A strongly anti-NRA screed was published in Pittsburgh today by a member of the Pittsburgh Police Department who says that NRA members “abet gun violence.” Sure, I could fisk the piece paragraph by paragraph. But instead, something struck me in his complaints about NRA’s stance on mandatory storage that struck me as too extreme for many gun control groups.
In 10 years of focusing exclusively on gun crime, I can count on one hand, with fingers to spare, those cases in which a firearm was stolen despite being properly stored in an immovable safe. The NRA is surely aware that stolen guns are a huge problem, yet at this weekend’s convention you would be unlikely to see much emphasis on the importance of securing one’s firearms to prevent them from being stolen and used in crimes. After all, you are only required to be a law-abiding gun owner; the government can’t require you to be a responsible one.
I lived in a state with mandatory storage laws, and I lived in an apartment. If the requirement had been as strong as this officer suggests, I would not have been able to own a firearm even though I was a woman living alone in the only available housing I could afford on a non-profit salary just out of college. First, I would not have been able to afford a full-sized safe. Second, I may have faced restrictions on something that large and heavy in my apartment. (It should have been fine, but it was in a building dating back to the mid-1800s.) Finally, even if I could afford something big and heavy, I could not have made it “immovable,” which presumably means that the safe must be bolted into the floor.
Until I moved in with Sebastian, I have never lived in anything but apartments since I moved out of my mother’s home after high school, and I only occasionally hired movers to load my stuff into a truck with only my 55+ mother to help. Just what options would be available to me under the Joseph Bielevicz policy of mandatory storage? I couldn’t install anything that would do permanent damage, so that limited me to small safes that were never bolted to the floor. Under his standard, I would not have been allowed to legally own a gun. If that’s the policy that the Pittsburgh Police Department supports, that puts them outside of the mainstream of gun control groups. Not even the Massachusetts law is that extreme. This kind of policy is really just targeted at the poor who don’t own a home or who can’t afford expensive safes.
Oh yeah, and there’s the pesky fact that he left out that the Supreme Court already tore apart the arguments for mandatory storage in Heller. The fact that this officer is calling for unconstitutional policies that discriminate against the poor is simply appalling. It’s one thing to educate about the importance of protecting your firearms and preventing them from falling into unauthorized hands, it’s another thing to hinge the fundamental right of gun ownership and self-defense on whether the person can afford the kind of safes that Detective Bielevicz considers appropriate.
Also, if the Detective would, you know, actually investigate the facts around the NRA convention, he’d find that there are numerous safe & other gun storage vendors there – Liberty, Cannon, Champion, Remington, and some company whose name I can’t remember that makes a really awesome circular safe. I took pictures last year, but I don’t think I posted them. But facts get in the way of him beating his chest about more gun control, and that’s just not nearly as much fun.