You win some and you lose some. I remember my coach telling me that after a particularly close match at the state championships. The loss was heartbreaking, but I was able to turn it into a positive. I rededicated my efforts, trained harder and made sure my head was on straight for the next tournament. Stories such as these are everywhere, and just fine for a boxer, wrestler or an archer, a baseball or football team. However, when it comes to gun control, we cannot afford to lose a single fight.
For several years, the pro-Second Amendment forces have secured several victories. Despite the efforts of our President and the Antis, National organizations such as the NRA, NAGR, Second Amendment Foundation and numerous other grass roots organizations have successfully squashed each challenge to the Second Amendment on a federal level. Additionally, we have made great strides in expanding—or as most would believe—regaining our Second Amendment rights.
Every state now allows concealed carry—at least to some degree. Many states now allow open carry. Several bans for firearm type or magazine capacity have been struck down or defeated before they have passed. In addition to grass roots efforts, our victories may largely be attributed to more money and better organization than the gun control crowd, but that is about to change.
A tidal wave of anti-gun legislation and policy is forming. We can see it across the left coast (California, Oregon and Washington) and it is set to wash over the country. Last November, Washington passed I-594 with 59 percent. The legislation created universal background checks for all firearms sales, including those made online or at gun shows. It also covered any firearm transfers including many loans and gifts. The measure has exceptions for emergency gun transfers concerning personal safety, gifts between family members, antiques and loans for hunting.
However, the law was murky and ripe for legal challenge. The Second Amendment Foundation took the torch, but a federal judge tossed the suit last week. The reasoning is almost absurd. The pro-Second Amendment crowd in Washington has been vocal in their dissent, but also vocal that they would not intentionally disobey the law. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma ruled that opponents of the law didn’t have standing to challenge the law because no one had been prosecuted under the law and they could not show they were at immediate risk because law enforcement had not attempted to charge someone using the law. In the judge’s defense, his hands do seem to have been legally tied.
“Plaintiffs explicitly concede that they have no intention of violating I-594, Plaintiffs have failed to allege any specific warning or threat to initiate a prosecution, and Plaintiffs have failed to allege any history of past prosecution or enforcement of I-594,” Settle wrote.
Several law enforcement officials have said they won’t consider simply handing a gun to someone else a “transfer” requiring a background check under the law, but the law’s opponents insist that’s not clear. It would only take one officer to take a different read on the law and some poor gun owner is going to have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove innocence. Alan Gottlieb, a co-founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said he expected to appeal.
“It’s mind-boggling that a citizen must put their civil rights, not to mention their clean criminal record, at risk for the court to rule on the constitutionality of the law. You should be able to challenge an attack on your constitutional rights without having to go to jail first. The state has gotten away with this because they haven’t prosecuted anybody. Why do we have a law on the books that nobody is prosecuting?” said Gottlieb.
Oregon Expanding Background Checks
Another example of new losses in the battle for the Second Amendment comes from Oregon. Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 941, otherwise known as the Oregon Firearms Safety Act in early May 2015. SB 941 will greatly expand background checks on firearm transfers in the state. SB941 will extend background checks to nearly all gun sales, including those done privately. With the enactment of SB 941, Oregon will become the eighth state with some form of “universal” background check law.
SB 941 supporters include all of the usual gun control suspects such as Everytown for Gun Safety and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which argued that expanded background checks would keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
“This is a huge victory that will save lives in Oregon by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people who will no longer be able to exploit the vast ‘Internet loophole’ to buy guns for cash in back alleys without a Brady background check. Lives will be saved as a result,” said Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, in a press release. “It shows the nation the kind of real progress we can make when elected leaders put the interests of the citizens ahead of the radical agenda of the corporate gun lobby.”
We all know the vast majority of criminals get their guns through theft, the black market, straw purchases or from friends and family members. The law serves to do little more than making lawbreakers out of average citizens while burdening an already over-tasked legal system. While some may believe Oregon has always been a liberal state, they need to consider this is the first significant gun control law passed in the Beaver State in nearly 14 years.
With any luck and a lot of hard work, supporters of the bill may find their victory short-lived. Petitions are currently underway to recall three of the lawmakers who supported the legislation, including House Majority Leader Val Hoyle (D-Eugene). Recalling these lawmakers would be a great start, but it did change the laws in Colorado. Either way, the tidal wave building in the West is real and a danger that needs to be stopped before it spreads.
So, I ask you, are we becoming complacent, believing states such as Washington and Oregon are safe from new gun control measures? Has the opposition taken the fight to a level we are not defending? How do we secure our rights and continue to defeat the assaults from the gun control crowd?