Many people, including gun-rights people, have suggested that CNN
deserves to get off on this one. The laws are bad, they
say. The laws are wrong and should not be enforced.
On that, I have no argument at all.
But mercy is something that you apply to someone who requests
quarter. Someone who is either innocent or reformed.
Someone who will not get up, dust themselves off, reload their gun, and
shoot you in the back.
CNN as an organization is anti-gun. The simple fact that they ran
this story proves it. They are not repentent. They are not
sorry. They are not seeking to change their ways and live a
virtuous life. And they shall reap what they have sown.
There's another party here, though. The seller, almost certainly
taken advantage of by CNN, may have exposed himself to liability as
well -- depending on exactly how CNN's reporter handled the
details. (In short, if there was a straw Texan involved, the
seller is OK; otherwise, he's in trouble). But I have little
doubt in the absence of conflicting information that this individual is
a firearms enthusiast who just wanted to sell a legal firearm, and
either was fooled by the straw Texan or didn't quite know the details
of the law.
Based on the facts as we understand them, nailing this individual with
a felony for his part in the transaction is not justice. And
that's what we need to push for here: justice for all.
Remember, it could have been any one of us. And if the gun bigots have their way it will be ALL of us.
So how do we make things right?
First of all, if the BATFE does charge the seller in this case (no word
on that yet, and it's likely to be a while before we know for sure) we
can make a committment to help out with his defense. It's only
fair, since we brought down the heat. Just keep that in mind for
the future, folks. If you've called up the BATFE to urge a
prosecution, you owe this guy a favor should they go after him.
Second, our message needs to be clear. Obviously, we would all
like to see CNN nailed on their technical violations of the GCA'68,
since we all put so much effort into complying with an essentially
useless law, and they put so much of theirs into creating more criminal
hazards for us.
From a PR perspective, CNN will garner a lot of negative publicity from
this. But we can't take that to the bank. We need to think
about what changes we can offer to reform the laws.
So I'm calling for ideas. We all know that this area of the
law is a mess, and it leads to innocent people without any ill intent
becoming criminals. What can we do to improve it?
If we are OK with restrictions on firearm possession by felons,
how can we better enforce that without infringing on firearms
rights? One possibility would be a designation on a state-issued
identification card (eg, driver's license) for felons who are
prohibitted from firearms possession. Seller checks buyer's
license, and the sale is OK if the license is not marked "FELON"; no
restrictions on interstate sales as long as the license is
checked. This has the advantage of avoiding the backdoor
registration mechanism that the present 4473 + NICS is.
Make technical violations of GCA'68 into tickets, paperwork
violations with nominal fines, rather than felonies, at least for cases
lacking any ill intent. There is no reason to threaten honest
citizens with a felony that bars future gun ownership forevermore
simply for making an honest mistake. The responsibility for not
possessing a firearm needs to rest on the shoulders of the felons
themselves, because they will always be able to obtain a firearm by
means fair or foul.
I'm sure we can come up with other improvements. There are lots
of ways the current laws don't make sense. But we need to
demonstrate that we have proposals to fix them, if we want to make any
lasting gains from CNN's mistake.
This entry was published Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger
and last updated 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0.