A Thousand Laws
It is a standard talking point of supporters of gun rights when they oppose new gun laws: there are already thousands of gun laws on the books. Why not enforce those? NRA Executive Vice President, and chief spokesman, Wayne LaPierre said we need to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently on the books in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 30, 2013.
The implication of this statement is that all of the gun laws on the books deal with public safety. But is this really true? Not really. Let me give you an example. Kentucky, like most states, has a variety of hunting seasons. For example there is a short muzzleloader deer season, in which hunters using old-fashioned muzzle loading weapons are allowed to hunt. There is a law that governs this season, so this is a gun law. But is it a gun law that implicates public safety? And does the possible non-enforcement of this law harm the general public, or just deer hunters (and of course deer). There is also a season for modern weapons, and according to Kentucky law this cannot be a weapon that fires more than one round per pull of the trigger. (301 KAR 2:172. Subsections (10) & (11). )
Kentucky Revised Statute Chapter 150 deals with the management of fish and wildlife in Kentucky, and this chapter contains numerous statutes that deal with weapons and firearms. There is a provision that allows conservation officers to carry weapons, there is a provision that prevents the discharge of a weapon across a public roadway, and by a person under the influence of alcohol. Clearly some of these provisions deal with public safety issues, but others deal more specifically with hunting management issues.
Clearly there are many gun laws that do deal directly with public safety, such as gun free zone laws, and criminal penalty enhancement laws that increase the criminal penalty for the use of a weapon during the commission of a crime. But just as clearly there are many gun laws that have no direct bearing on public safety.
The next time an opponent of gun laws says that there are already thousands of gun laws that are not enforced I would challenge them to provide a comprehensive list of those laws, explain which ones have a direct bearing on public safety and which dont, and quantify when and how they are enforced or not enforced. Until they do, these statements are little more than hot air.