California politicians prove they have no interest in curbing shooting deaths
By JIM MATTHEWS
California politicians and state law enforcement leaders have proven this week they have no interest in actually working toward solving the problem on shooting deaths in the state. Whether a mass event or a domestic dispute, these people have proven again they are not interested in implementing solutions that might actually help.
It was sort-of in the headlines. You saw it right? Or did you miss it?
Well, maybe the news media and its bias against gun ownership obscured the headlines and had shoddy reporting that made it difficult to see.
Let me help you with some reading between the lines and additional facts.
Here was the blaring headline, the lead story in the news cycle:
“California politicians crow about how 100 felons have been denied an ammunition purchase in the first month of the new ammunition background check law -- and push for law to become national.”
This is a good thing, right? This means 100 felons, domestic abusers, or criminally insane people couldn’t buy ammunition in July and cause more mayhem.
The problem is that no one asked the follow-up question: How many of these people have been arrested?
Trying to buy guns or ammunition for a convicted felon and abuser is another felony – and it’s clear these 100 convicted felons were again up to no good by trying to buy ammunition legally. (It also suggests they already had a gun, also illegally.) So how many of these people were rearrested, jailed, and charged with another crime.
That wasn’t in the news stories or reporting because the number is zero.
None. Nada. Zip.
If none of these people were arrested for their grievous act of illegally trying to buy ammunition so they could carry out their next crime spree, what is the point?
I don’t want to believe that any of us are so naïve as to believe that if these 100 people really want ammunition (or a gun, which apparently they already have illegally) that they will not find a way to get some ammunition.
That’s correct, right? You are not that naïve? Or do you somehow think this is a real deterrent for a known felon or abuser – someone who already has been convicted of a violent, criminal act? Do you really believe they will not find a way to get ammunition or a gun? Wait! They already have the gun illegally, so you can’t believe they won’t be able to get ammunition illegally.
Assuming, you are not that naïve and blind to this reality, you have to ask yourself what the politicians and the state’s top law enforcement personnel are crowing about. They have accomplished nothing.
Are they really concerned about an abused wife being safe from their convicted felon husband who just tried to buy ammunition for his illegal handgun? Are they concerned about the next 7-11 robbery where a clerk gets killed? Are they concerned about someone already declared criminally insane and not allowed to have guns or ammunition suddenly showing an interest in buying ammunition and become the next mass murderer?
Everyone one of these 100 people denied ammunition purchases (along with the thousands of felons denied gun purchases in the state each year) should be rearrested and charged. They should be removed from the streets, get their day in court, and then be jailed if convicted. But that never happens. There are around 10,000 gun purchases denied under the background check law each year in California, but less than 100 of these known, once-convicted felons are prosecuted each year.
But the politicians don’t call for the prosecution of these people. The top enforcement officers don’t make getting these criminals off the street an enforcement priority (in California or nationally). Those things would put teeth in the law and prove to the public the state is serious about solving what the media loves to call a “gun crisis.”
The bottom line is that the law is NOT being enforced. It will not be enforced. This is all about public theatre.
We know there are already thousands of felons in the state who have been denied the legal purchase of a firearm. We know where they live because they put that on the application to buy a gun or ammunition. You could argue that if they are shrewd enough to try to buy ammunition or guns legally, they are shrewd enough to give a fake address. Or are they? You have to show an ID, so they are using their real name. Frankly, these are the dangerous people who need to be incarcerated. (If they really aren’t very sharp and their original felony was a youthful indiscretion a long time ago, and their debt to society was paid, and they have been upstanding citizens since; I’m sure a judge will cut them some slack when their day in court comes. Those aren’t the people this law is targeting.) If the law were actually enforced, it probably would reduce crime and murders in the state.
There were obviously at least some California gun owners who supported this ammunition law and the background check laws for firearms for precisely this reason. But they assumed they are and would be enforced. They hoped the laws are not just another hoop for them to jump through and another tax to pay when practicing their shooting or hunting pursuits.
Clearly, they were naïve.
Most gun laws discriminate against the legal gun owners with no impact on the stated purpose of the law: Preventing or prosecuting criminal activity.
The simple reality is that most California politicians (and many citizens) want to ban guns outright. They don’t want us to own guns. They say: We don’t need to own guns; society would be safer; they are arcane instruments of the past. You don’t need them for self- or family-protection. (Use Pepper spray, for crying out loud, or call the police – who, ironically, have guns.) Hunting should also be banned because it’s another ancient, barbaric activity. Those are the things they think, and often say off camera, off the record. Many are saying these things on the record more and more. Yet, they know even banning guns would do nothing to reduce crime (and that it might actually increase it significantly).
But maybe they’re right. Countries with strict gun bans do have fewer gun crimes (not necessarily fewer crimes or murders or even mass murders – as a relatively recent mass knife murder attack in Japan illustrates). As a gun-owning hunter who believes the Second Amendment is a restriction on government, not a permission statement for citizens, I also believe in the First Amendment. Everyone has the right to say and even believe guns should be banned. That’s free speech.
Until politicians can rewrite the Constitution, gun ownership is still legal, and the laws they pass restricting or making gun ownership more difficult, expensive, or taxed, better have legitimate crime prevention and enforcement uses. More importantly, they need to be enforced and implemented completely so the beneficial, societal intent can become reality.
Instead politicians pass laws that end up simply discriminating against legal gun owners, taxing us needlessly, making us wait, and creating paperwork nightmares.
Either enforce the background check laws or do away with them.
Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 909-887-3444.