I’ve had a few readers take me for task for insisting that I’ll follow all applicable laws, rules and regulations in the firearms raffles I’ve recently conducted. They’ve claimed that “nobody will ever know” if they win, drive across state lines to meet me, and just collect the gun in person. “The Second Amendment says it’s OK!”, they trumpet. “We can ignore any laws that don’t obey the Constitution!”
Well, quite apart from questions of basic honesty and morality, here’s why I won’t follow such requests.
A man charged with illegally buying the gun Kyle Rittenhouse used in two deadly shootings during the Kenosha unrest last August appeared in court Tuesday.
Dominick Black, 19, of Racine, was charged with two counts of intentionally giving a dangerous weapon to a person under the age of 18, causing death.
He entered a not guilty plea.
. . .
At the time of the deadly shootings, Rittenhouse was 17 years old and not legally permitted by Wisconsin law to buy or own an assault rifle.
Prosecutors said Black bought the gun for Rittenhouse in what is known as a straw purchase.
. . .
Black could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
That’s why I said, as clearly as possible, in my raffle announcements:
Needless to say, all laws, rules and regulations will be followed. If you live in Texas and are within easy driving distance of the Wichita Falls area (my nearest big city), we can do a face-to-face transfer; otherwise, the firearm will be shipped to your Federal Firearms License dealer and transferred there, complete with background check. Please don’t ask me to break the law, because I won’t. I’ve been a prison chaplain, so I already know how unpleasant life behind bars can be – and you don’t want to find out.
I even took the trouble to contact the ATF directly to check that I had the law straight, and would not be in violation of it by following the above procedure. The representative to whom I spoke gave me the green light to proceed on that basis, and provided that I didn’t buy the gun for the purposes of the raffle, but used one that was already part of my collection, and had been for some time. (Disposing of all or part of one’s collection to defray medical expenses is apparently regarded by the agency as justified by a legitimate need.)
Folks, we may disagree on whether a given law, or rule, or regulation, is constitutional or appropriate or fair: but when the rubber meets the road, the legal system applies and enforces existing laws. Unless a judge rules that law to be unconstitutional (which happens very seldom), it will govern our actions, and a jury will find us guilty or innocent based on how well we followed and obeyed it (or otherwise). Feeling resentful and/or rebellious about it won’t matter a damn in the cold, hard light of a court of law, where facts rule (or, at least, are supposed to rule) over feelings.
If Dominick Black is convicted of a straw purchase, he’ll not only go to prison: he’ll also lose his Second Amendment rights for the rest of his life. Furthermore, whether or not Kyle Rittenhouse was legitimately defending himself when he shot his three opponents (which has yet to be adjudicated in court), he’s already openly and publicly admitted to being guilty of involvement in the same crime. Even if he’s found innocent of murder, I expect he’ll be charged with that violation, and – if convicted – he’ll probably spend time in prison for it, and lose his Second Amendment rights as well.