Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm just saying....

There has been an increased interest in the media reporting stories about folks such as this guy who are "law abiding" permit holders endangering the public. I wonder if it's because we are finally seeing more people with permits in general so then we are also seeing more permit holders performing illegal acts with their guns? This one is pretty close to home for me. People like Joseph Wasche should have their permits revoked, at the least. As I have said before, Minnesota law clearly states that a permit holder cannot have alcohol in the blood stream above the permitted level while carrying a gun. But it's too late once the person with a loaded gun has already had enough to drink to be over the state allowed limit and then starts shooting. Wasche was lucky that those "random" shots at cans didn't actually result in an injury or worse.Who goes shooting at cans in the dark? And what kind of system is it when a man who has already been charged with reckless use of a firearm is allowed to retain his permit to carry a loaded gun around?

Let's enforce the laws already on the books everyone. This man should absolutely not have a permit to carry. The first thing he said, when asked to make a statement to the court was that he wanted his firearm back!! Good idea. At the least, his permit should be revoked. I understand that guns cannot necessarily be taken from people because it violates rights. But I ask everyone to consider whether this citizen is one who shows enough responsibility to be around loaded guns. If I were a friend or family member, I would be very concerned about that. With rights come responsibilities. In the name of common sense, there are some people who should not have guns. If the gun rights folks want to make a case for more guns in more places carried by more people, they will have to deal with the inconvenient fact that law abiding gun owners do not always obey the law.


  1. Hmm. I checked his sentence and it seems fair, a $500 fine and $80 in court fees; and one year of supervised probation, plus a suspended sentence of 90 days in jail. I think that if I was the Sheriff, I'd revoke his permit for the duration of his probation and have a chat with him and his probation officer and make a decision at the end of that year.

    I'm less concerned with the .04 BAC level than you seem to be. .04 is the legal limit for flying, and half the legal limit for driving a car. I can see your position, I just don't agree with it. In any case, he was violating the law as it had been decided upon and he should have known better. I personally will not handle a firearm after drinking. I won't drive either.

    My bigger concern is his failure to follow Rule 4 of firearms safety. "Be sure of your target and everything beyond it." His shooting toward the road placed another person in danger and should be punished. Let us hope that this teaches him a lesson. I hope for his sake that the Sheriff is convinced of his sincere repentence, but I would understand if the Sheriff decides not to give him a new license to carry concealed.

  2. "People like Joseph Wasche should have their permits revoked, at the least."

    No argument. IIRC, the law provides for a one-year suspension, if carrying with a BAC above .04, and a revocation for a BAC above .10. And that's without the reckless discharge, which could trigger an automatic revocation, and even if it didn't would justify to any court a Sheriff's discretionary revocation,

    There are, of course, occasional permit holders who should not be carrying. But from a statistical sense, they aren't a significant part of the problem.

    For every permit holder who gets drunk and fires off rounds in a reckless manner, there are hundreds who are carrying illegally who do the same. If we could ensure that every permit holder was always responsible, the risks you face would not significantly change.

    Look at the number of revocations, since the law was passed: 2003: 2, 2005: 1, 2006: 3, 2007: 0, 2008: 4, 2009: 1, or a total of 11 over seven years.

    Meanwhile, as of November 30, 2010, there are 78,562 people with valid Minnesota carry permits.

    I agree with you about this guy, but you're trying to draw implications about the average permit holder that simply don't stand up to the facts. There is _no_ subset of society that is more law-abiding, or less of a threat to you and yours. You're far more likely to be shot by a cop than by a permit holder.

  3. As I said, I'm just pointing out that when more people have permits to carry in public places, we may see more incidents like this. But I agree that this guy could have shot off those bullets whether or not he had a permit to carry. He was engaged in illegal activity no matter what. My point is always that guns are dangerous and need to be treated as such. Too many people are careless enough that innocent folks are injured or sometimes killed. The NRA and others would do well to recognize that. I appreciate the fact that most of you guys on this blog do.

  4. I don't disagree that he should be be punished and I doubt you will find any pro-gun person say that he shouldn't be. How do you feel about police officers who frequently go to the bar, armed, after shift while off duty to have a few beers. Why is it not illegal for them?

  5. He should lose his permit for a period of time, yes. If he had blown over the legal limit for driving, something harsher would be warranted. Generally speaking, drinking and driving is a lot more dangerous than having a few drinks while carrying a gun, and we let people get away with drinking and driving up to 0.08.

  6. Anon- above- I don't know that a lot of police officers go to a bar armed after work. Is that a fact? And it likely is illegal if they are off duty and armed. They would comply with the same laws as everyone else unless on duty.

  7. The NRA and others would do well to recognize that.

    Hang on, does the NRA endorse allowing people to legally carry firearms while intoxicated? I've never seen a press release on that...

  8. No- I'm saying that the gun rights lobby and many on this blog commenting do not like to admit that permit holders are not always responsible. The line most often used is that they are law abiding citizens who are responsible and that is why we need to let people carry guns around in public- because they are not the ones to worry about.

  9. Some police dept require officers turn in their service weapon, unless they have shown a need to have it off-duty, like Chicago.

    Other police dept require their police officers to carry all the time because they are never "truly" off duty.

    I'm surprised that you aren't aware of these incidents since you like to keep informed about shootings.






    And even when it is against policy, the tendency is to make a big stink about it and then sweep it under the rug because of that blue wall. That is why the pro-gun society tends to call these people "Only Ones". They are the only one's to have enough training to drink and drive, drink and shoot, or do all the other things that I would be arrested and serve 10 years for.

  10. Joan,

    I have not heard anyone arguing that 100% of CCW permit holders are perfectly responsible. What I have heard -- and believe -- is that permit holders tend to be, in aggregate, extremely law abiding model citizens. The chances of a CCW permit holder committing a violent crime are a small fraction of the odds that an average citizen will be involved. You actually agreed with me on this point not so long ago.

    We could find all sorts of examples of one crime committed by a member of a larger group:
    - LEO murders his wife (Melanie Hain); does this mean that LEO's are generally murderers or should not be trusted with guns?
    - A mayor enjoys kiddie porn (Gary Becker); does this mean that all mayors are child molesters? Does it just mean that all members of the "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" are child molesters?
    - An 18 year old (Dylon McGregor) drives under the influence with fatal results. Does this mean that all teenagers are incapable of safely driving automobiles?

    I think we could all agree that the answer to the above questions I posed is "no." Crime rates are the important thing, in my opinion.


    Your argument is known as a "straw man" argument, a classical logical fallacy. In a straw man argument, you set up an easy-to-knock-down thesis, in this case, "100% of CCW permit holders are saints." Sure, that thesis is trivially easy to knock down. No argument there!

    However, the real hypothesis that most on my side of the issue support is, "CCW permit holders are significantly more law abiding than the average citizen." That is much more difficult to knock down, especially if you limit yourself to using empirical evidence (i.e. look at what has actually happened) rather than relying on hypotheticals or pathos.


    If you want to argue that even the extremely low rate of crimes committed by CCW permit holders is a violation of the public trust and abuse of the privilege by the larger group which justifies revoking the privilege for all, well, ok, make that argument. Is that the argument that you and Josh Sugarman are trying to make? If so I'd be careful because logically that thought process leads one in a dangerous direction.

    Chris from AK

  11. I am not trying to make the latter argument. But I have had arguments with people who claim that we shouldn't worry about those law abiding permit holders since they aren't the ones shooting people or causing incidents to happen? My purpose here is to say that they do actually shoot people either accidentally or on purpose and that we are having more reports about such. I am not saying they are or should be 100% "saints". No one is that, even though I like to think of myself as such!! Just kidding. Really- don't anyone take that out of context. But I am also saying that if we continue to see an uptick of permit holders engaged in illegal activity, it would be encumbent upon the NRA to admit such and not try to hide behind the "law abiding" phrase because it won't make sense to the public. The other annoying thing for those of us on my side of the issue is that the gun lobby has successfully managed to keep that information out of the public eye. That doesn't look good either. The public deserves to know if permit holders are actually committing crimes. We can all compromise here and there.

  12. Thanks for providing the links, Anon. I had not seen these. If I had, I would have blogged about them in the same way I blog about other people who are drinking while carrying. These are isolated incidents, as is the one I wrote about that you objected to. I am not making any blanket statements about ALL permit holders when I put these on my blog. I am merely pointing out that these things do happen and that guns are deadly weapons. I think you were making a general statement that cops go to the bars after their shifts and drink. There may be a few and they should be punished or kicked off of their departments if caught. There is no excuse for anyone to carry or weild a gun while drunk. But we are both talking about isolated incidents that deserve to be public and called to the attention of people. I don't get every article about shootings. But just so you know, my sources do include articles about police officers shooting people in error or even in their own domestic abuse cases, etc. These just weren't called to my attention.

  13. Joan, you wrote:

    But I am also saying that if we continue to see an uptick of permit holders engaged in illegal activity, it would be encumbent upon the NRA to admit such and not try to hide behind the "law abiding" phrase because it won't make sense to the public. The other annoying thing for those of us on my side of the issue is that the gun lobby has successfully managed to keep that information out of the public eye. That doesn't look good either. The public deserves to know if permit holders are actually committing crimes. We can all compromise here and there.

    - Is there any evidence that there is a statistically significant uptick in violent crime by CCW permit holders as you claim? Even if there is such an increase, is the overall crime rate among permit holders anywhere near approaching the crime rate of the average populace? I haven't seen any such evidence presented in any credible source.

    - Please explain to me how the "gun lobby" is hiding information about crimes committed by CCW permit holders as you allege. Your own state compiles exhaustive records about CCW permit holders at significant public expense, including each and every individual who commits a crime or has a permit revoked. That information is publicly available on the state's websites. In Alaska, you can easily search the AK State Trooper's police blotter (available online) to locate any violent gun crime.

    The media has shown itself perfectly willing to report on these incidents when they occur; violent crime is sensational and sells papers. Heck, media reports are the primary source for Josh Sugarman's anecdotes. I doubt that there is an NRA-fueled conspiracy to suppress media reports about these rare events.


    My purpose here is to say that they do actually shoot people either accidentally or on purpose and that we are having more reports about such.

    Thanks for clarifying. I was confused and thought that this was a piece of evidence meant to support some sort of argument.

    As a side note, I don't think that this evidence supports the latter half of your claim; one story doesn't show that the number of crimes committed per capita by CCW permit holders has been increasing. You'd have to do some division to demonstrate that.

  14. Police officers who drink while armed are not an isolated incident. What is isolated is that something happens that makes the news. It is funny that you claim that the NRA doesn't allow issues to appear to the public when they do not control the media or make the police reports. Yet, the police can and do cover up incidents that could end the career of the police officer or his supervisors. One only has to look at the New Orleans shooting cover up during Katrina to understand that. I picked the first few stories I found on google for my examples.

    Back to the focus of your article, not meaning to "sidebar", citizen made a mistake, nobody was injured. He should be revoked for the time mandated by law and do any time/fine so sentenced.

    However, I do want to point out that it would seem that he is being held to a higher standard for having a gun, than someone who is able to take a 3500 lb vehicle out on the road to kill a family of five. I can find story, after story, after story, where people are being let go for DUI or serve minimal time... keeping their driver's license, etc. In two that come to mind, a lady killed someone and was let go on a $1000 bond (I don't think she was sentenced for much in the end, but I can't find the follow-up) and a man just went to prison for 25 years after he got his ninth DUI.

    People are dangerous and when they break the law in a fashion that brings harm to others, they should be dealt with. When they do something that didn't harm another, they should be dealt with, but in a more minor way.

    And Chris is right. Are we seeing an uptick in crime by the general population? And as you say, the more you increase the sample size, we are going to see an uptick because of more numbers. My question is, is the rate still the same?

    100 people with a license, with 10 people breaking the law is no different than 1000 people with license with 100 breaking the law. You just have more of a spotlight. If more and more people are getting licensed like you say (and you are right), you don't have to suspend disbelief to see that more people are going to be breaking the law. The typical statement still stands though.. As a group, we have a more law-abiding populous, because in many states, you can't get a license unless you are an upstanding citizen.

  15. Either I am seeing more stories or the media is more interested in reporting them or something is happening. Some groups are keeping track of the CCW permit holders committing crime. Maybe that is part of it. Since, of course, we didn't have that many states with laws allowing people to carry until recently ( in the 2000s) we didn't have incidents. Now that we have more people carrying in public, we have incidents. I think that is a natural consequence, actually, of more people having guns ends up meaning more incidents of injury, death or accidental shootings. Yes, it is true that permit holders account for a small percentage of those who do commit a crime but remember, for me, one is one too many. I am doing my best to call attention to the issues so that people will get activated to do something to change their own behavior or get involved themselves. Yes, in quite a few states, the information about permit holders commiting crime is not that easy to come by and the gun lobby has successfully put into state laws that the information can not be accessed. Law enforcement is actually revealing that information to the media in some cases. From the Violence Policy Center: " n 1996 at a Dallas, Texas, press conference, Tanya Metaksa, then the executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, promised, "As we get more information about right-to-carry, our point is made again and again...People who get permits in states which have fair right-to-carry laws are law-abiding, upstanding community leaders who merely seek to exercise their right to self-defense." "and " In addition, the gun lobby has been successful at hiding the truth about crimes committed by concealed handgun permit holders by forcing most states to keep secret the identities of permit holders. As a result, until recently, the false claims made by pro-gun advocates regarding these "upstanding community leaders" have been left unchallenged." and " Because detailed information on such killings is not readily available, the VPC is forced to rely primarily on news accounts for reports of killings by concealed handgun permit holders and subsequent legal proceedings." I know this if from the VPC which you probably don't trust. Anyway, I think this will have more discussion.

  16. What happens in actuality, is the NRA, and those of us who carry concealed, don't wish to be forcibly outted as a name on a long list by an unscrupulous newspaper (like has happened in the past). It's primarily a privacy thing; hospitals are legally bound to not release the names of all people infected with HIV, even though that presents a much more statistically significant threat than my concealed pistol. It also sets up CCW permit holders to be victims of robbery, since a criminal would just have to file a FOIA request to see which houses have guns (same with proposed firearm licensing and registration schemes). Besides, to my knowledge, there's nothing stopping anyone from reporting on someone's CCW status in a news article about that individual being accused of a crime; I know I have seen articles referencing someone being a concealed carry permit holder.

    I still don't understand your angst over concealed carry. How is there any difference between a gun crime committed by a permit holder and someone (a criminal) without a permit? The murder/assault/robbery etc is just as illegal either way, and the presence of the permit didn't make it any easier or harder for that person to carry the gun. No one has ever noticed my concealed firearm, so how would they ever know if I had a permit for it (I do). Moreover, what heinous moral crime would I commit were I to carry my gun into Illinois, which don't allow concealed carry? What if I just got lost near the state boundary and accidentally drive across with a gun in my pocket? I'm already vetted as a law-abiding individual, so how do I become a criminal just by crossing some imaginary line on a map? I don't become un-married from my wife, or an unlicensed driver, simply by crossing a state boundary, so in the framework of the "full faith and credit" clause, how is this any different? Please explain to me how a patchwork of varying CCW laws across the nation makes common sense, unless your (and Brady Campaign's) goal is to make criminals out of otherwise law-abiding individuals.

  17. It's not angst and no, there is no intent to make criminals out of anyone. We are just concerned that there are CCW permit holders who are committing crimes and hoping to prevent that. Perhaps the community of gun rights folks would like to work with us on ways we can reduce crimes and shootings by CCW permit holders? I understand the privacy issue. I also understand that I have a right to be safe in public. You have chosen to carry your gun to be safe. If some permit holders are not going to be safe, then we have a problem.

  18. Two points. First, guard yourself against the natural tendency to see what you are looking for instead of what is actually there. Have you noticed that when you buy a new car, suddenly everyone seems to be driving that same car? Same problem here. People are looking for and reporting criminal incidents involving CCW holders. You are hearing more about it because people are talking about it, not because there are actually more.

    Second, we have lobbied to make CCW holder's names confidential to prevent harassment and retribution on the part of some anti-gun people. It is entirely possible for CCW holders to be employed by virulently anti-gun employers. Since basically all employment in the country is "at-will," they can be fired by people who object to them having a CCW. I'm not talking about actually carrying a gun on to their employer's property, I'm talking about just because they have the license. There are also women who have CCW licenses because of abusive former partners, and they do not want their names and addresses released publicly. You are probably aware of a few ladies who would like to prevent their former partners from finding them. I think that if you look, you will find that most states will give you statistics on how many CCW licenses have been issued and how many revoked. You may wish to ask your Sheriff if he would like to describe the circumstances in which he has revoked licenses in your County. I think you will find that the revocations typically are for less serious criminal acts. It may ease your mind to know how rarely your Sheriff sees serious criminal activity from license holders. Your direct asking of the Sheriff is likely to result in better information than the VPC "study" that is mostly an internet search. I am sure that you know that newspapers and TV news frequently get the initial facts of the case wrong.

  19. "Perhaps the community of gun rights folks would like to work with us on ways we can reduce crimes and shootings by CCW permit holders?"

    The decision to engage in criminal activity is generally a private decision. Should a person advise me that he was intent on committing a crime, I will certainly inform the police. Aside from that, what else could I, or any other license holder, do to reduce crime of any sort?

  20. Thanks, Sean. Points well taken.

  21. not sure, exactly. Maybe we can find some ways.

  22. Well, if you think of any, please let me know. I'm such a goody-two-shoes that no one ever tells me what crimes they are going to commit. In fact, I'm pretty sure that criminals wouldn't even associate with me, lest it wreck their reputations. It'd be nice to think I was helping reduce crime in some other way than simply being a hard target.

    I think that in many ways, you are trying to look for a structural solution to an individual problem. Since we have a lot of trouble identifying particular people most prone to committing crime, we as a society try to build strong institutions and structures that channel people out of criminal activity. We try to make it tough on criminals in hopes that they will just find it easier to be honest. I think that we tend to ignore the fact that some people are just evil. How else to explain people like the BTK killer?

    I think that the best thing we could do to reduce crime rates in general is to end the drug war. The problem is that it probably wouldn't reduce the deaths, it would just shift them from deaths due to drug trafficker shootings to deaths from overdoses and car crashes. It's one of those difficult moral decisions where you have to choose who dies. Someone's going to die, but whom? As decent human beings, we don't want anyone to die, and we'll keep doing unproductive things in the vain hope that we will find just the right solution so no one dies. Our only alternative is to try not to care, and how exactly do you do that?

  23. There are many, many more crimes being committed with firearms by those without licenses. As I stated in my previous comment, one can carry a gun just as easily without a permit as with one. Therefore, the only possible way to prevent (the admittedly miniscule number of) crimes by CCW holders would be to eliminate CCWs entirely, which wouldn't eliminate the crime, merely superficially change the circumstances surrounding it (ie, no CCW license). That's what I hear when you say that you are working to prevent crimes. If that's not your intent, could you provide a concrete example something that you think would address the issue without making licenses more difficult to obtain, more expensive, more restricted, etc.

    Also, could you comment on the second paragraph of my remark at @6:36 if you get the time (maybe it could be the topic of a post sometime)? I'm not looking for a "gotcha;" I just honestly don't understand why your organization opposes CCW licensing being made similar to any other licensing (like drivers and marriage). I suspect that at least on the surface it has something to do with your side's idea of them being especially deadly, and therefore requiring stringent training which not all states require. However, I say "on the surface," because if you take the negative stigma of the gun out of it, a 3500 lb vehicle traveling at 60 mph and being guided by a 16 y.o., is a pretty darn deadly weapon (and one much more complex than a gun), and states have wildly varying standards of proficiency before handing licenses to said 16 year olds (I didn't even have to take an actual road test). You can't even get a CCW until you're 21!

  24. Joan,

    Thanks for sharing Josh Sugarman's statement on the issue. He basically just echoes your general claim that there is some sort of cast coverup going on. I'd be interested for more specifics.

    Which states are suppressing information? Exactly what information is being suppressed that you think the public has a right to know?

    As Sean points out, almost every state with CCW permits keeps track of how many are revoked and for what reasons. If that information is not published in a comprehensive annual report like your own state does, you can call local law enforcement officials and find out. It isn't a secret.

    I feel very confident that if you look at the data available from states and law enforcement agencies, you'll find that they verify that CCW permit holders are very law abiding. Here's some statistics that show annual crime rates per 100,000 members of the group per year; in parenthesis I've indicated what the rate is for:

    Mayors Against Illegal Guns (Felonies and violent misdemeanors): ~750
    Average US Citizen (Violent Crime), 2009: ~500
    Average US Suburb Dweller (Violent Crime), 2009: 271.4
    Average US Military Neighborhoods (Violent Crime): ~150 (note: These are some of the safest neighborhoods in the country)
    North Carolina CCW Carriers 1995-2004 (revocation for any reason): 133 (NB -- This is the highest CCW revocation rate I could easily find for any state...)
    Florida CCW Carriers 1987-2007 (Revocation for any reason): 15
    Michigan CCW Carriers 2008-2009 (Revocation for any reason): Significantly less than 5.3 (I didn't have info on the total number of permits issued by Michigan, so I just divided by the number of permits issued in 08-09 which should be just a small fraction of the total number out there)
    Minnesota CCW Carrier for 2008 (Revocation for any Reason): Significantly less than 0.2 (again, I only divided by the number of permits issued in '08, whereas revocations were for all permits outstanding permits)

    Note that revocations for any reason is just that; it includes everything from serious violent crime down to minor offenses including things like parking tickets in some jurisdictions. If you actually dig into the reports you can see that the vast majority of the revocations are for traffic violations, DUIs, and non-violent crime. This isn't an academic study or anything, but it does show that your fears are orders of magnitude off from the reality that the data shows us. This data is available for around 80% of the states covering 1-2 decades in most cases.

    The media stories you hear about CCW permit holders committing crimes are sensational but they do not reflect the statistical reality of what is going on. If you look for red cars, you'll find a surprising number driving around, but that doesn't mean red cars are the norm.

    I challenge you to find a single state where the violent crime rate among CCW permit holders is even one quarter that of the average US citizen. I think in most cases it will be 1/10 or so. Nobody argues that the crime rate among CCW permit holders is zero. We just argue that it is significantly lower than most other groups.

    Chris from AK

  25. " I suspect that at least on the surface it has something to do with your side's idea of them being especially deadly, and therefore requiring stringent training which not all states require." That's pretty much it on the surface and below the surface.

  26. japete, I think you're right these stories are on the increase. I disagree with Chris that CCW permit holders are so much more law-abiding than everyone else. He says that, that doesn't make it so. I disagree with Sebastian that drinking and driving is much worse than drinking while armed. That nonsense is too self-serving.

    As far as the appropriate response to this kind of gun misuse, I say one strike you're out. Any gun misconduct should result in life-long disqualification. That's a strong approach but think about the results. The remaining body of gun owners after, say 5 years, would be of a much higher quality. The incidents which seem to be increasing now would diminish noticeably.

  27. My take on concealed carry (or open carry for that matter) is that it's basically a non-issue from a statistical standpoint. Though some permit holders act badly, even dangerously with their weapons, others use them for legitimate self-defense.

    We should bear in mind that the vast majority of defensive gun use events never lead to shots acually being fired. And many of those such events, probably most, go unreported as a result. (This was the case with an incident involving my parents.)

    So it's hard to gauge the true public safety impact of concealed or open carry; i.e., whether it's a net benefit or net liability. In any event, that net is probably statistically insignificant.

    Brent G.

  28. MikeB Wrote:
    I disagree with Chris that CCW permit holders are so much more law-abiding than everyone else.

    There are only a few explanations here:
    - The states for which data are readily available on the internet are not representative of other states, and the states for which data are not available have crime rates among permit holders that are different by several orders of magnitude. However, one might think that states that fear high levels of criminal activity among permit holders would be most likely to demand access to this sort of data, so I find that somewhat implausible.
    - The FBI is misleading the public by publishing erroneous data in their annual reporting on violent crime.
    - The states -- generally their law enforcement agencies -- are producing reports with inaccurate data or they are misleading the public.
    - We lack insufficient data to make any conclusions. I find this hard to believe as we have two decades of data from Florida, one decade of data from many other states, and at least 5 years from around 80% of the states. The trends are strong and consistent.
    - I am unable to do math or made a calculation error. You can easily check my numbers, though.

    MikeB wrote: I say one strike you're out.

    We already have this system. It is called the Gun Control Act of 1968. You commit one felony and you're out. You can't even lawfully touch a gun, much less carry one.

    The problems with doing "one strike and you're out" for misdemeanors as you hint at are many. For example, in many jurisdictions you don't get free counsel or a jury trial for a misdemeanor offense.

    I believe that due process is part of a functioning legal system. If you are going to impose lifetime penalties on someone then you need to go through the steps required by due process under the law, otherwise you have a kangaroo court fit for a banana republic. Would you also advocate stripping people of voting rights without giving them access to a lawyer and a trial before their peers?

  29. Sorry Chris, my "one strike" does not have to be a felony. Any misuse of a firearm including accidents.

    Let's get rid of those guys from the pool of legitimate gun owners and can you imagine how much cleaner it would be?

  30. MikeB,

    Once you fix the glaring due process issues with your proposal I might be on board.

    - GIDEON v. WAINRIGHT: You only get free counsel (i.e. a defense attorney) in felony cases.
    - ARGERSINGER v. HAMLIN & SCOTT v. ILLINOIS: You can also get free counsel if there is a chance of imprisonment.

    - DC v. Clawans, Baldwin v. New York: You only get a jury trial if the penalty could include imprisonment of >6 months.

    Pass legislation -- or better yet, a Constitutional amendment -- or overturn a century of common law to strengthen the due process protections in the sixth amendment and we can talk.

    Your system would theoretically allow jurisdictions to create a prohibited person for life because someone had a rifle in the trunk of their car while committing a minor traffic infraction (a gun-related misdemeanor...), with no due process right to a jury trial or to legal counsel. Many misdemeanors (especially at the federal level) are highly technical in nature and require no mens rea or even actus rea. This sort of ominous precedent could be used to target other liberties as well as to specifically target certain minority groups.

    Due process is a cornerstone of English common law, American constitutional protections, and a fair justice system. If you're going to impose significant, lifetime penalties, then there must be due process from a legal, constitutional, and in my opinion, ethical perspective.