Friday, February 14, 2020

The Phone Call I've Always Feared

Today just as I was getting ready to call it a day for work, I received a phone call - a call I've always feared receiving. "Hey, we saw someone trying to break into the house and they ran off in the direction of your house. I'm not sure if you're home or not, but get a hold of your wife and have her lock the doors."

My heart sunk.

Fortunately I was working from home today, so my wife was only a few steps away from my home office. But the first thing that came to my mind was "Oh my God, what if I wasn't here and she was home alone? What if they tried to break in and she was the only person here?"

My house is at the entrance of a dead-end lane. From the moment I received that call from my neighbor, I timed the response time of our local police department. It took 25 minutes.

I'm not writing anything negative against our local law enforcement for this response time. We live in the middle of the country. This call didn't require an urgent response because the person did run off, and no lives were in immediate danger. I feel that's an acceptable response time in this case. However, even if the response was half that time - 12 minutes - that's still an eternity, and if someone had broken into the house and was attacking my wife, there's no way that law enforcement will arrive in time to stop it.

This is why we have firearms in the home - readily accessible in case of an emergency.

Right now there are a lot of proposed laws in the Maryland legislature further restricting firearm ownership. The harsh reality of these proposed laws is that none of them will make us any safer. In fact, several of the proposed laws will actually reduce my wife's safety.

HB1261 redefines "assault weapons" to include a much larger number of rifles, prohibiting their purchase after October 1, 2020, as well as requiring registration of current "legally owned" long guns which are redefined as assault weapons. How does this make my wife less safe? The new definition is basically any semi-automatic magazine fed rifle with a single feature, such as pistol grip. Weapons with pistol grips are much easier to handle, and by restricting the types of firearms my wife can purchase in the future, the Maryland legislature is reducing her chances of survival if someone ever breaks in with the intent to do her harm. On top of it all, we have to pay a minimum $290 registration fee for firearms we already own, and can never transfer the firearms. We're now being taxed on property we purchased years ago, all in the name of "public safety".

HB0636 and SB0646 make things even more difficult for my wife by implementing intentionally vague requirements prohibiting someone from storing a firearm where an unsupervised minor could access it. The proposed law as written could theoretically result in myself and my wife being charged with a misdemeanor just for having our firearms readily accessible, even if we don't have children in the home, since a family member could bring their children to visit.

To add to the insanity, the Maryland legislature is now trying to solve problems that don't even exist.

HB0910 and SB0958 prohibit private manufacture of firearms, which is contrary to the ATF ruling that a Federal Firearms License is not required for private manufacture of firearms for personal use. Let's be honest, how many homemade firearms have you heard of being used in a crime in the news?

Then there's HB1257 which increases the cost of doing business for gun shops. This will only result in higher prices at gun stores, meaning less affordable firearms.  SB0422 will have a similar effect in that it will increase the yearly cost of possessing a conceal carry permit, taking away firearms from law abiding citizens while doing nothing to disarm the criminals carrying illegally.

Enough is enough. Our legislature needs to start focusing on real issues, instead of trying to make life more difficult for law abiding firearm owners who simply want to be able to defend themselves.

Criminals don't care about laws. They carry whatever firearm they want anyway. Maybe it's time Maryland started trusting its own residents, instead of trying to control them.

This is an opinion piece by Ken Buckler, Editor.