Mimesis Law
27 January 2022

“Mass Shootings” & “Common Sense Gun Control”

Dec. 4, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — Yesterday morning in San Bernardino, tragedy struck in the form of gun violence. Armed gunmen killed 14 people and were then involved in a shootout with police. There was a shooting in Georgia that resulted in death. These events took place just days after another shooting in Colorado.

Incidents like this strike fear in the hearts of citizens. At the same time, they are a strike of inspiration to political leaders, who see opportunity. Mere hours after the attacks, there was already a solution. What, you say? Our brilliant leaders have fixed this problem so quickly?

Of course. The answer is “common sense” gun control laws. Common sense. The ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions. So if that is applied to gun control, the terrorists and criminals lose. Perfect solution. More laws will address the problem. The problem that already happened.

Starting at the top, President Obama has a few ideas. First, stronger background checks. He does not describe how to do that, but no problem. Just make ‘em stronger. Instead of just checking for criminal convictions and such, we can also start checking for…well, there is not really much else to look for on a background check. Since the United States is still a free country, it just keeps track of the bad things you did. Not much else really lends itself to showing up on a background check unless the entity doing the background screening thoroughly looks for other records that could be returned. It’s not your dreaded permanent record from school. We still can’t read your mind. So we are just sort of stuck with your criminal history. And of course, the gunrunner who knows where to get that illegal machine gun is not going to conduct a background check anyway.

Obama also has an even better idea. America has a secret list to keep certain people from flying. Terrorists mostly. Innocent people, too. But that’s a small sacrifice for 100% safe commercial air travel. The president suggests we turn the no-fly list into a no-buy list. Keeping those people from buying guns is going to cut down on gun violence.

The only problem with that idea is that nobody really knows how anybody gets on that list, gets off the list, or who controls the list. And it may be hard to find the illegal arms dealers and get them a copy of the list. And also make sure they follow the rules.

Senate Minority leader Harry Reid has kicked in the idea that we can keep guns away from those convicted under the misdemeanor statute that outlaws forceful protests around abortion clinics. It’s not just an idea for him. He is going to “force” a vote on it.

Perfect. The crazies who stand outside abortion clinics acting like assholes are going to straighten up and finally fly right. No more guns for them. Get that list to the guy who sells the Saturday Night Specials in the back alley.

That neighborhood weapons smuggler is going to have a difficult time keeping up his illegal gun business at the same time he has to keep track of the various lists of people he can’t sell the guns to. Hopefully, he doesn’t get frustrated, ignore the lists, and just start selling guns to anybody with cash to buy them. Nevertheless, if these weapon traffickers obtain a license to sell these guns and gun parts, including the 80 lower jig, they may not have to be too concerned about who they sell the gun to.

None of these ideas would have prevented a significant number of the recent shootings. We don’t need more laws. The “epidemic of mass shootings” is a creation of the 24-hour news cycle. It simply doesn’t exist. It just dominates the news. Over and over. There are no calls for reasoned responses. Instead it’s a race to see who can come up with the next new law that will prevent the next big crime.

There are already numerous laws attempting to control possession of guns. Just one federal statute prohibits gun ownership by convicts, fugitives, drug addicts, the mentally ill, illegal immigrants, soldiers discharged dishonorably, people subject to restraining orders, and people convicted of domestic violence. A large section of people we don’t want running around with guns are, in fact, not allowed to possess guns. Yet there are still shootings.

Here’s the problem; we are never going to prevent those shootings. There is simply no way to erase crime and violence. And we should be concerned when the politicians start taking advantage of these tragedies to pass whatever law they can to grab a few more votes, a little more power, maybe another good headline. We could outlaw guns completely, the Constitution notwithstanding. They might become as hard to get as cocaine. Which is not really that hard.

All of the explanations for gun violence sound good, but fail under scrutiny. It turns out it’s not a mental health issue. It turns out mass shootings are not significantly increasing. All of the knee jerk reactions to violent incidents seem unable to address the incidents. Which is kind of the problem with knee jerk reactions.

What the country needs is common sense from its leaders. And that won’t happen until the citizens demonstrate a little common sense, too. Instead of sounding the hysteria alarm every time something bad happens, we need to stop and think.

The thing about all those proposed laws is that they don’t go away when the problem is solved. Or it becomes clear the law won’t solve the problem. Look at the war on drugs. It has taken years to make even slight progress on the useless laws that were passed in the pursuit of completely stopping drug use. The laws we pass stay with us. Yet they rarely address any real problems.

Mass shootings suck. Unfortunately, so do most of our elected officials. They say what needs to be said to get the citizenry fired up. And the citizenry eats it up. Instead of common sense gun laws, maybe we just need a little common sense in general.

The answer will never be more laws. The government can’t legislate away all potential bad things. But it sure can legislate a lot of bad laws into existence.

5 Comments on this post.

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  • Richard G. Kopf
    4 December 2015 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Dear Josh,

    You wrote: “Mass shootings suck. Unfortunately, so do most of our elected officials. They say what needs to be said to get the citizenry fired up. And the citizenry eats it up. Instead of common sense gun laws, maybe we just need a little common sense in general.”

    You must have known that your writing would make me feel unsafe. It is too realistic. It is too honest. Shame on you, and no trigger warning!

    Relatedly, on a number of occasions in the past several court security officers have suggested that I buy and carry a gun. That suggestion was vigorously asserted again after I ruled that the Westboro crew could trash the American flag when protesting at the funeral of an American soldier. I noted that “the First Amendment trumps the citizenry’s preference for patriotism.” Phelps-Roper v. Bruning, No. 4:10CV3131, 2010 WL 2723202 (D. Neb. July 6, 2010)

    In any event, I found the suggestion that I carry a gun amusing. After all, if one isn’t careful one could shoot himself in the foot. It happens. See, e.g., Richard G. Kopf, You and Each of You Have a Second Amendment Right to Shot Yourself in the Foot, Hercules and the Umpire (July 14, 2013).

    In short, the Constitution seldom protects dumb asses from themselves. Happily, this dumb ass values his feet more than his Second Amendment rights.

    All the best.

    Richard G. Kopf
    Senior United State District Judge (Nebraska)

    • Josh Kendrick
      4 December 2015 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      Judge –

      I practice law in South Carolina, where the stories of judges, lawyers, and guns in the courtroom are legendary and highly entertaining.

      Unfortunately, all before my time. These days, bringing a very sharp pencil into the courtroom can cause real trouble.

      Hope you enjoyed the article and watch out for your feet. I hear they don’t work as well with bullet holes.

      Josh

    • Wrongway
      6 December 2015 at 8:12 am - Reply

      Well Judge, this means umm .. I should never go quail hunting with you .. duly noted..

  • jdgalt
    4 December 2015 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    California already has some of the strictest gun control laws in the US, and the shooter was in violation of at least two of them before he ever opened fire. Maybe before we enact lots of additional laws, we should figure out a way to better enforce the ones we’ve already got.

  • The Danger of “Common Sense” Restrictions on Constitutional Rights
    11 December 2015 at 9:24 am - Reply

    […] way to attack the Second Amendment, like other constitutional rights, is the use of the term “common-sense.” Though the dictionary has a pretty good definition for “common sense,” that definition isn’t […]