GHayesEditor’s Notebook

by Gila Hayes

Obama’s reelection, coupled with shootings by mentally ill people, brought on gun ban legislation with a fury. In pursuing the illusive goal of “public safety,” there seems no limit on the freedoms governors and legislators will destroy. Though the outcome of the Federal gun ban is yet unknown, I am certain that whatever law is pushed through in 2013 will only be the prelude to additional restrictions. Meanwhile, individual States have suffered a cascade of gun legislation.

My home state was no exception. The proposed gun restrictions in Washington State did not make it out of committee, though I never really feel safe until the session closes and the legislators go home. The 2013 bills were the most extreme I can remember in fifteen years, including proposals for in-home inspections by law enforcement to assure compliance with bans of a number of common firearms and high capacity magazines.

Had the worst happened, I suppose family in the remaining free states like Idaho, Montana or Wyoming would have found a way to take in our gun collection for the years it would take to argue the Constitutionality of the restrictions. If challenges failed, I foresaw no alternative to moving out of state. Having to crystalize even these rudimentary worst case responses brought to the forefront something that has been clanking around in the back of my mind for quite some time. Should freedom-loving citizens get out of heavily restrictive states and cities?

I fear gun owners moving out of hostile states in droves would be the death-knell for fights to increase gun rights, as I was reminded when Network members emailed me recently about their efforts in Illinois and New York. One, our long-time member Larry Pyzik took cases of the Network’s 24-page booklet with him to the yearly Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day. Pyzik was among the estimated 8,000 Illinois gun owners marching in their State’s capitol. Our Illinois friends say they are buoyed by ever-more-likely hopes to pass concealed carry legislation.

New York’s SAFE law is on hold until the courts rule on its Constitutionality. This will take time and cost money. I admire the work of our New York members and encourage you to join us in helping to support their fight. You can read more at http://www.nysrpa.org/.

Leaving restrictive states is not an easy solution. I frequently speak with callers from places like New York, Illinois or Hawaii, who want to know if they join the Network, will we defend them if they violate their state’s gun laws. We point them to the Network applicant’s statement (statement’s full text here ) emphasizing, in part, that the Network cannot help defend “additional criminal charges (unlawful possession of concealed handgun, for example) associated with the [self-defense] incident.” The Network cannot support–our foes would say “encourage”–members to knowingly violate laws.

Why do people choose to live where government so oppresses their rights? Concerns for family unity and for their livelihood are among the top reasons people give for “being stuck” in a gun-hostile area, though both family and jobs can suffer when people are fined or go to jail when caught violating the law. A broader concern asks, what would happen if freedom-loving people leave oppressive states? Our own Founding Fathers fled England to escape religious persecution. In seeking parallel examples, I wonder if freed slaves moving North after the Civil War helped or hurt the prospects of those who could not leave? Did improvements in the lives of those who moved inspire and support the Civil Rights movement later?

For gun owners in today’s hostile political environment the options are to move to a state with better self defense rights laws, violate existing laws and risk punishment, or obey restrictive gun laws and risk being killed or crippled by a violent criminal. If we flee oppression, as did our Founding Fathers, will we eventually run out of places to run, or will we establish enclaves of freedom? Are those left behind harmed if armed citizens abandon restrictive cities and states? If we are consistently outvoted should we stay in an area or should we leave? Though each individual must choose what is right for him or her, I am interested in your solutions. Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 

[End of April 2013 eJournal.
Please return next month for our May edition.]