Wednesday, April 8, 2015

RGJ Opinion Article: John Saludes Gets Gun Bills All Wrong

John Saludes has got the debate on new laws expanding gun rights in Nevada wrong. His recent article in the Reno Gazette-Journal is heavy on emotion, insulting to women, and chock full of the Democratic and anti-gun activist party lines. He tackles SB 175 and AB 148 with little aplomb.

Campus Carry

Saludes takes exception to AB 148, basing his argument on the fact that rape doesn’t really happen all that much on campus, and when it does, legally carrying a gun doesn’t have much of an effect. One rape is too much, Mr. Saludes.

Well that’s not the point. While rape has been the dominant reason used to justify campus carry, it is only one of the justifications. The first justification is that the Second Amendment right to  keep and bear arms does not stop at the campus gate. There is no inherent difference between a campus and the rest of Nevada.

Secondly, the right to self-defense against any threat—be it mass murder or robbery—is just a valid a reason to carry a firearm as rape. Making the debate solely or mostly about rape is narrow-minded and sexist towards men who do not wish to be victimized by criminals. Most of who would like to legally carry on campus simply don’t want their rights to be disenfranchised there or face criminal charges for doing something which is legal pretty much everywhere else in the state.

Mr. Saludes goes on to trivialize those who are victims of abductions and violent rapes by saying date or drug rapes are more common. No one is arguing that an acquaintance rape is the same as Saludes’ ‘rapist waiting in the bushes’ scenario. Does the woman raped by the man in the bushes deserve to have her rights trampled upon because of Mr. Saludes’ opinion?

Then he speaks about the costs to improve security in Idaho, where campus carry has cost over $3.7 million. Why is spending more money on increased security a bad thing? Do we decry more funds to hire more cops?

The implication is that the campuses fear that a licensed and vetted concealed weapons permit holder will suddenly become violent—of course, none of the school shooters in recent history had a concealed weapons permit. Except for perhaps signage, none of the improvements were directly related to campus carry. One could argue that these improvements, which should have been made before campus carry and regardless of campus carry, were made out of base fear.  

Actually, campus carry in Idaho is responsible for improving safety infrastructure.

Here are some of the improvements from the Idaho Statesman
“A fiscal note accompanying the legislation predicted minimal ,fiscal impact associated with posting signage at public entertainment facilities.,
 But the schools say they have had to add new staff, provide for training and purchase new equipment. Costs this budget year include:
  • Boise State University: $1.4 million for an assistant director for event security, a chief of campus police and public safety, a director of emergency management, a security technology manager, armed and unarmed officers, administrative support and purchase of metal detectors, signs, a security vehicle and ballistic vests. 
  • Idaho State University: $809,000 for four senior security officers, six dispatch officers, an emergency manager, metal detectors, firearms for security officers and protective/response equipment. 
  • University of Idaho: $580,000 in addition to the existing contract with the Moscow Police Department. Costs cover a new security system manager, security cameras, hardware and software related to new equipment to monitor entrances and exits. 
  • College of Western Idaho: $285,000 for an armed school resource officer contracted from a local department and equipment. 
  • North Idaho College: $622,000 for unspecified personnel, a campuswide exterior surveillance system and enhanced electronic access on doors. 
Boise State spokesman Greg Hahn said the concealed-carry law prompted the university to look at campus security overall and embark on a multiyear effort to improve it. The school relies on the Boise Police Department to handle serious campus incidents.
 ‘As the city gets bigger and the campus gets bigger, and with this change, knowing that weapons are going to be allowed on parts of campus, does it make sense to turn (campus security) into a larger police force and ultimately armed security?’ Hahn asked. ‘Certainly a piece of it had to do with the gun bill, but we've been hearing requests for more campus safety at all levels.’” 
So in reality, these improvements were spurred by an increased awareness of campus security in light of campus carry, not because of campus carry. Again Saludes gets it wrong, taking the headline, but not the substance, following the same, tired tactics of the anti-gun crowd.


Saludes then tries to persuade the legislators by calling them out. "Citizens entering the Nevada State Legislature first see a sign stating ‘No Firearms’ unless appropriate authorization is given. [...] Taking away the standard at colleges, yet keeping it at the legislature is pure hypocrisy."

Why yes, that is hypocrisy. The legislators, nothing more than citizens themselves, do not deserve extraordinary protection. NRS 218A.905 (8) is their special carve-out to protect themselves. The hypocrisy lies with the legislators, not with campus carry.

Domestic Violence

Saludes stated in testimony regarding SB 175 he lived as a child with a domestic violence convict that his father invited to live with his family after the convict's release from prison. The man was convicted of killing his wife. I feel compelled to point out there is no way to verify this story, nor would I want to intrude on Mr. Saludes’ childhood.

Saludes describes the man as a "gentle, humble man and the last person on earth that would kill someone. He was an artist who painted pictures." He goes on to say "I have come to realize that domestic violence happens for a variety of reasons and many times instantaneously. [...] That's what happened with this individual that led to his incarceration."

The unpredictable nature of these incidents is exactly the point. There is real way to prevent them. The only possible way would be through the use of science-fiction author’s Philip K. Dicks’ Pre-Crime to identify murderers. Guns aren’t the issue; ask the men and women who were beaten with fists, stabbed, kicked, or struck by cars.

Mr. Saludes wants guns to be confiscated from domestic violence suspects, not merely banning them for buying weapons. It sounds reasonable, but the circumstances that surround domestic violence accusations are nuanced and often not as cut-and-dried as it may seem.

Another problem lies with the fact that all too often, domestic violence accusations are baseless and the bar for successful prosecution too low. Prosecutors, judges, and juries are often biased against males. Perjury and refusing to drop a domestic violence case for lack of merit are also systemic problems, as this article points out.

It is commonly accepted that men are more often than women charged with domestic violence. Part of this is truth, and part of it is bias. There is a huge problem with false reports of domestic violence and the disproportionate destruction it can wreak on someone’s life.

"Domestic Violence restraining/protective orders are usually handed out freely by magistrates and judges applying the 'It’s better to be safe than sorry' mentality in these matters which has systemic and lasting consequences in future employment, constitutional rights, and reputation for, men, and their children, even if they are not found guilty."[1]

With both genders taken into consideration, there are over one million false accusations of domestic violence per year.

Federal law (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9)) already prohibits misdemeanor domestic violence convicts from possessing or purchasing a gun.

Should the right to own a firearm be lost by the commission of a misdemeanor? Imagine if a non-injury DUI conviction that cost you a night in jail and a huge fine cost you your gun rights forever. Should a crime with a threshold so low as a misdemeanor mean a life time loss of gun rights? All other crimes that make one a prohibited person are felonies. With such a large number of false accusations and plea deals being rampant, a misdemeanor is too low of a bar to be set.

Returning to the background check debate, something else Mr. Saludes is a fan of, background checks can’t screen out a someone who has the potential to attack their partner. Background checks only search for previous convictions and there are no statistics to suggest that lots of men who murder their women partners with guns do so by illegally buying guns in private sales. It’s all about irrationality as Saludes pointed out. The gun used in domestic violence crimes is almost always already owned.

It’s emotional horror of domestic violence that Saludes and anti-gun activists use to rally support to their cause. What kind of heartless person says no to reducing domestic violence?

And if I hear “common-sense gun laws” ones more time, I’m going to vomit.

-G. C. 

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