Saturday Night Ethics Update, 3/10/2018: 16-Year-Olds And The NRA

Good evening.

(The combination of an early morning seminar, a $^%%#! D.C. marathon that closed down access to the venue, and a lost power cord rendering my netbook useless conspired to prevent both late posts yesterday and early ones today: I’m sorry. I’m back at my desk, chagrined but unbowed…)

1 Why not 10? Why not 2? Poor, declining, Twitter-addict Lawrence Tribe’s ridiculous claim that the voting age should be lowered to 16 was so self-evidently silly that I assumed no one serious would adopt it.  But, as H. L. Mencken kind of said,  “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public,”  and as I’ll say now, nobody can underestimate the level of irresponsible proposals that anti-gun zealots will float in their desperation to gut the Second Amendment.

Last week, Temple University’s Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology, issued a Times op-ed arguing for Tribe’s new voters, ignoring his own profession’s conclusions that children that young, in addition to not being, you know, adults, also have not mastered stable reasoning ability because their brains are not fully formed. Never mind, says the prof:

“The last time the United States lowered the federal voting age was in 1971, when it went from 21 to 18. In that instance, the main motivating force was outrage over the fact that 18-year-olds could be sent to fight in Vietnam but could not vote. The proposal to lower the voting age to 16 is motivated by today’s outrage that those most vulnerable to school shootings have no say in how such atrocities are best prevented. Let’s give those young people more than just their voices to make a change.”

Wow, what a well-reasoned argument! I can”t wait for the proposal to lower the voting age to minus-eight months out of outrage that those most vulnerable to abortions have no say in how such atrocities are best prevented. Yes, it’s true: the anti-gun Left is willing to follow President Trump with President Kendall Jenner, as long as we let the government and police have all the guns.

Maybe Temple psychologists and lapsed Harvard Law professors should lose the vote, since they apparently can’t reason above the level of 16-year-olds.

2. It’s hard being an absolutist. The National Rifle Association  is suing Florida to challenge its new gun control law, passed in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Even the fact that it was signed by Governor Rick Scott, a member of the organization, the NRA was not deterred: it says the new law  violates the Constitution. It is  probably right.

The law raises the legal age for buying rifles in Florida, but also allows the training and arming of school staff.

What’s in the new law?

  • It raises the minimum age for buying rifles from 18 to 21 in the state, though 18, 19 and 20-year-old police officers and members of the security forces will still be able to buy rifles and shotguns.

Verdict: Very dubious. A blanket restriction on a Constitutional right that all adult citizens have, especially with an exception for retsricted members according to their occupation, is just asking to be overturned. I’m pretty sure Scott and the legislature knows this, and just passed this provision for political cover to “do something.” This is irresponsible and cowardly law-making, and is frankly forcing the NRA to take the heat for a cynical legislature.

  • It bans bump stocks, the devices that raise the firing speed of semi-automatic rifles.

Verdict: Can’t hurt. What it basically means is that future mass killers who make their own bump stocks will face additional charges in addition to multiple counts of murder. Net effect on future deaths: None. Again, it’s a “do something” sop.

  • It requires a three-day waiting period on all gun purchases, not only when people bought handguns, or until a background check is completed, whichever is longer.

Verdict: I wouldn’t be surprised to see this and other waiting periods declared unconstitutional. You’re boyfriend is angry and violent. He has no record, and the police won’t touch him. You have a restraining order, but you fear that he may come to kill you at any time. You want, and feel you need, a gun now.

He shoots you and himself on Day #2 of your waiting period.

  •  It will expand mental health services and regulations, with Florida school districts receiving state funding to provide mental health care to students.

This shouldn’t have had to be associated with guns to pass.

  • Police will be able to temporarily confiscate guns from anyone under involuntary psychiatric evaluation. It would also prohibit gun sales to Floridians who were committed to mental institutions or deemed mentally incompetent by a judge, and would allow the police, with judicial approval, to bar a person deemed dangerous from owning guns for up to a year.

Verdict: Probably too broad, and again, I suspect the drafters know it. I am not comfortable with the government deciding what makes me too dangerous to have all of my civil rights, if I haven’t broken any laws. College students think Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter are “dangerous.”

  • It allows school staff to carry guns, with the consent of their school district authorities and sheriff’s department.

The NRA is not going to challenge this.

I listened to the NRA being vilified on TV this morning for doing its job. It has a duty to challenge such laws, as the watchdog of a core civil right, enshrined in the Constitution. I don’t know why this so hard to comprehend.

The organization is no different in this regard than a criminal defense attorney. All of our rights must be defended vigorously so no reduction in them in any respect and for any reason is done casually and without thorough judicial review.

3. Addendum: I also saw one of the many self-anointed “experts” from Parkland pronounce the NRA’s concerns about the Second Amendment as “bullshit.”

Maybe we should automatically give  16-year-olds law degrees, too. Larry? What do you think?

19 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

19 responses to “Saturday Night Ethics Update, 3/10/2018: 16-Year-Olds And The NRA

  1. Steve

    Interesting that 16 year olds should be allowed the vote but should not be allowed the ability to buy a rifle.

  2. Other Bill

    Having been sixteen in 1967, I don’t remember anybody giving a rat’s ass what I thought about anything.

    • Paul W. Schlecht

      ”Having been sixteen in 1967”

      1971 here; my coming of age advantage was being able to buy cigarettes lawfully, after securing them…um…extra-legally for ~ 4 years.

      I came to my senses 3.75 years later and quit.

      • Other Bill

        I quit after about two years. Praise Allah.

        • Paul W. Schlecht

          Copy that!

          Sheesh! I still, after over 43 years, have VERY real dreams about smoking. It can really sink its hooks in deep.

          Whenever he heard anything negative about tobacco, my Dear nearly 93 year-old Father (also a quitter) always said: “Are there any OTHER reasons not to smoke.”

  3. joed68

    I can’t wait to see how the technical division of the ATF is going to deal with the ridiculous bump-stock law. I think they’re going to have to scrap it for being unworkable.

    • Like Jack said, it’s pure “do-something-ism” (just as is limiting “AR style” rifles). Never mind that a bump-stock didn’t even figure into the Florida shooting, to put it simply, using a “bump stock” is merely a way to facilitate holding a firearm…loosely. This makes it inherently less accurate and controllable than a full auto, and much less so than a securely held semi-auto. There’s a valid argument to be made that the Las Vegas shooter could have inflicted more damage if he had not used a bump stock.

      They’re easy to make or “simulate”; any new laws banning or restricting them will, like many others, only inconvenience the sane and law-abiding, and have no effect on criminal activity.

      This reminds be of the ’60’s drive to get rid of “Saturday night specials”…Yeah, it’s a great idea to have the criminals ditch their low powered, cheaply made, prone to malfunction weapons, and start using some quality hardware. Who doesn’t feel safer after that?

  4. Very dubious. A blanket restriction on a Constitutional right that all adult citizens have, especially with an exception for retsricted members according to their occupation, is just asking to be overturned. I’m pretty sure Scott and the legislature knows this, and just passed this provision for political cover to “do something.” This is irresponsible and cowardly law-making, and is frankly forcing the NRA to take the heat for a cynical legislature.

    Who is more likely to commit criminal homicide?

    – Lawful gun purchasers?

    – Gangbangers?

    Should not the state raise the minimum age of gang membership to 21? \\

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see this and other waiting periods declared unconstitutional. You’re boyfriend is angry and violent. He has no record, and the police won’t touch him. You have a restraining order, but you fear that he may come to kill you at any time. You want, and feel you need, a gun now.

    He shoots you and himself on Day #2 of your waiting period.

    Very good point.

    Also, the police are not legally liable for people’s safety.

    I am not comfortable with the government deciding what makes me too dangerous to have all of my civil rights, if I haven’t broken any laws. College students think Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter are “dangerous.”

    Why not just make it a felony to be dangerous?

    Any comments on this article?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/03/09/gun-rights-are-about-keeping-white-men-on-top/

  5. Jeff

    “You have a restraining order, but you fear that he may come to kill you at any time. You want, and feel you need, a gun now. He shoots you and himself on Day #2 of your waiting period.”

    If anyone is tempted to call that scenario far-fetched, I would advise them to Google “Carol Bowne” before doing so.

  6. Zanshin

    “( … ) with an exception for retsricted members according to their occupation”

    Not just some occupation but exactly those occupations that are the armed forces which will be first responders in an uprising of ‘the people’ against it’s own Government as intended by the second amendment.

  7. adimagejim

    Had Trump won this fictitious newly created 16 year old and, perhaps even, DACA voting blocks, the same people would be arguing for those blocks to be barred not included.

    A 16 year old kid is mature enough to vote, but not own a firearm? They’d better get their logic straight.

  8. DaveL

    I’m looking forward to ten or fifteen years from now, when the woke watchdogs of the New York Times will be telling the world about these esoteric Extreme Risk Protection Orders and how they’ve become the latest popular workaround to the 4th Amendment protection against warrantless search and seizure. Look, Ma, no evidence of a crime required! There will be statistics on how they’re used disproportionately on people of color, how they’re being exploited to wage the drug war instead of for their original stated purpose. And no mention will be made of the Progressive propaganda machine’s role in bringing them about.

  9. JimHodgson

    Another Mencken quote comes to mind: “Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.”

  10. Related: I think President Trump publicly stating that the purchase age of assault style semi-auto rifles should be raised to 21 and encouraging the States to create new laws was a masterpiece of political genius! It gets the States to create these unconstitutional laws therefore the states are the ones fighting in court instead of the federal government. No matter the outcome of the court cases, this will be a win-win for Trump.

  11. John Billingsley

    “Police will be able to temporarily confiscate guns from anyone under involuntary psychiatric evaluation.”

    It is very easy in Florida to initiate involuntary examination of a person under the “Baker Act.” All law enforcement officers and mental health professionals have the authority to do this and a Judge may grant an ex parte order for involuntary examination based on the affidavit of anyone, not just family members, who has knowledge of the individual and swears to the pertinent information. The affidavit form prompts the affiant with the appropriate blanks to be filled in. The Baker Act, particularly the ex parte process, is sometimes abused for various reasons usually having to do with family squabbles. Keep in mind that an involuntary examination is not the same as commitment to a mental institution.

    This section will allow the police to confiscate all of the guns and ammunition of anyone they Baker Act which is not currently the case. If for some reason firearms and ammunition are not confiscated at the time of the Baker Act, a law enforcement officer can later petition the court for a risk protection order to confiscate the firearms. Law enforcement will be able to keep the weapons for 72 hours or until the individual comes in to claim them after being released from the examination. If a risk protection order is obtained, then they may be kept for up to a year. From a mental health standpoint, this appears to be a good provision because many gun deaths are suicides. Suicide attempts are often impulsive and making it more difficult for a suicidal individual to have access to such a lethal method for even a short time has been shown to be helpful. Suicidal intent is the most common reason for a Baker Act. I do see potential for this to be abused.

    “It would also prohibit gun sales to Floridians who were committed to mental institutions or deemed mentally incompetent by a judge”

    This is actually already the case in Florida law and Federal law. The change in the Florida law appears to be that not only will the individual be prohibited from purchasing a firearm they will also be prohibited from possessing one. These two prohibitions will run concurrently and there is a mechanism provided for the individual to petition the court for relief from this disability.

    “and would allow the police, with judicial approval, to bar a person deemed dangerous from owning guns for up to a year.”

    This is the “risk protection order” process. The part of the law describing this process is very lengthy and complicated (at least to me as a non-lawyer). The text of the law states that it will “apply only to situations in which the person poses a significant danger of harming himself or herself or others by possessing a firearm or ammunition and to include standards and safeguards to protect the rights of respondents and due process of law.”

    I have concerns about how this might be applied. It appears to me that it could be abused and that a citizen’s weapons and ammunition may be confiscated without that individual actually having been convicted of any crime. An additional concern is raised because if a citizen subject to such an order petitions to have it vacated, the law states “The respondent shall have the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent does not pose a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others by having in his or her custody or control,
    purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or ammunition.”

    “It allows school staff to carry guns, with the consent of their school district authorities and sheriff’s department.”

    Only some school staff will be able to carry. It prohibits individuals who exclusively perform duties as classroom teachers from being a “Coach Aaron Feis Guardian” unless they are JROTC teachers, current service members, or current or former law enforcement officers. To qualify to be a “guardian” requires completing 132 hours of firearm safety and proficiency training, passing a psychological evaluation, annual weapon inspection and firearm training, and successfully completing at least 12 hours of a certified, nationally recognized diversity training program.

  12. luckyesteeyoreman

    Will the new Florida law also require the state to publish periodically the numbers of persons in the state who have had their liberties deprived through the Baker Act, including published numbers of persons so impacted and INDEXED according to the NAMED judges, law enforcement officers, and mental health professionals who invoked, appealed for, and authorized the deprivation in each case? There is just too much opportunity for unaccountable mischief via offices of government, for tyrannical conspiracies to be carried out, to not require such information to be published. I hope the NRA-ILA is working that angle, and succeeding in instituting that minimal level of accountability of the state government.

    • John Billingsley

      Very good questions Lucky. I did not see anything in the proposed law that would require the state to publicize any information about the people involved in making the decisions. At this time, to the best of my knowledge none of this information is publicly released and mental health and substance abuse records have special limitations on how they can be released. The names of people who are committed to a mental institution or adjudicated to be mentally defective are reported to the NICS. I don’t know what, if any, clinical information is transferred within that system. I do have concerns about increased amounts of highly personal and sensitive information being released into a system and placed on computers where it might not be adequately safeguarded.

      I haven’t yet seen anything in the professional mental health literature regarding the proposed law. Mental health professionals have always been very strong on patient confidentiality and I expect they will fight against anything that conflicts with that. But on the other hand, many are also in favor of more gun control. It will be interesting to see how that conflict plays out.

      I am a strong believer in the 2nd Amendment and I am particularly concerned about the “risk protection order” process. If played straight, it looks like a way to keep guns out of the hands of people who are at increased risk of harming themselves or someone else at a particular point in time without permanently depriving them of the right to have a gun. Having observed that whenever the government is given an inch they take a light-year, I’m afraid that the opportunity for them to abuse the process for various purposes will prove irresistible.

      I highly doubt that there will be any officially published and indexed information released regarding people involved in making the decisions. I expect there will be anonymous statistical data. An individual always has the right to reveal information about themselves that would not otherwise be available. Nothing could stop people who were deprived of their rights from publicizing the names of the judges and doctors involved if they chose. Perhaps a pro-2nd Amendment organization could be set up such that people who were deprived of their rights could anonymously provide them with the names of the officials involved. That organization could then tabulate the information and publish it to cast some light on the situation.

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