16 October 2013, 19:53

California gun control: 'they went too far' - expert

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Gun control laws in the US are met with heavy resistance by those who ardently support the 2nd Amendment. Perhaps no where else is this more evident than in the state of Colorado, the site of two of the deadliest gun rampages in the history of the US (Columbine and Aurora). Still, the voters in Colorado are adamant about their gun rights. This year, they ousted two of their state senators over their gun control legislation, which many deemed infringed on responsible gun owners' rights. To discuss this complex issue the Voice of Russia contacted David Kopel, a law professor at Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver.

According to Mr. Kopel, some gun control laws are good but the US ones just "went too far". For example, the law about background checks, on gun transfers. The state actually criminalizes law enforcement in this state.

In this sense, if a police officer takes a gun from an unconscious accident victim for safekeeping, that police officer is committing a crime because he didn’t go to a gun store first to have a background check done on himself in order to take temporary custody of the gun.

However, even in Colorado which was the site of one of the most horrific gun tragedies in the US voters still believe that there should be a particular gun control law to allow more freedom.

"You can have good gun control laws which help keep guns out of the hand of bad people and, at the same time, don’t infringe gun use and acquisition by the people who should have guns", says Kopel. "These particular laws in Colorado, when you look at the details, they just went way too far. They are mainly about cracking down on the law-abiding rather than about helping to protect the law-abiding from gun criminals."

At the same time, the very definition or that line seems to be controversial. Indeed, it is something that gun advocates and gun control advocates can’t seem to agree on.

One of the most debated gun control measures within the Colorado State legislature is limiting the number of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. While gun control advocates would say that one doesn't need more than 15 rounds for hunting or for protection others people believe that that is going too far.

In this sense, there seems to be a fundamental disconnect in terms of defining what exactly is going too far.

"One thing you can look at is what the police and the sheriffs have", comments Kpel. "Many sheriffs’ deputies and police officers carry handguns which might have a 16 to 20 round magazine as their main duty sidearm, and in their patrol cars they will typically have a AR-15 rifle with 20 or 30 round magazine."

"They set a good example for what kinds of guns are the best guns for the protection of innocent human lives", Kopel adds. "After all, when a police officer is carrying a gun he is not carrying it because he is going to go hunting that day or because he is a gun collector. He is carrying it only for the purpose of lawful protection of self and others."

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