In the book Don Quixote, the titular character sets out to be a knight errant, all in an era well after knighthood had lost such meaning. Plus, the character is more than a little delusional. In one of his most famous incidents, Quixote initiates a lance charge toward what he believes to be a giant, only to find out that it’s a windmill.
What does this have to do with the Second Amendment, guns, or anything of the sort? Well, nothing. Directly, anyway.
I just couldn’t help but think about Don Quixote when I read what Wisconsin Democrats are trying to do.
State Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison), along with other democrats, introduced two new pieces of gun control legislation last week. One bill aims to expand background checks throughout the state while the other would establish a risk protection order system.
“Gun violence is an epidemic in our country. The legislature cannot continue to ignore this issue while our friends, neighbors and communities are suffering and there are common sense solutions in front of us,” said Agard.
The bill focused on background checks would outlaw firearm sales unless a background check is provided and the sale is conducted via a federally licensed firearm dealer. Violators of this law would be unable to possess a firearm for two years and potentially receive fines of up to $10,000 or spend up to nine months in prison. Under current state law, private retailers are not required to perform a background check on firearm transfers.
The latter bill would prohibit people who are at risk of harming themselves or others, or those with domestic abuse charges, from owning a firearm. Police officers and family members would be able to petition to the court, preventing potentially harmful individuals from owning firearms. Each order of prevention would stay in place for one year, but orders may be subject to extension or renewal.
Of course, it’s not like Agard is breaking new ground on this. Bills similar to these have been introduced in a whole lot of states, if not all of them.
In some, they passed. In others, they didn’t.
Wisconsin is likely to be in the latter camp.
See, the Wisconsin legislature is heavily Republican, and while members of the GOP may like the idea of red flag laws, most know their constituents would destroy them if they tried to pass either that or universal background checks.
We’ve written extensively about the problem with red flag laws, but the short version is that they allow the government to take guns from people who have done nothing wrong simply because someone thinks they’re dangerous and might do something, all without due process of law until after the fact.
Universal background checks are even more problematic. While polling suggests people approve of them, there are problems with that polling. Often, the question is just vague enough that one shouldn’t be so sure that the respondent voiced support for universal background checks or for the system we already have in place.
Plus, there are varying degrees of expanding background checks that aren’t generally considered by pollsters. While pretty much every “supporter” they talked to is in favor of background checks for gun sales between strangers, beyond that it gets murky. What about loaning firearms? What about transfers between family members? Longtime friends?
You can start to see the issue here.
Again, not that it’s likely to matter too much. I don’t see this bill going anywhere, which is for the best. It would be better if it hadn’t been introduced in the first place, but that’s not in the cards, so this is the next best thing.
Now, we can just wait and watch the gnashing of teeth as Democrats in the state bash their heads against the wall trying to get this passed.