Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Missouri legislator's bill will prevent gun owners from answering any government questions

In his most recent report, Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla, writes about a bill he plans which would prevent gun owners from having to answer any questions from any government agencies about those guns.
Frederick says the legislation was inspired by the situation in New York where a newspaper published the names of gun owners, but he decided to expand his bill to not only cover that situation but any attempts by President Obama or Congress to require gun owners to provide any information to put in national databases. At this point, the legislation does not appear to have been filed.
Frederick's report ends with excerpts from a letter he wrote to his brother about the Second Amendment.
Recently I was dismayed and quite surprised with what happened in New York, when a local newspaper decided it would be a good idea to publish the names of people who were lawfully in possession of a firearm. This was not in the best interest of the general public and served no good public policy. 
It did however, expose those individuals who did not own a firearm, and essentially publicly declared that these households are relatively defenseless to any of a number of crimes, including burglary, robbery and assault. 
 Those who were identified as owning a firearm had their names and addresses published and this did not enhance their security, but rather put them in danger.  Imagine that you were a former prosecuting attorney or a law enforcement officer who was personally responsible for arresting or prosecuting a large number of criminals who ended up being sent to prison.
  Let’s say that once released from prison, an individual wanted to pay a little visit to the person who in his or her mind was responsible for the imprisonment.  The list of firearm owners was a good place to start to track that person down. 
To try to keep that from happening in Missouri, I had a bill drafted that would address this in Missouri, and quite a number of other State Reps were quick to sign on as Co-sponsors.  As I discussed it more and thought about it more, I decided that the scope of this concept could be expanded. 
 President Obama recently issued a number of executive orders and declared that more laws need to be passed to regulate guns. He mentioned using additional data for background checks.  I have become aware that many electronic medical records these days have a section relating to gun ownership by patients.  It is listed under “Home Safety.”  Some in the health care field will be using this section to store data about the gun ownership of their patients. 
 For those of you who attended the Tea Party rally last fall, I made people aware that this was a potential issue and also told them that in my opinion, they did not have an obligation to answer those sorts of questions.  I told the gathering at that time that if they were asked such a question and refused to answer, and suffered any negative consequences from that, I wanted to know about it. 
 I reiterate that here for readers of this weekly Capitol Report. I will be introducing a bill that not only prevents publication of a list of gun owners, but it prevents physicians and other health care workers from being required to ask about, document or report to any government agency, the firearms ownership status of any patient.
  It does not prevent a physician or other health care provider from asking about or talking about firearms if he or she believes it is relevant to the individual’s or the family’s situation. 
 For instance, in my opinion, if a doctor is caring for a teenager that is troubled, perhaps depressed, the physician could take advantage of that opportunity to tell the parents that if you have a gun at home, now would be a good time to see that it is locked away. This does not require any questioning or response from the patient but accomplishes the goal of diminishing the chances of a tragedy such as happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, or a lone suicide without the mass murder.
The following is perhaps a section that many of you will want to skip over, since it is more about the gun issue, but moreover it consists of excerpts from a letter I sent my brother who had corresponded with me about gun violence. He and I see things differently regarding what measures are appropriate for government to take and what represents an infringement of the right to keep and bear arms.  My big brother is a great guy, but we see this issue differently, and I described my thoughts and opinions to him in part through these excerpts from that letter I recently wrote him. 
Excerpts from a letter to my brother
 “Basically, I see this issue as a matter of the 10th Amendment, and the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. When our country was founded, the states gave some powers to the federal government, but retained all other powers that were not specifically given to the federal government.  “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” so states the second amendment to the Constitution. 
 I do not trust the federal government to respect this constitutional reality, and I expect that it will attempt to infringe the rights of the people to keep and bear arms, even though it was specifically prohibited by the states when they authorized the creation of a federal government. 
 For the practical side of the debate, specifically about how to prevent mass killings in our schools, I have the following thoughts and observations.  First, no amount of legislation is going to prevent those with evil intentions from obtaining a gun or explosive device.  Heroin and other narcotics are illegal, but that does not prevent their use on a broad scale throughout the U.S.   During prohibition, alcohol was illegal, but its consumption was widespread.  There are millions of guns in our country and in our lifetimes we will not be able to get rid of any significant percentage of them. What makes the most sense in my opinion is to take a lesson from the air marshal program that we use to protect air travelers.  No one knows who the air marshal on the flight is but on most flights there is one, and he or she is armed and prepared to respond.  We should allow (not require) janitors, principals, and teachers who want to carry a concealed weapon to do so in our schools.  Our current Missouri conceal carry law allows that, and more school districts should avail themselves of this opportunity.  If you have an armed guard in uniform, in my opinion, he or she will be the shooter’s first target and then the rest of the school would be defenseless if it is still decreed a gun free zone.  If the shooter did not know who was carrying a weapon, it would be much more difficult to carry out the killing spree and the shooter could be stopped by anyone in the area with a weapon.  Perhaps more training than a CCW class would be needed to function in this environment, but that could be accomplished. 
 The idea of gun free zones is a bad idea.  All this does is assure a shooter that the people he wants to murder will in fact be weaponless. A gun free zone designation will not cause a shooter to decide once he sees the signs that this is a gun free zone to simply go home and ditch his plans because he is reminded that he is going to be breaking the law if he brings his gun.  If theatres and shopping centers were no longer gun free zones the people there would have a better chance of surviving and limiting an attack.
 Many people in my district have guns and they use them for hunting but also for security. Many folks live in a very rural setting where law enforcement is not able to get to the location of the crime for anything except taking down the information about the crime and the criminal is long gone.  This topic is the most common topic about which I have received email so far this session and overwhelmingly the constituents I have heard from are urging me to protect their second amendment rights.  I was recently at a forum for the candidates for the Republican nomination for the eighth congressional district that will soon be vacated by Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson.  The issue of the right to keep and bear arms was one question asked of each candidate who made a presentation that night.  Every candidate out of some 7 or 8 that responded indicated that protection of those rights was a high priority.  In my House district and in my U S Congressional district there is enormous support for preservation of the second amendment and I feel that way too. 
 If we limit the capacity of a magazine, criminals will ignore that law.  It will be the citizen defending her home from invasion that will be limited to 7 shots or 5 shots or one shot, depending on the strictness of the law imposed.  The intruder will have a much higher capacity magazine illegally obtained.”  

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