August 22, 2005

Comments II: California's HSC

In the previous post I addressed some comments left by readers. One seemed to merit special attention as it raised a subject that can't be treated with a paragraph or two, least not by certain long winded bastards such as myself.

Here's the comment left by Annika Oakley the lovely, talented & accurate Miss Annika:

"i'm going to take the Cali Firearms Safety Certificate test today. i read through all the laws and it seems to me that Cali's gun safety laws are specifically designed to prevent anyone from using a gun for their own safety. So my question, oh wise bard of ballistics, is this: if Cali does not have the worst gun laws in the country, who does? and on a related note, i hear tell that Canadian gun laws are pretty restrictive. Are there any decently industrialized nations that recognize the rights of gun owners similar to or better than the US? i know the UK isn't, and Australia is debating guns right now."

After I wrote most of the reply I decided to split it up into two posts. Here's the first one which touches on what she had to go through instead of what she asked.

The non-answer:

Well first of all here's a .pdf of the California Handgun Safety Certificate Study Guide. In Cali you have to pass a "safety" test before you may legally purchase a handgun. I decided to look over the study guide & I feel compelled to point out a few things.

Fist of all there's the Preface which contains this gem:

"Following the handgun safety information in this guide will also help reduce the potential for accidental deaths and injuries, particularly those involving children, caused by the unsafe handling and storing of handguns."

It could also prevent deaths caused by people justifiably defending themselves from attack, or at least the death of one of those poor pitiable violent criminals. But we'll delve into that as we get to the relevant chapter.

From the Introduction section entitled Why Handgun Safety:

"Handgun safety is important to all Californians. No one wants handgun accidents to happen, yet they do everyday. Handgun accidents involving children are especially disturbing. Studies show that easy access to loaded handguns in homes is a major cause of accidental shootings of children."

So much to fisk, so little time. First of all there are a few folks who do want handgun accidents to happen. Without them the efforts at gun control wouldn't be quite as effective. This begs an answer to the title question. Why handgun safety? Cause it's a very effective cover for implementing gun control when folks would object if it was done under other guises.

Last I heard there were roughly 800 negligent discharges of a firearm resulting in death in the united States. That comes to 2.91 a day nationwide. Even at 3 a day nationwide that means California would have to account for 1 negligent shooting per day for that statement to be true. I mean since California law is being discussed I would assume that any numbers they cite would be California specific wouldn't you? so if that's true & my number of 800 negligent discharges is still accurate then California would have to have at least 365 negligent shootings resulting in death per year compared to 435 for the other 49 states.

Easy access to loaded handguns is the cause of negligent shootings? Well that's true in the sense that easy access to fire is the cause of arson. The cause of negligent shootings is negligence. Easy access to loaded firearms would be fine as long as all parties with such access behaved responsibly. Now I'm not saying you should let your 3 year old play in the gun safe, but the emphasis shouldn't be on an object's accessibility. It should be on responsibility. Sometimes they both result in the same action (i.e. locking up your firearms unloaded) but they arrive there by much different means.

"There are six basic gun safety rules for gun owners to understand and practice
at all times:
1. Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
2. Keep the gun pointed in the safest possible direction.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
4. Know your target, its surroundings and beyond.
5. Know how to properly operate your gun.
6. Store your gun safely and securely to prevent unauthorized use.
Guns and ammunition should be stored separately."

6 basic rules? I recall reading about the 4 basic rules & I even penned a piece that expanded them to 12 but the 4 basic rules will keep you out of trouble just fine on their own. Number 5 on their list ended up being Number 9 on my expanded version of the safety rules. The part about storing your firearm safely isn't a rule; it's a good suggestion in certain circumstances but it's also a bad one in others. What they're trying to do is throw in a little gun control under the guise of firearms safety, & in the process make things more complex than they should be.

Here's the law pertaining to the Basic Firearms Safety Certificate Program Note what the legislature listed as the "Five Basic Gun Safety Rules":

ยง 967.50.(2) (B)

"The Five Basic Gun Safety Rules: Treat all guns as if they are loaded; keep
the gun pointed in the safest possible direction; always keep your finger off
the trigger until you are ready to shoot; know your target and its
surroundings; and, store your gun and ammunition safely and securely
when not in use."
(emphasis added)

So legislative decree made storing an unloaded firearm away from the ammo a "rule". Lockyer's team that put the study guide together (assuming it was Lockyer's work since his name appears on the damned thing) decided to throw in the extra rule about knowing how to operate your firearm. The safe storage thing was mandated for them.

& don't get me wrong; I encourage any & everyone to know the manual of arms for their firearm. It's really good advice. I also would say that in certain situation locking away your firearms is a good idea. The problem is that, in the case of the latter, it renders firearms useless for self defense. Gun nuts have often joked about asking a criminal to give them a few minutes so they can unlock their firearm (be it from a trunk or safe), unlock their ammo, load ammo into such firearm & then continue with the home/car invasion. Sometimes there just isn't enough time for all that. When you need a firearm, chances are you need it now, Not in 2 minutes. Now.

Oh good Lord. They state that the 6 (ahem) basic rules are a foundation, but there's more. They elaborate. Mixed in with the good we find the bad.

"Never handle a gun when you are in an emotional state such as anger
or depression. Your judgment may be impaired."

Or fear. They meant to but neglected to add fear. Cause fear is an emotional state which can lead to errors of judgment, such as shooting a poor misunderstood criminal when all he wanted was some bread, or a VCR (do they still make those?) or a little forced sex. Now maybe it's just the gun nut in me but I've handled firearms when I was depressed. Didn't shoot myself or make any similar lapses in judgment. In fact a range trip when I'm bummed out usually cheers me up a little. Working on a firearm when I'm angry usually calms me down, again without any apparent lapses in judgment.

It's the mindset, not the object. In even the most vehement rage I still possess control over my actions. My feelings aren't going to make me do anything I wouldn't otherwise do, least not in a matter concerning actions & responsibility. I cannot believe that I am the only being on the planet so stoic as to be able to control my actions when faced with emotions of any type. Now there probably are some folks who would do something hasty in a moment of anger or depression, but that should be addressed by them learning to control their emotions, not implying that if thet pick up a gun when they're sad they'll shoot themselves, or they'll go on a "rampage" if they handle a firearm when they're ticked off.

Hmmm. They have a self test.

"Safety Rule Number Two is keep
the gun pointed: (page 9)
A. To the north.
B. In the safest possible
C. Up.
D. Down."

Well being a Southerner I gotta go with A. Some of 'em are nice but we never really trusted those damn yankees after what the did to Atlanta. Town ain't been right since. < /sarcasm >

One thing that's curious; they say that if your BAC level is below the limit for a DUI it's still unsafe to handle a firearm. A little consistency please? I'm not saying we should all go out, get drunk & commence with the gunplay, but if you're safe enough to drive a car then why wouldn't you be safe enough to handle a firearm? The 6 (ahem) rules are more complex than the myriad rules you must recall & tasks you must perform while driving?

"There's no such thing as being too careful with children & guns". Bullshit. From the link:

"After the murders, Jessica's uncle, Rev. John Hilton, blasted California legislators for having scared the father into hiding the gun where Jessica, who was trained in the use of firearms, could not get it.
'If only [Jessica] had a gun available to her,' said Rev. Hilton, 'she could have stopped the whole thing. If she had been properly armed, she could have stopped him in his tracks."

See what Cali really doesn't want to happen is this. Luckily the good folks in Mississippi haven't heard that children with access to firearms isn't acceptable.This is another outcome Cali is afraid of. Had the firearm been locked up odds are the woman would have been raped &/or killed & the man killed (&/or raped).

Hmm. It goes on about the laws pertaining to firearms in Cali. You may carry openly (in certain places) but the firearm cannot be loaded. Further a cop has the weight of law behind him to check to make sure that your firearm is unloaded. Refusing to comply is an arrestable offense.

Now I think we all know that Cali has no "Right to arms" provision in that monstrosity of a constitution they have. They also treat the 2nd Amendment as granting a collective right rather than an individual one. However this would seem to run afoul of the constitution's 5th amendment pertaining to compelled self testimony as well as any similar provision in the Cali constitution. If you refuse to hand over evidence that may lead to your prosecution you'll be arrested & charged. I'm not going to go wading through case law right now, but I do believe the courts take a dim view of such laws in light of the 5th amendment.

The rest of the study guide is mainly about the safe handling demonstration that must be performed.

I feel for Miss Annika & anyone else who has had to take the test. It's not that there isn't any good advice in the study guide, but that such tests can be made much, much more difficult than they should be & subsequently used to deny arms to folks. Not just folks who you might think would be unsafe, but folks who simply would find it burdensome to take a much more complex version of the test.

The good news is Miss Annika passed.

"You'll be pleased to know that i passed the California Handgun Safety test. That means that the State of California, in their infinite wisdom, has judged me worthy to be able to purchase a handgun during the next five years, if i so choose. Of course at the expiration of that five years i'll have to take the test again and cough up another $25, unless they've felt the need to raise the price by then. Or they could just as easily revoke the privilege of handgun ownership by then, too.
/end sarcasm."

& apparently she didn't fall for it either.

Posted by Publicola at August 22, 2005 05:16 AM | TrackBack

u should give us more info

Posted by: Benny at September 2, 2005 01:48 PM
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