YAGunThread - Let's keep it simple

Sorry to start the 8 millionth gun control thread, but I heard an interesting idea on a podcast and wondered what the pro-gun contingent thought.

Simple plan - screw buybacks, assault weapons bans, heavier registration, etc. Here’s what we do: If you commit a crime while carrying a gun, whatever sentence your crime would have carried is automatically doubled.

Some things I like about this: Simple. Clear. Easy to enforce. Law abiding citizens who use guns responsibly get to keep on keeping on.

The only thing I don’t really like is the general idea of taking control out of the judges hands. I don’t like 3-strikes type laws, but in this particular case I think it could work. Guns + crime = bad news, don’t do it.


Makes sense, IMHO.

Just for clarity, when you say “commit a crime while carrying a gun”, that doesn’t require that use of the gun be part of the crime? So, if you were arrested for drug possession and had a lawfully-owned gun on your person, would that qualify for the doubling?

Correct. We would be promoting the idea that crimes become much more dangerous to the person committing them if guns are involved.

I anticipate that the actual effect would be to impose even more draconian sentences on drug offenders.

Furthermore, by disconnecting use of the gun, or whether possession of the gun was legal for that person, from sentence enhancement, in favor of mere possession of a gun, you are de facto criminalizing lawful possession of a firearm. This is unacceptable.

If somebody thinks he needs to commit a crime and carries a gun while doing so, I don’t think doubling the sentence is his big concern. He’s probably more worried about whether or not he gets killed, and if that’s not enough to keep him from committing the crime, a potentially longer prison sentence isn’t that a big deal. Similar to drug-free zones in cities: you can’t get more than the minimum distance from a school in most large towns, so if they’re dealing at all, the crime is already doubled, and they’ve just adjusted to that as the new severity of the crime.

I would wager that pro-gun activists would say that carrying a gun doesn’t make a crime any more severe (say, jaywalking, or speeding), so the penalty shouldn’t be greater.

Any crime? Reckless driving? Medicaid fraud? Income tax evasion? When does a crime like failure to report income even occur? Is it when you sign the form, or when you mail it in, or when you cash the refund? The Devil’s in the details.

Maybe I don’t understand the proposal in the OP correctly.

IANAL, but I believe I will be punished more severely if I commit a crime with a gun than if I don’t use a gun in the same type of crime. Armed robbery tends to be punished more severely than strong arm robbery, for instance.

What seems to be suggested is that I should be punished more severely even if I don’t use the gun to commit the crime. I think that is going to run into Constitutional issues - you can’t punish someone for doing something legal, even they do something illegal that is unrelated to the crime.

There has to be something illegal about possessing the gun before you can punish it - that it was illegally acquired, or used in the commission of the crime, or something.

ISTM that setting up a standard where legal gun owners are punished more severely for non-gun-related crimes than non-owners is a violation of the equal protection clause.


The general idea of stiffer sentences for those carrying guns is already used for certain drug offenses and it’s been that way for decades.

As far as I know, it hasn’t produced measurable effects on crime rates. In fact, I’m not aware of any evidence that longer prison terms leads to drops in crime, while there’s strong evidence that they do not.

Since the issue of mass shootings is on people’s mind of late, it worth noting that no punishment of any sort could possibly deter a crazy shooters who are planning to die during their crime spree.

Having a high number of murders, Richmond Virginia instituted a program called Project Exile, which “shifted the prosecution of illegal technical gun possession offenses to federal court, where they carried a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison.”

From everything I’ve read it was successful.

Sure, by all means enforce the laws prohibiting possession of firearms by convicted felons. Even the much-maligned-in-the-parts NRA supported Project Exile.

That’s not what the OP is suggesting, however.

Unless one has a permit to carry, there are only a few states where people can carry guns, concealed or otherwise, without committing a crime in itself. In my state, if one is a legal permitted carrier, their permit is void if they are in the act of committing a crime.

As a gun owner, I have no problem with this law.

Isn’t open carry without a permit legal in 30 states? This does vary by municipality as well, however.

Open carry in the United States

So if I kill someone with a gun instead of a knife I get double life? That’s just not fair.

Most criminals don’t open carry, though. (For one thing, that requires a holster, which most of them don’t own). Most criminals stick the gun (unholstered) inside their waistband, covered by a shirt, or inside a jacket or hoodie pocket - and that’s concealed carry, which requires a permit in all but four states.

Somehow I don’t see criminals going out and buying a gun belt and holster so they can open carry their piece.

The obvious solution would be to legalize drugs.

You can take otherwise legal things and make them illegal in some contexts. Driving is legal. Being drunk is legal. Driving drunk is illegal even if I don’t get into an accident. If the state decides that those who carry guns while committing crimes present an unusually high risk of gun violence, then I don’t see why its unacceptable. Don’t commit crimes. We are only interested in protected the rights of LAW ABIDING gun owners… right?

I think you would have to define the crimes that would carry higher sentences just so it doesn’t get silly. YMMV

As an aside, I don’t think this will work very well. We already have plenty of jurisdictions where there are magnified sentences for certain crimes while in possession of a gun and I don’t think it makes much of a difference.

I only opened this thread to see if I could figure out why it’s called a Young Adult Gun thread.

Still can’t figure it out.

I agree with this thought wholeheartedly. 3-strike laws, zero tolerance, etc. only serve to take JUDGEment out of the hands of JUDGEs, which goes completely against common sense.

And this is what is so frustrating about the gun debates. Otherwise even-keeled and intelligent folks armed with a good sense of fairness, common sense, and reason suddenly abandon all of these traits as soon as the word “gun” comes into the discussion. In the above quote you just admitted that you will abandon your principles on punishment for one thing and one thing only: the almighty gun.

The willingness to abandon reason and common sense in relation to guns is based on fear, and fear is often based on ignorance. Better firearm education amongst the anti-gun crowd would lead to more reasonable discussions and more effective gun control proposals.

If the gun is used in the commission of the crime, it is already punished more severely. And if it is legally possessed and not used illegally, why should we punish it again? Because guns are scary or something? I guess I just don’t get what this proposal is supposed to accomplish.

Very well, though we’re now into a broader reform of criminal justice.

Yes, but drunk driving is an act, just as displaying or firing a gun is an act. Is there another circumstance where possession of a physical object is illegal or not based on other actions undertaken by the subject? There may well be, but I cannot think of one.

What crimes would make the list?