• Stop the attempts to incrementally limit guns for everyone and focus on the right populations
  • Realize why these legislative attempts fail to adequately address the concerns of people on all sides of the debate
  • Proposed restrictions to make it easier to prevent prohibited persons from easily purchasing weapons

After every mass shooting, there’s a call for some kind of reform. Typically, it’s mandatory background checkssecret lists or bans on certain firearms and now there has been a lot of talk about a proposal to start using secret lists created by unaccountable bureaucracies that deny due process, all in the name of safety and security. If we are going to open this conversation for reform up again, let’s not blow it by doing what we’ve done and expecting a different result.

I have watched both sides in the “debate” try to explain their positions, with very little willingness to agree on, well, anything. Some of this is because of a lack of knowledge of culture and terminology – if you don’t understand the terms of the debate, it can be infuriating when you call for a ban or restrictions on something that won’t actually make any difference or something far beyond what you actually mean to say. Let’s say your solution is a ban on “Assault Rifles”? Imagine someone calling for a ban on “attack dogs” after a pit bull is reported to have mauled someone. When someone asks, what is an assault weapon, they aren’t (merely) being snarky, they are asking the equivalent of “what is an attack dog”?

Details matter. Continue reading

Just Because I’m Paranoid: Addressing Obstacles to Gun Control

The story of Joseph Pelleteri and others like him creates one of the biggest obstacles to “commons sense” gun legislation — the fear that otherwise law-abiding citizens will be snared in a law enforcement nightmare.  It is that fear, embodied in the prosecutions of people attempting to navigate a labyrinthine system of regulations that dooms most gun control measures.

Imagine winning a brand new sports car with a V8 engine in a contest hosted by your local police department.  You keep the car in your garage, never driving it, and one day while the cops are at your home on an unrelated issue, they arrest you.  V8s you are informed were made illegal in the time between winning the car and today.  You find it a bit absurd, after all, since the same police arresting you were the ones that gave you the car.  You’re less amused when you find out you’re sentenced to jail for many years.

This sounds absurd.  Surely, no one would change a law and then arrest you for breaking it.  But for Joseph Pelleteri, it was no joking matter.

Pelleteri, an expert marksman who was once employed as a firearms instructor, won a contest hosted by a police department.  He received, from the police, a legal Marlin semi-automatic rifle that held 17 rounds of ammunition.  Several years later, the State of New Jersey amended N.J.S.A  2C:39-1(w)(4) dealing with firearms and because his rifle held more than 15 rounds, Mr. Pelleteri’s rifle was subject to the “assault firearm” ban enacted in 1990.  The decision in his case says that “[w]hen the police recovered the gun from defendant’s residence in December 1993, it still had the manufacturer’s tags and the owner’s manual attached to the trigger guard.”

To be clear, Mr. Pelleteri wasn’t a criminal before he received this rifle from a police department.  There is no indication that he had committed a crime to bring the attention of the police upon him (it is unclear in the record why police were at his home).  By all accounts, he was an upstanding, law-abiding member of society, and this rifle, capable of holding 17 rounds was perfectly legal when a police officer gave it to Mr. Pelleteri in the 1980s.  But now, it would now be the cause of his incarceration. Continue reading