As I watched the Senate hearing on gun control this week, I cringed at some of the gun control proposals promoted in the name of public safety. Many people want to “do something” to stop what some call “gun violence.” I call it violence because I realize that violence is a behavior, not an object.
Guns are used every single day in the United States to protect innocent lives. It is a point often overlooked by gun control proponents who choose to ignore justifiable defensive use of guns to protect innocent lives.
I am a victim of a violent crime myself. My husband Ben was shot seven times and killed in front of me by my stalker. I never blamed the gun or pushed for more gun control because I realized that is not the problem.
One of the problems was that Ben and I were in a gun-free zone, where I had to leave my legal, permitted firearm that I normally carried for self-defense, locked inside my vehicle that night. I obeyed that gun control law, my stalker did not. We were helpless to stop him. He was in complete control. He was the only one with a gun.
The other problem was that no one in my stalker’s life, be it past coworkers, friends or his family stood up and took action to get him involuntarily committed when there were obvious signs for many years that he was demented and a danger. The signs were all there. I learned during the murder trial that the people in his life knew of his issues, but nobody took real active measures to have his issues addressed properly.
Before he murdered Ben, he threatened to kill his secretary at work. My stalker’s father said at trial that it scared the stew out of her. He shot at innocent hunters near his property out of anger. He accused law enforcement of being involved in a conspiracy to harm him. His employer wanted him to have a mental evaluation, but he simply refused. He was fired for the refusal and he just walked away out into the world, a ticking time bomb.
Those people in his life could have Baker Acted him, where he would have been put on a 72-hour hold, and a mental evaluation would have been done. He would have then gone before a judge with due process and evidence would be used to make a decision whether he can possess guns and what else should be done. All states have some similar options to the Baker Act. This is an option for loved ones who recognize that action must occur before an individual hurts themselves or others. This is a legal way to avoid tragedy, and give assistance to a loved one when they cannot or will not make the decision for themselves.
Ben’s murderer was ultimately able to pass a background check for the gun he used. He had no criminal record. He had no mental illness on record.
When the police searched his vehicle at the crime scene, they found two more guns, ammunition, a baseball bat, binoculars, gloves, rope, and a knife. He had many different tools to do real harm that night. Someone should have “done something” before he became a murderer. However, just because you remove a gun from someone this dangerous, does not mean they are no longer a danger. Anything can be used as a weapon. Quite frankly, a vehicle can be used as a deadly weapon. If someone is a real danger to themself or others, should they not be taken out of society in order to protect that society?
Let’s look at a few of the gun control laws that were proposed in the Senate hearing and some of the unintended consequences that some people don’t think of or don’t care about.
Waiting periods for gun purchases: Sounds like a good idea huh? Until someone in your life that you care about has a stalker and needs to buy a gun quickly for protection. Until your friend who is dealing with domestic violence is scared to death and needs a gun quickly for protection. That waiting period could mean the difference between life and death for that victim of stalking or domestic abuse. Evil people bent on harming or killing others will not be deterred by a waiting period. They will simply find a way. They will either wait it out and obtain a gun legally or buy a gun on the street in the black market, the same way people get illegal drugs in this country. They can also kill without a gun. Again, we are dealing with evil here, folks.
Red Flag Laws: There is no need for this as we already have the Baker Act or similar options on the books across the country. There are mental health experts involved and due process. Use it if you truly believe and have evidence that someone is a danger to themself or others.
Universal Background Checks: It sounds like common sense, right? Why wouldn’t we want everyone checked to make sure they are not a prohibited person? During the Senate hearing, senators claimed background checks stopped 23,000 prohibited people from buying a gun through a licensed dealer over the past year. If those 23,000 people were actually prohibited people, why were there not 23,000 prosecutions?
The reason why is that the DOJ fails to prosecute the truly prohibited people and almost all the NICS denials are false positives. They are law-abiding people who should be able to legally purchase a gun but are mistaken for a prohibited person in the system Unfortunately, all of the info on the 4473 form a person fills out to purchase a firearm is not properly used to identify who they really are. This may sound like a slight inconvenience to you, until you realize it costs thousands of dollars to hire an attorney to get the mistake cleared up. Do you have thousands of dollars to do that? Oh, and it could take months or years to get the mistake cleared up. The NICS process needs to be fixed so there are no false positives like this. And don’t even get me started on the gun registry thing. I don’t like that either. It leads to confiscation, should we ever have a tyrannical government on our hands one day.
More gun control proposals are of real concern to me, but this is an op-ed and I have restrictions on length here. Think about what I have pointed out for now. All of these proposals will indeed have unintended consequences.