Republican Rep. Peter King is planning on proposing a law that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a ‘government official.’ These officials will include members of Congress, the President and Vice President as well as Federal judges. This law is unnecessary and would have done nothing to prevent Jared Loughner from shooting Rep. Giffords last weekend.
To put Rep. King’s proposal into perspective, he wants to make it illegal to bring a gun within nearly three full football fields (I’m including both end zones) of a government official. It’s a radius of nearly a half mile. The size of this area is overly burdensome for gun owners. It’s arguably overly burdensome for law enforcement because if a Congressman has security with him the law would allow weapons checks within 1,000 feet of him. If law enforcement wanted to do such checks, the focus would move away from the Congressman himself thus setting him up for other forms of attack.
What really gets me about this proposal is that it places the burden on gun owners in two ways. First, it places a burden on gun owners to know when they are wining 1,000 feet of a ‘government official.’ Second, it places a burden on gun owners to know who government officials are. Focusing on the second point first, how many millions of Americans have no idea who their Congressman is? Yet it is up to the gun owner to know who he is and keep their gun 1,000 feet away from him. Almost no one knows who Federal judges are, most can’t name anyone on the Supreme Court much less local District Court judges. Yet it is up to the gun owner to know who they are and keep their guns 1,000 feet away from them.
Getting back to the first point, let’s imagine a certain person has a concealed carry permit that allows him to take a concealed gun anywhere he wants. Let’s say that first this person takes his gun to the local mall. Let’s also imagine that a Congressman is shopping at that mall with his wife. Even if the man with the concealed weapon has no idea the Congressman is even at the mall, he is guilty if his gun is anywhere within 1,000 feet of the ‘government official.’ They could be in different stores and never see each other, the gun owner is guilty under Rep. Peter King’s law.
Let’s imagine that a certain Congressman is running for re-election and is going door to door to solicit votes. Let’s say he knocks on the door of a gun owner who is at the time carrying a concealed or even an unconsealed gun. That gun owner is now guilty because he’s carrying a gun within 1,000 feet of a Congressman. Let’s say the Congressman never knocks on the gun owners door but does knock on the door of his next door neighbor. It’s a shame for the gun owner, he is guilty of having a gun within 1,000 feet of a Congressman because of Rep. Peter King’s proposed law.
The possible scenarios are endless. Someone with a gun could be at the 7-11 when a Federal judge comes in to pick up milk or get a Slurpee and he is guilty because he’s within 1,000 feet of the judge. This is so whether he knows the guy buying a Slurpee is a judge or not. What if a Federal judge moves in next door? Sorry but you’ll have to give up your guns lest you have them within 1,000 feet of a government official. This is so even if you have property large enough to shoot on. If your gun is within 1,000 feet of the judge, you’re guilty.
The sad part of this reactionary and draconian law is that it isn’t going to protect government officials from anyone. Law abiding citizens don’t use guns in illegal ways and are thus not dangerous when they bring their guns around Congressmen or judges. Criminals like Jared Loughner by their very criminal nature ignore the law and it’s a safe bet that they won’t be deterred by Rep. Peter King’s law. Does anyone really believe that Jared Loughner would have decided not to go through with his shooting had King’s law been on the books? He’s a murderer, I promise you he could care less about what the law is. Thus making King’s proposed law ineffective at protecting government officials and overly burdensome on gun owners.