Sensible restrictions

Robyn Ringler is almost friendly to gun owners in her latest post:

The bill also includes an appeals process if you get listed in the database and feel it is unfair. This was insisted upon by the NRA. Fair enough and a good idea.

This distinguishes her from a lot of the anti-gun bigots who insist that if you are on “terror suspect” list you should be banned from owning a gun even if there is no way to challenge the validity of your name being on the list. Another intolerable situation is when someone shares a name with someone who is on the list and both have their rights restricted without due process.

However, Ms. Ringler still has more education in her future:

I cannot support the stand that there should be NO restrictions at all on gun ownership. We restrict free speech, we restrict behavior, we restrict what movies children can get into, we restrict certain foods, medications, products. And all for good reason.

It makes sense to restrict gun ownership to you, the sensible people who are out there being responsible.

I’m glad she compares gun ownership to free speech. It’s a good comparison. Both are constitutionally guaranteed rights. Kids going to movies and medications are not guaranteed rights. But she misses a critical point. The restrictions on free speech do not involve prior restraint. You are not muzzled prior to gaining access to a crowded theater so that you can’t do the classic “shout fire in a crowded theater”. You don’t have to get a license from the government before you can post your opinions on your blog. You don’t have to pass a background check before you can buy a printer for your computer. There are laws against slander and libel just as there are there are laws against murder and assault. It should make no difference whether someone murders someone with a baseball bat (video of an actual baseball bat crime–thanks Rob) or a gun. We don’t license or restrict baseball bats, possession of which is not a constitutionally guaranteed right, and we shouldn’t license or restrict firearms which are a constitutionally guaranteed right. We restrict the actions which actually cause harm. And we do that by punishing those people who engage in those prohibited actions. There is no victim when someone purchases a .50 caliber precision rifle so they can punch holes in paper or connect with boomers 700 or 1000 yards away. Driving drunk or at high speed in a residential neighborhood is sort of an edge case. By itself there isn’t a victim but the risk is so high with no reasonable justification for the action that restricting that behavior is acceptable. Plus it’s not a guaranteed right.

Banning some .50 caliber rifles when the number of shooting victims where the criminal used such a rifle in the last 20 years can be counted on one hand (even if you are missing a finger or two) is not “sensible”. It’s prior restraint and it’s bigoted.

Update: Jason pointed out to me in email that a baseball bat (clubs) could be considered arms and hence are protected by the Second Amendment. I tend to agree with him but worry that the anti-gun bigots might start claiming as long as we are allowed at least one type of club our RKBA is not being infringed.