Common Sense on Gun Issues

I spend many days each year walking around with a gun – but I still don’t buy into the gun lobby’s nonsense.

Kudos to Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock for showing common sense.

Of course, there are some people who are going to demonize the guv for the crime of showing common sense but so be it.

The governor had the good sense, or unmitigated gall, if you prefer, to veto a couple bills passed by our Looney-tunes legislature.

First, he vetoed a bill that would let anybody carry a concealed weapon in urban areas (there’s no restriction in rural areas). The thinking behind this is that if you think you’re qualified to carry a concealed weapon, that should be good enough. We don’t need no stinkin’ permit.

Sorry, I don’t buy that nonsense. For years, people holding permits to carry a concealed firearm have held themselves out as exemplars of safety, as they’ve been vetted by the county sheriff and have had training in firearms safety. That means absolutely nothing if you can just declare yourself qualified.

Along that line, there are people in Congress trying to pass a law that would deny a State’s right to not recognize another state’s granting of a concealed carry permit. There are some states where there are virtually no requirements whatsoever to get a concealed carry permit.

The governor also vetoed another bill that would permit people to have a firearm on postal property. He properly vetoed that bill on the basis that the State of Montana can’t make rules for what happens on Federal property. The sponsors of that bill might have had a good idea from the standpoint that a person might innocently have a firearm in their car while on a post office parking lot. I’ll confess to being guilty of having done that, possibly several times, though I’ve never carried a gun into a post office.

I’ll give the Lege credit for a bit of common sense on their own part when they killed a bill that would allow school employees to carry concealed weapons while on the job. There was an outpouring of public comment overwhelmingly opposed to arming school employees.

In another bit of common sense, a Federal appeals court ruled that a 2013 Maryland law banning assault type rifles, plus magazines that hold more than ten cartridges, did not violate the Second Amendment. The court’s decision cited the fact that these military-style rifles and large capacity magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings, and were thus “most useful in military service,” and not protected under guidelines of the 2008 Heller decision of the Supreme Court. It’s expected that this case will go on to the Supreme Court.

On the other side of the coin, Congress passed legislation overturning an executive order by the Obama Administration that directed the Social Security Administration to give their database of Social Security beneficiaries who receive their benefits through a representative payee to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as people not qualified to purchase firearms. President Trump signed it last week.

As a former Social Security employee, while I’ve been away from the agency for many years, the topic is one with which I’m intimately familiar. First off, I’d suggest that both the Obama Administration’s order and congressional action are grandstanding.

The overwhelming majority of beneficiaries receiving their Social Security payments through a representative payee are elderly people with advanced dementia, and living in nursing homes or similar care facilities. Another large segment would be developmentally disabled adults living with family or in custodial care. The likelihood of these types of beneficiaries wandering into a gun shop is pretty remote, so it’s kind of a moot point with them.

On the other hand, a certain number of people with representative payees are mentally ill and fully capable of causing harm to themselves and others. These would be classic examples of people who should not have access to firearms.

Among the 4 million or so people receiving Social Security payments through a representative payee, there’s likely little risk of people buying a firearm and committing mayhem. That’s not the same as no risk—or even acceptable risk.

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