The gun debate continues, as it has for many years. As a gun owner, a liberal, a secular humanist, and a skeptic I find myself stuck in the middle of this topic. I might also be a magical unicorn, due to how nonsensical it seems to some people that I'm a liberal and a gun advocate. :-P
Clearly something needs to change. But the changes I advocate for are changes neither side of the debate from a policy standpoint seem eager to entertain. Rather, both side politically seem to simply use the topic as a means to create more divisiveness.
Sound far-fetched? Hear me out.
One of the really confusing aspects of gun legislation is how rarely our federal government has had the political will to actually legislate any of it. This is why we have our current quite problematic situation whereby individual states and cities have created a miasma of confusing laws. In Kentucky you can keep a gun in your vehicle at work under most circumstances, but in Pennsylvania you can be fired for it, with no legal recourse. Of course since Pennsylvania is an At Will employment state you can be fired with no recourse for wearing the wrong color shirt. There are plenty of areas the federal government has bowed out of having a say, but as gun rights are in the Bill Of Rights, it is an area legislatively the federal government must OWN.
I could give many many more examples of how the mess of local legislation creates issues for both pro-gun and anti-gun sentiment, but by and large the REAL issue is a lack of political will at the Federal level to address the topic. Not only in a common sense manner, but at all.
There are TONS of laws already on the books however, whether you're talking about the NFA in 1934, the GCA in 1968, or additional legislation tacked on in 86 and 89 that are still quite legitimate.
The problem is that only the bare necessities are actually enforced, and only so because of bipartisan effort. Sounds crazy even using the word bipartisan today eh?
So what do I mean. Well it's a rarely discussed aspect of this that should be.
The BATF. The BATF (and it's funding or lack thereof) is really at the heart of this issue. And NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THIS!!
An NFA Tax stamp from the BATF today still costs what it did in 1934. $200. In 1934 $200 was more like $4000 and served as a deterrent to the manufacturing of certain types of firearms. Now it's just a relatively small fee. The BATF has no legal say so over the fee, but they do have to approve the stamp applications.
Hard core gun rights activists and lobbyists have kept raising the stamp fee off the legislative radar for many decades. But the FUNDING of the agency itself isn't so cut and dry in the lobbying process.
Want to know why filing for an NFA stamp approval takes anywhere from six months to over a year (assuming a filling gets approved in the first place)??
The BATF is understaffed and underfunded. Big win for the anti gun crowd.
We have almost 70,000 brick and mortar gun stores in America (more than their are grocery stores). Counting in FFL license holders and the number jumps to more than 160,000. The BATF is mandated under law to audit these businesses and license holders for best practices and adherence to the law. But by the BATF's own admission, rather than annually they on average get around to this every 17-18 years. Why?
The BATF is understaffed and underfunded.
Big win for the pro gun crowd.
BOTH political parties have determined since the Reagan era that it is equally within their self interest to have a castrated BATF. For their own selfish political reasons. It's the one thing they agree on.
Wrap your mind around these facts and ask yourself. Will banning a particular gun or arming teachers fix this deeper problem? Or are you being sold a pile of shit playing on your fears for your vote???