1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fab four? No, flawed four (gun bills)

This is an exercise is disagreement without being disagreeable (so I hope). It was an email to the Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, Mark Ferrandino, concerning four proposed gun laws.

Dear Speaker Ferrandino,

I must confess that what today's Denver Post characterized as a "broad-ranging package of gun bills" strikes me as myopic: the fixation is on window dressing and there is nothing here that has a credible chance of preventing or discouraging any criminal activity whatsoever. Allow me to raise my objections to each bill:

HB1229 (universal background checks): It is already illegal to knowingly transfer a firearm to a felon or other person barred from ownership/possession of a firearm. I have moral certainty about a host of friends who I could transfer a firearm to, why this bureaucratic mandate to verify what I already know (to wit: Uncle Larry is not a felon?). Suggestion: PSAs that articulate the current law and a catchy slogan such as "When in doubt, don't sell that gun." Or how about a non-punitive way of encouraging background checks, such as a fee-less background check AND a Starbucks gift card. Can't we be a little creative here? The people who will obey this law aren't the ones to worry about.

HB1224 (magazine capacity): 15 round magazine limit? Look, I realize Hollywood does a very poor job of portraying the reality of firearms and their limitations (I'm thinking of Rambo and his infinite supply of ammunition), but do you have any idea how silly this is? All kinds of 15+ round magazines are in circulation and suppose you did get them off the street? Being Mr. Badguy, I will simply buy multiple magazines. Depending upon the firearm, a magazine change can be effected in 2-3 seconds. Criminals may be crazy but they are not stupid nor uncreative - they'll find a way to kill, period. This bill was clearly crafted by people who know nothing about firearms or their use.

HB1226 (carry-free zones): Designate college campuses as carry-free zones? Why not create signage that says "We won't shoot back"? Absurd. Did Mr. Holmes see those firearm-free signs in Aurora and say, "Oh, my bad, I'll go somewhere else to commit an atrocity" or did he see those signs as encouragement to slaughter innocents? Common sense tells us the answer. All this sort of thing does is tell wackos where they are less likely to face resistance, and hence encourages them to ply their twisted trade there. College students who want to minimize the inconvenience to psychos might afix bullseyes to their backs. Hurray!

HB1228 (background fees): A fee for background checks? I believe we still call it the Bill of Rights, not the "Bill of Privileges." Is this part of some deficit reduction package? Perhaps we can charge fees for speaking or writing or praying? That 1st Amendment is such a nuisance and people say the rudest things - let's cash in on it. The possibilities are nearly limitless: first you create a requirement to exercise a right and then you charge people for exercising that right. Clever!

It seems to me that all these initiatives have built in "loopholes" that will require more laws that will eventually turn firearms ownership from a right to a privilege bestowed on the rich and well-connected. You and everyone else at the Capitol have a very nice security detail (and you all deserve it, honestly) - guys and gals with guns - and perhaps don't feel the need for your own firearm. Many of us out here are not so lucky or privileged. We demand no less than that our right to self-defense be not denied or pointlessly encumbered.

I realize our political climate is not conducive to actual constructive dialogue. I get that. But, look, you Democrats have the majority which means you can choose to posture on this issue (as the less-than-"fab" four do) OR you could engage in a real bipartisan conversation about reducing violence. I think are things that people of good will can agree on. I think rights and responsibilities can be accommodated.  And yet it seems that both sides of the aisle are more interested in what is expedient.

Let me conclude by saying that reading today's DP led me to reluctantly (re)join the NRA [I forwarded the email from the NRA].  I don't particularly care for the approach of the NRA (which tends toward the hyperbolic), but after seeing the shenanigans at the Capitol, some sort of countervailing pressure seems necessary. I've been pushed off the fence and I suspect there are many more like me. This might be something to consider.

I beg your indulgence for some of the sarcasm above, but I am truly flummoxed by all this.

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