How Much Gun Control is Enough?

California has led the nation in gun control for the last twenty years, with each law being justified as either preventing gun violence or keeping guns out of the wrong hands. These issues are obviously very concerning, but not every gun control law is effective.

The Handgun Roster was a “common sense” gun law passed in California in 1999. It was designed to make sure that only safe handguns could be sold to California residents. The original definition of a safe handgun was essentially one that wouldn’t go off when it was dropped, and that seemed reasonable to the voters. Since it was passed, however, the requirements of a safe handgun have been expanded several times, and most recently mandated that a technology called microstamping is necessary for any new gun to be considered. The theory of microstamping is where the serial number of the firearm is stamped on every bullet casing and primer when it is fired. This technology does not exist and has been proven to be impractical in development because the “stamps” that imprint the serial number are worn down in normal use after only a relatively small number of shots fired. So, if the microstamping were implemented, any would-be criminal can defeat it by going to the range a few times and practicing their aim before committing their crime. This failure did not change California’s mind, however, and since no manufacturer will adopt an unviable technology no new handguns can be added to the roster. Today the only handguns a California resident can buy are ones that were approved before the microstamping requirement went into effect, officially freezing us in 2014 like Cuban automobiles were frozen in the 1950’s. I should point out, however, that law enforcement is exempt from the roster, so police are the only California residents that can buy the guns that California doesn’t judge as safe.

If you do find a gun you like, after you buy it you must wait ten days before you can take it home. This is what California considers the cooldown period to prevent someone from buying a gun for a rash decision. However, if they already own five guns and want another, they still need to wait ten days before taking the sixth home. Maybe the justification is if a person is so upset they’re going to shoot someone, they wouldn’t want to use a gun they already own. I will admit that in my years working in the firearms industry I have seen this regulation save one life, but it was the buyer’s own life and it was his first gun. Within the customer’s ten day wait his family member called our shop to tell us that the buyer confessed suicidal thoughts, which was his reason for buying the gun. The California Department of Justice was immediately called to see what our shop was supposed to do in this situation. Their response was that it was our discretion, we could give him the gun after ten days or refuse service and refund his purchase. Our store decided the sale wasn’t worth the weight on our conscience, but the response from the State made me really question if saving lives is the motivation.

The assault weapons ban is maybe one of the most ridiculous laws that California has on the books. There is a common misconception that the “AR” in AR-15 stands for assault rifle. It stands for Armalite Rifle; Armalite being the name of the company that popularized the AR-15 design. So, the assault weapons ban does not target these rifles specifically, it targets any semi-automatic, centerfire rifle. More specifically, it regulates how these guns look. The same gun that California thinks is too scary for citizens to own is perfectly legal to buy if only a few aesthetic features are changed. Although the full explanation is too long to include in this article, it is the equivalent of passing a law that says black guns are illegal but if you paint it purple it is fine. I have sold more of these guns than handguns, shotguns and bolt-action rifles combined, but I have never gotten a call from law enforcement asking about one used in a crime.

I am all for gun control that can stop criminals while preserving the freedoms of law abiding citizens, but these laws are a small sample of the many gun control regulations that just seem superfluous. Instead of analyzing whether the existing laws are working, California instead pushes out new legislation with harsher penalties that take away from the law-abiding citizen. If this trend continues, soon the number one-gun crime in California will be simply owning one.

By: David Smykowski

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