We’ve all laughed at Jeff Foxworthy’s clever “You might be a redneck” jokes, but firearm crime is no joking matter, and there are a lot of people committing “gun crimes” every day without even knowing it.
Whether you know all about guns and gun laws, or you don’t even own a gun, you might be a gun criminal.
American gun laws are so convoluted, and the definitions are so elastic, that even the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ official website omits some prohibitions and fails to clearly explain others.
As I pointed out in a previous column, it is likely that former Representative, now gun control crusader, Gabby Giffords, who, along with her husband makes a show of being a gun owner while calling for more restriction, is probably legally prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. In other words, they probably are gun criminals.
It can be assumed that during the time after she was horribly shot – by a deranged Democrat – Gabby’s husband Mark was probably assigned a power of attorney to manage her affairs, and that she was, and possibly still is, considered legally incompetent, and therefore unable to sign contracts or enter into legal agreements.
According to the Veterans Administration healthcare system and the FBI, a determination of legal incompetence qualifies a person as “adjudicated mentally defective,” resulting in loss of the right to firearms. The VA so designated some 200,000 veterans, many of whom were not nearly as seriously impaired as Ms. Giffords, and reported their names to the FBI as “prohibited persons.” For them to get their rights back, these veterans would have to renounce their disability benefit and prove to a VA doctor that they are no longer mentally impaired, then they would have to petition for restoration of rights, but their petition could be turned down.
The only difference between these vets and Gabby Giffords’ is that no one reported Gabby to the FBI as a “mental defective.” But it doesn’t matter whether or not someone has been added to the FBI’s database of prohibited persons. It is the condition, not the reporting of it, that matters.
According to the law, anyone “who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution” is prohibited from possessing guns or ammunition, just like anyone under indictment or convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, or anyone who is a user of a controlled substance.
As Gabby and her group pushes for expanded background checks and more comprehensive reporting of mental health records to the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System, or NICS, she should be being held to the same standards as our injured veterans under VA care. With that in mind, veterans have been told that it would be a crime for their spouse to maintain firearms in the household, even if the veteran didn’t have access to them.
Under that standard, Gabby’s husband, Mark Kelley, would not be allowed to have guns either, at least not in the house.
And taking the logic further, if, as the VA says – and has been acting on for about 20 years – a legal finding of incompetence equates to “adjudicated mentally defective” under federal gun laws, then not only are Gabby and Mark breaking the law, but so are the parents of developmentally disabled adults if they have guns in the house or take their kids out to plink with .22s, and so are the guardians of folks with Alzheimer’s if they let them handle firearms.
The current system is all or nothing. There is no scaled or limited application. Either you are prohibited or you are not. If you are prohibited, any contact with, or access to a firearm is a felony, and so is providing or facilitating such contact or access. There is no provision for supervised range visits, or access under controlled circumstances. Someone who kited a check is under the exact same prohibition as someone who committed murder. Someone who eats pot-laced brownies to soothe the nausea of cancer treatments is treated just like a meth dealer.
The only thing that keeps trauma victims like Gabby Giffords and our disabled veterans from being snatched up and sent to prison is the kindness and common sense of police and prosecutors. Selective enforcement is no solution to bad laws. Just because these laws are rarely enforced against nice people, doesn’t mean they never will be. Just look at the way New York City’s ban on “gravity knives” has been enforced and abused. That’s gotten so bad that even the Village Voice is finally complaining about the bad law.
The sad fact is that it’s much easier to catch regular people inadvertently breaking gun laws than it is to catch real criminals. And now the Obama administration is pushing a whole new raft of abusive regulations to circumvent Congress and restrict guns and gun owners even further.
As more “minor adjustments” are made to our nation’s gun laws by Congress, bureaucrats, and judges, it becomes easier and easier to inadvertently break these laws. The cruel joke is rapidly changing from; “If you or someone in your household possess firearms… You might be a gun criminal,” to “If you are ever around guns… You probably are a gun criminal.”
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit:www.FirearmsCoalition.org