Last week, California voters approved a measure that could substantially reduce sentencing requirements for criminals caught with stolen firearms. First reported by The Truth About Guns and The Federalist, the now passed Proposition 47 turns several formerly “arrestable” felony offenses into simple “citable” misdemeanors. These include hard drug possession, commercial burglary, some vehicle thefts, and most firearm thefts. While some drug offenses might not be worthy of jail time, the fact that criminals can now steal firearms with relatively minor consequences is concerning.
Laws like Proposition 47 are in line with the sort of enforcement issues that drive many gun owners nuts. On one hand, rabid gun control activists cry that more laws are needed to prevent “gun violence”. On the other, these many of these very individuals are now voting to reduce penalties against the very sort of people that typically commit gun-related offenses. Such a concept is not only absurd, but it also solidifies the already widespread belief that most types of gun control serve only to harass peaceable firearm enthusiasts.
The sad truth of this matter is that strong penalties for stolen firearm possession might be one area where gun owners and firearm prohibitionists can find some common ground. As a gun enthusiast, I can certainly say that if someone stole a gun that belonged to me, I would seek harsh punishment for the offender. In a world where stolen firearms are commonly used in crime, it only seems logical to lock up society’s miscreants before they can use these tools for evil.
While Proposition 47 might have had the popular vote in California, it and Washington’s I-594 go to show that the majority sometimes gets it wrong. Like I-594, it appears that the official ballot summary for Proposition 47 lacked major details (including enforcement changes for stolen firearms and other thefts) that might have swayed voters.
The Truth About Guns report: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2014/11/robert-farago/california-decriminalizes-possession-stolen-firearm/#comments
Official Proposition 47 ballot summary: http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/en/propositions/47/