Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

The one true gun law loophole

Jerry Stratton, December 9, 2015

Every time gun control fails in a high-gun-control state or gun-free zone, the left’s solution is doubling down on failure. After the San Bernardino murders, the left has decided to do what they always do: use the murders to enact more gun bans that have nothing to do with stopping future San Bernardino shootings. For example, Bernie Sanders and his followers are pushing a bunch of items, every single specific one of which already exists in California or already exists everywhere in the United States.

  • Significantly expand and improve background checks.
  • Renew the federal rifle ban.
  • End the sale of high capacity magazines.
  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime.
  • Close the gun show loophole.
  • Close the loophole that allows domestic abusers and stalkers to obtain guns.

The killers were not on any watch list. Expanding the background checks would not have stopped them, not unless the “expanded and improved” background checks would also stop everyone else who does not appear on any watch list.1 Unless they explain what they mean by this, it means nothing. Even if they had been on a watch list, they had connections with international terrorists. They would have had no problem circumventing a watch list. Improving the background check process is not actually a bad idea, as long as “improve” isn’t code for “delay and deny the law-abiding” as it usually is.2 But it would not have stopped these murders.

California already has renewed the federal rifle ban. The San Bernardino killers’ guns were legally purchased in California, which has adopted and extended the federal ban. If it was legal in California it would have been legal under the expired federal law. Nor is there anything special about the model of rifles they used. They were just rifles, based off an old design easily manufactured anywhere in the world. Renewing the federal rifle ban would not have stopped these murders.

California already bans more than ten rounds per magazine. Magazines are very simple devices and easily modified—which is what news reports are currently claiming the killers did—or even manufactured. Banning high-capacity magazines would not have stopped these murders.

Gun trafficking is already a federal crime. Straw purchases are already against federal law, as is lying on federal forms. The laws just aren’t enforced. The so-called gun trafficking bills that have been introduced recently merely change the title of the crimes and increase the penalties under the strange assumption that more laws the feds won’t enforce, under a new name, will stop criminals more effectively than current unenforced laws. New laws that won’t be enforced wouldn’t have stopped these murders.

There is also no gun show loophole—there is no exemption to firearms laws for gun shows. Anyone telling you otherwise is lying to you.

California already bans domestic abusers and stalkers from owning or acquiring firearms as soon as they are placed under a protective order and forever after they are convicted. This did not stop the San Bernardino terrorists, nor is it clear how it could have. The real abuse loophole, however, is that the law is so strict that even the abused and the stalked are often forbidden from purchasing firearms. If there’s a loophole, it is that domestic abusers can use the same law that keeps them from getting firearms to keep their victims from getting firearms. If you want to close the domestic abuse loophole, exempt victims of domestic violence from the waiting periods that help their abusers kill them. Domestic abusers/stalkers are easily able to purchase firearms on the black market, something their victims are rarely willing to break the law to do.

And that is the biggest loophole of all: criminals are criminals because they are willing to break the law. Laws against buying firearms by definition only apply to the law-abiding.

But even assuming magical criminals who are unwilling to break the law, none of these would have made any difference whatsoever in San Bernardino.

The President has even recommended, during a national debate on illegal immigration, Australian-style gun confiscation—after yet another killing in a gun-free zone. This is the logic of the left: deporting ten million criminals is logistically impossible, but going to every law-abiding home in the country to collect three hundred million firearms in Australian-style gun confiscation, that’s “worth looking at.”

I’m currently reading Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society, and ran across his discussion of the leftist intelligentsia’s passion for gun control in the face of all empirical evidence:

Like so many ideas among the intelligentsia, the zeal for gun control laws has defied years of mounting evidence of their futility and counterproductive consequences. For example, a scholarly study in 2001 found that “the use of handguns in crime rose by 40 per cent in the two years after such weapons were banned in the UK.”

As gun control laws were made ever tighter in Britain toward the end of the twentieth century, murder rates rose by 34 percent, while murder rates in Canada and the United States were falling by 34 percent and 39 percent, respectively. Murder rates in France and Italy were also falling, by 25 percent and 59 percent, respectively. Britain, with its strong anti-gun ideology among the intellectual and political elites, was an exception to international trends. Meanwhile, Americans’ purchases of guns increased during this same period, gun sales surging “to a peak in 1993 of nearly 8 million small arms, of which 4 million were handguns.” Far from leading to more murders, the this was a period of declining murder rates in the United States. Altogether, there were an estimated 200 million guns in the United States, and rates of violent crimes were lowest where there was the highest incidence of gun ownership. The same has been true of Switzerland.

Yet none of them this has caused second thoughts about gun control among either the American or British intelligentsia.

The people trying to push these changes don’t care about stopping future San Bernardinos. They are oppportunistic gun banners using the blood of victims they disarmed to disarm more people—and create more victims.

In response to U.S. homicide rate compared to gun control measures: Extrano’s Alley lists the U.S. homicide rate from 1885 to 1940, and somebody else puts it into a chart.

  1. Further, the left’s talk about the “no-fly” list is itself a lie. When they actually went to write a bill, they based it not on the no-fly list (itself a misnomer, as people flagged by it can get around it to fly) but on the even more ridiculously-named “terrorism watch list” which contains twenty times as many names, by far most of which are not barred from flying at all. That list includes some people whose main sin appears to be disagreeing with the left, such as Weekly Standard writer Stephen Hayes, as well as actual Department of Homeland Security staff.

  2. The no-fly list itself is a joke. If we know they are terrorists, why are they allowed to run free? It is far too easy to add people to the list, and people who are clearly not terrorists have found it impossible to get removed from the list. Using it to deny or delay a constitutional right would be even more egregious than using it to deny or delay air travel.

  1. Soft bigotry kills ->