AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
The shootings at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California on Thursday have spawned a slew of commentary pieces from gun control advocates trying to use the tragedy to push for their own favored policies. Of course none of them would have prevented the heinous crime, and most of them are things you’ve heard before; universal background checks being the most popular argument for some reason, despite the fact that the 16-year old suspect didn’t legally acquire the handgun used in the shooting.
Naveed Shaw, a veteran and veterans advocate in Washington, D.C., used the shootings in a column at Newsweek to push for something you probably haven’t heard much about before; safe storage laws complete with mandatory compliance checks by local law enforcement.
Every year, too many children find and use weapons in their own home. In September, a 3-year-old in the St. Louis area found his father’s gun and shot himself by accident. In October, a 2-year-old in Indiana found his mom’s gun and shot himself by accident. Service members and law enforcement officers aren’t immune. On Mother’s Day this year, an Ohio State trooper’s 4-year-old accidentally shot himself with his father’s service weapon, which was left loaded and unsecured in a spare room at home.
We should look at safe storage laws, such as those advocated by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Brady Campaign’s “End Family Fire.” Storing weapons safely, as well as even mandating that sheriff’s departments conduct regular inspections to ensure it, isn’t a high price to pay for any of our children’s lives.
Yep, that’s right. Just a “commonsense” law allowing the police to enter your home and check to ensure that your firearms are being stored properly. Shaw bases his argument on what’s called an “appeal to authority,” in this case his status as a veteran. His column is even called “Take It From A Veteran: Gun Control Will Actually Protect Our Right To Keep And Bear Arms.”
I appreciate Mr. Shaw’s service, but being a veteran doesn’t make you an expert on gun control laws. I wanted to call this column “Take It From A Guy Who’s Been Covering The Gun Issue For Fifteen Years: Gun Control Will Not Actually Protect Our Right to Keep And Bear Arms”, but it’s a little wordy.
I firmly believe that people should store their firearms responsibly, but I also believe that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all law that will best address everyone’s individual circumstances. I think education is a far better approach than expansive safe storage laws, and the idea of letting police into my home to check on how I store anything, including my guns, is a non-starter. I find the idea repugnant, frankly. The implementation of this idea would require gun registration and licensing, because otherwise how would police know whose home to visit? And of course, they’re only going to do compliance checks on legal gun owners, which means felons or juveniles in illegal possession of firearms, who represent a substantial number of negligent or accidental shootings, won’t be impacted.
These storage laws would prevent juveniles from acting in self-defense as well, which, as this story from August of this year shows, does actually happen.
A 14-year-old girl fired a 9mm pistol at someone looking to break into her home, according to the Lawrence County Constable Association and confirmed by the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office…
Lawrence County Constable Daniel Castle and Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputy Cory Cook responded to the 911 call and were unable to find the two men after searching for several hours.
“I think she did take some necessary steps to protect herself,” Castle said of the young girl’s actions. “Although she could have done a little bit better, considering that she is 14 years old, she did a good job. I encourage everyone that can legally carry a firearm, to carry a firearm to protect themselves and their families just in case the need arises.”
Does Nazeed Shaw believe that mom and dad should go to prison and lose custody of their children because their 14-year old was allowed to access a handgun and defend herself and her sisters? That’s what he’s calling for when he’s mandating these “safe storage laws.” There’s no “It’s Okay Because My Kid Is Responsible” exception. They’re not allowed access, period, no matter how much training they may have received.
Besides the violation of the Second Amendment, let’s not overlook the violation of the Fourth Amendment that would take place if this idea ever became law. The Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable searches. What is reasonable about the police coming into your home, with no warrant or any suspicion that a crime has been committed, solely for the purpose of searching for criminal behavior? That’s not only unreasonable, it’s freaking insane.
If you want a good example of a policy that Second Amendment Sanctuaries wouldn’t enforce, this is it. Honestly though, as crazy as the idea is, I wouldn’t be shocked if any of the Democrats running for president came out in favor of the idea. Would you? They’re already almost all in favor of either a federal gun license and registration program or incentivizing state-run programs. Every one of them is already in support of expansive safe storage laws that can impede someone’s ability to use a firearm in self-defense. If any of them hesitated to support police going into homes to check that firearms are being stored legally, it would be on Fourth Amendment grounds, not the Second Amendment.
Cam Edwards has covered the 2nd Amendment for more than 15 years as a broadcast and online journalist, as well as the co-author of "Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Start a Family, and Other Manly Advice" with Jim Geraghty. He lives outside of Farmville, Virginia with his family. https://bearingarms.com/author/camedwards/