We have gun laws. We just don't enforce them.

After I published the story this morning about the potential bombing suspects arrested in Missouri, I found myself chatting with Oliver Willis about it on Twitter. In a completely unexpected fashion, he chose to focus on one aspect of the story which I had mentioned, but not gone off on at length. (The limits of 140 character limits are cleaned up a bit.)

Interesting how you gloss over the straw purchase element of this story. Man, how about them gun laws.

Followed by,

Gun law [were] used to stop possible terrorist bombing, Hot Air’s main gun law guy just notes it like [it’s no big deal]. Just saying. It’s also how guns flow to states the Right uses as examples of gun laws not working – DC, Chicago, etc.

I bring this up for general discussion not because it is so unusual or somehow a rallying cry for or against Second Amendment rights, but for precisely the opposite reason. This argument is notable only because it is so exceedingly common on the Left, and because it is so completely and absolutely, mind bogglingly wrong.

I pressed Oliver a few times to try to discern exactly what his complaint was about my coverage of the event, but never really got much further than the fact that I had noted how the two criminals in question were caught, in part, because they attempted to conduct a straw man purchase of the weapons. (Apparently I failed to stop talking about Ferguson entirely at that point to go off on a seven paragraph jag about how wonderful gun control is, which was the original gripe.) In that volley, we see the crux of so many liberal arguments in favor of increased gun bans.

The idea they try to convey is that had there not been a law stopping that purchase, people probably would have been killed. It then gets extended – just as Oliver went on to do – to say that lax gun laws allow people to make such purchases in more Second Amendment friendly states and transfer the guns into heavily restricted areas such as Chicago and the District of Columbia. Ergo, this “logic” tells us, we should ban or heavily restrict gun sales everywhere.

Have any of you guessed the fly in this particular ointment yet? Straw purchases, using a fake ID, or otherwise illegally attempting to portray yourself for the purposes of obtaining a weapon is already illegal across the nation and at the federal level. No rational person that I’ve ever heard from is arguing in favor of allowing criminals to illegally purchase guns by way of fraud or identity theft. Nobody. It’s against the law, and law abiding gun owners don’t want that either. The problem is, we don’t enforce the laws that we have now.

Using this argument as en excuse to not sell guns to law abiding citizens anywhere in the country is, I’m sorry to say, not just wrong. It’s absurd. We don’t need laws to stop the law abiding from owning guns… we need to catch the criminals who would use them to break the law. It’s really exasperating to think of the number of times I’ve had this conversation over the years. The concept is so staggeringly simple, and yet it seems to completely elude those who reflexively welcome any government measure to further hinder the right to keep and bear arms.