Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Turn: 9 Ways NOT to “fix” for the “gun problem”


Note: Temporary post not in line with my usual subject matter.
 

In today’s AZ Republic, a tax attorney from Peoria, AZ named Ken Koenen offered “9 Ways to Fix the Gun problem” in which he listed his nine ideas to “fix the gun problem.” Here’s my take on why eight of those nine ideas are NOT the way to fix the “gun problem.”

First off, the author is an attorney and, predictably, most all of his “fixes” include new laws and regulations and new punishments and rules to increase administrative burdens, expand bureaucracies and apparently pad attorney retirement accounts. Consider all the following words and phrases that are used liberally throughout his post:

Accomplice
Automatically Required
Award Of Attorney Fees
Civilly Liable
Court Order
Criminally Liable
Different Levels Of Licensing
First Offense
Government Agency
Government Branch
Government Bureau
Held Criminally And Civilly Liable
Improper Use
Infraction
License
Minimum Jail Time
Negligent
Pay A Fine
Provide Documentation
Reasonable Belief
Reasonable Cause
Required
Revoking A License
Sale Must Be Reported
Serve
Standing To Sue
Subject To Prosecution

Secondly, it appears to me that the author is somewhat naïve when he states that “Since these people (most gun owners) actually obey the law, if they were forced to turn them in, they would probably do so.” What does “forced to turn them in” mean anyway? Forced to turn them in? Ha! Ya think? Now that is rich.

Here are some questions and comments on each of Ken’s nine “ways”

Issue gun-owner licenses

And what about the fact that peoples status (legal, medical, etc.) changes over time?

How many people will have the resources to sue state or federal governments? (Oh yeah, “attorney’s fees!”)

Sell only to those with licenses


What if I want to leave some guns to my family members? What if I want to loan a friend a shotgun to go bird hunting?

Hold loaners accountable for crime

Should we do the same thing for any inanimate object we loan to someone? As in I let my neighbor use my chain saw, he cuts off his foot and he hires an attorney to sue me.

Punish improper storage

I’d like to know the exact, legal definition for ‘improper storage.”

Revoke licenses for improper use

What defines “improper use?” And a gun owner would have to renew this "right to own firearms license" every four years or forfeit his firearms? OMG, this is probably the silliest idea of all.

Break the rules? Go to jail

Sounds sorta like the War on Drugs. And to me, this is designed for attorney’s who want to make more money.

Require mental-illness reporting

Good idea – in general. Subject to a lot of checks and balances to account for misuse and abuse.

Host a voluntary gun buyback
 

This is just a bad idea. How long does Ken think it’d take for “all of this to be completed and licenses issued?” My guess is about 20 to 30 years if starting tomorrow. 

And the idea that “a buyback program directed more to the areas where the most crime occurs” is just plain ignorant. Just like in Chicago, go out to the suburbs to buy your guns. And I can just imagine the political fallout associated with targeting a predominantly poor, crime ridden area for a buy back?

Keep license data confidential

This one is just rich! “The data, names and locations of licensed individuals shall not be divulged to any other government branch, bureau, agency or individual without first obtaining a court order, which can be granted only with reasonable cause.” Hahaha…uh huh...sure the list won’t be divulged.

One Good Idea Out of Nine

So I think Ken is in the ballpark on one of his nine ways to “fix the gun problem.” And to be sure he’s also correct that “this is not a perfect solution.” Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s even a moderately good solution. It’s a very poor solution designed to add overhead without any consideration for expected value and to line the wallet of lawyers. 


Note: I really didn't plan to write this post. I rattled it off very quickly. Maybe I should share more later?

3 comments:

  1. It would appear that you did not fully read the article or do so with an open mind. I will answer your concerns, one by one.

    1. Writing this article has nothing to do with me being an attorney. I am not into litigation, unless against the IRS or state tax entities that bully people with their overpowering strength. As a matter of fact, with a few exceptions (such as this) I would require anyone who files a lawsuit to be responsible for the other side's legal fees if they lose. That would do away with a lot of lawsuits, and diminish attorney's "retirement accounts." We also have plenty of administrative burdens. There were 1.8 million background checks for the purchase of guns in August of this year. If people were issued a license, that would not be necessary to that extent.

    2. I was referring to what Australia did, which Mr. Obama would like to see, where they required the people to sell their guns to the government, which immediately destroyed them. Who turned them in? People who obeyed the law turned them in. Less than a million guns were turned in, out of about 6 million in circulation. Who do you think kept them? Criminals, for the most part.

    3. Yes, people's status change, which is why the licenses must be renewed, just like with an automobile. If notice is received of a legal change (crime committed, etc.) the license could be suspended or revoked. As far as suing the state or federal government, the reason that I added the attorney fee clause was so that people would not need the resources to sue. As you must be aware, there are plenty of lawyers who will take on a case on a contingency basis if they know that it is a good case. Same will hold true here. It is difficult to get the government to be charged with attorney fees in most cases, which is why many people cannot afford representation. This provision would even out the playing field.

    4. Would you leave your car to someone or loan your car to someone who doesn't know how to drive or hold a valid driver's license? If so, you are irresponsible. Same goes for guns.

    5. Nothing prevents someone from loaning a gun to someone without a license to handle a gun. However, you would bear some of the responsibility, which would hopefully act as a deterrent. You would not be held accountable for something that the person did if they were licensed, and therefore, the loaner would have no criminal liability. If your neighbor shoots himself in the foot with your gun, maybe he could sue you. If he shoots someone else with your gun while committing a crime, and he is unlicensed to have the gun, then you bear some of the responsibility.

    6. I would like to know the definition of "improper storage" too. I know what is improper storage. Leaving a gun on the seat of your car, like the 40-caliber handgun had been taken from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger's car that was parked in downtown San Francisco which was used to kill Kate Steinle. Obviously, the mother of the Sandy Hook School shooter did not store her weapons properly. She paid the ultimate price when she was murdered by her son before he went on a rampage. Or someone who leaves a loaded handgun in a drawer where a 5 year old child can find it and accidentally shoot himself or a sibling. I think that the NRA provides examples for safe gun storage.

    7. I think that you are bright enough to know what "improper use" means. Threatening someone with a gun. Using a gun in a crime. Shooting it into the air on New Year's Eve. Anyone who does not know the saying what goes up must come down shouldn't own a gun. Regarding the 4 year renewal, are you still allowed to drive your car when your license expires? So, should someone be allowed to get a license, buy as many guns as he can, let the license lapse, and continue to retain those guns? See number 3, above, about status change. If someone is caught driving a car without a license, the car can be impounded. Same should happen with guns.

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  2. It would appear that you did not fully read the article or do so with an open mind. I will answer your concerns, one by one.

    1. Writing this article has nothing to do with me being an attorney. I am not into litigation, unless against the IRS or state tax entities that bully people with their overpowering strength. As a matter of fact, with a few exceptions (such as this) I would require anyone who files a lawsuit to be responsible for the other side's legal fees if they lose. That would do away with a lot of lawsuits, and diminish attorney's "retirement accounts." We also have plenty of administrative burdens. There were 1.8 million background checks for the purchase of guns in August of this year. If people were issued a license, that would not be necessary to that extent.

    2. I was referring to what Australia did, which Mr. Obama would like to see, where they required the people to sell their guns to the government, which immediately destroyed them. Who turned them in? People who obeyed the law turned them in. Less than a million guns were turned in, out of about 6 million in circulation. Who do you think kept them? Criminals, for the most part.

    3. Yes, people's status change, which is why the licenses must be renewed, just like with an automobile. If notice is received of a legal change (crime committed, etc.) the license could be suspended or revoked. As far as suing the state or federal government, the reason that I added the attorney fee clause was so that people would not need the resources to sue. As you must be aware, there are plenty of lawyers who will take on a case on a contingency basis if they know that it is a good case. Same will hold true here. It is difficult to get the government to be charged with attorney fees in most cases, which is why many people cannot afford representation. This provision would even out the playing field.

    4. Would you leave your car to someone or loan your car to someone who doesn't know how to drive or hold a valid driver's license? If so, you are irresponsible. Same goes for guns.

    5. Nothing prevents someone from loaning a gun to someone without a license to handle a gun. However, you would bear some of the responsibility, which would hopefully act as a deterrent. You would not be held accountable for something that the person did if they were licensed, and therefore, the loaner would have no criminal liability. If your neighbor shoots himself in the foot with your gun, maybe he could sue you. If he shoots someone else with your gun while committing a crime, and he is unlicensed to have the gun, then you bear some of the responsibility.

    6. I would like to know the definition of "improper storage" too. I know what is improper storage. Leaving a gun on the seat of your car, like the 40-caliber handgun had been taken from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger's car that was parked in downtown San Francisco which was used to kill Kate Steinle. Obviously, the mother of the Sandy Hook School shooter did not store her weapons properly. She paid the ultimate price when she was murdered by her son before he went on a rampage. Or someone who leaves a loaded handgun in a drawer where a 5 year old child can find it and accidentally shoot himself or a sibling. I think that the NRA provides examples for safe gun storage.

    7. I think that you are bright enough to know what "improper use" means. Threatening someone with a gun. Using a gun in a crime. Shooting it into the air on New Year's Eve. Anyone who does not know the saying what goes up must come down shouldn't own a gun. Regarding the 4 year renewal, are you still allowed to drive your car when your license expires? So, should someone be allowed to get a license, buy as many guns as he can, let the license lapse, and continue to retain those guns? See number 3, above, about status change. If someone is caught driving a car without a license, the car can be impounded. Same should happen with guns.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Part 2

    8. The war on drugs is not something that I personally agree with. Drug pushers should be imprisoned ... drug users should be treated. I wonder how many criminals have been arrested while using guns, and been given light sentences or probation by liberal judges.

    9. Yes, the medical illness reporting is a tough one. I almost didn't put it in there, but remembered a case at the University of California, Berkeley, where a school psychologist (or psychiatrist) knew that a young man that he was treating was stalking another student and had threatened to harm her because she ignored him. He ended up shooting her and her parents filed a wrongful death suit against him and the university. They won.

    10. No, it won't take 20 or 30 years. If we can do 1.8 million background checks in a month, the process can be streamlined. For example, anyone who already owns a gun and has had a background check in the past 2-3 years can be issued a license based on the other criteria. This could actually be done through the mail. As far as "political fallout", screw them. Those are the clowns who want to take guns from everyone, so they will be happy to sponsor it. Those who are in the suburbs and are selling guns to unlicensed people need to be prosecuted. These are the irresponsible people who help with the proliferation of guns to the criminals, and that is where the spread needs to stop.

    11. I know that confidentiality is important to gun owners. There are numerous penalties that can be inserted into this plan that would put monetary sanctions against a department that gives out the information without a court order.

    My initial response to you was, "What are your ideas, and where am I wrong." You pointed out what you think is wrong, but glaringly, you have not come up with one idea that you would suggest to stem the gun violence anywhere.

    I don't believe in the "gun-free zone" idea, because that is like saying, "Criminals and idiots, stop here if you want to kill people." Don't you find it interesting that you can't get into Disneyland or a baseball game without having you bags checked, but any moron can walk onto the school grounds or a movie theater without being checked or questioned?

    To answer your last questions, yes you should share more. More solutions rather than criticism would be best.

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