Newsom’s Nuisance

Nobody has ever accused California’s Lieutenant Governor of being well informed. Sadly, he insists on proving it.

evil gavin newsom californiaEmboldened by presidential politicians strutting for gun control, Gavin Newsom is supporting a public ballot initiative to bring Californians four new forms of gun control. [EDITOR: It is noted that Newsom is running for Governor] Clear in his proposal is an utter lack of understanding about the nature of crime, violence and guns. Without exception, the proposals will:

  • Do nothing to address the common and recurring forms of gun violence.
  • Possibly push illegal activities to more underground means.
  • Harass and legally imperil legitimate gun owners and hobbyist.

So what doesn’t Gavin understand about gun policy? Nearly everything (and this opinion comes from someone who has lived in and around San Francisco for 20 years and watched Newsom’s dementia up close)? His proposals may be ignorant, but the method of announcing his support was politically astute.

Take for example that he stood in front of 101 California Street to make the announcement. This was a building where years ago a lone madman committed a mass murder, hunting lawyers. Gavin likely doesn’t know David Frankel, a lawyer who survived the shooting, became a gun control advocate, but through years of personal experience with violence and gun control is now a gun rights activist and civil rights lawyer.

So let’s examine Newsom’s nuisances one by one and estimate the impact they may have.

Banning extra capacity magazines

Perhaps the most inane of Newsom’s proposals is forcing people who own grandfathered extra-capacity magazines (which the media keep calling “clips”) to dispose of them – turning them over to police, sending them out of state, or destroying them.

According to criminology research, nearly all firearm homicides are committed with handguns, and in a typical firefight even between trigger-happy gang members, the number of rounds fired by any single person is less than three (3) 1 2. Knowing this (as Newsom apparently does not), it becomes obvious that this doesn’t solve much of anything. It might inconvenience an insane mass shooter, but we know these instances to be rare, especially when compared to the daily carnage within inner-cities … like San Francisco. [EDITOR: Sad to note the most recent mass public shooting was done with just handguns and no extra capacity magazines.]

“I just don’t get why people need 11-plus rounds of ammunition,” was one of the silly things Newsom uttered at his press event. Gavin remains blissfully unaware that recreational shooting requires these magazines. Hog hunters rely on the capacity during extended chases. Three-gun match shooters cannot compete without them. Even target shooters prefer not to reload so often.

Then there is the matter of civil unrest, as in the Rodney King riots, where the media filmed shop owners sitting atop their stores with so-called “assault weapons” sporting extra-capacity magazines. These firearms kept many stores from being looted, burned down, and their owners injured or killed.

Background checks for ammunition sales

Newsom wants to license all ammunition sellers and make people pass background checks for ammo. The question is why?

Foremost, if criminals are in possession of a firearm (and if they have a record, as most do) then they are already in violation of the law. And according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, they most likely came to possess the gun through completely underground means. 3 This is how they can and do acquire ammo as well. At best, Newsom’s ammunition retail regulations might scare off a few of the bolder thugs who would walk into a gun store to buy a few rounds.

The more likely outcome though is that it will push the supply chain underground. Strawman purchases, out of state trafficking (such as occurs daily with over-taxed cigarettes) and more theft will be the first alternative. So you get to wait in line to buy ammo, but the gangsters don’t.

More interesting though is that some enterprising felon will discover that you can buy ammunition manufacturing equipment and order the raw materials online. Gavin may be creating a new criminal industry in the manufacture, distribution and retailing of ammo for thugs.

Lost/stolen reporting

Oddly, nobody is opposed to reporting stolen guns. Not the NRA, not the cops, not me. But the devil sleeps in the details alongside Newsom’s PR team.

The issue is creating legal vulnerability. Some firearm hobbyist own more than a few guns. Thankfully, most of them own more than a few safes. But if robbed and say 20 guns went missing, would the victim be able to account for every one of them? Perhaps not. So if one of these firearms found its way into criminal hands, was recovered by the cops, and thus flagged as never having been reported stolen … the honest gun owner goes to jail but not the gun thief.

So the law as proposed does nothing to intercept crime guns that were stolen. It also does little to disrupt the few guns that enter underground markets via strawman purchases 4 by non-felon criminals. Would these petty entrepreneurs be concerned about the penalty for not reporting a gun that wasn’t stolen to begin with as stolen if the bigger charge of trafficking firearms to known felons is enforced? At best Newsom’s “solution” solves nothing in terms of daily gun abuse, but may well abuse lawful gun owners.

Felons turn in their weapons

The final proposal is to clear the process to make felons who are not allowed to have guns turn in their weapons. This is an outgrowth of the failed Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) program. What law enforcement has noticed when they go to collect guns from felons is:

  • Non-violent felons cooperate (this doesn’t reduce gun violence).
  • Violent felons have a lot of excuses as to why they don’t possess the gun registered to them, such as claiming they were lent to a friend or relative who can no longer be located (this doesn’t reduce gun violence).
  • Violent felons who get their guns off the street – at a minimum 40% of all crime guns, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 – are not in the database at all (this doesn’t reduce gun violence).

Given all of the above, streamlining a defective system doesn’t address the defect. I suspect there will be more to the story once the final wording of the proposal is complete, and it won’t be good for gun owners (though it certainly won’t impede criminals).

Less than worthless

Newsom’s nuisances are less than worthless. Remember this if anyone asks you to sign a petition supporting the measure, because it is worthless to sign the form.

Notes:

  1. Targeting Guns, Kleck, Aldine, 1997
  2. 11 Years of Police Gunfire, in Painstaking Detail, New York Times,May 2008
  3. Firearm Violence, 1993-2011, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2013
  4. Firearm Violence, 1993-2011, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2013
  5. Firearm Violence, 1993-2011, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2013

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