In an election that saw conservatives celebrating the newly-red electoral map, a few less-than-wonderful referendums managed to find popularity with the public. The worst of all was probably Washington state’s Initiative 594, a sweeping gun control law that is already having some unintended consequences.
Case in point: the Lynden Pioneer Museum has decided to remove eleven World War II-era rifles from their featured exhibit because they might be in violation of the new law. The exhibit, “Over the Beach: The WWII Pacific Theater,” will go on without the displayed rifles. The rifles are being given back to their owners because I-594 requires background checks on all gun transfers, including those between two private citizens.
The museum’s website explained the decision:
The museum will be returning these guns to their owners because as of Dec 4th, we would be in violation of the law if we had loaned firearms that had not undergone the background check procedure. Nor would we be able to return those firearms unless the owners completed the back ground check procedure.
Advocates of the law are unlikely to be swayed by such a consequence, but it is the perfect illustration of how gun control measures have a remarkable capacity to overshoot their aims. Many times, unfortunately, the unintended realities of these laws create situations worse than those the laws were trying to fix.
Gun-free zones have turned into welcoming spaces for would-be mass shooters. After all, if you’re going to kill a bunch of people, you’re probably not going to be deterred by a federal gun charge. That’s what? Five years tacked on to your consecutive life sentences? Not much of a deterrent.
There’s a reason why the vast majority of gun control legislation is fiercely opposed by police officers. Out on the streets, confronting gun violence on a daily basis, they understand that stricter laws do not translate to safer cities. But you don’t have to be a police officer to see that. Take a trip to the South Side of Chicago and see what that city’s gun ban has done to eliminate violent crime and murder.
Gun control laws, in their peculiar way, are more similar to thought policing than they are to traditional laws against murder and rape and the rest. By attempting to criminalize the instrument in addition to the crime itself, lawmakers are double-dipping to give people a false sense of security.
It’s perhaps fitting that Washington’s new law would affect a World War II museum before anything else. In the 1940s, we took up arms to defend freedom. In 2014, we vote it away at the polling booth.