The gun prohibition lobby loves to claim that the vast majority of gun owners support their “reasonable” infringements on an inherent individual right, to the point that they even create their own astroturf groups like “Gun Owners for Safety” and the now-defunct American Hunters and Shooters Association.
The whole point of these outfits is to advance that narrative, and one of the most common tactics is the “I’m a gun owner, but” argument. You’ve seen it countless times. “I’m a gun owner, but I support ‘commonsense measures’ like”:
- making it a criminal offense to possess commonly-owned firearms and magazines
- prohibiting lawful concealed carry almost everywhere in public
- making it more expensive to purchase, possess, and even train with a firearm
- holding firearms manufacturers liable for the actions of violent criminals
I’m reasonably sure that attorney and columnist Mario Nicolais would be in favor of each and every one of those things, because his own “I’m a gun owner, but” narrative goes much further. Writing at the Colorado Sun, Nicolais says he’s a gun owner, but he wants the state to tell him to turn ’em in.
As I have written, the Colorado Republican Party is dead. While I am sure the ghosts of 2013 recall elections still haunt some Democrats, the fear of the next child dead from a gunshot wound should scare them more. They are not going to lose their majorities in the next decade, if ever. They may even solidify them if they take even more direct action.
That means getting assault-style guns off the streets. It means cracking down hard on handguns. It means going after ghost guns and criminals who resort to violence.
I happen to be a gun owner. But I have also run through a Las Vegas casino afraid of an active shooter, texted with my wife as she hid huddled inside a classroom as a gunman walked outside, and paid attention as an officer married to a high school friend has recovered after being shot in the neck by an assailant.
I would hand over my gun if the legislature took action.
Why wait for the legislature to do something? If Mario Nicolais doesn’t want to own a gun, no one is stopping him from selling it or even melting it down to turn into a garden trowel or something like that.
In fact, if Nicolais is waiting for the Colorado legislature to approve a ban on gun ownership complete with instructions to hand them over to law enforcement before he divests himself of his own gun he’s gonna be twiddling his thumbs for the foreseeable future. Democrats in Colorado didn’t include a ban on possession in their “assault weapons” bill that was quietly introduced last Friday night, though I have no doubt that most of the Democratic lawmakers would love to see that provision become law. The Colorado GOP may be on the endangered species list, but that could easily change if Democrats start demanding that current gun owners hand over their firearms. Moreover, there’s a progressive argument against gun bans; namely that they lead to more arrests and incarceration on non-violent, possessory offenses, particularly among racial minority groups. That argument wouldn’t carry the day with every Democratic lawmaker in Denver, but it would probably sway a few.
Then there’s the “small” fact that the Supreme Court has said in no uncertain terms that a complete prohibition on gun ownership is unconstitutional. Equally as important is the reality that a good number of Coloradans simply wouldn’t comply with Nicolais’ demands, even if legislators managed to enact it into law. He might hand over his own firearm if the legislature “takes action”, but my guess is that he wouldn’t have a lot of company.
The incidents that Nicolais describes are truly terrifying, but by his own testimony none of them actually led to him getting rid of his own gun. Nicolais never explains his decision to keep ahold of his own firearm until the day the State tells him to hand it over; something I honestly find inexplicable. I’ll take him at his word that he is, in fact, a gun owner, but I’m not sure why.
I’m also completely unpersuaded by his argument that bad guys will stop doing bad things once we ban those big bad guns. A supply-side “solution” to violent crime and mass shootings is going to run headlong into the Constitution and tens of millions of responsible gun owners, for one thing. But we’ve also seen that cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. historically had much higher crime rates when their handgun bans were in effect than after they were struck down by the courts. Stripping people of their fundamental right to self-defense only empowers the violent predators in our society, as Colorado has already witnessed over the past decade. The growing number of gun control laws imposed by the Democratic majority has done nothing to stem the rising tide of violent crime in the state, particularly in Denver and some of its suburbs. Maybe Nicolais sees that as evidence that Democrats need to go even bigger with their anti-gun efforts, but I’d say it shows that lawmakers are aiming at the wrong target when they focus on responsible gun owners.
My own theory is that Nicolais hasn’t gotten rid of his gun primarily because he wants to be able to make the “I’m a gun owner, but” argument in favor of any and all gun control efforts in Colorado and around the country, but maybe he’ll enlighten us on his bizarre position in his next column. I’m a gun owner, but I’ve honestly never run across a gun owner like Nicolais before; someone who’s ready to give up their gun, but is waiting on the State to ask for it first.