Gun Ownership

With yet the next chapter in the endless story of mass shootings in the United States being in the forefront of the media because of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, I feel almost compelled to write about it. Knowing full well that my two-cents worth will be readily lost in the storm of opinion and editorializing that follows such incidents. I am also keenly aware that most of my readership do not read my blog for this type of editorialization. But if what I have to offer can help others understand the problem, or better yet, devise a solution, then it will have been worthwhile. But, spoiler alert, I don’t have any answers to the problem. I can only hope to give those who may be unfamiliar with firearms, their use, or the laws governing them, a better understanding of all the facets involved in any discussion about gun violence.

As I sit here and think about what I want to say, I am starting to realize that this may need to be a series of posts, as there is too much information to share in one long editorial. There is a limit to the length that someone is willing to read at one sitting. But I need to start somewhere.

Let me start by setting the stage as an expert on the subject at hand. I am a decorated Marine combat veteran. In the military I held three military occupational specialties (MOS) during my years of service. I was an 8151, a 0326, and a 0317. You can Google any of those to find a description of what they mean. I had become an expert with most any readily available mass manufactured weapon used by our military or those of our allies. It was a vital skill set to the work at hand. I had also become familiar with the operation and use of the weapons generally available to and used by our ‘enemies’, because in combat you may be forced to improvise and use a weapon solely because it is readily available on the battlefield.

After leaving the military, because of my background and training, I fell neatly into a career that spanned employment as a Federal Agent and as a private security officer, most of which required the carrying of at least a pistol as a sidearm. In law enforcement, we often carried much more in the way of non-lethal force, such as OC spray, batons, tasers, etc., as lethal force was always considered a last resort used only when loss of life or serious bodily injury was imminent.

Suffice it to say, that I have spent many years owning, carrying, and when absolutely necessary, using a firearm. In the course of that work, I have always maintained a concealed weapons permit issued by my resident county. Although, when in uniform, our firearms were obvious hanging from our gun belts, there were many times during investigations or personnel security work where they would be worn concealed under a suit jacket or other concealment, like an ankle holster. There are certain security and enforcement situations in which not having a firearm displayed aids in remaining covert. In most of the ‘bodyguard’ work I have done, your principle (the person you are protecting) likes to know you are armed, but just doesn’t want it announced to the public by being on display. Concealment allows an officer to blend more into the surroundings and not become the focus of attention. In investigations, you do not want to intimidate the people you are interviewing or make them uneasy. Gaining a witness’s cooperation is paramount in any successful investigation. That is hard to do sometimes when they can’t take their eyes off the firearm on your hip.

So, let’s start here for the uninitiated. The owning, carrying, and concealment of a firearm as an American citizen. The 2nd Amendment that gun lobbyist and others rally around as a part of our constitutional rights relates to the ownership of firearms. It allows an American the right to bear (own) firearms. It reflects our understanding that, if not for the guns personally owned by the citizenship, we risk becoming a victim to a militarized regime. The private guns of the hunters and colonial militias were paramount to throwing off the tyrannical English government that marks our birth as a free and democratic nation. I am a supporter of that very American right to own a firearm, whether it be for sport, hunting, or recreation. This inherent right is tempered by federal, state and municipal laws that do restrict ownership from certain individuals. Those with criminal records and documented mental disorders are not given this inherent right for obvious reasons. But, in general, if you are a law-abiding citizen, the government is hard pressed to deny you the right to own a firearm. This is where the term ‘background check’ comes into play. The term means that a seller has done a check of your criminal background through systems and procedures that may differ from state to state but access the same pertinent information. Gun sellers use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to perform these checks at time of purchase. In some states, additional waiting periods are applied to certain firearms. The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act enacted in 1993, set a federal required waiting period of five days on the purchase of a handgun. But other restrictions can be placed at a state level also. Here in my home state of Pennsylvania, we for many years had a forty-eight-hour waiting period for the purchase of any firearm. With the advent of the NICS, that waiting period for long guns (rifles, shotguns and the like) was removed, however the federal waiting period for handguns is still enforced. These periods, as well as other restrictions, vary by state and are based on where you are purchasing the firearm, not based on where you live or where the firearm is most likely to be used.

In summary, without any required safety, appropriate use of force, or legal liabilities training, if you do not have a criminal background, documented mental deficiency, or meet some other criteria for restriction, you are permitted to purchase and own a firearm. Even if you have never owned a gun in your life, have no idea how to load it, clean it, or use it safely, you are more than welcome to own it. That may sound strange, but remember, we are talking about ownership and nothing else at this point. That is what the 2nd Amendment affords you, ownership.

And yes, even this beginning of the process has its flaws. Another quick Google search and you will find any number of stories about gun violence where the background check didn’t do its job, whether through human error, inaccuracy, or lack of real time data. And not every firearm comes into ownership through purchase. In Pennsylvania, a firearm may be willed from spouse to spouse, grandparent to grandchild, or parent to child, and requires no paperwork of transferred ownership to the state or background check, as there is no point of sale. A transfer from a sibling’s estate would require the receiver to complete a transfer form of ownership through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), who would presumably complete a background check as required.

Of course, criminals or those with criminal intent do not get their firearms in this way, so even with the needed fixes to the ownership problems, it may not keep the wrong individuals from ‘owning’ a firearm.

Next post we will discuss ‘carrying’ a firearm and dispel the myths with some truths.

7 Responses to “Gun Ownership”
  1. Your knowledge is informative, yet concise. I look forward to the next installment!

  2. Jim Borden says:

    Although it appears that we have opposite views regarding guns, I like the calm, reasoned approach you take and so I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on these issues so that I can become more informed. And thank you for your service!

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Jim, I am glad we have opposite views and I look forward to any input you have on the subject. Although I am hoping to have these posts be mostly informative, I cannot hide my personal views completely when discussing my own experiences. And as with any good discussion, I am hoping that there are more people with different views who will comment and help me to be more informed. The gun violence conversation must be had and opposing views must be able to hear the other side without prejudice or malice. Your take on the post is a great example to others of what having an open mind means and your views are always welcome and valid! Thanks for your continued support!

  3. edward dougherty says:

    Not to contradict you but in my personal experience purchasing firearms there was no waiting period in PA. I too have held a CCL for many years and when I purchased my Sig Sauer 45 at a gun show I walked out with it after an Instant background check. Although that was twenty years ago a more recent purchase (only 2 years ago) of a S&W 9mm and 380 from a gun store also had me walking out with them after an Instant background check. Unless purchase requirements have changed in the last few years I don’t think there is a waiting period in PA.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      I love being contradicted Ed, especially when your information is correct. With the adoption of the NICS background check, ALL waiting periods, including the federal waiting period for handguns were removed in Pennsylvania. Thank you for reading and insuring that my readers are getting the most accurate information available. Gun shows are notoriously considered the loop hole to waiting periods in other states, but here in PA we have none. Thanks again for your continued readership and comments!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] up one long standing myth regarding ‘registering’ a firearm. As stated in my previous post, Gun Ownership, outside of federal laws and statutes, gun laws can vary widely from state to state or even between […]

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