For those interested in deciphering the myriad federal, state and local laws governing firearms, let me first offer this tip. Don’t go looking for a super secret decoder ring to find your way through the various statutes’ dizzying levels.Instead, find a coin. Then flip it.
Our nation’s troubled relationship with firearms has created a paradoxical reality where protections are offerred in unlikely situations and controls restrict basic rights. A recent federal appeals court ruling, summarized in a Denver Post article, highlights the discrepancy.
The Denver court’s decision was based on a suit brought by a Washington State man denied a concealed weapons permit because he was not a Colorado resident. Ironically, the Rocky Mountain State does not recognize concealed permits from the Evergreen State for one simple reason: We do not recognize theirs.
So add to the list of divisive gun issues the following: The Neener-Neener factor.
The federal court’s ruling reflected a state’s right to restrict access to firearms, which, according to the court, does not fall within the scope of the Second Amendment. Without pausing for a breath, the court went on to state that if the plaintiff from Washington had broached the topic of “open carry,” he would have likely received a favorable reply.
Let’s make sense of this using a couple scenarios.
After submitting to a background check and paying a fee, a citizen carrying a concealed firearm and a permit for same walks down the street in a state that currently is out of favor with the state that issued his permit.
Survey says: ILLEGAL
A citizen walks down the same street carrying an AR-15 rifle on his shoulder, causing passersby to anxiously cross the street to avoid him and prompting nervous calls to 911, does so without the need to pay for or submit to a background check.
Survey says: LEGAL.
The dysfunctional set of local, state and federal laws is largely to blame. Cities such as Washington, D.C. and Chicago, Illinois, both have stringent anti-gun laws, yet share an alarming number of gun-related homicides.
What should be obvious is that private dealers and thieves move guns around the nation in much the same manner as bootleggers smuggled rum during Prohibition. Outlying cities and suburbs will always slake the thirst for firearms in larger cities. Nature abhors a vacuum.
That is not the only problem, however. The vocal minority are polarized: Wingnuts from the left waste their breath denouncing the Second Amendment; their counterparts on the right see any change to the status quo as a step towards a police state.
Then there is the National Rifle Association, the 142-year-old organization whose excellent record of advocating for safe and professional firearms ownership has been tarnished by its response to recent events. The NRA claims it supports enforcement of current gun laws yet has a strangle hold on the ATF. It has held to the talking point that gun control legislation only effects law-abiding citizens, yet it strongly rejects the majority-favored background check measures currently floating through the Beltway.
Here’s the point. Unless we return to medieval times and erect walls around cities with strict gun control measures, local statutes won’t keep gang-bangers in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or Tacoma from shooting up our streets. Regardless of one’s politics, this is a national issue and it must be handled at a national level.
In the meantime, let chaos reign.