I’d like to introduce you to Stateline Sam. Stateline Sam grew up in the rust belt, where his family taught him basic firearms safety, handling & marksmanship. As an adult, Stateline Sam today heads a household across the state line to the East. Sam was always a supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, but chose not to exercise it for himself. As an infamous Normal puts it, “Guns are dirty, they’re heavy, and you have to behave.” For a variety of reasons that can boil down to these categories (plus the expense), Sam just didn’t feel it was appropriate to have to worry about the responsibility of firearms at this stage of his life.
Until it was.
Sam bought his first home in a nearly 200-year-old neighborhood in a sleepy lakeside town. It was close to the park, in view of the water, and the timbers may very well have been laid by Civil War veterans. He was also jazzed that a small neighborhood tavern was located next door. What better way to end a rough work week, but to meet the girlfriend at the pub and wind down with a decent burger and a paired pint? So they couldn’t wait to move in.
Fast forward a couple of sleepless weekends, and it turns out that was not a neighborhood tavern. The customers who frequented this establishment were not generally residents of the neighborhood, and the crowd was weighted rather generously toward the “prohibited possessor” variety. An officer later testified something to the effect that, “It was like a reunion of the probation & parole office.” There was rampant drug use inside the establishment, and closed circuit cameras recorded multiple customer gunfights, ambushes, and at least one customer execution in the streets outside the “tavern” over a couple of years. The victims (participants?) were frequently residents of other states. Bar patrons frequently trespassed on Sam’s property, sometimes while playing with fire, and these encounters escalated over time.
Sam finally came to understand that the three other people living in his home felt unsafe, and that law enforcement was powerless to fix the problem in a timely fashion. With that in mind, Sam decided it was time to become an armed citizen for the first time in his adult life. First, he decided to borrow some guns from his dad. The trip, driveway to driveway, was 90 minutes. If you figure 30 minutes to decide which weapons to borrow & to receive a safety briefing on each, he would have been armed and ready to responsibly prepare for any threat that might come through the door, all within 3-1/2 hours. It would have put him over the hump to address the most immediate dangers facing his family, while he sought further firearms education and a more concrete path forward. Good plan. Too bad it would have made him a felon.
You see, in 1993 the Brady Act created classes of people who are ineligible to own firearms. If your transaction (gift or purchase) is between people who are official residents of different states, guess what? It is a felony to complete that transaction without first paying money (in this case ~$35) to a Federal Firearms Licensee to run a background check to prove that the recipient isn’t one of those prohibited possessors. In this case, Sam’s state had additional restrictions and paperwork that his dad’s state didn’t, so he wanted to make sure they used an FFL in his state, who would be familiar with the state restrictions. We can’t all draw on the celebrity of Ashton Kutcher to smooth over accidental firearm felonies. Unfortunately background check offices aren’t open 24 hours, and Sam and his dad both had crazy work schedules and a great deal of difficulty getting time off on the same day. The Brady act didn’t stop those prohibited possessors from getting their firearms, whether through theft or the black market. Advocates might be shocked to hear this, laws don’t stop predators. Sam wouldn’t go to the black market, but the predators did. Sam wouldn’t steal a gun, but the predators did. In its 27 years, the Brady Act has yet to disarm the predators; it just mildly complicates their scumbaggery. The only person disarmed by the Brady Act was Stateline Sam and his entire household. When I speak to Sam about this today, he wonders: “By respecting such an unjust law at the expense of my family’s safety, did I betray my duty to protect them?” They were left unprotected for a period of several weeks while he researched which firearm to buy, and figured out how to pay afford it.
The story has a happy ending. Fast forward several years, and today Sam has:
- a Concealed Carry permit;
- an Armalite brand AR-15;
- several affordable but reliable carry handguns, each suited to a different occasion;
- a target pistol & target rifle (plinking is a cheap way to keep your skills up);
- a cheap gun safe for proper storage;
- enough ammo to give Mike Bloomberg a heart attack;
- and goes to classes as well as reading books and watching videos on safety, marksmanship & technique.
Every member of his household knows what guns there are, where they are, and how to use them.
While pursuing this path of self-defense readiness, Sam joined a neighborhood group working toward a more long-term solution. Today, thanks in part to this group’s efforts to document legal violations, the bar is only now trying to emerge from a court-mandated year of inactivity. The state has permanently revoked its liquor license. And the proprietors must perform approximately six figures in repairs and upgrades to get the building un-condemned. The shootings are on pause, but Sam’s duty to carry for the safety of himself, his community and his country is not.
The story has two morals:
- Gun ownership isn’t a panacea. Even while pursuing a path of responsible gun ownership, Sam joined that community group and was active in efforts to improve the neighborhood so the nuisance activity would stop.
- The Brady Act is a complete and total failure. Sam would LOVE IT if those jackass predator prohibited possessor scumbags executing each other on his street were effectively barred from obtaining their firearms. Clearly, they were not. But Sam was. Sam should have been armed and ready to defend his home & family exactly 210 minutes after deciding that it’s time to cross that Rubicon. But it took several weeks, because the Brady Act eliminated that avenue. How do YOU define “infringement?”
It’s time to repeal the Brady Act. It disarms the prey in their hour of need. The only felons stopped by the law are the ones that either have honestly reformed, or never should have been felons in the first place. And frankly, those are the ones I want carrying.