Hillary Clinton has promised an all-out war on the right to bear arms.
The 2016 presidential election is just a year out, and it’s clear that the Democrat frontrunner (and FBI espionage investigation suspect) Hillary Clinton has decided to bizarrely focus on gun control and confiscation as one of her main campaign issues.
Unfortunately for Mrs. Clinton, the next 12 months will give Americans plenty of time to dissect the radical nature of what she is actually proposing, including the “universal background checks” scheme being pushed by the Mrs. Clinton, her billionaire ally Michael Bloomberg, and the various gun control groups that the latter funds.
Dave Kopel took a look at the difference between how the Clinton/Bloomberg campaign is marketing their background checks plan versus what it actually contains, and the scheme may shock you.
Here are two things that a person might do with a firearm: 1. Sell the firearm to a complete stranger in a parking lot. 2. Share the firearm with a friend, while target shooting on one’s own property. Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown” lobby is promoting “universal background checks” as a means of addressing activity No. 1. But the Bloomberg laws also outlaw activity No. 2. In a previous post, I detailed how the unusual Bloomberg laws about “background checks” for “private sales” constrict safety training and self-defense; and also obstruct safe storage. This post addresses another non-sales activity, firearms sharing.
We know from Heller that “to bear arms implies something more than the mere keeping; it implies the learning to handle and use them in a way that makes those who keep them ready for their efficient use; … it implies the right to meet for voluntary discipline in arms, observing in doing so the laws of public order.” D.C. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 617-18 (2008); see also United States v. Emerson, 270 F.3d 203, 236 (5th Cir. 2001) (both cases quoting Thomas Cooley’s 19th-century constitutional law treatise). Thus, “the right to possess firearms for protection implies a corresponding right to … maintain proficiency in their use; the core right wouldn’t mean much without the training and practice that make it effective.” Ezell v. City of Chicago, 651 F.3d 684, 704 (7th Cir. 2011). Just as the First Amendment includes the right to learn how to read and to practice reading skills, the Second Amendment includes the right to learn how to use arms and to practice. This includes formal classroom instruction and practice at established ranges. But the right is not limited only to those structured settings; as historically practiced in the United States, the right also includes instruction from, and practice with, friends and family in informal settings in private locations.
Even if there were no Second Amendment, any sensible firearms policy would encourage firearms practice and training to build and improve safe proficiency. Yet the Bloomberg system does the opposite.
One very common activity of gun owners is sharing their firearms on their own property. A person who owns 30 acres might have a small target range set up. He invites friends over for the afternoon, shoots at targets with rifles or handguns, and lets the friends use the family’s guns. Or a farm family might have a skeet or trap thrower, which flings clay disks into the air. Informal shooting events like this are at the heart of the American gun culture. They promote friendship, community and practice in the safe handling of firearms.
They are also criminalized by some versions of the Bloomberg laws. For example, the Bloomberg law enacted in Washington state in 2014 has no exemption for sharing a firearm on one’s property.
Sharing does not have to involve firing a gun. Inside the home, an owner might allow a visitor to handle his unloaded gun. Perhaps the visitor is interested in buying a new gun like the gun the owner owns. Or the visitor is just interested in guns. Perhaps the gun needs an adjustment that the visitor knows how to perform well, but the owner does not. Or the visitor might teach a new owner how to clean a gun. Under the new Washington law, sharing may take place at a corporate target range, but not on one’s property.
Instead, the owner and the friend are supposed to travel to a gun store to get permission, fill out all the paperwork as if the store were selling a firearm out of inventory, and pay various fees. Only then may the gun be loaned for a few minutes. When the friend is done with the gun, everyone must revisit the gun store and repeat the process, before the gun can be returned to its owner.
The federal version of the Bloomberg law, Sen. Charles Schumer’s Fix Gun Checks Act, does allow sharing a firearm within one’s own home or curtilage. (113th Cong., S.374, § 202(2)(C)). This takes care of letting a friend examine one’s new firearm. But if the gun owner brings his new gun to someone else’s house (because the friend has the gunsmithing or cleaning equipment, for example), it is a federal felony if the friend handles that gun for a few minutes.