I see that several Minnesota legislators have succumbed to the urge to “do something” about a perceived gun violence problem in Minnesota, by proposing a bill that not only does nothing to address any such problem, but instead introduces a number of onerous requirements that will apply only to the law-abiding citizens of Minnesota (“Senators push for change on guns,” March 13).
The proposed legislation suffers a number of problems. First, the so-called “universal background check” included in this legislation is not, and cannot be, universal. As with all laws, only the law-abiding will choose to subject themselves to it.
As is currently the case, nothing will be done to affect the casual exchange of firearms by people who simply can’t be bothered to submit to background checks, or who know they cannot pass them.
Then, without comprehensive firearm regulation, there is absolutely no way to determine how or when a firearm was obtained, legally or illegally, before or after the universal background check was required.
As events in California, New York and elsewhere have shown, firearm regulation does often lead to firearm confiscation. And again, registration will only apply to the law-abiding citizens who choose to submit to it.
Next, conducting any background check for the transfer of a firearm requires both the buyer and the seller to present themselves together to the holder of a federal firearms license. Since the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives requires all license holders to be “in the business” of dealing in firearms, and requires them to have a business in a location that conforms to all local laws and ordinances controlling the location of firearm dealers, license holders will be found almost exclusively in gun shops.
There are currently no gun shops in either Minneapolis or St. Paul, so this requirement would force all city residents who wished to conduct a transfer to travel outside the cities to do so. Further, gunshop owners are not operating charities and have no particular incentive to provide a time-consuming service to people who are not customers. If license holders did choose to offer this service to all who come through their doors, they would be well within their rights to charge a fee, which the transferees would be required to pay.
This proposed legislation is unenforceable, solves no problems and subjects only the law abiding to its rules.
It also is important to remember that all laws — whether they prohibit driving a car with a burned-out tail light, selling single cigarettes on the street in New York, or selling your old rifle to a co-worker — must ultimately be enforced by cops with guns.
Think long and hard about just how many people should die at the hands of law enforcement in order to implement this pointless legislation.
Robert Hyman lives in St. Paul.