A sweet tweet suite on gun background checks

Shortly before 8 p.m. last night, Elizabeth Emken – the Danville Republican who challenged U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in last November’s election – tweeted out an image of the graphic that ran with my story in yesterday’s editions about gun background checks. What followed was a remarkable string of replies too good not to share here.

Elizabeth Emken ‏@ElizabethEmken
How to buy a handgun in #CA=> 7 steps, 3 docs, 2 tests, background ck + 10 day waiting by @Josh_Richman: pic.twitter.com/EKkfbtiW

Yep, true – no problems there.

Mr. Big ‏@Meester_Beeg
@ElizabethEmken @Josh_Richman … and after you’re done, you’re on a list so the government can confiscate it anytime they want. #2A

Except that it’s never happened. Only when someone becomes legally prohibited from owning a handgun – due to criminal convictions, mental health commitment, restraining order or some other specified reason – has this state moved to confiscate guns based on data submitted via background check. So maybe Mr. Big believes criminals and the mentally ill should be allowed to keep their guns? Say it ain’t so, Big.

Or maybe Mr. Big would contend, “Well, it hasn’t happened, but… it could!!!” To which most might respond:

With all the hue and cry over even running background checks, do you think this nation is ready to allow seizure of those guns from law-abiding citizens? How exactly would that happen? It’d be political suicide, chaos in the streets. Not gonna happen. Besides, if some Congress or administration were to bring this ruin upon themsleves, Biggie would still have his “cold dead hands” opportunity.

But, I digress – back to the awesome Twitter string, from which you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

True Tourtillott ‏@DamnTrue
@ElizabethEmken @josh_richman The waiting period for subsequent purchases is asinine.

California does limit handgun purchases to one per month. I guess True feels he needs to buy more than a dozen handguns a year.

B36Peacemaker ‏@B36Peacemaker
@ElizabethEmken @Josh_Richman Wow, that’s even harder than becoming a illegal alien

Ah, race baiting! NOW we’re cookin’!

Gil DeStefano ‏@Gdestefano95
@ElizabethEmken @Josh_Richman It’s Administrative Infringement of 2nd Ammendment rights! #AdministrativeInfringement

Well, this is the only constitutional right that directly involves an object designed specifically for the purpose of taking other human lives, so yeah, there might be some paperwork involved in trying to keep criminals and the mentally ill from having said objects.

Lurabyss ‏@Lurabyss
@ElizabethEmken @Josh_Richman Background check to buy gun in #CA ? Obama won’t be getting a gun in CA then…

{sniff, sniff} Smells like birther.

Gene Schwimmer ‏@GeneSchwimmer
@ElizabethEmken @Josh_Richman You forgot step one: Be dumb enough to live in CA in the first place.

38 million of us and just one of you, Gene; I like our odds. (I see, by the way, that Gene hails from my hometown of New York City, which outside of California might have the strictest gun controls in the nation.)

And then, this morning:

martin the Great ‏@marttheGreat7
@ElizabethEmken @Josh_Richman can americans actually count to 10,

(Martin is from the U.K.) I dunno, Martin, can Brits properly punctuate their sentences?

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • JAFO

    Golly, gee, great alliteration, Josh. Is it true that those who too often use Twitter to send tweets are known as twits?

  • JohnW

    I like the one about “Administrative Infringement” of the 2nd Amendment. Cute phrase, but contrary to Scalia dicta in Heller decision.

  • RR senile columnist

    Repeat after me ( after assuming the proper pose): This is my rifle and this is my gun.
    This is for fighting and THIS is for fun. People own firearms, not

  • Josh Richman

    I’m not a Marine, RR, so I reserve the right to use a common colloquialism.

  • JohnW

    Re: #3 RR Senile Columnist

    Oh please. That was in a couple of Vietnam war movies. But the drill instructors didn’t use that corny bit even when I was in basic training more than 43 years ago. Yes, they insisted that we use the terms “weapon” and “rifle” instead of gun and found ways to make us pay if we screwed up. But, honest, they didn’t do the “this is for fun” bit. Anyway, we are civilians.

  • bbox231

    The question is – “What policies can we institute to limit the most egregious examples of gun violence?”

    California as a “model” is suggested – but with little or no statistical evidence that this “model” would have changed the results. As a solution to the original problem, it is assumptive. Current laws are time and time again, demonstrated to have been ignored in a majority of gun-violence-related instances.

    Indiduals who (I consider – largely) paranoid as a group, defend their right to own firearms – in part – as a matter of self-defense. There is something circular and amiss when irrational fear is used as a basis with which to rationalize ownership of deadly force.

    Large capacity magazines have no useful purpose in the practical shooting sports. Most everything else used to differentiate “assault weapons” is largely a cosmetic distinction without a meaningful difference.

    The cosmetics so frequently promoted in the media to identify an “assault weapon” are, largely, the result of advances in materials and design of the same functionalities that have existed for many decades. Attempts to legislate “assault-style weapons” have repeatedly failed for this very fundamental reason.

    I’m a shooter, I once was a card-carrying member – but opted out when the NRA began to make paranoia an integral part of their political argument. I enjoy the shooting sports (but have no desire to take the life of any living being). I am of the opinion (and data supports my belief) that possessing a firearm does little/nothing to improve my personal safety and may even be a threat to my immediate family.

    An individual who purchases a long-rifle or even handgun as a form of “protection” and who resides in modern settings, is ill-informed as to the risk/benefit of these devices in close-quarters self-defense situations.

  • JohnW

    I agree with many of the ideas for restrictions on certain types of weapons, magazines and ammo; background checks; mental health etc. However, statistically and in terms of urban decay, our biggest problem is not the headline “massacre” events but the epidemic gun violence that goes on daily in Oakland, Chicago, D.C. etc.

    Besides having enough cops on the street and allowing extraordinary measures like “stop and frisk,” the key is to deal with gun trafficking. How do we do that? By having the data and technology to trace every gun used in a crime back to the last person who legally purchased the gun and holding that person civilly and criminally liable (with allowances for authenticated, non-preventable gun thefts).

  • bbox231

    I’ll add to the notion that the true epidemic gun violence has little/nothing to do with so-called “assault weapons”.

    Those who are chasing this cosmetic are distracted from the real problem(s).

    Criminal liability is already in place but inconsistantly enforced.

    Civil liability is a growing concern for those who procure firearms through legitimate channels.

  • JohnW

    If you’re the registered owner of a firearm, and somebody else uses it in a crime or kills somebody, you should be in a heap of trouble. We’re talking here about a girlfriend who legally purchases a firearm for her paroled boyfriend, and straw buyers who legally purchase the guns and then sell them on the black market.

    Had the mother of the shooter in Connecticut lived, she should have been guilty of criminal negligence. However, that is a lower level of liability than what I’m talking about for the girlfriend and straw buyer situations, where letting the guns into the hands of somebody who shouldn’t have them is intentional.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    When I made the comment last week about the photo of firearms turned in for cash, it made me do some research. There is a Mossberg 500, supposedly legal, that resembled the shotgun in the(probably staged) photo. They said the Mossberg 500 was for home protection. A bad choice, in my opinion.
    I watched videos of experts & others shooting various kinds of weapons at a target range. Shooting is a sport,just like football,boxing & racing. Think how much of an uproar there would be, if people wanted to ban football, boxing & racing, because they can be dangerous.

  • bbox231

    #9 – Ms. Lanza, as a result of her decision to acquire these things, paid a price much higher than any court would have imposed, civil or criminal. Which is exactly to my previous point.

    Buyers frequently identify “safety” and ability to “defend” oneself as a motivator for gun ownership, yet, completely ignore data which suggests that these things are far more likely to be used against the owner and/or by someone OTHER than the owner in a situation unrelated to personal self-defense.

    So, if you’re a rational thinker wouldnt you place fear of ownership ahead of a crook breaking and entering? And, if you are NOT a rational thinker, should you be allowed to own a gun?

    Having said that, those who choose to reside in remote rural settings have a very different set of considerations from those of us who reside in modern suburbia.

  • Darrin Combs

    I was so excited when I heard the often distracted citizens of this nation finally took notice that their constitutional rights were being violated. I was so optimistic that this would lead to more citizens taking notice….but then I realized it wasn’t the 1st or even the 4th that they were ready to fight for. It was the 2nd the most meaningless one of them all…typical Americans, so easily led astray

  • JohnW

    Re: 11 “Those who reside in remote rural settings…”

    Excellent point. Gun ownership for hunting, shooting coyotes that threaten livestock or for home protection is part of the culture in places like Montana and Wyoming. Also, you don’t have the lethal combination of dense urban population and lots of guns.

    As a kid in western rural Kansas, I lived not far from where the Herb Clutter family was robbed and murdered in their farm home in 1959. That’s the murder Truman Capote wrote about in the book and movie, In Cold Blood.

    I never heard whether the Clutter family had a shotgun or two around the house. Most farmers do. If they did, they didn’t get a chance to use them. But they were killed by a shotgun and having their throats slit.