Oops!Docs Can Talk To Patients About Guns But Patients Can Keep Their Guns.

Six years ago the State of Florida decided that doctors could not talk to their patients about guns. The state of Florida has become the legislative sandbox for every attempt by Gun-nut Nation to rid the country of any and all protections against the violence caused by guns. Stand Your Ground, Concealed Carry – both of these harebrained schemes came out of the Gunshine State. But the law known as FOPA (Firearm Owners Protection Act) was the craziest of them all.

doc-glocks             What made the law so crazy wasn’t the fact that it criminalized doctors who talked to their patients about guns; it was that in a state of 18 million people, the law was based on six unsubstantiated anecdotes which, as the 11th Circuit Court noted, didn’t even address the same concerns.  Which was one, but not the only reason why the 11th Circuit Court ruled 10 – 1 that the law was unconstitutional and couldn’t stand.

Throwing doctors out of the discussion about gun violence has been a major and ongoing NRA project since the medical profession first started warning about the risks of guns. Which is exactly how the Hippocratic Oath defines the role of physicians, namely, to reduce risk.  But I can’t blame the gun industry and its noisemakers like the NRA from taking an anti-doctor stand; after all, if you manufactured a consumer product which was considered by physicians to be too risky to own, you’d be up in arms (no pun intended) against those physicians too.

But what the Court said in this regard effectively stood the NRA’s argument on its head, because 10 out of 11 justices found that “there was no evidence whatsoever before the Florida Legislature that any doctors or medical professionals have taken away patients’ firearms or otherwise infringed on patients’ Second Amendment rights.”   And this is what the argument is all about, namely, whether any attempt to regulate gun violence or even talk about gun violence is somehow always construed as an ‘attack’ on 2nd Amendment ‘rights.’

Right now a bill is being debated in the State of Washington Legislature which would make a failure to secure guns in the home a reckless endangerment felony if an individual who, under law, cannot have possession of a firearm gets his hands on the gun and discharges it or uses it in a criminal or threatening way.  The NRA is opposed to this bill, calling it “an intrusive government legislation [which] invades people’s homes and forces them to render their firearms useless in a self-defense situation by locking them up.”

The bill does no such thing. Nor does a doctor talking to a patient about guns threaten the patient’s ownership of that gun. But if we now have a President who stands up in front of the entire nation and after he’s corrected about the size of his electoral victory repeats the same falsehood again, should we be surprised when the representatives of Gun-nut Nation continue to promote their own false claims again and again?

No doubt that when the dust settles and the smoke clears, Gun-nut Nation will come up with their own, self-fulfilling narrative about the ‘Docs versus Glocks’ case.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if the first thing they say is that the 11th Circuit is tainted because 9 of the 10 judges who supported the majority decision were appointed by gun-grabber numero uno, Barack Hussein.  But that’s nothing more than another riff on Trump-o’s attack on the ‘politicized’ judiciary, which seems to be the latest in a dwindling list of options available to the Chief Executive before he’s forced to resign.

The decision by the 11th Circuit not only puts an end to a six-year battle that erupted when the FOPA law was first announced.  It also puts a big dent in the thirty-year campaign waged by the NRA and others to keep evidence-based information about gun risk and gun violence on the margins of the public domain. This just isn’t a victory for doctors and patients, it’s a victory for the value of reasoned, public debate.

 

 

 

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Can Hillary Close The Gun Show Loophole? I’m Not So Sure.

One of the planks in Hillary’s new gun control program calls for “closing the gun show loophole,” an issue that has been floating around for years since Dianne Feinstein who has sponsored legislation to regulate gun shows after she entered the Senate in 1992. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around on gun shows, particularly among people who don’t go to gun shows, and this is a good time to clear some misconceptions up.  In particular, the question of whether there’s any real gun-show loophole at all.

hillary2               When most people speak about gun show loopholes what they mean is that anyone can walk into a gun show and get their hands on a gun, legal requirements met or not.  Although many FFL-licensed dealers display and sell their inventory at shows, very few states impose licensing requirements on gun show vendors, as long as individuals who rent tables and sell at shows meet existing local laws on private transfers of guns. And since most states impose very few regulations on private gun transfers, buying a gun without a background check at a gun show is no different from walking across the street and buying a gun from a neighbor or a friend.

What Hillary evidently wants to do is use some kind of executive authority to force all gun show vendors to be licensed dealers which would mean that every gun sold at a gun show would by a show vendor, would have to undergo a background check.  I can’t tell you how many guns I have bought at shows just because I bumped into someone as I was walking around who was carrying a gun that I liked and a word here, a word there, some bills out of my pocket and I own the gun.  And don’t think these kinds of transactions don’t happen in the parking lot outside the show either, because they happen all the time.

If Hillary really believes that she can end private sales at gun shows or anywhere else by using her executive power to define the word ‘dealer,’ one of her staff people should take a look at the Firearms Owners Protection Act that was passed in 1986. This law was passed to define or change sections of the GCA68 law which, because it represented the first time that the feds got into regulating gun commerce in a major way, contained passages and whole sections which nobody could really figure out.  And one of the big issues that was revised was the definition of ‘dealers,’ since the ATF after 1968 had taken the position that anyone selling a gun to anyone else was engaged in gun commerce and therefore came under their control.  Talk about a bureaucracy trying to extend its reach!

What FOPA did was to define a gun dealer as someone “whose time, attention and labor is occupied by dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of an inventory of firearms.”  It also specifically excluded persons who made “occasional” sales or sold guns from “personal collections.”  From my own experience based on wandering through hundreds of gun shows over the last forty years, I can honestly confirm that the FOPA definition fits probably 75% of all the guns I have seen for sale at all those shows. Most of the big-time vendors at gun shows aren’t selling firearms at all.  They go from show to show, maybe do 40 shows a year, and they’re hawking t-shirts, memorabilia, all kinds of junk and crap but they’re not selling guns.

I’m thrilled that Hillary has injected the words ‘gun violence’ into the Presidential campaign.  I hope she ramps up the message because, if nothing else, I’d like to see the ‘stuff happens’ nonsense shoved up where it belongs. But if anyone wants to really get rid of gun violence I’ll continue to say it again and again: It’s the guns, stupid.  It’s the guns.