ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: ‘Common sense’ gun law proposals lack, well, common sense

This editorial was originally published April 29 in the Orange County Register. 

Gun-control supporters often propose what they describe as “common sense” gun laws.

It’s their latest mantra, but a host of new California firearms proposals makes clear that many of these proposals are more nonsensical than common sense. Reducing gun crime is a noble aim, but it’s hard to see how the latest proposals will move in that direction.

Senate Bill 264 by Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, would ban gun shows on state property – a symbolic measure that will not reduce gun violence. Gun buyers and sellers at, say, public fairgrounds must follow strict state regulations. There’s no connection between gun shows and violence. The shows will move to private venues.

Assembly Bill 1223 from Assembly member Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, would impose an excise tax of as much as 11 percent on the sale of guns and ammunition to fund California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) grants. Some community-based programs might help, but others seem unproven at best. If such programs work, nonprofits should fund them.

Assembly Bill 1057 from Assembly member Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, sounds good on the surface. It expands California’s “red flag” law, which lets law enforcement confiscate weapons from people who they deem dangerous, to apply to “ghost guns.” Those are untraceable home-built firearms that have become popular thanks to the Internet and 3D printing.

Governments aren’t good at predicting criminal behavior and end up violating innocent gun owners’ due-process rights instead. Ghost guns are proliferating mainly as a workaround to the state’s onerous gun-control laws. The government isn’t particularly effective at cracking down on any underground marketplace, from guns to narcotics.

California’s existing Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), which is designed to let state agents confiscate weapons from people who shouldn’t own them, is a widely maligned bureaucratic mess plagued by an inaccurate database.

It’s hard to fathom how any of the two dozen gun-related measures introduced this session could be described as sensible means of reducing gun violence.

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