[This is the fourth post in a 5 part series] – I’m quite sure that Assemblyman Lloyd Levine of Van Nuys had nothing but good intentions when he introduced AB 334, the Lost and Stolen Firearm Notification Act, unfortunately this is another example of bill that will change nothing for criminals and just cause more problems for law abiding citizens. In short, this bill would require firearm owners to notify law enforcement within five working days of discovering that a gun has been stolen or irretrievably lost. As I mentioned earlier in the week, around 80% of criminals obtain guns from illegal sources and the idea of this bill is to crack down on that illegal traffic. Unfortunately the logic has a few major flaws. It’s important to keep in mind that ‘straw buying’ – that is buying a gun for someone who can’t legally buy one themselves is already illegal. Likewise, so is stealing a gun, and so is obtaining a gun from illegal sources, hence the “illegal” part.
First of all, and most importantly, guns are expensive. Anyone who followed the letter of the law and purchased a gun legally spent some real cash doing it. And anyone who has anything that is valuable, upon finding out it’s stolen, reports that theft if for no other reason than it has to be reported in order to file an insurance claim. No one likes to have their valuable items stolen, and when people have things they legally own stolen they report that. It’s the people who own things illegally who don’t report them stolen, and those are the thefts that this bill is directed at and that’s why it’s not going to make any difference at all. Just to recap, people who own guns legally already report them stolen upon finding out they were in fact stolen, who who have already broken a law by obtaining an illegal gun are not going to care about breaking another one by not reporting if/when their already illegal guns are stolen. This is just common sense. They are better off pretending they never had the gun in the first place than reporting it and opening themselves up to potentially more charges, who ever stole their illegal gun just did them a favor. But that isn’t the only problem with this bill.
If you follow the press around this bill it’s being touted as one of several which will “Help Deter Gang Violence” yet this bill makes not reporting a lost gun an infraction, and opens the person up to a fine not to exceed $100. Whoah. That’s some scary deterrence there. However if that nasty threat isn’t enough, the bill kneecaps itself by stating that:
(h) Compliance with this section does not require that a person reporting a lost or stolen handgun report the make, model, and serial number of the handgun.
Could you imagine reporting your car stolen but not telling the officer the make, model or anything identifiable about? Do you think they’d be able to do anything with that report? How soon do you think you’d be seeing your car again? So why is this any different? It’s different because this bill is not intending to help law enforcement find your lost gun, or even help give them an idea what kind of weapons are illegally out there on the street, it’s aiming to trip up people who own guns legally and turn them into criminals after they’ve already been victims of a robbery.
And just to add some brightly colored frosting to this already tasty cupcake, this bill will make law enforcements job harder. As a legal, and law abiding gun owner, the moment I find out my gun has been stolen I’m calling the cops. The moment I find out my house has been broken into one of the first things I’m going to check is my guns, and if they are missing I’m calling the cops. The only chance of my guns being stolen and me not reporting it is if I don’t know they have been stolen. Since this bill requires a report within 5 days of when a gun owner “should reasonably have known of” the theft that leaves a lot of grey area for interpretation what amount of time is reasonable. So, if in fact a gun is stolen and the owner isn’t aware of it, and the gun is used in a crime and law enforcement comes to the gun owners house rather than helping them figure out who might have had access to the gun and who might have been able to steal it, he or she now needs to contact their lawyer before saying a single word to the police. Anyone with any experience with lawyers knows that’s not going to speed the process up at all.
Unfortunately this is the prefect example of a gun control bill which is being applauded by our elected officials, yet won’t actually do anything to make people safer.
Other Posts In This Series
Part 2: Feuer’s Microstamping Bill Is Pointless
Part 3: California’s CCW Licenses Are Too Easy To Fake
Part 4: The Art of Turning Victims Into Criminals
Part 5: de Le√≥n’s Bill is Misdirected – Who Can Buy Ammo Is More Important