Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Political Desk I- 594

Here's the text on I-594:

This measure would apply currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.

And yeah, it makes sense. You buy a gun from a licensed dealer, he has to work through the paperwork, and use the nation-level process to make sure you aren't forbidden to have a gun, and it takes an extra 20 minutes of your life. You buy a gun from a guy named Milt at a gun show, and you don't (and as far as I can tell, licensed gun dealers will make the check, even at a gun show). That loophole for large-scale private sales doesn't make a lot of sense. To use the car analogy, I buy a car from Milt, and we have to work out the transfer of title and everything, so why not a gun?

Yet, this seems to represent the creeping, insidious reach of the government mucking with our lives. But most of the arguments against the initiative don't seem to hold water. This does not create a new database of gun owners, but uses an existing process. We've got a study that shows that yeah, where the gunshow loophole is closed, there are fewer fatalities. Here's one where they connect repealing background checks with an uptick in murders. (I take all studies with a desire to dig through the data and a note that causality is not necessary correlation, but hey, studies). And yeah, we have a lot of cases where real criminals (like the infamous Whitey Bulger) who cannot get a gun through normal channels rely on gun shows as their firearms quick-e-mart (when they finally caught him, Bulger had 29 pieces in his possession, the vast bulk of which had not history).

The exceptions they mention in the ballot write-up? They deal with all the obvious corner cases so yeah, you can use a relative's gun without having to fill out a form, or use another's gun at a shooting range. And all these corner cases have in turn lead to the complaint that law is too long and confusing. Which sort makes the speaker sound like they would confused by the instructions on a PEZ dispenser.

So I'm going with YES on this one. This is actually something that gun proponents are always saying they are looking for - it addresses a specific case in clear terms and will not lead to the gun confiscation van coming around to your house to pick up any guns you bought since last week. Heck, even the NRA was favoring universal background checks fifteen years ago, and this is an approach that cuts down on some seriously abused forms of gun sales while leaving the regular gun owner unaffected.

More later.