Check, Please

After I wrote,

I am loosing tolerance for the idiotic reasoning that criminals will get firearms anyway.

Lawrence Kennon wrote,

The argument is not that one should not make laws because criminals will disobey them. The real argument is that often the proposed law will negatively affect the rights or the law abiding without have much material effect on the non-law-abiding. It is basically an argument of unintended consequences.

He has a point, which I acknowledged. But then I heard this, from Kevin Starrett of the Oregon Firearms Federation on NPR:

Obviously, people who commit crimes with guns are not going to subject themselves to the background check. So who is it having any impact on? It’s having an impact on the people who are willing to obey the law, who wouldn’t do anything bad in the first place.

Keven Starrett seems to think that criminals will have an “opt-out” button that they can use to avoid subjecting themselves to background checks. That’s not how it works. Universal background checks will close off paths that criminals currently use to obtain weapons while still keeping those avenues open to law abiding citizens. They will force people who shouldn’t be buying guns to turn to illicit means of acquiring them. That won’t stop all criminals from getting weapons, but it will stop a lot of them.

A background check probably would have prevented this and many other tragedies like it:

Zina Daniel took out a restraining order against her husband after three years of abuse. The restraining order should have prevented her husband, Radcliffe Haughton, from buying a gun. Regardless, Haughton was able to skip a background check by buying a gun on the internet, which he used to shoot 7 people the very next day.

You can make all of the “criminals don’t obey laws” comments you want, but 100 percent background checks will prevent some people with violent records from obtaining guns. Some of them will find it too difficult or too risky, and others will get caught trying.

The beauty of 100% background checks is they don’t leave law abiding citizens unarmed while allowing criminals to easily get guns. Mr. Kennon argued that unless background checks are 100% accurate and nearly immediate, they’re a violation of our rights. I disagree. And so does the NRA.

Until recently, the NRA supported “mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone.” So is the NRA saying, “We used to support violating the 2nd Amendment but now we don’t”? It’s hard for me to imagine that the NRA had a genuine reversal of their interpretation of the Second Amendment. The 2nd Amendment didn’t change since Wayne LaPierre spoke clearly and strongly in support of 100% background checks and neither did LaPierre’s position at the NRA.

Nothing changed except an opportunity for the NRA to increase its popularity by obstructing the Obama administration, and gun sellers discovering that paranoia is good for sales. Gun organizations have been boasting about it. And the NRA can’t maintain lucrative gun grabber paranoia and hatred of Obama while supporting the administration on any gun control legislation, even if it’s legislation that the NRA strongly supported and even if it’s what over 90% of the American people want.

I acknowledge that Lawrence Kennon’s argument against background checks is not “idiotic”. But I can’t find a better word to describe Starrett’s statement that background checks don’t affect criminals because they won’t “subject themselves” to them. And I can’t abide the NRA’s reversal of a position they once so strongly supported, without changes in the facts on the ground other than the political landscape.

With overwhelming support among the American people for legislation that keeps firearms out of the hands of criminals while allowing law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, defeating this legislation will not be a victory for the 2nd Amendment. It would be a victory for a small group of powerful lobbyists in their effort to circumvent the will of the people and put profits ahead of the lives of law abiding citizens.

Update April 6: I originally wrote that the facts on the ground hadn’t changed except the party of the current administration. That was a mistake since Clinton was in office while LaPierre was promoting universal background checks

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Punishing Police to Protest Politicians

Marketplace did a story on gun manufacturers who won’t sell to NYPD because of New York’s gun control laws. Among the vile gun manufacturers who have decided to take out their frustrations with politicians and citizens on the men and women who swore to protect and to serve, are Olympic Arms, LaRue Tactical, and EFI.

In a bizarre statement which reveals the twisted logic behind gun-nut politics, Brian Schuetz of Olympic Arms said,

“If a citizen, you know, can’t own it, I don’t understand the reasoning why the law enforcement community should have it.”

and Mark LuRue wrote:

We realize this effort will have an impact on this firm’s sales – and have decided the lost sales are less danger to this firm than potential lawsuits from erroneous shipments generated by something as simple as human error.

I have some far left wing friends who might applaud the idea of disarming the police. I don’t agree with them either. Despite horrifying stories about racist killings and beatings, or incompetent yahoos shooting up civilians in a myopic pursuit of an ex cop turned cop killer, I believe that the overwhelming majority of police officers are decent people who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us.

I don’t believe the preposterous statements from gun executives like Schuetz or LuRue. They’re more interested in sales than in rights. What they prove by their selfish and childish decisions is they’re willing to put citizens and police in danger in order to draw attention to themselves and protest decisions which negatively affect gun sales.

Why Black-on-White Crime Statistics are Not an Appropriate Response

A friend (real friend, someone I actually know) posted this on facebook last week:

Dear Racist FB Friends: I know that black people kill white people, just like white people kill black people. It’s OLD NEWS. Old, ancient, boring, sickening news. Can we please focus on loving one another instead of spreading hate and discontent and fomenting racism? Every time I see one of you post *yet another* status about black-on-white crimes, I feel a little sicker and even more disheartened about our world. Move on.

At the time she wrote this, I hadn’t seen many posts or comments about the black-on-white vs white-on-black crime ratio, but since then it’s become ubiquitous.

I image there are people who don’t understand why black-on-white crime statistics aren’t relevant to the outrage over the delay to arrest George Zimmerman. The following is an attempt to explain it.

I am White. There exist violent thugs who are White. Those thugs do not represent me. They are not my agents. I get nothing from their crimes. When a White murderer kills innocent Black people, the White race does not get a point. And I am not personally responsible for George Zimmerman’s actions.

The same would be true if I were Black, in reference to Black criminals. Black criminals don’t act on behalf of law abiding Black people. The Black race gets no points for crimes against Whites. There have been Black people committing violent acts against White people in retaliation for Trayvon Martin, but most Black people have nothing to do with them, and are not responsible for their actions.

The outrage over Mr. Zimmerman is not about the actions of criminals. It’s not even about George Zimmerman. The outrage is about the apparent approval of Trayvon Martin’s death by the lawmakers and enforcers who are supposed to keep us safe. It’s about the feeling of some law abiding citizens that race and demographics, rather than deeds, determine who gets punished for crimes and who gets to go free.

Gun ownership is much higher among White people than Black people, so stand-your-ground laws do not provide equal protection. While laws and attitudes which encourage vigilantism might increase the amount of people who kill criminals, they also increase the amount of people who mistakenly kill innocents who they assume to be threats. People who fear falling into the “assumed threat” category don’t see this as a fair trade-off.

Some White commenter’s have asked, since so many Black people kill so many White people, why isn’t it White people who are protesting against Blacks? But White people have protested, and the result has been laws and attitudes which enabled George Zimmerman to track down Trayvon Martin and start a confrontation with him while armed and ready to kill.

One particularly mean spirited writer suggested that Blacks and Whites should call it even, considering the balance of racial oppression against the violence of Black criminals. But again I emphasize, criminals are not agents of law abiding citizens, and should not be treated as their representatives.

Instead of Blacks protesting Whites and Whites protesting Blacks, law abiding citizens should protest criminals. And instead of laws which promote confrontations, we should have laws that reduce crime. These laws include youth programs, police outreach and increased patrols (by which I mean more cops, not more overworked cops), better education, safe public transportation, and perhaps even increased gun ownership.

The protests aren’t about equaling the balance of cross-race crimes or the desire to protect Black criminals as equally as White criminals. The protests are about equal protection of the law and and a desire to protect law abiding citizens.