Letter To The Editor: Is Everytown About To Target Law Abiding Gun Owners In New Mexico?

Los Alamos

On a 9 November entry on its website – Moms Demand Action – states “Everytown and New Mexico Moms Demand Action Declare Victory in Creating Bipartisan Background Check Majority in State Legislature”, specifically calling out legislators Nate Gentry (R), Bill Soules (D), Liz Stefanics (D) and Elizabeth Thomson (D). We can therefore expect that at minimum, a background check bill will be introduced by the Democratic majorities in both houses.

The purpose of a background check is difficult to argue against, i.e., we all have a moral and legal obligation to not transfer firearms to prohibited persons, i.e. those with a felony, legal finding of mental defect, protective order, or other disqualifications on their record. Hence, polls repeatedly show majorities, even majorities of gun owners, support them in principle.

A straightforward bill that facilitated background checks for gun owners transferring weapons via the secondary (i.e, private sales) market to those who they cannot personally vouch for in high confidence is a good idea, as long as the State ensures these can be done without due financial or time burdens on gun owners. Indeed, it would be reasonable to provide tax rebates or other incentives to pay for these as the government provides for other actions it wishes to encourage for the public good.

Where Everytown runs into trouble is when it tries to hide onerous gun controls in the guise of background checks. The recent Everytown endorsed ballot questions in Nevada (where it barely passed) and Maine (where it was defeated) are examples of gun control overreach that spell doom for any cooperation between law abiding gun owners and so called gun violence prevention organizations.

Buried in the ballot questions in both NV and ME were toxic “temporary transfer” prohibitions that would criminalize many normal, safe, and legal activities that gunsport enthusiasts take for granted. Any transfer not explicitly listed as exempt is illegal unless a gun owner legally transferred title of a gun to another person at a licensed dealer (FFL). So, the following would be illegal without literally transferring ownership via an FFL:

• Letting a buddy handle and shoot your firearm anywhere but at a designated shooting range unless you are in that person’s actual presence (better not duck off to “water a tree”). 
• Leaving a gun with a friend who does light gunsmithing, adds accessories, or has the tools to do repairs and upgrades.
• Loaning a pistol to a friend unless the friend is in imminent jeopardy.
• Storing your firearms in a friend’s safe while out of town.
• Loaning a friend a gun for a hunting trip unless you are in proximity to the borrower.
• Storing firearms for a friend who may be temporarily despondent due to personal hardship.

12 of the 16 sheriffs in Maine and 16 of 17 in Nevada opposed these ballot initiatives. Further, enforcement would be a nightmare or downright impossible unless guns are registered to owners. So it is extremely important for the gun owning community to examine, as soon as possible, any bills prefiled or introduced during this legislative session, read the fine print, and call your representatives with input.

The gunsport community should endorse reasonable actions that reduce gun violence. Likewise, the gun violence prevention community must not destroy the required trust needed to reach common ground. Indeed, if the gun violence prevention community would spend more time studying gun culture (for example, as studied by sociologist David Yamane of Wake Forest University), some of the colossal misreadings of gun enthusiast’s motives and activities that lead organizations like Everytown to support bad legislation could be avoided.