Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Whether With the Pen or Gun, It Helps To Hit the Target

Vincent Chravalle's recent Daily Post letter opposing gun control laws and attacking his primary opponent has been followed by a series of opinions on the subject (here and here) and more recently, a scathing one by John Pawlak attacking National Rifle Association members. This elicited a response by Dee Alei, questioning Mr. Pawlak's choice of tactics, insulting his opponents rather than attacking the quality of their ideas or lack thereof.

Rarely does anything rile up residents of Los Alamos to the point of replacing reason with vitriol; that one thing being roundabouts. But even during the most contentious roundabout hearings before the Transportation Board, which I chaired for most of those discussions, I can only think of one instance when a member of the audience loudly engaged in name calling (and to clarify, both of my parents are members of Homo sapiens). Therefore it surprised me when Mr. Pawlak forgot to secure his cannon before opening fire.

The pen is still mightier than the gun or sword, but regardless of the tool, one has to hit the target.  The gun discussion in America stays heated, in part due to the continued carnage caused by the misuse of firearms and the response of outraged citizens to these events. Thus eliciting equally heated responses  from those who never misuse a weapon but feel like they are being targeted for exercising what is by state and federal definition, a Constitutional right.

But regardless of how much we have heated up the discussion, the problems have all remained, as this past weekend's events in and around Santa Barbara, CA remind us.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

County Ordinance 02-223 and Firearms Rights

In a Letter to the Editor in the Daily Post, Mr. Vincent Chiravalle conflates a 2012 County ordinance regulating the discharge of firearms and archery equipment within the county with gun control laws meant to prevent the commission of violent gun crimes but as an unfortunate side effect of these laws, place the burden for compliance on law abiding citizens.

Here is the ordinance in question:

Sec. 28-181. Discharging firearms and other hunting devices.

It is unlawful to fire or discharge a firearm or any muzzleloader of any description within 1,000 yards, or any bow and arrow, crossbow, or other hunting device within 150 yards of any dwelling, house, inhabited building or any area or place where livestock is regularly kept or housed; provided, however, that any person may discharge a firearm or other hunting devices when reasonably necessary to carry out his duty or to exercise a legal right or privilege or when the discharge is within a lawfully operated shooting range.

Nothing herein shall preclude the safe use of bow and arrows or crossbows confined exclusively within private property.

(Ord. No. 74-78, § 10-1-19, 1983; Code 1985, § 9.24.010; Ord. No. 02-223, § 1, 2-28-2012)

I don't see this ordinance as addressing violent crime, in any way restricting my 2nd Amendment rights, or adding an undue burden such as licensing, registration, or background checks. Indeed, such a move by a municipality in New Mexico is explicitly prohibited by Art. II, § 6. the New Mexico State Constitution:
No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.  No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.  Art. II, § 6 (first sentence enacted in 1971, second sentence added 1986).

What I see in 28-181 is a common sense safety regulation that ensures we don't accidentally shoot each other or each other's animals by hunting or target shooting in developed areas where one cannot always vouch for the safety of what is downrange. Such locations include not only residential areas but our heavily used trails on the mesas and in the canyons. I don't think such restrictions are unusual, and are consistent with good firearms practice. Indeed, when I first started handling guns as a kid, the first thing my dad, an NRA Life Member, taught me was "always be sure of your backstop and what is downrange of your target".

I recall there being some discussion in 2012 regarding the final wording of this ordinance, and I am not aware of the original wording. Apparently, there was discussion among stakeholders before the final draft of the ordinance was passed. That's how the system should work.

I thank Mr. Chiravalle for his promise, if elected, to protect my 2nd Amendment rights, but I think as far as this ordinance was concerned, he is shooting at the wrong target. Meanwhile, we have had yet another senseless, mass shooting in the United States, this one, by a demented student, at UC Santa Barbara. While the pro and anti-gun folks continue to talk past each other, no one has implemented a meaningful way to both protect our 2nd Amendment rights and our right to be free from deranged lunatics with a chip on their shoulder and a deadly weapon in their pocket.
The Only Thing Stopping a Homicidal Lunatic With Three Guns???
 NY Times story and photo here.