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Comparing the “Ghost Gun” bill to the microstamping law

When the California microstamping law was being debated, many people commented that the stamping marks could be easily defeated. But what didn’t occur to a lot of them was that you can’t polish away what isn’t there. The purpose of the microstamping law wasn’t to put little scratchy marks on firing pins and chambers. The purpose  was to halt the sales of new handguns in the State. And it has succeeded in doing just that. The serialization that the law requires is impossible to do with current manufacturing technology and the California market isn’t big enough to justify the expense of its development.

Now we have SB808, the “Ghost Gun” ban. Like the microstamping law before it, the purpose of this new law is to stop law abiding Californians from doing something that is not only legal, it’s Constitutionally protected. Just as you have a right to purchase a new handgun, you have the right to make your own firearms. Furthermore, you have the right to engage in these activities without Big Brother looking over your shoulder. (Just in case anyone is wondering why an otherwise law abiding citizen would have an interest in circumventing these laws.) But unlike the microstamping law, SB808 is far easier to get around. Rather than removing what isn’t there, beating SB808 only requires that one add something: A number.

The proposed law would require that anyone making their own firearms register those guns with the State and serialize them. OK… So now imagine that you’re an investigator with the CA DOJ’s firearms division. Your job is to catch those nefarious Californians who had the temerity to take a cutting tool to a piece of plastic or 7075 Aluminum and mill it into a dreaded .30clipcalibershootymagazineassaultbulletsecondthingy. You’re visiting a shooting range and you see someone shooting an AR-15. From where you’re standing behind the big, yellow safety line, you can see that it has a serial number.

How do you know that it’s legit?

Unless you can see from where you’re standing that the serial number is “12345″, how do you know that the gun was really registered with the State?

You, as a crack investigator with the DOJ, suspect that this particular ne’er-do-well Californian is one of those ne’er-do-well Californians, but what’s your probably cause for asking to see the serial number or the registration? Why him and not the guy at the bench next to him?

Do you see the problem now?

A “legal” gun has a serial number engraved on it. But it doesn’t follow that any gun with a number on it is legal. Other than detaining anyone found with a gun to check serial numbers, there’s no way to tell at a glance if a gun with a serial number is legal or not.

This isn’t to say that it doesn’t matter whether or not SB808 passes. It does. Every unconstitutional law that gets on the books is one more threat to our freedoms. SB808 may not affect us much, but it can be the legal foundation for worse. Furthermore, the last thing we want as a people is for this to become a nation of scofflaws.

We like to proclaim ourselves “a nation of laws, not men”. This is because man is fickle and easily swayed by his passions. What he approves of today may outrage him tomorrow. Man’s emotions are a poor guardian of justice. Thus we write laws that replace subjective whim with objective rules. But for those laws to work, we must all respect them. And for them to be respected, they must be respectable in the first place. No people will obey laws that inspire in them nothing but contempt.

And this is the true danger of legislation like SB808. They are contemptible laws and invite the population to violate them. They take Justice and pin a “KICK ME” sign to her back.

Posted in Anti-gun, Legislation, Privacy, SB808, State.

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