Anyone, Anywhere, For Any Reason…Or None At All
The most restrictive firearm laws in the country did nothing to keep a deranged narcissist from shooting 3 people to death, and stabbing 3 others with equal results. So, of course, the response of our do-gooder politicians is to try and force those same failed gun laws upon people across the nation (and make new ones to fail tomorrow).
Those who were stabbed to death have been forgotten already. As far as politicians are concerned, you’re just not quite dead enough to matter unless a gun is used to kill you. I suppose I should be grateful for the tacit admission that “knives don’t kill people, people do,” but I don’t want to assume too much. Frankly, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a call to “end virginity in our time.”
As much as I dislike communicating in cliches, sometimes nothing else quite describes the truth of a situation like a well-worn truism. In that spirit, I openly wonder that if the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, what is it for elected officials to insist that we pass even more gun control laws following the abject failure of gun control laws?
There are facepalms, and even double-facepalms, but I am all out of palms at this point.
It’s rational to consider how the mental health system might be improved, but even there, our nanny-state leaders seem stuck in the rut of “lather, rinse, repeat [even when it’s not working].” I almost forgot the most important (and their favorite) part of the process: the spincycle.
California, more than any other state, has robust mental health regulations under which someone can be declared ineligible to own or acquire firearms. A person making threats of violence, especially one like “I’m going to kill you,” can be arrested or detained even if they have not actually committed the act of murder. “5150” (psychiatric evaluation) holds can and do take place virtually every day, in some cases without probable cause or supporting evidence. A 5150 hold carries with it an automatic, 5-year prohibition against purchasing or owning firearms. But there’s more: a 14-day “5250” hold results in a lifetime prohibition.
(Remember that anyone placed in a prohibiting category is, within 24 hours, added to California DOJ’s “Armed and Prohibited” database. Attorney General Kamala Harris received $24 Million last year to take guns away from these known prohibited people. If only Elliot Rodger had been held on a 5150…)
And mental health is not the only area where gun owners can become prohibited without being convicted of a crime. Under state and federal law, a person can have a restraining order filed against them for domestic violence, without evidence or proof, resulting in a lifetime loss of Second Amendment rights.
So, please, let’s be honest enough to admit that we already have numerous safeguards in place that can be used to deal with people who pose a credible threat of harm. We just have to use them.
Of course, since imperfect humans are involved throughout the process, something is bound to go wrong. Some bureaucrat will use the wrong form, or — gasp — there won’t be a cover sheet on the TPS report. Someone will make a mess of it (not intentionally, but still.). A parent will deceive themselves into thinking that Little Johnny’s not really crazy, that “it’s just a phase,” and a psychiatrist might very well believe that the medication is good enough for a “wait and see” prognosis. Even tougher, cops are not doctors or psychologists, and nobody can really expect law enforcement officers to accurately make spot decisions regarding someone’s mental health.
News flash: the application of the law is imperfect, and unenforced laws (regardless of why) don’t have a chance to work. No matter how many laws we have, someone will, inevitably, slip through the cracks.
I’m not one for throwing up our hands and saying, “oh, too bad, so sad, nothing we can do,” so can we at least try something different this time?
Apparently, and unfortunately, not. Here comes Assembly members Nancy Skinner and Das Williams to save the day with….more of the same, but worse!
Their new bill, AB 1014, would create new vehicles — the “Gun Violence Restraining Order” and “firearms seizure warrant” — by which to torment, harass, and persecute a class of people they just cannot stand. (I’m talking about you, gun owners.)
In the name of “think of the children,” and “we have to do something,” Assembly Bill 1014 takes everything that’s wrong with current law and doubles down on the stupid, ineffective, and unconstitutional parts. It’s really nothing less than abandonment of common sense and going all-in on trampling all over privacy, free speech, due process, and the presumption of innocence.
Under AB 1014, anyone could file a report against you. Yes, the actual text of the bill says just that: “Any person may submit an application to the court…” They don’t have to know you. Heck, they don’t even have to have ever met you. And yet there they might be, telling some judge that “you’re a risk” and that your fundamental rights should just disappear because they found out — on Facebook, Twitter, word-of-mouth, “accidentally” leaked records, however — that you’re a gun owner.
They can file a report for almost any reason, or no real reason at all. What might support the court’s issuance of a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” under AB 1014? How about this: “recent acquisition of firearms or other deadly weapons.” Just to make sure you’re getting this, let’s recap: if AB 1014 becomes law, exercising your Second Amendment rights is evidence that you shouldn’t have them. Yes, it’s that ridiculous.
In a world where eating a poptart the wrong way can be considered a terroristic threat, this should chill you to the bone.
You don’t have the right under this legislation to be evaluated by a mental health professional. You don’t even have a right to an adversarial hearing before the restraining order is granted. You don’t have to be convicted of a crime, or even formally charged with actually doing anything wrong. Your disposition will be decided by a magistrate, without the right to face or cross-examine your accusers. Leave it to California Democrats to throw the Seventh Amendment baby out with the Second Amendment bathwater.
Oh, and while they are at it, total confiscation is mandated to come next (certainly without warning because, remember, you weren’t in the courtroom when the judge made you a prohibited person). And it’s not just your house they’re coming to — your guns “may be taken from any place, or from any person in whose possession the firearm may be.” That’s another direct quote from the bill. So long, Fourth Amendment! Here we come, general warrants!
This legislation is virtually begging people to abuse it. Can you imagine Everytown’s “Demanding Moms,” led by hater-in-chief Shannon Watts, running a drill to terrorize gun owners using AB 1014? I can. Did I mention that there’s not even a provision for recourse in the case of false claims or frivolous legal harassment? Heaven help those with gun-phobic relatives or nosy neighbors. This is how politicians like Nancy Skinner and Das Williams define “common sense” legislation.
If doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results really is insanity, AB1014 is a special kind of howling-at-the-moon crazy for which there is –as of yet — no proper description.
Allen Scheer is a certified firearms instructor, gun rights advocate, and political commentator residing in the Sacramento, California area.