Getting your facts right

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Last week, I went on the Dave Congalton show to talk about gun and the 2nd Amendment once again. You can listen to it here.

This week, on the same day yet another nut, who somehow managed to get a number of firearms despite being a prohibited person, killed five and injured at least 10 up in Tehama County, Dave spoke with retired cop David Albrecht and I found myself dismayed by just how much of what Albrecht said that just wasn’t true.

Error #1: Domestic Violence

Albrecht claims at least twice in the 44-minute interview that the law prohibiting people found guilty of domestic violence from legally purchasing a firearm is a state law that California and some other states have, but is not federal. This hasn’t been true for at least 20 years. In 1997, the so-called “Lautenberg Amendment” was passed prohibiting individuals with even a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction from purchasing guns.

Here’s the ATF for 4473, that has to be filled out by anyone wishing to buy a gun:

Note 11(i): “Have you ever been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence? This is the form that must be filled out when purchasing a firearm in any of the 50 states or U.S. territories. It is a federal law.

Error #2: Interstate purchases of illegal firearms

In touting a a new federal assault weapons ban, Albrecht claims that a Californian could simply go to Nevada to buy an “assault rifle” that would be illegal to purchase in California. This is absolutely false. According to federal law, you can only purchase a firearm outside your state of residence if the purchase is handled through a FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) and the sale follows the laws of both the state where you’re purchasing the gun and your state of residence. A Californian cannot legally go to Nevada (or any other state) and purchase a rifle that meets California’s definition of an “assault weapon” and bring it into the state.

In fact, any firearm purchased out of state would need to be sent from the out-of-state FFL to a California FFL who would then do the NICS background check, instigate the 10 day “cooling off” period and the FFL cannot transfer the gun to the buyer if the gun is illegal in California.

Error #3: All the Founding Fathers knew were muskets

Albrecht claims that the Founding Fathers with their single-shot muskets could not have imagined the kind of firearms we have today. I would contend that there is a very good argument to be made that they could imagine modern firearms more easily than they could something like Facebook or Twitter.

Thomas Jefferson himself provided the Lewis and Clark Expedition with a Girandoni air rifle. While not technically a firearm, the rifle was lethal out to about 125 yards, was semi-automatic and had a 20 or 21-round magazine.

Patented in 1718, decades before the Constitution or the 2nd Amendment, was the Puckle gun.

The Puckle gun is a tripod-mounted, single-barreled flintlock weapon fitted with a manually operated[3] revolving cylinder; Puckle advertised its main application as an anti-boarding gun for use on ships. The barrel was 3 feet (0.91 m) long with a bore of 1.25 inches (32 mm). The cylinder held 6 to 11 shots depending on configuration, and was hand-loaded with powder and shot while detached from the weapon.[i][4]

And then there’s Joseph Belton who attempted to sell the Continental Congress a flintlock musket that could fire as many as 16 consecutive shots in less than 20 seconds.

The idea that the Founders would consider something like the semi-automatic AR-15 beyond the pale is simply ahistorical.

Error #4: the PLCAA

Albrecht suggests that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) is some weird outlier designed to protect gun companies from liability for their products unlike any other consumer product. The PLCAA does not prevent firearms manufacturers from being sued for selling a faulty product. For example, firearms with faulty triggers have resulted in successful lawsuits even with the PLCAA.

What the PLCAA prohibits is an effort by the anti-gun left to bankrupt firearms companies when their products, sold legally and in good faith, are used by criminals to kill.

You don’t hear the same people clamoring to sue vehicle manufacturers when one of their trucks is used to mow down bicyclists in New York. If you want to make this argument on a broader level, let’s have at it.

The only reason gun manufacturers are getting what amounts to “special” treatment is that anti-gun lawyers are pushing a legal theory of responsibility that applies for absolutely no other consumer product.

Room for debate

We can have an honest discussion about gun laws and their effectiveness.

We can argue about whether an new “assault weapons” ban would be effective, legal or reasonable.

We can argue about the utility of “high-capacity magazines” and how many bullets should be sufficient for self defense—and whether law enforcement should be allowed far more.

The fact that a 30-year law enforcement veteran could get the laws wrong so often says something about the complexity of our gun laws.

Let’s have this debate, but let’s educate ourselves to a basic level of knowledge or competency before we start. Otherwise, I start having to write a nine hundred-word blog post just to correct the record.

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