Op-ed lays out three tests for gun control laws that should be considered

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

In Pennsylvania, there’s been a lot of talk about gun control. There’s a push to make the state anti-gun and cities like Philadelphia want to make it even more so.


So it was a little surprising to see this op-ed from the Philadelphia Inquirer arguing that if gun control laws are going to exist, they should probably do more than just infringe on the rights of the law-abiding.

In the wake of recent inner-city crime waves, including Philadelphia’s record-setting homicide rates the last few years, Pennsylvanians were treated to accusations by Gov. Josh Shapiro, Mayor Jim Kenney, and other Democrats that their crime and violence problems are the fault of lawmakers in Harrisburg. We’ve also heard criticisms of legislative gridlock, standstill, and “failure to act” on so-called commonsense gun laws.

At issue are two bills: one empowering authorities to remove guns from someone allegedly exhibiting signs (or “red flags”) they’re about to harm someone, and another requiring background checks for private transfers of firearms (misleadingly called a “gun show loophole”). Both bills have passed the Pennsylvania House, and are under consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I share the desire to have safer streets and fewer crimes. But law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be punished for the offenses of criminals.

Instead, as with every gun control law (even if it could pass constitutional scrutiny), supporters have to show how a proposed gun law will 1) actually solve the problem, 2) cause more benefit than harm, and 3) be obeyed by criminals.


And therein lies the issue.

Take something like universal background checks. Yes, I oppose them and would no matter what. However, I also recognize a lot of people only have an issue with them because they don’t actually stop criminals from doing anything.

If universal background checks would stop criminals from buying guns from their buddies, I suspect a lot more people would be on board with them as a concept. Most people get guns from an FFL anyway, so they’re doing background checks all the time without complaint. Doing all gun purchases that way might be tolerable if they would actually keep guns out of people’s hands.

They don’t, though, because, like most gun control proposals, they don’t actually do anything to criminals at all. While we would have to go through the process for every gun purchase, the neighborhood gang-banger would simply talk to his buddy and buy that gun he stole from someone’s house last week.

Those three tests for gun control laws are simple and basic, not because it’s perfectly constitutional–note that the tests themselves never mention the constitutionality of a law–but because they’re practical.


Let’s be real here, a lot of people don’t understand the Constitution and aren’t swayed by constitutional arguments.

This, however, illustrates the point.

So many gun control measures fail all three tests that it’s ridiculous, and yet those who push these measures are never called to account for their failures.

That means we should start making them explain themselves beforehand.

Unfortunately, places like Philadelphia aren’t interested in that. They just want gun control and aren’t worried about whether it’ll work or not.

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