Saturday, September 05, 2009

Brady Rank

I was looking at the Brady Campaign's ranking of state gun laws. Like many anti-gun propiganda, there is a lot of deceptive wording. I decided to fisk Ohio's version. Brady indented, my comments in regular text:

Are there limitations on assault weapons? No

Ohio - No state restriction on the sale or possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons. Assault weapons are as easy to buy as hunting rifles. Congress and President Bush allowed the federal assault weapons ban to sunset in 2004. See also: Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines
"Assault weapons" are as easy to buy because there is not a meaningful distinction between them. The expired ban covered things like grips, bayonet mounts, launchers for grenades (grenades remained tightly regulated) and flash hiders, and nothing that made them more dangerous.

Must handguns be ballistic fingerprinted prior to sale? No

No state requirement that gun dealers or manufacturers provide police with sample bullets/cartridges or digital images of bullets/cartridges prior to the sale of a handgun, ballistic fingerprinting, which would assist police in tracing bullets at crime scenes to the guns that fired them.

Ballistic fingerprinting has proved to be nearly entirely useless in the two states that require it. In many years, only one case even used it, and was likely solved before the database was consulted. It does require registration, like many of these laws that the Brady Campaign thinks are needed.

Are gun owners held accountable for leaving guns accessible to kids? No

No state requirement that gun owners take responsible steps to prevent children from gaining easy access to their firearms. Gun owners are not held accountable for leaving loaded guns around kids, even if a young child shoots themselves or someone else with a gun left in plain sight.

Ohio can and does find people guilty of relevant charges when they neglegently allow children access to guns, although there is not a specific law covering guns. Most of these laws would effectively make it illegal to keep a gun ready for self defense in the home--this is part of the Heller supreme court decision.

Must locking devices be sold with guns? Partial

Ohio - Requires a licensed gun dealer to "offer" to sell a child-safety lock that is appropriate for the firearm being purchased, at the time a gun is sold. The law does not require the gun buyer to actually purchase, or use, the child-safety lock. Child-safety locks cost as little as $10 and could save lives if sold with firearms.

Not sure they are correct here. Every gun I have purchased at a dealer has come with a lock. One pawn shop I have seen has a sign that says all guns, even those being redeemed from pawn must have a lock, and if the customer does not have one they will provide one for $3.

Are only authorized users able to operate handguns? No

Ohio - There is no state law mandating that all new handguns be sold with 'personalized' handgun technology that would only allow the authorized user to operate the firearm. Childproof handguns play an important role in helping to prevent unintentional shootings among children and to deter suicides among minors.
This may be the biggest misstatement on the list of laws the Bradys think are a good idea. To the best of my knowledge, no guns are available with this technology. Although similar laws exist, they have the restriction of "when such technology becomes available" and are not in force yet.

Must gun dealers adhere to state licensing and/or oversight systems? Partial

Ohio - No state laws exist requiring firearm dealers obtain a state license to sell firearms. Licensed dealers must report to law enforcement any firearm that is stolen from their inventory.

Federal dealer requirements still apply, as do the state laws for running a business. No idea what they think will be gained by having a separate state gun bureaucracy.

Do cities have authority to hold gun makers legally liable? No

Ohio - State law forbids city and county governments from taking any legal action to hold gun manufacturers accountable, even when they act irresponsibly in the way they design, market or distribute weapons. No other industry enjoys such special immunity for irresponsible conduct. Individuals are also prohibited from filing certain lawsuits against the gun industry to hold them accountable for wrongful conduct.

Because of nuisance lawsuits,(example: suing Glock for irresponsible distribution when a gun they sold to police wound up in criminal hands) a relatively recent federal law would preempt any state law that allowed this. No other industry has had the repeated attempts to claim that they are responsible for being successful.

Are background checks required at gun shows? No

No state requirement that a Brady criminal background check be done on people buying guns at gun shows if they are sold by "private" individuals or gun "collectors." Gun shows can operate on a "no questions asked, cash-and-carry" basis, making it easy for criminals and even juveniles to buy as many guns as they want at gun shows, including assault weapons. No records are required to be kept on gun show sales by private individuals or gun collectors, making it almost impossible for police to trace such weapons if they are used in a crime.

The loophole is that the rules at a gun show are just like the rules everywhere else. It is illegal to knowingly sell to a juvenile or criminal, regardless of where. Dealers have to follow the same rules as in their own shops.

Are businesses forced to allow guns in the workplace? No

Ohio - There is no state law forcing employers or businesses to allow guns on their privately held property.
What they are objecting to in other states is giving employers the right to decide what is allowed inside employee's locked cars. I have mixed feelings here, because I am sympathetic to property rights, but I also think employees retain rights inside their cars.

Are colleges/universities forced to allow guns on campus? No

Ohio - There is no state law forcing colleges/universities to allow guns on campus
I am actually surprised that they do not grade this one a partial--there is a law that requires campuses to allow concealed carry license holders to store their guns in their cars.

Is it illegal to sell handguns to anyone under 21 years of age? Yes

State law makes it illegal to sell handguns to juveniles under the age of 21 by unlicensed sellers. Under federal law, only federally licensed dealers are prohibited from selling or delivering handguns or ammunition for handguns to any person under the age of 21. A strong state law is needed to stop unlicensed persons from selling handguns to those under the age of 21.

This question is misleading-- makes it seem like some states allow minors to buy handguns. Federal law makes it illegal to sell to juveniles under 18.

Are there limitations on large capacity ammunition magazines? No

Ohio - There is no state law restricting the sale or possession of large capacity ammunition magazines that can fire 30, 50 or even 75 rounds without reloading. Ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition are considered large capacity magazines. These types of ammunition magazines are available for any firearm capable of accepting a detachable magazine, including assault weapons and semi-automatic handguns.

This should actually be a partial. Ohio law considers any gun that can shoot more than 31 rounds without reloading to be a machine gun--this makes a gun with a 30 round magazine subject to all the rules and restrictions of a machine gun, and effectively illegal for most people. You can posses the magazines, but you cannot use them. 10 rounds is an arbitrary limit from the expired 1996 assault weapons ban, and includes the vast majority of police and military handgun magazines. (I may have the exact number wrong here, it is around 30)

Is a license/permit required to buy handguns? No

No state requirement that handgun buyers obtain a handgun license or undergo any type of safety training prior to buying a handgun.

True. However, the NICS background check still applies.

Is there a one-handgun-per-month limit on sales? No

No state restrictions on gun-trafficking such as a limit on the number of handguns that can be purchased at one time. Gun traffickers can easily buy large quantities of handguns at gun stores and resell them on the street to criminals. violation of federal law. Dealers are required to report multiple sales.

May police limit carrying concealed handguns? No

Ohio - State law forces sheriffs to issue concealed handgun (CCW) permits to any applicant who can legally buy a gun and has minimal "training." People can carry hidden handguns in cars and into neighborhood parks, playgrounds, restaurants, shopping malls, etc.
Apparently the Bradys prefer a system where the rich and powerful can get licenses, and minorities cannot. Ohio has one of the strictest training requirements in the US.

Interestingly, this is what they have to say about California concealed carry law:

Police chiefs and state sheriffs "may issue" permits that allow people to carry concealed weapons if police believe it is in the interest of public safety. Anyone so approved by local law enforcement must undergo safety training in the legal and safe use of the weapon and there are limits in where they may carry such weapons.
Although licensing is discriminatory in most areas of California, there are far fewer restrictions on where the licensed can carry.

Must new semi-automatic handguns be sold with microstamping technology? No

Ohio - There is no state law requiring new semi-automatic handguns be fitted with microstamping technology, which would engrave on each fired bullet casing microscopic identifying markings that are specific to that firearm alone. This technology would provide law enforcement with another investigative tool to better solve gun crimes and apprehend armed criminals.
No state actually requires microstamping yet. California has postponed adoption because the technology does not work. Most microstamping laws have been proposed by the company that owns the patents.

May municipalities enact law stronger than the state's? No

State law does not allow local cities or counties to enact local gun laws to regulate firearms that are stronger than state law or that fill loopholes in state law.

For example: some local jurisdictions restrict assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, hold adults responsible if minors have easy access to guns, require a handgun identification card, require gun dealers to be licensed and restrict Saturday night specials.

Preemption prevents a patchwork of often incompatible local laws. Before Ohio had preemption, one of my guns was legal for me to carry in Cincinnati but not Toledo, and one legal in Toledo but not Cincinnati. A traveller with a license would have to research laws in each town before each trip.

May police maintain gun sale records? No

State law forbids police from keeping any record of gun sales. Police are prohibited from maintaining gun sale records that could be used for gun tracing and criminal investigations. The state has no way of knowing whether people who bought guns in the past have become criminals and are no longer allowed to possess firearms. The lack of gun sale records also makes it very difficult to identify and prosecute gun traffickers or gang members that buy guns in bulk and resell them on the street.

It also makes future gun bans and confiscation more difficult. Registration again.

Are all guns registered with law enforcement? No

No state requirement that gun owners register their firearms, though they are required to report lost or stolen guns. Police do not know how many guns are in the state or where they are. The lack of registration data makes it more difficult for police to trace guns used in crime, identify illegal gun traffickers or hold gun owners accountable for their weapons. There is no state system to automatically identify and disarm felons and other prohibited people who bought guns legally in the past, but later committed a crime or otherwise became ineligible to keep possession of their firearms.

...although it remains illegal for the new felons to posses guns. Registration is a necessary requirement to confiscation.

Are firearm owners required to report all lost or stolen guns to law enforcement? Yes

Ohio - State law requires all firearm owners to report lost/stolen firearms to law enforcement. This requirement helps to keep illegal guns off the streets by removing the excuse used by gun traffickers that "lose" their firearms.

I am not sure if this law is true. Also not sure what it should accomplish unless accompanied by registration.

Are there consumer safety standards on guns? No

No state requirement that handguns meet any basic safety standards. No requirement that guns be sold with a child-safety lock or a built-in �personalized� lock to prevent unauthorized use. No requirement that handguns have loaded-chamber indicators or magazine safety disconnects that could prevent unintentional shootings. The state Attorney General is authorized to independently establish handgun safety standards, but has not done so.

Generic child safety locks are not very useful-I have not heard of anyone using one more than once. I have never heard of built-in personalized locks--that is what a gun safe is for. People are more likely to understand that you do not point guns at people no matter what than they are to understand each individual gun's loaded chamber indicator.

Are there limitations on 'junk' handguns? No

No state restriction on the sale of Saturday night specials or "junk" handguns. No requirement that handguns meet any safety tests such as a drop-safety test or a firing-performance test. No restriction on the sale of snub-nosed handguns that are very small and easy to conceal.

The junk standards have little to do with quality--Many high-quality polymer framed guns have to get trivial modifications in order to avoid the federal imported "junk gun" standards. Most of these standards have nothing to do with accuracy, reliability or safety--examples are dimples on grips, adjustable sights and grooves on triggers are all things that make a gun "less junk". Most states allow concealed carry, so there is a legitimate purpose for small, easy to conceal guns.

Is deadly force allowed to be a first resort in public? No

Ohio - The state does not allow the use of deadly force as a first resort in public.
Another misrepresentation of "stand your ground" laws. Most of these allow deadly force when attacked by someone committing a felony, but do not allow you to shoot first in ordinary situations. Most of these laws also include a clause that prevents criminals or their families from suing after legitimate self-defense.

Are background checks required on all gun sales? No

Ohio - No state requirement that criminal background checks be done on all firearm sales. People buying firearms at gun shows, swap meets, or through newspaper or internet advertisements are not subject to a background check. Criminal background checks are only required if the buyer goes to a federally-licensed gun store - all other sales are not subject to the background check.
Universal background checks are effectively gun registration. I think "only required at a federally licensed gun store" is intended to be deceptive--all gun stores are required to be federally licensed.

Is there a waiting period on gun sales? No

No state requirement that there be a waiting period for gun sales beyond the "instant check" in federal law. Police are not given any additional time to run a criminal background check to make sure the gun buyer is not prohibited from acquiring firearms. There is no "cooling off" period to help prevent crimes of passion.

Extra checks? Is there anywhere that does more of a check than the NICS system? If the check cannot be performed instantly, the government has three days to perform it.

I have not understood the point of a cooling off period--It is only even potentially effective in a very narrow range of circumstances--someone hot-headed enough to think that shooting someone else is a good idea, but rational enough to gain control of himself before the waiting period ends, who does not have access to a gun, who has not ran into serious trouble with the law before.

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