Tyndmyr wrote:I don't see anything in your proposal that would add time for someone intent on a mass shooting though.
Add jail time? Or increase the amount of time it would take for them to acquire the necessary tools? That would be part of the intent of the "NICS queries on ammunition purposes" provision. Not that our mass shooter couldn't simply manufacture his own ammo....but that would increase the amount of time involved, now wouldn't it?
Seriously, anyone intent on a mass shooting gives no fucks about jail time. Mass Murders already get all the jail time we can give.
You could add more jail time to straw purchasing, but at 10 years per offense right now(and a quarter million dollar fine), that's already pretty damned significant. Anyone doing it now is already counting on not being caught.
Not really. Manufacturing a couple hundred rounds doesn't take long at all. More reasonably, anyone with guns around can be expected to have a coupla hundred rounds already loaded. It's not as if people wait to buy gas until they need to use their car. The same is true of ammo.
davidstarlingm wrote:The issue is that it's really hard to get caught, since it is only illegal if the prosecution can prove the seller knew the buyer was a felon. That's what we need to address.
It's also really hard to prove the transfer at all. What distinguishes loss or theft from an illegal sale?
Note that while straw purchases are significant, straight up illegal sales(where the prior owner did not own the gun legally) are also quite common, and you've got thefts, etc...there's a lot of ways for firearms to move around.
Yeah. There's not much that can be done about loss, theft, or illegal sales, short of requiring total registration (which is a horrible, horrible idea for a myriad of reasons). But straw purchasing represents the largest potentially preventable movement of firearms into criminal hands.
Preventing straw purchasing requires a way to differentiate it from those other things, though. Someone does a straw purchase and claims it was loss or theft if it ever comes to court, how do you prove him wrong?
Even if you catch someone on video exchanging a gun for money with a felon, it's useless unless you can prove they had prior knowledge that the individual was a felon. I'm not saying that we should require people to do a NICS query on sales to people they already know, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some standard of due diligence. At the very least, having instant, free public access to NICS would allow prosecutors to make the case that a straw purchaser "should have known" that the buyer was a felon.
Free access is fine. Changing the burden of proof to the accused is a very, very scary precedent.
davidstarlingm wrote:There are 270,000,000 firearms in the United States. I don't see how illegal random guessing by police on a last-30-days database is going to produce anything useful.
Random? Serial numbers are almost invariably assigned sequentially. I'm told that most police are still capable of counting, these days.
Plus, there's the whole issue that serial numbers are not usually secrets, being printed on the side of the gun and what not. Required on some federal forms. This is like "encrypting" employee records by making the passwords their first name, and making them unchangeable. That's not secure at all.
I still say it's sufficiently secure if it's a federal database, persists for 30 days only, and law enforcement is only allowed to run serials for guns that have been seized in connection to a crime.
Be aware that means it's utterly unsecured, so anyone with the ability to connect to it can utilize it if that's your only security. The rest of those things are policy decisions, not actual security. It's like putting a "no stealing" sign above an unattended box of money on the street. That ain't secure.
Registries are illegal under the fifth amendment (thankfully) but the real reason they're a bad idea is the potential for abuse. Let's say that you have a natural disaster (e.g. Katrina) and the police chief of Podunk, Mississippi unilaterally decides that the best way to ensure public safety is to confiscate all legally-owned firearms. Now this is entirely illegal, and he probably knows it, but that's not going to stop him from pulling up the Excel spreadsheet and printing out a list of all the addresses where guns are registered to. Sure, he might get in trouble after it's all over (probably just a slap on the wrist), but that's not going to be much of a comfort for the people who were robbed or killed because they couldn't defend themselves against heavily-armed looters.
And this doesn't even begin to address the ultimate danger of a registry leading to a ban.
But you don't have the same potential for abuse with my proposal. Sure, serial numbers are ordered sequentially, but that doesn't mean they necessarily correlate to geography. If it's a federal database that can only be accessed through discrete queries, it can't very well be brute-forced. Querying random serial numbers using fictitious case numbers would not only be quite illegal, but it would have a very low chance of yielding anything useful, as only a very small percentage of total firearm transfers in the past 30 days will be anywhere near the jurisdiction of whoever is querying.
I really just don't see the potential for abuse here.
If the data is insecure, you have no guarantee that it actually goes away at the end of 30 days. If it can leave your system arbitrarily to whoever, anyone who wants the data can do whatever with it.
As mentioned, you do not need to query random numbers. Also, you seem to have the idea that this database is local. It is not, it is nationwide. There is no limitation that only returns sales that happened within your jurisdiction.
And frankly, if there was, it'd make the whole system trivially useless. Police jurisdictions are small, and the odds that a gun was purchased in the last thirty days in the same jurisdiction as the crime occurred is actually pretty miniscule.
Is it not entirely possible that a friend of acquaintance might not bring up their criminal record in casual conversation? You're getting severe false positive issues here...changing the burden of proof is a big deal.
Surely there's some balance or scale that can be employed; it doesn't need to be a felony no matter what. Is SOME requirement to exercise due diligence so very unreasonable?
Yes. Abandoning the standard of innocent until proven guilty is extremely unreasonable.
Intent can be inferred from actions. It is so frequently under the existing legal system. We do not need to gut all our safeguards for that.
davidstarlingm wrote:Uh, running a query is a pretty obvious defense to a charge of negligence.
Yes. A positive defense. How do you demonstrate that a query was run, and that you did it? Does the public number record your call? Are these records available to you at the time of the court case?
In case of your 'erased after 30 days', I'm going to go with probably not.
It could be something so simple as providing a confirmation number after a successful query is run. Or you could have a statutory presumption of due diligence for any transfers more than 30 days old. Besides, in most cases the firearm would have been seized, which would have resulted in a query being run by law enforcement, and the results of that query will be accessible by discovery.
The first is inherently problematic, because you need some record of confirmation numbers to prove validity(which would inherently end up being a sort of record), or people could give whatever number they want, and it's unenforceable.
The second just makes the whole thing hilarious irrelevant. Over 30 days = no record. No call = no record. How do you differentiate between these cases?
I don't even see how the police department query would matter. It doesn't prove anything with regards to intent or knowledge.
If you can't track it, what's the point for requiring checks on transfers?
A simple layer of security, that's all. It won't deter legal purchasers; it might deter criminals and would-be criminals. And checks would only be required for FFL sales, after all.
Why and how? Saying "security" is great, but I want actual examples of what it secures against. What is no longer possible thanks to this security?
So? "decrease legal sales" is not "decreased sales".
If a criminal is going to acquire ammunition, do you want that criminal to acquire ammunition through legal venues or illegal venues?
I really couldn't care less. If he has ammo, he has ammo. Given that criminal use of ammo is negligible in quantity, it'll never matter.
Regarding ammo - no, that wouldn't impinge my range day. It also wouldn't impinge Crazy McSpreeshooter's "range" day, either. And it wouldn't stop Sane McCriminalshooter's ability to get ammo through theft or straw purchases, and with ammo, you've got hundreds or thousands of discrete units. With firearms, you actually have a vague hope of stopping or noticing straw purchases.
There are two things at issue here. First, Crazy McSpreeshooter will very possibly be nervous or act more suspiciously. Since he very likely wishes to keep his preparations as clandestine as possible, he may believe that purchasing from multiple retailers will "throw off" suspicion, which means there will be more opportunities for someone to notice. The additional step is not significant for you, but it may be significant for him. For Sane McCriminalshooter, it means he will have to go to the much greater additional step of seeking out a straw buyer, which is definitely an added impediment.
Crazy McSpreeShooter acts freaking crazy right now. It is quite common for them to be outright denied sales or have cops called because they were acting weird. Looking back on recent shootings, they all seemed pretty damned far outside normality. The problem isn't that we need laws to make them nervous. The problem is that nobody is acting on the warning signs.
No spree shooter needs to purchase from multiple retailers. Purchasing from multiple retailers is something normal shooters do all the time. Seriously, lots of people shop at more than one store. Plus, this isn't even based on anything factual, you're merely hoping that laws will randomly induce unrelated irrational acts. What?