If one believes the report on Thursday’s NPR Morning Edition program that next month Virginia voters are likely to send more Democrats to the House of Delegates and perhaps the Senate, and that Democratic voters’ top priority this year is gun control, I think we should anticipate that expanded background checks for gun buyers as well as a “Red Flag” law are distinct possibilities.
Republican office holders need to be aware that both of those new laws must be carefully written; members must use whatever influence they can muster, along with support from Democratic delegates and senators to ensure that the laws do not result in undue restrictions on legal gun ownership.
Expanded background checks, which sound intuitively desirable to many voters, are most likely to have a negligible impact on the mass murder events that drive the Democrats’ desire to do something. Given that we know that most of the recent mass murders were perpetrated by individuals who acquired their firearms legally, to include passing a background check, expanding the law to include private sales will probably be nothing more than an added inconvenience imposed on law-abiding gun owners.
Writing such laws so that firearms that are bequeathed to a beneficiary who has already passed background checks is not required to submit to one for every gun in a bequest is an example of what legislators should be alert to.
Likewise, so-called Red Flag laws, while they may be helpful in preventing a deranged individual from committing murder with a firearm, can result in unwarranted and unjust legal problems unless the law is written to protect gun owners from malicious or capricious complaints.
Hard on the heels of both new laws we can expect to see the Democrats pursue so-called Assault Weapon bans and large capacity magazine restrictions. Again, Republican office- holders, along with more conservative Democrats, can inject some reason into the proceedings.
“Assault Weapon” is at best a misnomer and at worst an outright falsehood when referring to the popular civilian version of the military’s M16 rifle. To be considered an assault weapon the gun must be capable of full automatic fire. These were initially banned for civilian ownership under the National Firearms Act of 1934.
They are still banned unless one passes a thorough background investigation and pays a hefty tax. The civilian version of the M16 is simply a semi-automatic rifle, one shot per trigger pull, similar in operation to millions of firearms that have been legally manufactured, sold, and owned by civilians since many decades before the M16 format was invented. A ban on such rifles would be of no value in the effort to reduce the occurrence of mass murder.
Finally, large capacity magazines, used widely in shooting competitions, should be allowed by law for such purposes if the Democrats are successful in passing laws that restrict them. But you can bet that absent vigorous Republican intervention the law would be unnecessarily restrictive and even confiscatory.
Democrats generally don’t buy the notion that gun ownership was guaranteed in the Constitution as a deterrent to government overreach, so our rights are fair game to them. If Virginia goes as blue as is predicted, our Republican office-holders will have to earn their keep by preserving as much or our Second Amendment rights as possible, especially considering the Democrats’ ultimate goal is virtual elimination of private civilian gun ownership.