The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in our Constitution, but there’s nothing there to say that one must exercise their gun rights. That’s up for each individual to decide, as it should be.
Most of us exercise them every chance we get while millions of others don’t.
But in some states, people can willingly put themselves on a list that prohibits them from buying guns. Yet it seems that few are taking advantage of that, and some are trying to figure out why that is.
The law — passed in 2018 — allows residents to submit a short form to their county clerk’s office in any county in the state. If they change their mind, they have to wait seven days before the county can revoke it.
Pedersen called it a valuable tool that can help prevent tragedies without outside coercion.
“It’s a libertarian kind of tool, right? It’s an option that’s available for people. So there’s nothing particularly oppressive about it,” he said.
These laws stand in contrast to “red flag laws,” where a court can step in and take away someone’s gun rights if they are viewed as a risk.
However, the law may be so obscure that few people have used it. Pedersen said that as of a year ago, there were just 20 waivers in the system statewide. To put that in comparison, 864 people were killed by a firearm in the state in 2020, according to CDC statistics.
Still, the idea is catching on. Since Washington passed its law, additional states such as Virginia and Utah have put similar measures into place.
Like in Washington state, few people have taken advantage of the law. Surovell estimated that last year between 30 and 40 people took advantage of the “do not sell” list.
One reason the laws may not be reaching many people is because of a lack of public awareness.
“I think one of the big, probably the biggest issue is that people aren’t even aware that it exists,” Pedersen said
Or, and hear me out here, it’s a stupid idea.
Look, I don’t see this as necessarily oppressive or tyrannical. After all, if people are only doing this voluntarily, then yeah, it’s none of those things.
But the idea itself is kind of idiotic.
What we have is a list where people can voluntarily give up a God-given right and be legally prevented from exercising that right. That’s appealing to many who envision folks recognizing they’re in a bad place and giving up their guns.
Yet they don’t actually seem to get that this might be too extreme for many to want to take advantage of it.
When someone is depressed or otherwise suffering from mental health issues, it’s unlikely that many will think of the possibility of killing themselves or hurting others far enough out that they even think about putting themselves on the list.
Still others, however, won’t want to give up their right to buy a gun because they figure they’ll get over whatever the issue is soon enough. They want to protect that right.
Then there are those who believe they’d never buy a gun no matter what. Why go through the hassle of putting themselves on some list that would bar them from doing something they figure they’d never do anyway?
See, for many, it’s just not something they’d think about, even if they know the list exists.
For others, it goes too far for them to consider it. They don’t want to have to jump through hoops to get their name off the list when they’re feeling better and decide they want to buy a gun for personal protection.
But unfortunately, the brainiacs behind stuff like this rarely talk to gun owners to get their input on something like this.