Virginia Defeats the Scourge of Voluntary Firearms Purchases

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

While most of us have been focused on the affront to the Second Amendment posed by preventing people on some sort of federal “no-fly” list from purchasing firearms, and the draconian “red flag” (no accident in that nomenclature, that’s for sure) laws that let basically anyone report you to the police who then seize your firearms, my home state of Virginia is going after much bigger fish. I’m talking about that population legally able to buy firearms, realizes it is incompetent to handle a firearm but lacks the impulse control necessary not to go out and buy one or more guns. We used to call them imbeciles, but I’m sure there is some sort of medical condition that covers that problem today.

Sonja Wasden’s May 30 Outlook essay, “I have a mental illness. Please don’t sell me a gun.,” highlighted one of the many ways individuals can circumvent current background check requirements and purchase a firearm when they should be disqualified from doing so. As we ease out of pandemic restrictions, there’s been an undeniable surge in gun violence across the country. Meanwhile, H.R. 8 — bipartisan legislation that would strengthen federal background check requirements — collects dust in the Senate.

Clearly, we can’t wait around for Congress to take action. States are now leading the charge with constitutional gun-safety bills: passing red-flag laws, closing background check loopholes, and preventing dangerous individuals from possessing or purchasing firearms. Another way states are working to prevent gun violence, especially suicides, is by establishing voluntary do-not-sell-firearms registries. Virginia state Sen. Scott A. Surovell’s (D-Fairfax) S.B. 436 — passed in 2020 and taking effect July 1 — allows people such as Ms. Wasden to place themselves on a list so that if they experience a mental health crisis, they’ll be unable to purchase a gun.

Just a brief comment on the above article. If you have a mental illness and know you are barred from buying a gun but have sufficient wits to circumvent a background check, adding yourself on a list to keep someone from selling you a gun when you are actively evading the process designed to keep you from buying a gun makes no sense.

Here is a video on how this magical plan works. So, naturally, it is from that wellspring of sanity, Washington State.

Why a state that legalized physician-assisted suicide is opposed to DIY suicide is something I’m not really clear on, but I suspect it involves Medicare/Medicaid funding lost if a 9mm Hydra-Shok is used rather than trademarked drugs administered by a physician.

This law is simply virtue signaling of a bizarre sort. It has no real effect. If you look at Washington State data, suicides by firearms went up AFTER the law was passed and went up again in 2020.  The law has no impact whatsoever on people who already own guns. I’d wager that the overwhelming majority of suicides who use guns already own one or have easy access to one; I have a lot of trouble visualizing a lot of people deciding to off themselves and then running out to Cabela’s, waiting for a background check to be completed and the waiting period to expire, picking up their weapon and killing themselves.

The troubling part of these laws is that you can opt yourself in, but you can only get out of the system through the mediation of a medical professional. In principle, I think whatever government screw-over that is administered to anyone who uses this program is richly deserved. My concern is that this is a backdoor for getting doctors more involved in gun ownership than they should be (they shouldn’t be at all) and builds on the CDC attempting to frame gun ownership as a public health issue. As we’ve seen with the Wuhan hysteria, once you get activists in lab coats with an “M.D.” after their name involved in public policy, nothing good happens.