Sunday, June 13, 2010

Easton PA's Sensible Gun Law

WFMZ TV reports on the attempts to institute a new gun law in Easton PA.

Easton's mayor is taking another shot at getting a controversial gun law on the books.This time he has the state Supreme Court in his corner.The measure in question would force gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms within a certain time period.Yesterday, the court ruled in favor of a similar ordinance in Philadelphia.Now, Mayor Panto says he believes he has a better chance this time around.He'll reintroduce the measure next month.

I find it fascinating that such a law would be controversial and that gun owners would be so opposed to it. I've heard it described as "making criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens." Of course, the same folks who say that, refuse to accept shared responsibility for any misuse of firearms. Yet, they're happy to blame the laws or the government instead of the gun owner who fails to report a stolen gun.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. Two words: Fifth Amendment.

    That aside, what problem does this law solve? Sure many guns are stolen annually, but how many aren't reported?

    Scenario: you have a suspected druggie with no felony record who's recently purchased gun has appeared at a crime scene. He has a solid alibi. He claims it was stolen. Straw purchases are illegal, but, like many gun control laws, that law has no teeth without proof. Now what?

    Threaten him with failure to report? Is he afraid of another misdemeanor? Will that always get him to talk? Are the failure to report charges more severe than the accessory or straw purchase charge you're trying to get him to admit to?

    Flip the coin. A retired carpenter keeps several firearms for hunting, but also has a winter home in AZ where he and his wife spend three months of the year. Unfortunately, the thieves knew this too. No commercially available safe can withstand thieves with this much time.

    This man should have the same treatment under the law--but only the druggie has extra bargaining chips (information on who he bought the gun for) to use to reduce his sentence or plead for immunity.

    Now who is this law punishing?

  2. And you have failed to explain how reporting your gun stolen stops a crime.

    Criminal: "I'm going to murder you."

    Victim: "You can't. The guy you stole that gun from reported it stolen."

    Criminal: "Oh yeah, I forgot. I can't commit murder with this gun because it is reported as stolen. Drats! Foiled again by a common sense gun law."

  3. You know who is immune to prosecution under this law? Any "prohibited person" (which would seem, if you had your way, to be close to all of us). That's because the Fifth Amendment's protection from a requirement of self-incrimination means that no one who cannot legally own a gun can be required to report losing a gun he couldn't legally have in the first place.

    In other words, when we gun rights advocates point out that various gun laws "only affect the law-abiding," we couldn't come up with a more perfect example than this.

    On a more practical note, I've never seen an answer to the obvious objection to this part:

    The measure in question would force gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms within a certain time period.

    In the case of the Philadelphia law, I believe that time period is twenty-four hours--but the specific length of the time period doesn't really matter with respect to what I'm talking about here. How is the prosecution to prove the gun owner knew of the gun's disappearance at the time the 24-hour (or however long) counter started?

    Some versions of the law kick that can down the road a bit, and start the timer at when the owner "knew or should have known" that the gun was lost or stolen. How is that any better, though? When "should" a gun owner have known about the disappearance of his gun? No jurisdiction, to my knowledge, requires periodic checks on one's firearm inventory, and I hope that even you would see the outrageousness of such a requirement.

  4. The excuses presented above are laughable.

    I know of a gunloon with whom I disagree with 99.9% of the time. But he did offer one point I would wholeheartedly endorse. He wrote that to be a safe and responsible gunowner, one has to understand that you are a gunowner 24/7. IOW, you can't take a week off and pretend you're not a gunowner.

    This is why all these phony arguments about winter homes and not realizing you've been burgled are basically dodges to escape responsibility. I remember debating this issue once with a gunloon and he claimed such a law was a bad idea because someone might not know if they were a victim of burglary. As if burglars are meticulous neat freaks who carefull close drawers and ensure nothing is disturbed.


  5. Surely such a law is already in effect somewhere.

    If so, can supporters of such laws show where it has had a good effect?

    And if such a law is already in effect somewhere, can opponents of such laws show where it has had a bad effect?

  6. In PA, the issue goes further than just the pros or cons of the proposed law.

    In PA, gun laws must be state-wide. If that principle is abandoned, every municipality might have different gun laws, an unacceptable situation for reasons previously discussed.

  7. Thinking about the druggie/hunter scenarios made me realize an "uncommon" sense version of this law would be much more effective.

    Instead of punishing noncompliance, encourage it. If a recovered stolen gun has been reported, reward the owner $500 along with the return of his property.

    This doesn't harm the hunter, and druggies now have a incentive to get the police on their side if they divert a legal gun into the black market, and people who buy on the black market must either pay extra to keep the buyer quiet (no guarantees!) or keep documentation that the gun was sold to him--making investigation much easier.

  8. I've always maintained that these reporting laws would work hand in hand with the safe storage laws. No one wants to have their stuff stolen, but obviously gun owners are having a hard time getting motivated to take the proper precautions. If each theft had to be reported, they'd have that motivation.

    I think what gun owners don't like about this kind of law is it practically pre-supposes a registration of guns. How else could the authorities know who owns what?

  9. I think what gun owners don't like about this kind of law is it practically pre-supposes a registration of guns.

    Oh good--it makes it much easier when you acknowledge that registration is the creepy motivation behind the drive for "blame the victim" laws like mandated reporting of lost or stolen firearms. Once you acknowledge the link between registration and confiscation, and then the link between confiscation and genocide, you're there.

    Of course the apologists for this kind of law would balk at being called the "pro-genocide lobby," but once you connect the dots, their denials can be seen for the pernicious lies that they are.

  10. The finest firearms Easton PA has to offer are attached to a man who is made of fire, so his arms are firearms. Get it?