Gun control is a hot topic these days. I’m going to skip past the majority of the debate and avoid the topic of the 2nd amendment. I want to talk about the laws against possession of a weapon by violent felons. I voted for undoing the three stikes rule in California when the 3rd offense is a non-violent offense. If it is a violent offense, then by all means put the person away for as long as possible. In one particular case I think it would be fine to not wait for a violent offense, or even a third strike. If a person has a violent felon conviction on their record and they are arrested for possession of a gun of any kind, it is time to lock them up for a very long time. Of course once I had this thought, I decided to see if it was already the law here in California, or any other state. Unfortunately what I found (see table 3) was the opposite. California, which had a three stikes law for non-violent criminals until the last election, has fine or a 16 month to 3 year penalty or both (for past violent felony offenders the law requires at least 6 months in jail). This is hard to believe from a state that until the last election was willing to send someone to prison for life for shoplifting. There are some other states with stricter laws, but I was surprised at how low the penalties were.
A law locking up people who possess guns after a violent crime conviction isn’t going to stop violent crime. It isn’t going to prevent the type of senseless tragedies that brought about the current debate. I wish I had a solution to that problem. I don’t and I haven’t seen any other solutions either. The laws that President Obama proposes will not prevent the mass murder of innocents by crazy, angry or otherwise determined people. There are other types of guns/weapons, and other ways to kill people. I’m also certain that putting armed guards, even if they have automatic weapons, in every school won’t either. What about every mall, theater, grocery store, daycare, McDonalds, Walmart, Target… the list goes on and I think you get the point. The futility of finding a fail safe solution didn’t stop me from trying to think of a way to do something. This is the “something” I came up with. I can’t imagine anyone being against this. One of the NRA’s arguments for fighting to ensure we can all carry assault weapons is that criminals don’t follow the law. This is a law that they would either follow or they would no longer be on the streets.
While we are focus on gun violence, let’s try to do something that will really make a difference. Let’s do something that will help protect innocent armed, or unarmed people. Raise the penalty for possession of a firearm for people with a conviction for a violent felony. That will get my vote!