Gun Control

Virginia's New Gun Control Proposals Won't Protect Public Safety

Most Second Amendment restrictions take rights away from people who don't commit crimes and never will.

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe calls the gun-control proposals he unveiled Monday "common-sense" measures. Brian Moran, his secretary of public safety, also calls them that. You can bet that supporters of the measures—a one-gun-a-month limit, background checks at gun shows, a prohibition on gun ownership by persons subject to protective orders, revocation of concealed-carry permits for parents who fall behind on child support—will call them common-sense, too.

McAuliffe also claims to support the Second Amendment. Gun-control proponents usually do. But calling for new laws to infringe on gun rights sure is a funny way to show it. That's like claiming to support gay rights while pushing "common-sense" proposals to restrict homosexual activity, or insisting you're a big fan of free speech while advocating "common-sense limits on what people can say."

The common-sense claim invites skepticism for another reason: the connection between the proposals and what they're supposed to address. The aim behind gun control is to prevent certain horrible crimes, such as school massacres (McAuliffe announced his proposals on the day after the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn.), or to reduce violent crime generally. Revoking concealed-carry permits when the permit holders miss child-support payments, for example, seems completely untethered to public safety.

The protective-orders provision, on the other hand, rests on data showing women in abusive relationships are more likely to be killed when there's a gun in the home. The connection to crime there seems stronger than it does with respect to the other measures. That is owing in no small part to the fact that it targets specific individuals, as opposed to all gun owners generally, as the one-gun-a-month idea does.

The overwhelming majority of gun owners—60 million to 75 million people nationwide—are law-abiding citizens who pose no threat at all to public safety. The one-gun-a-month law, like most gun-control measures, therefore seeks to reduce crime by taking rights away from people who don't commit crimes and never will.

Supporters of one-gun laws often ask why anybody needs to buy more than that: For heaven's sake, isn't 12 guns a year enough already? Behind that question lies an ominous presumption. Most of us buy much more of many things—clothes, books, music, electronic devices—than we actually need. Allowing the government to limit our choices to what it thinks we need is an invitation to restrict our liberty in countless ways.

The question also inverts the burden of proof. Rights, including the right to own firearms, do not need to explain themselves, and the bearers of rights do not need to justify the exercise of them. That is the very definition of a right. The burden of proof more properly rests on those who want to take rights away. Can the governor and his supporters provide sufficient empirical evidence that the policies they want will have a measurable effect on crime?

It doesn't seem likely. Overall, crime rates have been declining even as gun rights have been expanding. On the other hand, gun-rights proponents can point to numerous examples where the predictions of gun-control opponents have been proven wrong. After the Supreme Court rulings in the Heller and McDonald cases upholding an individual right to keep and bear arms, gun-control advocates made a host of histrionic predictions about rampant bloodshed. But violent crime fell. The same thing happened with the spread of concealed-carry laws.

From 2006 to 2011, gun sales in Virginia soared by 73 percent. Gun-related crimes fell by 24 percent. When Virginia debated allowing guns in bars and restaurants, gun-control advocates howled about the deadly mix of booze and bullets. After the law passed, "the number of major crimes involving firearms at bars and restaurants statewide declined 5.2 percent," the Times-Dispatch reported.

This doesn't mean the expansion of gun rights caused the decline in crime. But it does mean the expansion of gun rights did not make crime rise. We should therefore be skeptical about claims that restrictions on gun rights will make crime fall.

To be fair, if all guns magically disappeared today, nobody would get shot tomorrow. But gun-control advocates claim they don't want to confiscate everybody's guns. Indeed, some of them hotly protest that gun-rights advocates who say they do are wildly misrepresenting their intentions.

That is probably true of some—just as it is true that some supporters of parental consent and other restrictions on abortion rights want abortion limited, but not outlawed. On the other hand, just as some anti-abortion activists want the procedure banned entirely, some gun-control activists would be happy to see most or all guns outlawed.

Those activists are starting to get their way in places such as New York, which recently sent a letter to individuals who own rifles and shotguns that hold more than five rounds, instructing them to surrender their weapons. New York, of course, got a big head start on gun control. But that's no reason for Virginia to try and catch up.

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137 responses to “Virginia's New Gun Control Proposals Won't Protect Public Safety

  1. insisting you’re a big fan of free speech while advocating “common-sense limits on what people can say.”

    This is every politician, ever. Some of them say it out loud, but all of them believe it.

    My boss has nearly convinced me that moving from Fairfax (People’s Republic of Northern Virginia) to PG County (People’s Republic of Maryland) may be a good idea. Looks like VA’s gun laws will soon match those of MD anyway, and at least PG County has selection of shooting ranges and firearms stores, unlike Fairfax.

    1. Nobody is in favor of limitations on speech, but in this time of war we need some common sense restrictions on what things can be said.

      1. Plus, why does anyone *need* to curse or utter the word “hate”?

      2. No one’s in favor of limitations on speech? How can anyone not be in favor of limitations, as long as they’re common-sense limitations? Are you OK with someone calling your home and telling you there’s a bomb about to go off in it? If you’re not OK with it, then you favor limitations on speech.

        1. TriGGers !!!11

    2. When Prince George’s County is an improvement, you are fucked.

      1. Ayup.

        He even said he crunched the numbers on taxes, and they’re pretty much even. I don’t really believe that, but VA does have a car tax and there is no limit on how much each jurisdiction can raise your real estate assessed value each year (MD does have those kinds of protections)

        1. You would nuts to move to MD. Try Clark or Frederick County, VA for cheaper prices.

        2. I don’t miss the commonwealth. That being said, my family is happy making less to not be in the beltway.

          1. WV for the win!

    3. As someone who made that move in reverse last year, I wouldn’t do it. VA has a long way to go to approach MD’s crappy gun laws.

      Also, for places to shoot in Fairfax, have you been to the NRA headquarters range?

      1. NRA is pretty much the only public range in the area and it’s not that close to me. There are some private clubs (like Sharp Shooters). I think PG has a bit more that are accessible to the public.

        I’m going to come into a little bit of cash in the next year or two from a condo association buyout, so I’m looking where I can get a decent single family house for a decent price ($300k or less)

        1. I like to go to the Maryland Small Arms range in Upper Marlboro.

          1. I was looking at that – it’s right near my boss’s house. I think it would be a faster drive for me to go there than to the NRA range.

        2. Cool. A bunch of my friends work part-time at Sharpshooters. It’s not as nice as the NRA Range, but it’s pretty nice.

          If you decide to visit MSAR, make sure that you have your personal injury insurance paid up. The place is a pit. It’s a large step down from Sharpshooters.

        3. umm, no. Check out Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly and Silver Eagle Group in Sterling. For shotgun sports there’s Bull Run Shooting Center in Manassas. All are open to the public.

    4. I don’t know what sort of tripe your boss is feeding you, but no place in VA is as messed up as PG County.

    5. Don’t know if it’s still the case, but Maryland used to have insanely overreaching auto safety inspection requirements. 30+ items that had to pass very narrow requirements. Lots of folks stationed at Ft Meade did licenses and auto registration in VA to avoid that.

    6. Looks like VA’s gun laws will soon match those of MD anyway

      I think there’s a difference between a Democratic governor proposing laws, and a Republican legislature actually passing them. However, I’m not that familiar with VA politics.

  2. Guns only have one purpose. Why does Bart support murder?

    1. What does turning off your house lights have to do with murder?

    2. What does aerating your aluminum cans so they’re easier to crush for recycling have to do with murder?

    3. What does posing for thug selfish have to do with murder?

      1. Selfies* (retraining the autocorrect)

  3. “Common-sense” control measures are anything but, and at this point the term is just coded language for “incremental infringement”

    1. Pshaw, slippery slope is a fallacy.

      1. You have that wrong; “Slippery Slope is a PHALLUS , with which they expect to F*ck you.

    2. More to the point, “common sense” means “I can’t make a good case for it.” It’s bullshit.

  4. To be fair, if all guns magically disappeared today, nobody would get shot tomorrow.

    Citation needed. OTOH, this is common sense.

    1. Since you can get ‘shot’ by weapons other than guns, this is a lie.

      1. I should have put “common sense” in air quotes.

        Note to self: Use less-subtle sarcasm.

      2. What are the statistics on arrow, dart and bolt, violence? Let’s limit it to this century.

        1. You mean, like this century of 3D printers?

          1. Are 3D printers leading to an uptick in dart, arrow and bolt violence?

            1. One way or t’other, it’s just a matter of time.

        2. Do Jarts count as darts?

          1. Yes, but aren’t those illegal?

            1. Hmm, you’re right. Good thing, that will stop people from being killed by them. Now if they would just do something about those little magnet balls.

              1. And what are detergent packets, chopped liver?

                1. Why do you suppose packs of silica need to be labeled “do not eat,” but detergent packs don’t? Nobody would eat a detergent pack on purpose.

                  1. Why do you suppose packs of silica need to be labeled “do not eat,” but detergent packs don’t?

                    I find silica packs in my cured-food containers (Jerky!) all the time. Detergent packs much less so.

                    You’d have to be pretty stoned to eat one of the silica packs by mistake, but I assume the manufacturer can’t know that in advance and that knowledge doesn’t stop people from suing them like a ‘Do not eat!’ label does.

    2. I bet someone with the tools and knowhow could build a gun and use it to shoot someone in less than 24 hours.

      Just saying…

      Also, if all guns disappeared today I wonder what would happen to the rate of stabbings, clubbings and stranglings…

      1. Since guns are not the most common murder weapons, but are the most common defense weapons, other types of violence should increase.

        1. “Since guns are not the most common murder weapons, but are the most common defense weapons, other types of violence should increase.”

          Guns are absolutely the most common murder weapon. It’s just that if you outlawed them you’d have Mexican drug cartels transforming those nifty meth super labs into gun manufacturing facilities and the American/Mexican border would become the most vibrant market for black market firearms the world has ever seen.

          Then all the gangs would still get their knock-off AK-47s, the citizenry would be completely disarmed, and politicians would act confused as to why there have been a bunch of murders committed by gangs involved in underground gun sales.

          1. I stand corrected. I went to the UCR data to back up my point and found that I’d been reading it wrong.

      2. Poisoning is quite popular in the UK.

        1. As a murder method, or as a result of their native cuisine?

      3. I hear clubbing is super popular these days, just sayin.

    3. To be fair, if all guns magically disappeared today, nobody would get shot tomorrow.

      So he wants to disarm the police?\

      Why does he hate our Working Class Heroes?

    4. To be fair, is all guns magically disappeared tomorrow, the thugs amongst us would have a field day?until the tinkerers started turning out guns.

  5. The burden of proof more properly rests on those who want to take rights away.

    So much this. And don’t say “common sense” while trying to do it, either.

    1. Would ‘common scents’ or ‘common cents’ be more agreeable?

      1. Damn, UCS, that’s slick. Are you a lawyer?

        1. No, worse, a bureaucrat (IT Services).

          1. So, *slimy*, then? 😉

          2. “IT Services”

            So you’re one of those rare types of bureaucrat that all the other bureaucrats hate. Assuming you “service” the bureaucracy and not the bureaucracy’s “customers”…

            1. Yep, I’ve been calling it a ‘meta-bureaucrat’ post since we make other bureaucrats run the red tape. I don’t have to deal with the general public.

            2. some, its my observation that bureaucrats typically hate other bureaucrats.

              I chalk this up to (a) projection and (b) competition.

              1. Not all other bureaucrats, but those of the outgroup factions. Especially when they try to make their own ‘pull’ felt by other groups they deal with.

    2. We have to, it’s for your own good.

  6. I recall several people on this board informing me that there was no difference between Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli, and that any statement to the contrary was indicative of statist thinking.

    Well, this looks like a difference.

    1. But can McAuliffe get this bill through the House of Delegates? If he can’t, then it won’t matter that he differed from Cuccinelli on this issue.

      (I’m assuming that he needs to pass this through the VA legislature and can’t just do it Unilaterally.)

      1. But can McAuliffe get this bill through the House of Delegates? If he can’t, then it won’t matter that he differed from Cuccinelli on this issue.

        I made the exact same argument about Cooch and gay marriage and was called a SoCon anti-gay bigot by Tonyo after he took my comment out of context and then lied about my position.

        Except, gun control is far more likely to pass and hold up than an anti-gay marriage proposal and affects far more people and an actual civil right (yeah, having government recognize your marriage isn’t a right).

    2. Usually when I say that there’s no real difference I mean that either candidate will be equally shitty, but just in slightly different ways. The total amount of shittiness is the same. The nature of the shittiness differs.

  7. These are “proposals” right? I assume they have no chance in the legislature and will be used to bludgeon McAuliffe and the Democrats in the next election.

    Can somebody from VA let me know if that’s not the case and VA is completely gone?

    1. To my knowledge, the VA House of Delegates is heavily GOP and last bastion of sanity in VA on gun issues. I’m assuming they will shoot this down with extreme prejudice.

      1. No, but is VA a “shall-issue” state by law or a “may-issue” state, and is this influenced by the legislature?

        I ask because in PR, the exec has played shenanigans making PR in effect impossible to get a gun license in, despite the fact that it is by law “may issue” — and is one reason I refuse to vote for any governor who is anti-gun. Too many shenanigans can be engaged in with permits at that level.

        1. It’s shall issue.

  8. One gun a month limit again? These morons have obviously never heard of additive manufacturing or DefDist’s CNC ghostgunner.

    This story at MoJo has some cool graphs showing demographic breakout of suicides and homocides with a gun. Way more suicides than homocides, and old white guys love to go out with a bang. Just don’t bother reading the accompanying narrative because it’s hysterical nonsense.

    http://www.motherjones.com/pol…..ths-charts

    1. If Mother Jones had an article that describes the real meaning of life … I still wouldn’t read it.

  9. revocation of concealed-carry permits for parents who fall behind on child support

    Wait, what?

    1. It’s to stop the mass murder of families by depressed dads who don’t get to see their kids, I’m sure.

      1. And nothing says, “Son, I’m going to murder you” like missing a obligation payment.

        If I miss a credit card payment is BoA going to take my gun rights too?

        1. Stop giving them ideas! 8-(

    2. revocation of concealed-carry permits for parents who fall behind on child support

      Define “fall behind.” Texas law makes those delinquent on child support (which requires a finding by a family court) ineligible for a CHL, but missing a payment or two won’t get you revoked.

  10. Those activists are starting to get their way in places such as New York, which recently sent a letter to individuals who own rifles and shotguns that hold more than five rounds, instructing them to surrender their weapons.

    What?

    1. ^it’s NYC and they started sending out letters to registered suckers gun owners last December.

    2. but the pro gun control people keep saying they are not going to take our guns away. I always cite NY as proof that they will take the guns away as soon as they can

  11. But according to some guy in the NYPD thread, people are buying grenade launchers at gun shows and may use them in crimes! Obviously we need common sense gun control to prevent this.

    1. Some guy? You mean “Totally Not Tulpa, Move Along and Debate My Arguments”?

      1. It was the Tulpa with the kung fu grip on his pearls.

    2. recently “survived” my attendance to a gun show. spent the whole day keeping an eye out for loopholes

  12. How does he feel about common sense restrictions on speech?

    No swearing, no use of racial slurs, etc. You know. Common sense stuff.

    Or how about common sense restrictions on religion?

    I mean, what’s the point of protection stupid religions anyway?

    1. common sense restrictions on religion?

      Excellent.

      “You expect us to believe you believe *that*? Tax-exempt status *denied*!”

  13. Anyone who uses the term common sense while referring to government knows fuck all about either. Or is just a liar.

    1. You know who else had a common sense solution?

      1. Those who were not part of the precipitate?

      2. Thomas Paine?

      3. The Donner party?

      4. J Robert Oppenheimer?

      5. Chernobyl engineers?

      6. Chanel?

      7. Paul Flory and Maurice Huggins?

      8. Bernhard Riemann?

        Come on man, don’t leave us hanging!

      9. Dr. Emmitt Brown?

      10. Jim J. Bullock?

      11. The Borg, when they switched from reproduction to assimilation?

      12. Baron Harkonen?

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  15. Prohibiting politicians from advocating increases in government power seems like a common sense restriction on speech. We should try that.

    1. I agree Brooks. In fact, I think we should just outlaw government power unless granted explicitly.

      Oh wait, we tried that. And this is where we are. 🙁

      1. I has a sad now

  16. The ten most dangerous words in the English language are “Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” -President Ronald Reagan

    1. Could you imagine a presendent saying that today? He’d get sent to the front of the line waiting outside the reeducation camps.

    2. I love these little one-liners from Reagan…

      Another good one: “There is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.”

      He seemed like a wise man. Unfortunately, he did a shitload of damage to free market principles by talking and talking and talking about them, all while expanding big government in pretty much every way, so now when people hear “free market”, they think of the Reagan years.

      1. 1. He was the President, not a king, and never had a majority in Congress

        2. Just about all that expansion was military

        1. *He was a President, not a king* Those were the days, eh?

  17. Any time the phrase “common sense limits” is used, you can always be assured common sense is lacking in the proposal.

  18. Oh, not sure if this was mentioned at H&R anywhere, but this seems an apt place for it:

    6th Circuit says Scrict Scrutiny applies to Gun Control, strikes down Federal law. Mental health lifetime ban for even recovered patients overturned.

    1. The constitution as amended is pretty clear on this.

      the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

      1. I was actually quite happy with the 6th circuit, so I figured I’d share. It is rather difficult to pass a strict scrutiny examination applied properly. Most laws subjected to it rightly die.

        1. Oh, I agree with the decision, I just see it as the only possible decision. If one can comprehend English, and applies logic…

          1. Crazy talk !

  19. “The burden of proof more properly rests on those who want to take rights away. Can the governor and his supporters provide sufficient empirical evidence that the policies they want will have a measurable effect on crime?”

    actually, no. this is a very dangerous way to look at it. if you can take away rights based on empirical evidence about subjective outcomes, then you have negated the concept of rights entirely. rights are inalienable. they derive form personhood, not governmental fiat.

    introducing this sort of “empirical evidence” loophole is incompatible with basic rights.

    try applying it to the right to avoid self incrimination.

    if we could empirically demonstrate that there is a net benefit to the society from preventing accused rapists from pleading the 5th, shall we get rid of it?

    what if we could show that preventing people from criticizing the police leads to a more harmonious society? still on board with this empirical evidence idea?

    1. rights are inalienable. they derive form personhood, not governmental fiat.

      Yeah, that’s the fundamental concept that both TEAMS fail to grasp. Either that, or they don’t think anyone that’s on an opposing TEAM is a person.

      1. But the real world doesn’t work that way!!!!

        /Moral relativists on both TEAMs

    2. introducing this sort of “empirical evidence” loophole is incompatible with basic rights.

      You can tell a lot about people based on how they respond to economic or scientific studies than indicate a beneficial moral compromise. In the 60s everybody who was anybody was concerned that central planning would cause the Soviet economy to leave the US in the dust.

      Some economists and politicians responded to this by insisting that the US engage in more central planning (leaving it up to your imagination as to who these people voted for), while others claimed that slowed economic growth due to decentralized economic activity was the price we would pay for freedom.

      They were both wrong as Hayek and Mises could’ve told them from the beginning, but one of these groups was champing at the bit to crack down on individual rights, while the other viewed respect for others as primary. The historical lesson being beware the authoritarian bearing studies (or most anyone else).

  20. Doesn’t a state law restricting the number firearms purchases per time period violate the commerce clause unless it does so for firearms manufactured in the same state?

    1. I doubt it, unless the state law only restricted the purchase of out-of-state firearms.

    2. For the people we’re talking about, no firearms restriction can violate anything unless it’s not strong enough.

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  22. Fuck McAuliffe. Buy one Ruger and 10 of these.
    http://bugasalt.com/

  23. If I have to hear “common sense” and “gun control” in the same sentence one more time, I think I’ll light up the place…

    …with Christmas lights!

  24. To be fair, if all guns magically disappeared today, nobody would get shot tomorrow.

    OTOH, the number of people pushed out of windows would skyrocket.

  25. To be fair, if all guns magically disappeared today, nobody would get shot tomorrow Exactly

    1. Yeah, it’s too bad magic doesn’t exist…

    2. As firearms are the source of human violence, banning them would once again afford us the peace that dominated the world prior to the introduction of firearms and which still defines archaic civilizations today.

  26. Let’s hope the good citizens of Virginia come to their senses and give McAuliffe the boot at their next opportunity.

    1. Governors in VA cannot serve consecutive terms so he won’t be able to run again until 2021.

  27. The one gun a month law is aimed at destroying the industry. I have lots of guns- and I frequently buy more than one at a time and recently sold two to a dealer.

    That’s how things work- it amortizes costs. If people are out of work, have bills to pay (I bought a .357 from a woman about to give birth)- they will want to sell several- and someone has to buy them.

    Frankly- if you own a gun you shouldn’t be limited at all- you can already kill people.

    I do understand straw purchasers- but that can be controlled other ways.

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  29. These proposals are all dead on arrival, and McAuliffe knows it. The only reason these things are being introduced in the state with the most registered machineguns is due to the following:

    1. Michael Bloomberg met privately with Terry McAuliffe in late August of 2013. This led to $1.1 million in ads being aired for McAuliffe by Bloomberg’s super PAC in the final two weeks of the governor’s race.

    2. Lori Hass, the Virginia State Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), was hired to help with McAuliffe’s transition team. Hass’s daughter was shot during the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.

    Interestingly, the one-gun-a-month law was originally passed under Douglass Wilder in 1993, before instant background checks, and as Virginia had become a major source of gunrunning. But so many exemptions were eventually carved into the law that it no longer made any sense, so it was repealed in 2006. Suggesting its reinstatement is beyond absurd outside the McAuliffe “reciprocation” dynamic with Bloomberg.

    This is just politics as usual. NONE of these proposals will pass. With the NRA headquarters on Waples Mill Road in Fairfax and the highly effective Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) fighting all of this tooth and nail, there’s no way any of this will happen. McAuliffe is simply trying to pay back favors.

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