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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gun Laws

I never paid much attention to gun laws.  Now that I've finished my NRA basic handgun course, I'll start on what will be a very, very long process to get a hand gun permit.

The laws are byzantine.  In New York State, where I live about half the year, I need a permit even to possess a handgun at home.  I cannot even shoot at a range using someone else's gun (unless as part of training under the supervision of an NRA certified trainer).  The home possession permit process will take at least six months, maybe longer.  As to a concealed carry permit, I've been told to forget about it in Tompkins County (Ithaca).

But of course, that leaves the other six months.  The Florida non-resident concealed carry permit, which is good in 32 states, is not good in NY or Rhode Island.  In Rhode Island (as far as I can tell with a quick check), I don't need a permit to keep a gun at home or to transport it to a shooting range, but any other use, including transporting it in the car more generally, would require a permit for which I would need to show good cause and need.

Getting from NY to RI requires that I also figure out Massachusetts law on the subject.

Being the law-abiding citizen that I am, I'll spend the time and money to figure out all the local and state laws, and comply with them all.  It will not be easy, and I can see how someone with good intentions still could run afoul of the law.  So maybe a year or so from now I'll have all the permits in place. 

Gun control advocates, of which I am one up to a point, can sleep soundly knowing that they have kept a gun out of my law-abiding hands.

The criminals have it much easier. They just buy guns on the street and shoot 'em up:
An Elmira man was wounded in a shooting early Saturday in Ithaca, police said.

Russell Blackman was shot at least three times with a small-caliber firearm, Ithaca police said.

Police said they responded to a report of gun shots around 1:40 a.m. at the 500 block of West Green Street, and found blood on the street and sidewalk. Police did not find Blackman, but they learned he had been taken in a private vehicle to Cayuga Medical Center.
The guy who was shot himself is a fugitive from justice, and apparently he's not talking about the shooter.  And I doubt he's real worried about the gun laws.

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  1. There is an interesting parallel between this gun post and the earlier Rocket v Rocket post. In each case the party with a legitimate right to self defense and attempting to live within the civil or international standards is subject to much more rigid control than the rogue criminals who threaten them.

  2. I guess the only way this could be even more of a challenge for you would be if New Jersey was in the mix?
    Hopefully you'll be able to provide us with updates on your progress?
    You are probably already aware that the Fed law offers some small relief in regards to interstate transport through restrictive states but I'll mention it anyway, i.e., the McClure-Volkmer Act of 1968.
    Good luck, Professor!

  3. Or you could move to a state like AZ where you can legally purchase a gun with a quick background check and carry most anywhere in public, open or concealed, no permit needed.

    Having lived in MA most of my life, personal gun ownership was so stigmatized that you believed only criminals have guns. Now that I'm in AZ the difference is like night and day. Most people I know own guns and they all take safety very seriously as do my wife and I.

    Good luck with your permitting ordeal. Gun laws, particularly in the Northeast are so out of step with reality and treat law abiding citizens as if they are would be criminals.

  4. I hope that none of this is needed due to threats against you or yours. Nothing is beneath the left.

    How frightening it is that the New England states have become virtual police states. Has anyone in MA, RI, or NY filed suit about the Constitutionality of these laws and regulations? I know that in DC and Chicago they have been filed and ruled upon (although I understand Chicago is doing everything to get around the court's ruling).

    Here in Virginia, after the VT shooting, a law was proposed to allow weapons onto campuses so that those who abide by the law, and have permits - concealed carry permits - could help should another rogue lunatic decide to massacre innocents. Shot down (no pun intended...), of course. Mostly by the parents of the students!

    We Americans have been brainwashed by leftists to not follow simple logic: weapons in the hands of the good guys keep the bad guys in check. It also lets criminals know that THEY MIGHT JUST GET SHOT AT in return - huge deterrent for most!!

  5. Well, New Jersey is as far as I know unique in the US in having a gun control regime where everything is illegal unless you satisfy one of the exceptions. They also were extremely ... reluctant to pay attention to the McClure-Volkmer Firearm Owners Protection Act of '86, although I suppose one could point out that (as I remember) it only provides a defense.

    WRT to Massachusetts, be extremely careful there. Even the most minor violation of the law, like leaving the house wearing your father's jacket that he'd gone hunting with and had accidentally left ammunition in, is an automatic, no judicial discretion mandatory 1 year in jail. Again, McClure-Volkmer will provide a defense, but you'll want to find out details like the state's posture towards people who make any sort of stop along the way.

  6. NY and RI are hopeless. We ought to give them back to Mexico. Move to CA professor! Most people here own guns, liberal and conservative. There are too many of us for politicians to succeed in taking them away and still get re-elected.

  7. DINORightMarie:

    The Second Amendment Foundation has just recently filed a suit to oppose the high handgun permits fees in New York City. Their press release is here:



    Actually, the gun laws in California are pretty similar. Everything that one can do with a gun is illegal, unless an exception applies. Possession in the home is an exception, transporting unloaded in a locked container is an exception, etc.

    Prof. Jacobson:

    Be careful in California as well. California does not recognize any other state carry permit, and California does not issue carry permits to non-residents. Possession of a loaded firearm in a public place WILL get you arrested and charged with a felony if the firearm comes to the notice of a LEO. Transport of your firearms is fine, as long as they are unloaded and stored on a locked container.

    If you ask the question "How can I possibly defend myself if the law has disarmed me?" I would reply that keeping people disarmed in public places is the intent of California state law.

    One other question: Why have you taken an interest in firearms? Not that i don't applaud such an interest, but you mentioned that you are in favor of gun control, "up to a point.".

    Anyway, I also took the NRA Basic Pistol class, and found it to be very valuable for a beginning handgun owner. I would recommend the NRA Personal Protection in the Home class as well.

  8. Iowa just passed a "must issue" law for concealed carry. However, local governments feel the need to restrict them from places like the public library. I need to suggest to a pro-carry legislator, that if the local public library restricts hand guns by those with concealed carry permits, that they provide armed guards. That is, in the case of the library, two armed guards are on duty whenever anybody is working in the building, all packages are inspected, lest somebody smuggle a weapon in inside a package, and one of the armed guards supervises unloading the night book deposit, in case a weapon is smuggled in that way. If they want to take responsibility for keeping me safe from shooters, then keep me safe from shooters.

  9. The key to remember about the logic of gun control is: if the government doesn't trust me with a gun, how on earth can they trust me driving an automobile? I can kill a lot more people fast with a car than with a gun.

  10. Any deal on gay marriage should explicitly require that any state that recognizes gay marriage under "full faith and credit" must also recognize all CHLs no matter where issued. Citizens of a state which doesn't require a permit are assumed to have permission with the driver's license.

  11. Technically, if you're driving through MA, you don't need anything since you're in the process of interstate travel. I even talked to the chief of the Metro police when I was going down for the Int'l police chiefs conference, and he said if I was traveling and kept things in a case, I was fine.

    Consider what my gun dealer was the 'perfect NY pistol,' a folding Kel-Tec carbine. Folds to only 11 inches long, easily fits in briefcase. Attach a light, and it's perfect for home defense.

    Got the Florida permit as soon as I left NY.

    BTW, my wife is a fed, and when we first moved to NY, the state police said we had to give them all our pistols until we lived there 6 months and wife got a permit in Clinton County. So we ignored them, kept the pistols in a gun safe, bought the Kel-Tec SUB 2000 for me, and then the evil Booosh said feds could have all the pistols they wanted.

    I'm glad I moved to ND.

  12. So what are you think about getting ....a wheel ....auto ....what did you train on

  13. Professor, In this post Are 'No Firearms Allowed' Businesses Liable for ... I'm trying to understand if business that prohibit lawful carry permit holders to abandon their arms while in their establishment are liable for their saftey? Do the 'property rights' of the business owner absolve them from liability for my safety as one response I receive claims: " There's no such thing as a right to bring guns onto the property of unwilling property owners. Your gun rights are not violated if a restaurant owner tells you to leave because you insist on carrying a gun with you and he has a no gun policy."

  14. Professor,

    I second what DINORightMarie said; I hope you haven't received any disturbing emails or messages. My wife has me a bit paranoid at times that voicing my opinion against radical Islamists on the internet might bring an unfriendly visitor to our front door one day.

    A couple of people mentioned California. Don't worry about Califonia. If you ever come to L.A. for a conference or anything, I'd be happy to pick you up at the airport and safely take you anywhere you need to go, and I'm sure we could enlist Pasadena Phil as a bodyguard (can't be too safe with those evildoer lefties).

    And I'd insist on taking you guys for some wagyu steak ... the manager of the Japanese Korean-style barbeque restaurant where Emily works brings it out everytime to say thanks for agreeing to let Emily work there. It looked bad for Obama to dine on it during tough economic times, but nothings too good for the Professor.

    I also want to know how things go with your gun ownership. Like you, I didn't grow up with guns, but I've been thinking of getting one, especially for my wife for times when I'm out of town.

  15. @DinoM and CoolLuke - no, not threat driven; @aggie95 - fired .22, 9mm and .44 Magnum (quite the shaker), eventually would stick in the 9mm range plus or minus; @LeftCoastC - always wanted to do it, think it's important that people know how to defend themselves - better to know how and never need to, then need to and not know how.

  16. Professor, are you aware of any jurisprudence under the Full Faith & Credit clause pertaining to Second Amendment rights?

    What seems like eons ago I wrote some blog posts predicting that DOMA would fall under the FF&C clause. There may be some interesting parallel arguments for Second Amendment rights. If the FF&C clause compels Arizona to recognize marriage rights established by state law in Mass then it follows that the FF&C clause should compel Mass to recognize Second Amendment rights established by Arizona state law. Expanding Constitutional jurisprudence is a two-way street, after all.

  17. I'm available 24/7. My strength is that I don't look like the type. I'm the proverbial "last guy you would ever expect."

  18. Dear Professor,

    And, up to just which point are you a gun control advocate, pray tell? ;-)

    Heck, even here in Blue State Oregon (west of the Cascades) our local sheriff makes sure we concealed carry permit holders don't have to have our names and addresses disclosed to those who would "out" us for their pleasure. Though I don't do it often, I sometimes am "barely concealed" at the grocery store or whatever on my way to/back from the firing range. Nobody seems to notice or care.

    And, in Red State Oregon (east of the Cascades), no one even as much as raises an eyebrow if you happen to have a firearm on your hip.

    One nice thing about a permit around here, even west of the Cascades (well maybe not in far-left Portland), is that if you're stopped for a minor traffic offense and display your CCW permit, more likely than not the officer will recognize you as a law abiding type, make sure your weapon isn't anywhere that could surprise him/her, and wish you a good day.

    The Oregon House has just passed a measure recognizing the permits of other states. Maybe if it gets past the Senate and the Governor, it will make our CCW permits recognizable in other states. Now, that would be a boon ....

    If I may make a suggestion: .38 special revolver. Easy to conceal, shoot, and maintain.

    Kind regards.

  19. Professor,

    I'm a cop in Houston and couple of years ago Texas made a minor change to it's gun laws. Up until 09 if you wanted to carry a pistol in your car you had to have a concealed carry permit...unless you were traveling over two counties or going to the range...of course in the penal code they don't establish what that is. Now you can carry a pistol concealed in you car.

    Now one of my fellow cops was a bit concerned about this...."Mike, a crook can hide a gun without committing a crime....it's an officer safety thing....". I answered "Hate to tell you this but they are already packing....this is why they are called crooks ...."

    At least down here you're not a crook by just possessing a weapon.....but we know the gun control really works...I mean we don't have problems in New York, Chicago or DC, right?

  20. @foxymike - I support criminal background checks for people purchasing guns or obtaining permits. It's a minimal burden even if it means a short delay.

  21. Dear Professor,

    You and me both!

    Takes about 15 minutes at my gun store.



  22. Can you move to Wisconsin.

    In additon to being able to support a great Governor their laws (for a rifle anyway) are pretty much common sense gun safety.

    And Ms Althouse would probally like someone to take some of the lefty attention.

  23. For better or worse, we already have a law and system for background checks, at least for sales by businesses (although one might wonder about prior restraint on a Constitutional right...). A few states have some restrictions on private transfers, especially of handguns, but not many especially seeing as how difficult enforcement would be. The delay for the NICS is significantly less time than it takes to fill out the BATF paper form so it does not impose an undue burden as long as it continues to be run honestly.

    One bit of advice on self-defense caliber selection: if you follow Dr. Martin Fackler, at handgun bullet velocities "stopping power" scales with the area of the bullet, assuming there's adequate penetration (can be iffy for .380 ACP which is also 9 mm Kurz (short), which is considered by most to be the weakest practical round for self-defense).

    So I recommend you check out .40 S&W (10 mm) and .45 ACP (11.5 mm), each step scaling disproportionately ( pi * r^2 ); note that while .45 ACP will have noticabely different and strong recoil than the smaller rounds, it's not a hunting round like the .44 Magnum which in typical loadings has to 3 or a bit more times the energy than .45 ACP.

    For this sort of thing there's no substitute for just trying out the different possibilities and seeing what works best for you and yours.

  24. Pick up the "Traveler's Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States" by J. Scott Kappas. It was highly recommended by the instructor in my pistol class.

    Be sure to get the 2011 edition. Laws have been changing FAST, and even the latest edition is out of date.

  25. @Pasadena Phil

    "I'm available 24/7. My strength is that I don't look like the type. I'm the proverbial "last guy you would ever expect."

    Phil, I do look like the type. They'll be aiming at me as you take care of them one by one.

    Professor, don't worry. We'll take care of KAOS and every other evil subsidiary of Media Matters (hope you're a Get Smart fan).

    My favorite Get Smart quote:

    The evil Ludwig von Siegfried (Bernie Kopell) to Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon):

    "Nein! Nein! Ninety-nine!"

  26. Heck,
    Come to Florida! We are the "Gunshine State" though we don't allow open carry ... yet!

  27. I visit a old high school friend, that now lives in South Dakota, annually for Pheasant Hunting. The gun laws out there are pretty lenient. As a result, he has quite the collection of Gander Mountain gun socks. Too many times he has driven back home, to visit family in WI, with his guns loaded (but not chambered) while hanging on the gun rack behind his head. Once he realizes this, he has to pull over at a border Gander Mountain and buy another gun sock to be legal in Wisconsin; shells removed from the gun as well. Since he doesn't need it back home, the gun socks always get cleaned out of the truck.

    He curses the laws and laughs at his stupid mistake every time.

  28. Now that I'm fully awake, here are the relevant areas of the following bullet diameters:

    9 mm: 64 mm^2 ( ".38" Special and .357 Magnum are 9.1 mm in diameter)
    10.2 mm: 82 mm^2 ( .40 S&W )
    11.5 mm: 104 mm^2 ( .45 ACP )

    So .40 S&W has a 22% improvement in area over 9 mm (generally worth it except for the price of ammo) and .45 ACP has a significant 39% advantage.

    In all cases, hollow points improve the area if they perform, for which there is no guarantee. E.g. in winter weather a thick enough jacket can fill the hollow and produce roughly full metal jacket (FMJ) level performance.

  29. With regard to New England states and gun laws, I think you'll find Vermont is rather unique. No permit system of any kind.


    While I think background checks at time of purchase are a reasonable concession, it should be contingent on any records of such a check that result in approval of purchase being destroyed immediately afterwards.

    Note that getting a Brady denial at time of purchase not only prevents that purchase, but means any other firearms you currently possess are prohibited, i.e. get them out of your possession while you appeal the denial. The denial is reported to law enforcement agencies for the purpose of seizing your currently possessed guns and charging you with illegal possession.

    And with regard to professoredwards comment on interstate travel through MA, a large caveat. The interstate "safe passage" provision requires that you be legally in possession and in compliance with both the origin and destination state gun laws. [18 USC 926A] So, as always, the answer is "it depends."