B arring unforeseen events to the contrary, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America on January 20. Some Americans are happy about that, some are ambivalent, and some are so distraught they can hardly get through a day without breaking down.
My position, as a political commentator, is pretty much neutral about Donald J. Trump. However, I have to admit the thought that Barack Obama will no longer occupy the White House makes me happier than a puppy with two tails.
Trump’s victory last November seemed to come as a surprise to most of the country, including many of those who voted for him. Only time will tell what kind of president he will be. Just about every gun owner and outdoorsperson in the nation is currently breathing a sigh of relief that Trump was elected, and not his opponent, considering her avowed intentions toward gun control. Not that the Second Amendment is necessarily safe for the next four years, but it is at least in far less peril than it would have been if Trump had lost.
No president is perfect, and Trump will definitely be no exception. He will do things a lot of us disagree with, but many gun owners are hopeful that he will also support some much-needed changes in the area of firearms legislation. He announced shortly after the election that he was in favor of a national reciprocity agreement for concealed carry, which is a good start, but somewhat lame. A better goal would be national constitutional carry, which would negate the necessity for U.S. citizens to pay the government in order to exercise a right already supposedly protected by that same government.
This seems, on the surface to be a good idea, but when we dig deeper and consider it seriously, we can see that it’s actually a great idea. Some, of course, oppose constitutional carry on the grounds that it will allow criminals to carry firearms without a license. Here’s a news flash for those who hold this view: criminals already carry firearms without a license. We can’t stop them, no matter what laws we pass.
Criminals ignore laws. That’s why they’re called criminals. National constitutional carry would do nothing except allow all citizens to legally arm themselves. It would only affect people who obey the laws anyway, whatever the laws are.
Another firearm law which has endured far beyond its usefulness is the ban (tax) on short-barreled rifles. The idea, when this law was instituted with the National Firearms Act of 1934, was to deter criminals such as John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde and their ilk from cutting down shotguns and military surplus automatic weapons for use in robbing banks and such. Those criminals still did whatever they wanted, just as criminals do today. Criminals never change.
A law that would be just as effective (which is none), but would make far more sense would be a statute similar to the law that imposes a mandatory ten years added to the sentence of any person who commits a crime with a weapon equipped with a suppressor. Use of suppressors in the commission of crimes is extremely rare, but when it happens, an extra ten years in the Graybar Hotel should be as good a deterrent as anything else. The same rule could be applied to short-barreled rifles, allowing us to abandon the antiquated ban.
When my friends speak to me about suppressors, they have to shout, since I’ve only owned one for about five years. Previous to that I spent my weekends happily destroying whatever mechanisms are in my ears that used to allow me to hear, because guns are loud. Plus I can never find my earmuffs.
It’s time for the gun community to speak up, loudly, in favor of dropping the tax on suppressors. The only people who should be opposed to this idea are hearing aid salespeople (I use hearing aids in every ear I own).
The evidence that these two changes would make no difference in crime is obvious—honest people have these items now, legally, and have for a long time. Criminals have them, illegally, and always have.
Possession of suppressors and short-barreled rifles don’t cause crime. If they did, there would be a lot more crime lately, since suppressor sales have been going through the roof for several years. Besides, I’m still vague on how something that is too dangerous for me to own suddenly becomes less dangerous just because I’ve paid the government a tax for the right to own it. How does that work, exactly?
There are other changes in gun laws I’d like to see, but these three would make a pretty good beginning.
As for Donald Trump, I imagine he will find that pulling the plow is not as easy as it looks. He will not likely be the best president we’ve ever had, but I, for one, think he will be far better than the alternative.
Email Kendal Hemphill at [email protected]