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Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:09 PM

 

What I Fear, What Made Me Drag my Feet on Gun Control: Brady-Style Gun Control [View all]

Last edited Sat Dec 22, 2012, 11:11 PM - Edit history (1)

Why have I been so strongly opposed to gun control?

First I would like to be clear that some commonly cited reasons are low on my list.

Contrary to popular belief, the Second Amendment was intended to protect against government abuse. But that is a minor reason for me personally. Talk of armed revolution is unwarranted. Americans don’t have any excuse to dream of armed revolution when we can’t even be bothered to use EASY, peaceful methods to make our government stop reading our e-mails and listening to our phone conversations. We apparently have no problem with government feeling us up and looking at our naked bodies at airports; how can we pretend to be revolutionaries?

People who don’t value their rights enough to pressure their Senators and President don’t start revolutions. So if anybody starts fighting the government, they will be a ragtag group of outliers, not America. Only after America fully exhausts her peaceful power should she even consider armed action.

My personal safety is not a huge concern, either. I am fortunate to live and conduct most of my business in a low crime area. I don’t live in terror of a home invasion or mugging, though I know crime is possible anywhere.

No, these are not my motivators. My concern is primarily for others. As a person who has know folks who were victimized by crime, and has been privileged to listen to intense intimate accounts of brutal savagery perpetrated on innocent victims (including a close relative), I want to live in a country that does not deny people the right—and the means, without which the right is meaningless—to defend themselves.

Now there is a lot of talk by good and decent people about “reasonable,” “common sense,” “sensible” gun control. The Brady Campaign, powerful politicians, leaders and anti-gun scholars have also used these terms, but they haven’t always meant what you might think.

I can’t tell you exactly what the Brady Campaign and their fellow travelers mean (meant), but I can get close.

As the Parker case (the case that became the Heller case) was working its way through the courts, I went to the Brady Campaign website to see how the District of Columbia was rated.

The Brady Campaign maintained a grading system somewhat like the NRA’s. DC had a higher rating than any state in the union. DC’s grade was in the “B” range; if I recall correctly, the exact grade was a “B- “.

In other words, the District’s gun control, though not flawless enough to get an “A” was close.

And what was close to perfect? Here are descriptions of the laws, as outlined in an open letter I wrote to Obama at the time (these laws were overturned by Heller):

D.C. Code § 7-2502 says that no one can possess or control a firearm unless they have a valid registration certificate for the firearm. Registration certificates are available for rifles and shotguns, but D.C. Code § 7- 2502.02(a) forbids issuing a registration certificate for any pistol that was not registered to the current registrant in the District prior to September 24, 1976.


D.C. Code § 7-2507.02 requires that registrants keep all firearms in their possession “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.” The only exceptions are for guns kept at a place of business and guns being used for lawful recreational purposes within the district.


It is illegal to move a lawfully registered pistol on your own property. D.C. Code § 22-3204, an old law, once made an exception for people moving a gun within their own home or business or on their own land. The new law, D.C. Code § 22-4504, forbids any carrying of a handgun, even in your own house or business or on your own land.


“{W}ith very rare exceptions licenses to carry pistols have not been issued in the District of Columbia for many years and are virtually unobtainable.” Bsharah v. United States, 646 A.2d 993, 996 n.12 (D.C. 1994).
Quoted at http://www.scotusblog.com/movabletype/archives/Parker_cross_petition.pdf app. 18, no 32.


“BTW, the issue in Heller is not the trigger lock requirement per se. It's that the there is no exception allowing the gun to be unlocked in a self-defense emergency; in the 1977 case of McIntosh v. Washington, the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the home self-defense ban against challenges that it violated equal protection and the common law right of self-defense. The McIntosh court agreed with D.C's lawyers and recognized the statute as an absolute ban on home self-defense with any firearm; this was held to be rational because of the number of fatal gun accidents was (according to the McIntosh court) larger than the number justiable self-defense homicides with guns.”—David Kopel, Polls on handgun bans, March 16, 2008. http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_03_16-2008_03_22.shtml .


Of course, people can always call the police. Here is some DC legal history on that:

Illustrative of this {police} failure is the case of Warren v.District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. 1981.) In the late winter of 1975, three women (Warren, Taliaferro and Douglas, plus Douglas‟s four-year-old daughter) were asleep in a rooming house on Lamont Street, NW in the District. In the early morning hours, two burglars entered the property and raped Douglas. Warren and Taliaferro heard Douglas‟ screams and called the MPD at 6:23 a.m. to report a burglary in progress. They were assured police were on the way. At 6:26 a.m., three cruisers were dispatched to the rooming house on a “priority 2” call. One officer knocked on the door while other officers remained in their cruisers. Receiving no response at the door, the officers left. Warren and Taliaferro watched in horror from the roof of their building before crawling back into their room, where they continued to hear Douglas‟ screams. They called the MPD again at 6:42 a.m. and asked for immediate assistance. Again, they were told assistance was on the way. The dispatcher never dispatched additional police, unbeknownst to the two who yelled reassurance to Douglas and were, as a result, discovered by the burglars. All three women were then abducted at knifepoint and held prisoner for 14 additional hours, while being beaten, robbed, raped and directed to perform sex acts on each other.

All three women subsequently brought a tort action against the MPD for its failure to respond and protect them from the assaults. All three had their cases dismissed. Amicus Brief of Buckeye Firearms Foundation http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wpcontent/
uploads/2008/02/07-290_amicus_buckeye.pdf , 37-8.


Let's summarize the legal reality in DC, the “best in the nation” gun control regime that got a “B-” rating from the Brady Campaign:

You were legally required to pay for police protection, but the police had no obligation to protect you.

It was a crime in the District of Columbia to have a gun in your home that could actually shoot bullets. Guns were OK, as long as they were useless. In order to ensure their uselessness, they had to be kept unloaded. In order to be doubly sure, they had to be kept disassembled or bound by a trigger lock. Making a gun useful by assembling (or unlocking) and loading it was a crime. The excuse that you were trying to protect your family—or repel a rapist or avoid death—would not do.

These were the laws regarding long guns—rifles and shotguns. The situation with handguns was even worse.

You could not possess a handgun that you did not register before Sept 1976. Even if you had a registered handgun, you needed a special permit to move it from room to room in your own house. Permits were impossible to get. And of course your registered handgun had to remain useless at all times. (You could load guns kept at your place of business.)

Basically, if your family was being killed, raped, tortured, or kidnapped in your own house, you were forbidden by law to load a weapon to defend them (or yourself). You were, however, allowed to load a gun to protect your money and goods at your place of business.

If that earned a good grade from the Brady Campaign, what would earn a perfect score?

When I hear terms like “reasonable” “common sense” and “sensible” coming out of the mouths of the Brady Campaign, I know what they really mean. And while I think the odds of them getting what they want in toto are slim, they got close to “perfection” with the District of Columbia. I don’t want any Americans to be ruled by laws approved by the Brady Campaign and their fellow travelers.

There are things that can be done to keep unfit people from getting guns, things most people would gladly accept. But I don't trust the anti-gun leadership. I laid out the reason for extreme caution long ago:

It would be stupid to attempt to negotiate in “good faith” regarding the regulation of your rights, when the person across the table refuses to admit the existence of those rights.
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=118&topic_id=170607&mesg_id=172751

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