Gun violence prevention talking points
A while back I came across the "gun violence prevention conversation guide" put out by the Americans for Responsible Solutions. in it, they talk about the "do's and don'ts" of talking about gun violence prevention as a means to gain support and somewhat reduce the ire that gun rights advocates have for their previous methods advocating for more "gun control."
in the guide, they even give the basic "preamble" when going about trying to convince people that we need more gun control, as follows:
"With freedom comes responsibility. That applies to our freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and certainly to our right to bear arms. Responsibility means safe storage to keep guns away from children, and it means supporting some commons sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people like felons, domestic abusers, or the dangerously mentally ill.”
As usual, the guide is full of half truths regarding what is and isn't possible under federal law with regards to purchasing firearms, so I wanted to look at some of the more blatant whoppers they tell in the guide, or some of the slippery slope issues they use to try to garner support for "tougher gun laws." They state the following:
"UNDER CURRENT FEDERAL LAW "ŞŞ Prohibited purchasers, including convicted felons and people with dangerous mental illness, can buy a gun online or at a gun show without a background check, no questions asked."
This is a half truth, in reality, under federal law, a firearm cannot be sold to individuals of another state, and further, under federal law, a firearm which is bought online cannot be transferred to another individual without first shipping it to a dealer, and without first either going through a background check through the NICS system, or in california, the DROS system. An individual who does not possess a federal firearms license may not sell a firearm to a resident of another state without first transferring the firearm to a dealer in the purchaser`s state. Firearms received by bequest or intestate succession are exempt from those sections of the law which forbid the transfer, sale, delivery or transportation of firearms into a state other than the transferor`s state of residence. Firearms may not be mailed or shipped interstate from one non-FFL to another non-FFL. Personally owned rifles and shotguns may be mailed or shipped to an FFL in any state for any lawful purpose, including sale, repair, or customizing. An FFL may ship a firearm or replacement firearm of the same kind and type to a person from whom it was received. Under U.S. Postal regulations, handguns may be sent via the Postal Service only from one FFL to another FFL, or between authorized government officials.
In California, it is an outright lie, for that matter, when people say you can go to nevada, or any other state, buy a gun at a gun store, and bring it back to California. in most cases, you will either be turned away, or you will be required to contact a local dealer, have the firearm shipped to you, and have the background check performed. in reality, people have not been able to get firearms in the manner of the "sears and roebuck" catalog where they can have it shipped to their home since the 1960s when the gun control act was enacted following the assassination of President Kennedy. further, it is illegal to transfer firearms to individuals from other states via gun shows, or private party transfer, under the GCA. Those that do are violating the law and interstate laws.
"ŞŞ Many dangerous people, including people convicted of stalking or domestic abuse against a dating partner, can legally purchase and own guns."
depending on the charge, if it is considered a felony, these people are forbidden, as part of the Brady Act, which saw the creation of the form 4473 and the NICS system. further, in california under the dros system, it is asked: " Has purchaser ever been convicted of a felony or of any offense specified in Penal Code sections 23515 and 29905, or convicted of assault, battery, or other misdemeanor offense specified in Penal Code section 29805 in the last 10 years? " if this question is answered as yes, the transfer is cancelled. further, if the background check comes back as denied because of a background check due to this, they are also guilty of falsifying a document, and subject to its penalties. Under the federal form 4473, this is addressed under questions B, C,H, and I which ask:
"b) are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could imprison you for more than a year?
c) have you ever been convicted in any court of a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than a year, even if you received a shorter sentence, including probation?
h) are you subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking, or threatening your child or an intimate partner or a child of such partner?
i) have you ever been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?"
An answer of yes to any of these questions will end the purchase process. falsification of a 4473 (a federal form) is a felony, under the gun control act, and firearms dealers who allow the continuance of a purchase in this event are guilty of abetting a felony.
"ŞŞ Individuals suffering from dangerous mental illness, but not committed to an institution, can legally purchase and own guns."
Unfortunately in this instance, it is up to the courts or mental health or official office to decide whether or not somebody, mentally, shouldn't have a firearm. Fifth amendment to the constitution guarantees united states citizens the right to due process, and states to the federal government that no one shall be "deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law." The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, uses the same eleven words, called the Due Process Clause, to describe a legal obligation of all states.
"ŞŞ Known and suspected terrorists can legally purchase and own guns."
Again, unfortunately, the Fifth amendment of the constitution guarantees the right to due process under the law, and therefore, the courts must prove that they are in the process of committing a crime; suspicion is not enough to violate any of a citizen's constitutional rights.
This is largely why the House struck down the SSA mandate that people applying for assistance with their finances from the SSA could not have firearms, and would be reported to the FBI to be put on a list: simply put, it violates the right to due process and was an overreach on the part of the SSA.
This is also why there was so much of an issue in regards to using the no fly list as a means to deny firearms rights- it violates constitutional due process guarantees, and is notoriously easy to be placed on and difficult to be removed from. The burden of proof in this case is on the individual to prove their innocence versus the state having to prove that an individual is guilty.
All in all what these talking points key in on are things that are evocative on an emotional level, and will illicit a response where most people who don't know anything about current gun laws, or even constitutional guarantees, will get emotional and demand more be done to prevent violence.
What they do not do, however, is call for things like more staff for the FBI and the ATF to enforce the laws that we already have. a simple search on the ATF's man power in dealing with firearms issues will show that there's no way they can enforce the laws we already have, and are effectively hamstrung, which in turn, prevents state and local law enforcement from doing their job, and in essence, actually prevent gun violence.
I would encourage everyone to read the conversation guide, as not only does it misstate certain facts, but it also shows how to target groups such as African Americans, women, and Latinos, as well has instructions for being critical of the gun lobby without going after the NRA as a means to not alarm gun rights advocates in the same way that the previous methodology had.