street, so why push this?
If there’s a saving grace in this, it’s that it’s unlikely this bill will get very far.