As reported, the city of Los Angeles, CA is considering a new ordinance that would ban individuals convicted of certain misdemeanors from lawfully owning a gun (felons are already banned from gun ownership at the state and federal level). This proposed law, authored by Los Angeles City Council members Jack Weiss and Janice Hahn, would ban individuals who have been convicted of carrying a concealed weapon, possessing an assault weapon, burglary, or gang crimes from owning a gun for 10 years. On the surface, this might seem like a good thing, however I’m of the opinion that this law would be both ineffective and bad thing for the gun rights of law abiding citizens:
Ineffectiveness at stopping criminals from having a gun
A central point of my pro gun rights arguments tends to be that criminals are, by definition, people who don’t obey the law. That means that passing a law that tell criminals not to own a gun is just one more law for the criminals to ignore, just like they ignore the laws against murder, rape, robbery, burglary, etc. As the evidence shows, criminals who want a gun will just go buy one on the black market, allowing them to bypass background checks/waiting periods, and possibly buy a much more powerful gun than they could have bought in a legal gun store. Making matters worse, those same black market gun dealers then become even more powerful, creating a cycle of violent criminality.
Bad for the gun rights of law abiding citizens
The precedent that this law would create also concerns me. If these misdemeanors can result in a citizen losing their right to lawfully own a gun for a decade, then it is not hard to imagine the Los Angeles City Council extending such gun restrictions to other crimes. Perhaps one day, LA residents could be stripped of their gun rights after a traffic offense?
Gun ownership is a fundamental right, and a generally necessary part of effective self defense. If a crime is so minor that it is classified only as a misdemeanor, then it seems to me that the government is not justified in taking away that right to gun ownership, especially for such a long period of time. This is especially true given the fact that such a restriction won’t disarm the criminals, and that even those who have been convicted of crimes may still need to defend themselves against violent attackers.
My thanks to Anders for pointing out this proposed law.