Writing in Crosscut Wednesday morning, veteran Seattle conservative talk host John Carlson has offered three suggestions to open a dialogue between constitutional rights advocates and gun prohibitionists, insisting, “there is common ground between gun rights and gun control supporters on this issue, but it is missed because each is tilling a different part of the field.”
“Conservatives are focused on the criminal,” Carlson observes, “liberals are focused on the firearm(s). But beneath that ground are common roots with solutions that both sides would agree would reduce gun violence in this country. Here are three areas where a large majority of gun owners and gun opponents share similar opinions that could become law if only they would stop hating on each other for a moment.”
Carlson’s piece comes on the heels of Tuesday’s revelation that a class action lawsuit has been filed against the manufacturers of “bump stocks” on behalf of victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting. The lawsuit, according to KSNV News – the local NBC affiliate – is against Slide Fire Solutions, LP and alleges negligence in the development and marketing of the accessory.
The anti-gun Brady Campaign and Center has jumped into this, although questions immediately arise about how far this legal action will get before it collides with the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. That federal law prevents junk lawsuits against firearms manufacturers.
It might be difficult to sit down for a chat with that lawsuit swirling like a cloud over the table.
Carlson’s suggestions include:
- Make bump stock devices illegal. They make a mockery of the law prohibiting automatic weapons.
- Dramatically increase the criminal penalties for stealing a firearm.
- Make it a high priority, with one or more highly publicized cases in which federal prosecutors hit straw purchasers hard.
Banning bump stocks would be a trophy for the anti-gunners, who are big on symbolism. But what is offered in return by the gun prohibition crowd? Just for the sake of argument, some people have suggested that any such ban should probably be inseparable from passage of national concealed carry reciprocity and the Hearing Protection Act; that is, a non-negotiable straight-across swap of bump stocks for significant reform legislation that benefits legally-armed citizens, most of whom never heard of bump stocks prior to Las Vegas. Also remember, by banning this product, a legitimate business will essentially be shut down and jobs will be lost.
Increasing penalties for gun theft wouldn’t bother gun owners, but that would have to be exclusive of any attempt to punish gun owners for losing their firearms to thieves. The gun prohibition lobby has clamored for laws that penalize gun owners for having their guns stolen. If gun thefts aren’t quickly reported, anti-gunners want that to be a crime. If stolen guns are used in a crime, anti-gunners have wanted gun owners to be liable. That’s a non-starter.
Making prosecution of straw sales/transfers a high priority shouldn’t bother law-abiding gun owners. And here’s a suggested trade-off: Eliminate background check requirements for private transfers of firearms, especially if both parties have carry permits/licenses and have already gone thorough background checks to get those credentials.
Rights activists – those who remember there are ten amendments in the Bill of Rights, rather than nine delineated civil rights and one regulated privilege – have never scoffed at a dialogue. But they’re savvy from past experiences that quickly descend to all “take” and no “give” that anti-gunners prefer a one-sided process that only erodes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.