Politicians and anti gun groups often speak about “reasonable restrictions” or “common sense restriction” on gun ownership. More often than not, these “reasonable restrictions” are anything but reasonable, given the fact that gun ownership is a constitutionally protected right and the restrictions bear little to no relationship to crime prevention. Rather, these so called “reasonable restrictions” and “common sense restrictions” are merely ways for anti gun politicians to avoid losing the votes of pro-gun-rights voters who don’t see these restrictions for what they really are.
1. Longer background check delays
Increasing the background check delay from 3 days to 30 days, or even longer, is a so called “reasonable restriction”, but is not reasonable in any sense of the word. Adding a 30 day waiting period to purchase a gun means that a law abiding citizen who fears for their safety (such as a woman being stalked by an ex, a crime victim who fears their attackers will return, etc) will be left defenseless for a month, which is a long time when it comes to threats against one’s life. These restrictions do not have anything to do with background checks, which can be completed in minutes now, thanks to modern technology. Nor do these restrictions prevent criminals from acquiring guns, since the criminals will buy a gun on the black market, or steal it, rather than waiting 30 days. (In fact, it is almost laughable to think that a criminal intent on mugging someone will go to the gun store, fill out the paperwork, submit to the background check, wait 30 days, take delivery of the gun, then go commit the robbery.) Nor will these restrictions prevent a violent spouse from killing another, as those bent on violence will use knives, baseball bats, drownings, and every other imaginable way to kill, and one need only read the newspaper on any given day to see this fact. More information about the problems with waiting periods can be seen in this article.
2. The “Assault Weapon” bans
Assault weapon bans are often called “reasonable restrictions” or “common sense restrictions” on the right to keep and bear arms, but such bans are far from reasonable. These bans deny the right to own a great many guns that are hardly worthy of the term “assault weapon”, even know only a fraction of a percent of crimes are committed by criminals who are using such weapons. Instead, criminals will continue to use these weapons, which will leave law abiding citizens out gunned by home invaders. I address the problem with “assault weapon” bans in much further detail in this article.
3. Limits of only 1 handgun purchase per month
The handgun purchase limits are another so called “reasonable restriction” which is anything but reasonable. Criminals don’t tend to go to the store to buy a bunch of handguns then sell or misuse them, for the simple reason that there is a record of their purchase. Indeed, people who purchase 5 or more handguns in a month are already tracked by the federal government, and additional paperwork is required. Instead, criminals smuggle in or steal guns, often from other criminals they know won’t report the theft. Preventing law abiding citizens from purchasing more than one handgun per month means that collectors and gun enthusiasts will miss the opportunity to purchase a would-be prized gun, or they will miss out on a gun that suddenly goes on sale. Limiting the handgun purchases won’t stop criminals, but will only prevent law abiding citizens from making their completely legitimate, above the board, purchases of guns for hunting, home defense, target practice, and collecting.
Also, a note for those who do not own guns and feel that owning one gun is “enough”: Gun owners tend to own multiple guns, and many purchase guns frequently and sell them back to the gun store when they get bored with them. This is similar to other hobbies where enthusiasts will own multiple items that are associated with their hobby, especially when the items are affordable (such as pet fish, computer hardware, model railroads, bicycles, stamp and coin collections, etc.)
4. Bans on the private sale of guns
Another so called “reasonable restriction” is the ban on the private sale of guns. This would only act to raise the cost and hassle of gun sales, while not stopping criminals. Law abiding gun owners would be forced to drive to a gun store, then pay a federally licensed firearms dealer to make the transfer, which would add to the cost of guns, and even make them unaffordable for some people, including the poorer law abiding people who live in high crime areas who need the ability to defend themselves them most. Banning private sales of guns would not stop criminals, who are already prevented form owning guns, and won’t be afraid of an unlawful gun transfer charge when they would already face much more severe charges if caught for their other crimes. The anti-gun groups like to call this a “gun show loophole“, but this is simply untrue.
5. Banning .50 caliber rifles
Bans on .50 caliber rifles are often called “reasonable restrictions” or “common sense restrictions” on the right to keep and bear arms as well, but they are hardly reasonable. .50 caliber rifles are only used in a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of crimes. The majority of their use is by hunters and collectors, lawfully enjoying these rifles. This is because criminals who commit crimes want cheap, concealable handguns, not 50 pound, 4 foot long rifles that cost thousands of dollars. Criminals also want cheap ammunition, not .50 BMG ammunition that costs many dollars for each round fired. Such restrictions are just another attempt to whittle away at the right to keep and bear arms, and bears no rational connection to preventing crime.
6. Ammunition serialization and microstamping
These laws would require that all ammunition sold be stamped with a serial number and/or that guns be designed to stamp spent cartridges with a serial number unique to the gun. The serial numbers would be associated with the gun/ammunition purchaser. These measures would increase the cost of ammunition dramatically, and the cost would be born by the law abiding consumer. Criminals would simply smuggle in ammunition and guns without these serial numbers, or hand load their own ammunition (which is quite easy to do, and is a hobby of some gun owners). Criminals could also remove the serial numbers from the ammunition, or disable the serial number stamping system in their guns. Law abiding gun owners would be put in the position of knowing that a criminal could pick up their spent cartridge casings from the shooting range and then frame the gun owner for a crime they didn’t commit.
We wouldn’t consider a 30 day waiting period before you can speak out about a corrupt politician to be “reasonable” or “common sense” restriction on the First Amendment right to free speech. We wouldn’t consider the police being allowed to enter your home and search without cause, just because there has been a lot of crime in the neighborhood lately, to be a reasonable restriction on the Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. Similarly, the restrictions on firearms ownership discussed above are anything but reasonable restrictions on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.