Malum Prohibitum

Say what?

What about this malum prohibitum? It refers to conduct that is unlawful because someone decided so. You know, stuff that is legal elsewhere, or was legal yesterday, but because someone didn’t like it, and some other person signed a piece of paper, you can now go to jail for doing it. We have a lot of malum prohibitum going down in the Golden State.

We have some stupid gun laws in California, as I’m reminded nearly every day. I read somewhere we have over 800. But never fear, I received an alert from the NRA that there are ten anti-gun bills being heard on Tuesday (14 Jun – not so appropriately, also Flag Day), just in case the first 800 didn’t do the trick (and at least 9 more still alive this legislative session).

Just how stupid are they? I bought a pistol the other day from another individual. Here in California, we have to do a private party transfer (PPT) at a dealer so that a background check can be performed. More on that in a later post. As part of the transfer, I also needed to have a safety lock provided with the gun at time of purchase. The previous owner thoughtfully brought THE ORIGINAL LOCK still unused and unopened in the bag originally shipped with the gun. Surely that would suffice… right? Oh no, it does not. I had to buy another lock from the dealer. Now, if safety was the actual reason for this law… wouldn’t the original, unused lock – that was good enough to satisfy the requirements for the original sale – be good enough?? You see, it’s not about safety. It’s about making it as hard as possible, one nick at a time, for private ownership of firearms.

Here are a couple of other gems. First of all, we can’t have standard-capacity magazines; ours are limited to 10 rounds. Why the magic number? Who knows. Also, California decided that certain semi-automatic rifles are just too scary. So… if your gun has certain features (like a pistol grip) you have to release the magazine using a tool (or “bullet button”, as they are known here).

Now, a couple of thoughts. Criminals don’t care, and they will use standard-capacity magazines if they want, and they will install standard magazine releases if they want. They are planning to break the law, so breaking a couple more rules is no big deal. But how about the other end of the legal spectrum – law enforcement officers? They don’t have to follow the rules either. They get standard capacity magazines and patrol rifles with standard magazine releases. These weapons are for their protection should they encounter criminals… of course, these are the same criminals that just assaulted you at your home, business, or on the street. Maybe cops lack the marksmanship skills of plain ol’ civilians and need more rounds?

We also have a “safe gun” roster. This has absolutely nothing to do with safety – it’s a blatant ploy to shake down gun manufacturers for money and slowly reduce the number of handguns available for purchase in the state. Think I’m exaggerating? One of the requirements for a new semi-automatic pistol is micro-stamping. Micro-stamping requires the firearm to imprint identification information onto the cartridge at the time of firing. It has been done in a lab, but currently no manufacturer has the technology to pull it off on an operational handgun. There are too many variables, much less the fact that a criminal can defeat this identification in a few minutes with a small file or by simply swapping parts. No matter, it’s required, and we have seen several major manufacturers drop all of their semi-auto pistols from the roster rather than make a futile and expensive attempt to comply. Ruger American? Can’t get it. SIG P320? No way. Gen 4 Glocks? Nope. All “unsafe” in CA.

So yeah, we’ve got a lot of stupid gun laws. But hey, I’ve got two safety locks now. Sleep well, California.



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