I wasn't among the estimated 2 million or so people who found a gun under the tree this Christmas, not because I didn't want one or because my wife doesn't love me, but because of stupid gun laws and an aversion to spending extra money to satisfy those stupid gun laws.
I'm frugal by nature, and that inclination has gotten more pronounced with the current economy and future uncertainties. But this Christmas my friends at J&G Sales made me an offer I didn't think I could refuse. They lowered the price on their P64 pistols to just $149.95! The P64 is a Polish knock-off of the famed Walther PPK carried by James Bond, but with a little more power. I just had to have one, and my wife agreed, so it was settled.
That's when the stupid gun laws kicked in.
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In order to take advantage of the great deal from my friends in Prescott, I had to either drive up there or call and have the gun shipped to a dealer closer to my home in the Phoenix area. Driving up to Prescott takes over 2 hours each way and would burn close to $50 worth of gas. Having the gun shipped down to a local dealer would add a $22 shipping charge plus a $35 transfer fee from my local dealer. Either way, I would have to fill out paperwork and get approved through the NICS "instant" background check system.
My sister, who lives in Prescott, could have gone down to J&G and picked up the gun for me, except that's illegal. If she were buying the gun for me as a gift, that would be OK, but if she were to buy it on my behalf or with the intention of selling it to me, that would be considered a "straw purchase" and she could face 5 years and $50,000 in penalties.
There was simply no way that I was going to be able to buy that gun without incurring $50 to $75 in additional costs. While that's not a whole lot of money, it is more than a third of the price of the gun itself, and it put the total cost over what I was willing to pay. In the end, I set the money aside in hopes that I'll be able to cut a deal the next time I'm up in Prescott, or find some other bargain here locally.
The really frustrating thing about this story is knowing that the laws that kept me from buying this gun don't keep criminals from getting the guns they use.
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There were some 16 million NICS checks conducted in 2011 at a direct cost of more than a billion dollars. That billion dollars comes out of your paycheck, and the value received for it is highly questionable. There has never been a single study indicating that the background check system has reduced violent crime. Still, a NICS check is required every time I buy a gun from a dealer. It doesn't matter how many guns I already own or how many I have recently purchased. Each time I wish to add to my collection, I am placed under suspicion and investigated anew. Couldn't those billions have been used to fund proven, effective crime-fighting programs or to keep serious criminals behind bars longer?
Gun laws – no matter how "common sense" they seem to be – don't work because they simply don't apply to criminals. Criminals get their guns through criminal means – by stealing them or getting them through straw purchasers. They find ways around the laws that are enforced against the rest of us.
Certainly I agree that we should make an effort to keep guns away from criminals and crazy people, but at what cost and to what effect? Does it make sense to bind the hands of everyone in the vain hope of binding the hands of the criminals and crazies? Doesn't it make more sense to literally bind – incarcerate – those who are too dangerous to be trusted with guns? If a person is known to be too dangerous to be trusted with a gun, what's he doing driving down my street, hanging out at the grocery where my wife shops, or sitting in the park where my grandson plays? And why is the government messing up my Christmas, spending my money and often disarming me in the name of protecting me from this guy that shouldn't be on the streets in the first place?
Gun Control: Bah humbug! Happy New Year.