Since the Sandy Hook massacre last year, California has introduced more than a dozen gun-control measures, headed by SB140 from state senator Mark Leno a San Francisco Democrat. This bill will confiscate handguns and assault rifles from some 20,000 Californians who acquired them legally but then through criminal convictions, restraining orders and mental illness became disqualified to own firearms. One commentator objects that the bill bars them from “a key tool for the basic human right of self-defense,” and that such supposedly “common sense” measures “overwhelmingly violate the rights of those who would never, ever use their weapons to harm anyone far more than they contribute to public safety.” These are not the only concerns.
Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill, which appropriates $24 million from allegedly “surplus” funds from background investigations. This will fund dozens of new agents on confiscation missions across the Golden State, which includes a great deal of territory. As a former California Justice Department official noted, this is an ideal task for the hundreds of local law enforcement agencies already in place across the state. They could do the job in months where the new special agents could take years. Currently teams of nine agents are visiting suspects at night. Why so many, and why at night? As a retired special agent noted “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing on overtime.”
SB 140, therefore, shapes up as a redundant make-work project that needlessly spends money and expands government in the guise of protecting the populace. A great deal of what goes on in Sacramento and Washington works on the same principle. Meanwhile, government is quite selective about the cases it chooses to target guns.
In 2009, three years before Sandy Hook, Major Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army psychiatrist, used a privately purchased 5.7-millimeter handgun to murder 13 and wound 30 others. The federal government calls this massacre “workplace violence,” not “gun violence” much less “terrorism.” And Major Nidal has yet to be tried.