Myth #1: States right to form militias.
Gun control groups such as Handgun Control Inc. have argued that the Second Amendment applies only to a state's right to form a militia and does not guarantee individuals the right to possess arms [see here]. But read what one Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice said about the Second Amendment:
"The right is general. It may be supposed from the phraseology of this provision that the right to keep and bear arms was only guaranteed to the militia; but this would be an interpretation not warranted by the intent. The militia, as has been explained elsewhere, consists of those persons who, under the laws, are liable to the performance of military duty, and are officered and enrolled for service when called upon.... [I]f the right were limited to those enrolled, the purpose of the guarantee might be defeated altogether by the action or the neglect to act of the government it was meant to hold in check. The meaning of the provision undoubtedly is, that the people, from whom the militia must be taken, shall have the right to keep and bear arms, and they need no permission or regulation of law for the purpose. But this enables the government to have a well regulated militia; for to bear arms implies something more than mere keeping; it implies the learning to handle and use them in a way that makes those who keep them ready for their efficient use; in other words, it implies the right to meet for voluntary discipline in arms, observing in so doing the laws of public order." [emphasis added]
-- Thomas M. Cooley (1824-1898),
Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and author of the leading nineteenth-century works on constitutional law.
Whew! Powerful stuff. Not only does Chief Justice Cooley assail the major position of Handgun Control Inc. and most gun-control politicians, but he goes a step further. Cooley's comments blow a huge hole in the idea of licensing and registering of firearms when he says that the people need no permission or regulation of law for the purpose.
Thus, in the view of a State Supreme Court Justice and a recognized authority on constitutional matters, licensing and registration would be a violation - an infringement - on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Ah, but that's an "outdated" opinion I hear someone in the audience say. Or perhaps you are thinking that this is only one man's opinion (an expert's opinion to be sure) and today we are much more "enlightened" about history. Here's what one Second Amendment expert says about the "collective rights" theory with regards to the history of the Constitution.
"In recent years, it has been suggested that the Second Amendment protects the "collective right" of states to maintain militias, while it does not protect the right of "the people" to keep and bear arms. If anyone entertained this notion in the period during which the Constitution and Bill of Rights were debated and ratified, it remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of the eighteenth-century, for no writing surviving from the period between 1787 and 1791 states such a thesis.
Stephen P. Halbrook, Lawyer, expert and commentator on Second Amendment issues, author of That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right(1984) [ Emphasis added]
Further, Handgun Control Inc. knowingly attempts to deceive the public with fun little tidbits like this:
The "militia" was not, as the gun lobby will often claim, simply another word for the populace at large. Indeed, membership in the 18th century militia was generally limited to able-bodied white males between the ages of 18 and 45 - hardly encompassing the entire population of the nation.
Stop. Think. The year is 1775. Life expectancy was between 55 and 70 years of age on average (no antibiotics, poor medicine, poor diets, et al). Women did not yet have the right to vote believe it or not, and women were prohibited from military service. The population was predominately white European settlers and blacks were still slaves under the laws of England. So that 18-to-45 years includes the bulk of the population and excludes the very young and those considered "senior citizens". So what sizable group are we leaving out?
But as the commercial says, "But wait! There's more!
In the 20th century, the Second Amendment has become an anachronism, largely because of drastic changes in the militia it was designed to protect. We no longer have the citizen militia like that of the 18th century.
Today's equivalent of a "well-regulated" militia -- the National Guard -- has more limited membership than its early counterpart and depends on government-supplied, not privately owned, firearms. Gun control laws have no effect on the arming of today's militia, since those laws invariably do not apply to arms used in the context of military service and law enforcement. Therefore, they raise no serious Second Amendment issues.
Today's National Guard is what the framers of the Constitution referred to as a select militia. A select militia was a band of semi-professional, part-time volunteers, paid for their service and viewed by many as little better than a standing army. One must remember that the British used such select militias formed from Hessian mercenaries during the years prior to the forming of this country.
Further, one will note that the National Guard was not formed until the early part of the twentieth-century (1917 actually), thus something existed up until that time that was deemed to be the militia. The guardsmen cannot be the militia we spoke of, for their arms are owned and provided by the government and guardsmen are prohibited by law from keeping their own military arms (32 U.S.C. Sec 105[a]).
Finally, consider this statement of Tench Coxe from the period of the Constitutional Convention;
"The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to overawe them." [emphasis added]
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Myth #2: You're n Times More Likely ...
First it was A gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used against a family member than to kill a stranger. Then it was revised downward to 22 times. This lower number is still in use by Handgun Control, Inc. on their website even though I have seen other quotes using an even lower figure of 6 times in some recent news articles. But where did they get this number? The results may surprise you.
First, though, let's look at their statement of "fact". Note that the sound-byte quote above (using the 43 times figure) says that the gun is more likely to be used against a family member. This phrase, used against includes homicide, injuries, suicides, threats of shooting and a shot that misses the target. But look at the other "qualifying" phrase that it's compared against. The phrase is "than to kill a stranger". Thus, they are comparing instances in which a firearm is used in almost any manner against a family member to those cases where a firearm is used to actually kill a person unknown to the user or perhaps the user's family.
Such a comparison is not valid on its face. To be a valid comparison one would have to compare the killing of a family member against the killing of strangers. But this too would be incorrect because there can be (and unfortunately there are) many cases where a family member is an unlawful attacker or chronic domestic abuser. But there's more.
Firearms, as a defensive tool are seldom used to actually kill an attacker. Historical evidence, through newspaper accounts, police reports and even government studies indicate that the mere sight of a firearm causes most attacks to stop either with the suspect fleeing or submitting to the citizen for arrest. Generally, in less than 15% of the incidents is any shot fired. This includes warning shots, shots that miss and the wounding of a suspect. And actually killing occurs in less than 5% of the incidents. So the statement by HCI may actually be true, but it is so limited and limiting as to be misleading in comparison real-life encounters. If we discount all the non-firing, non-lethal defensive uses of a firearm, we are left with a tiny fraction of their practical uses! This is the same as studying only airline crashes where the fatality rate is in the 90% range and ignoring all of the flights that land safely, then concluding that airline travel is much more dangerous than driving your car to work every day.
I should point out that the original study which gave birth to the 43 times figure was seriously flawed. Like the airline example above, the researcher studied domestic homicides in only the northwest U.S. and compared them with defensive homicides against non-family members. What qualified as a "family" member were room mates and acquaintances as well as blood and marriage relationships. Excluded from the defensive homicides were persons known to the household, even if they were committing illegal acts at the time. Thus, the study excluded uses of the firearm to "scare off" an intruder or aggressor and incidents where a shot was fired but did not produce a body to be counted.
The study was performed again, in 1998 according to HCI, and the number revised downward to the 22 times figure. Once again they omitted the legitimate, non-fatal uses of a firearm as well as safe recreational uses. Remember that HCI has publicly said that the only legitimate use for a firearm is a sporting use and this disqualifies self-defense as "legitimate". In their minds anyhow.
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Myth #3: Gun Laws Work to Reduce Crime
Most gun laws don't work.
The only people who obey the gun laws are those people who are law-abiding in the first place. Gun owners follow the laws to avoid criminal penalties because, no matter how much they dislike the laws, they don't want to be a "criminal".
Criminals, on the other hand, are those people who show a disregard for the law by their activities. Murder has been a crime for centuries, yet we still have a large number of them every year. The penalty for murder is the ultimate penalty in some places, yet it doesn't deter hardened criminals from killing people. Think of drug pushing gangs -- they already know drugs are against the law but they continue to sell them. Many are convicted felons back on the street. They know possession of a gun is illegal, but many do it anyhow. Handguns in the hands of minors is illegal, yet gangs often provide guns to their "minors" to carry for them because a first-offender is usually lightly punished. If the minor is arrested and the gun confiscated, the felons know where and how to obtain guns illegally. In fact, in some gangs it's considered a badge of honor to have been arrested and/or been in prison.
Much has been made of the straw-man purchase of late. This is where a criminal gets another person to buy a gun for them, using their "clean" personal profile to get past background checks. This has been illegal since the 1968 Gun Control Act -- for 32 years! But the criminal doesn't care, he just wants a gun any way he can get one. He doesn't care about the "friend" who buys it for him nor the owner of the store where he buys it. If they get into trouble over it, he does not care one bit. Nor will he care one bit about you, your family, your mortgage, car payments, social standing or medical bills when he comes to rob, rape or murder.
In short, the criminal doesn't give a damn about the laws. He will commit whatever acts he feels like and use whatever weapon he can get to make himself more intimidating.
The gun control proponents claim that gun laws work. Even to the point of blindly adhering to their faith in these laws in the face of the factual evidence. Here's a clip from HCI's website:
Despite claims by the gun lobby that most gun laws are unnecessary and ineffective
at preventing gun violence, our gun laws do work. While Handgun Control recognizes
that gun control regulation is not a cure-all for all of our nation's youth and gun violence
problems, national, comprehensive gun laws -- such as the Brady Law and the federal
assault weapons ban -- have proven to be successful and effective tools for keeping the
wrong guns out of the wrong people's hands. Today, violent crime has fallen for six
straight years, thanks, in part, to strong gun laws that provided mandatory background
checks, banned the most dangerous types of assault weapons, and limited accessibility
to kids and criminals.
-- Handgun Control, Inc. Web site
I will call your attention to their "factual" statement that federal laws like the Brady Law have proven to be successful and effective tools for keeping the wrong guns out of the wrong people's hands. That's a dandy statement. HCI says these laws are proven to be successful, yet they do not cite any proof or studies. But there is a study on the effectiveness of the Brady Law. Just as I was putting several pages together (including this one), a new study was published. Unfortunately for the gun-control advocates, it's dismal news.
Here are excerpts from the Washington Post's copyrighted article. Click on the title to view the original (if still on-line). Emphasis added to the text for clarity.
Brady Law's Effect Is Discounted
By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 2, 2000; Page A01
A provocative new study published yesterday concludes that the 1994 Brady law restricting handgun purchases has had no effect on firearm homicide and suicide rates in states that previously had looser controls.
The study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed national homicide and suicide data between 1985 and 1997, dividing the states into two groups: 32 that adopted the Brady law's handgun purchase controls in 1994 and 19 (18 states plus the District) that already had Brady-style restrictions.
While the study confirmed a well-documented reduction in firearms deaths throughout the country beginning in 1994, the data showed no difference in the overall rate of decline between the two sets of states.
"Our analyses provide no evidence that implementation of the Brady Act was associated with a reduction in homicide rates," the study said. "We find no differences in homicide or firearm homicide rates to adult victims in the 32 . . . states directly subject to the Brady Act provisions compared with the remaining control states."
Homicide rates in the United States surged steadily, even precipitously, between 1985 and 1993, with the biggest spike coming in 1991. Researchers generally attribute the rise to the crack epidemic in the nation's inner cities and the gun violence that accompanied it.
The new study, one of the few to examine the effects of the Brady law, did not look at interstate gun trafficking or the effects of the so-called secondary market in gun sales between individuals, in which 34 percent of gun transactions take place.
Gun control advocates say examining those is critical to evaluating the effectiveness of the Brady law. Georgetown University public policy specialist Jens Ludwigs, who cowrote the study with Philip J. Cook, a crime researcher at Duke University, acknowledged that their data could not address such issues and agreed that more research needs to be done.
Ludwig noted that the study did find a sharp drop in gun suicides in the "Brady states" among adults 55 and older, which suggests "that Brady has saved lives by reducing suicides among older people." Ludwig said older people are perhaps less likely to buy guns on the secondary market and therefore most likely to be affected by the Brady law waiting period, giving them an opportunity to reconsider suicide.
But like Ludwig and Cook, Yale University researcher John Lott concluded in his book "More Guns, Less Crime" that the Brady law is not a factor in reducing gun crime: "In my research, the foremost effective things are arrest rates, conviction rates, prison sentences and the death penalty."
Of course Handgun Control, Inc. and it's spin-off sister organization the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence claim the study is flawed on one hand - by not addressing interstate movement of firearms, yet also claim it proves gun crime is down (which they attribute to the Brady Law). Despite HCI's claim that the Brady Law is "proven", the only significant study on the subject says it has not had an impact on crime. Note: If the Brady Law was effective by some measure, you would expect to see gun crime drop much more than the same crime type where a gun was not used. Yet crime is down in most categories, with or without guns. Adjusting for the overall drop in crime and not finding measurable differences indicates that the Brady Law's effectiveness is minimal, if any.
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Myth #4: The Gun Show "Loophole"
Or How to build a registry of every gun owner
First off, let's get some terminology straightened out. Someone who is a legitimate, licensed firearm dealer has a Federal Firearms License or FFL. He's called an FFL dealer or FFL for short. Under federal law, if you engage "in the business" of buying and selling firearms you must obtain a license. The laws were written to permit citizens who were not running a business to buy and sell up to a certain number of guns each year (I believe that number was between 8 and 12) without getting a license. This allowed someone to sell a firearm for cash and then purchase a newer firearm without needing a license. So far, so good.
Private Party Sales
Private parties, under federal law, are not obligated to fill out all the forms to buy and sell a firearm from one another. Working out a trade or a simple sale between two neighbors can be done under federal law without having to conduct all the paperwork and the background check. Why? Because the laws were written to allow private individuals to sell their firearms occasionally without being labeled as a "dealer". Being classed as a "dealer" results in onerous requirements for bookkeeping, security, place of business, hours of operation, state and local licenses and of course inspections. It would be unreasonable to ask a citizen to obtain a license to sell off one or two firearms.
Likewise, federal laws permit private persons to sell off an entire collection or part of that collection without the requirement to become a dealer. The catch is that when you sell off that collection, if you also buy too many guns you trigger the "dealer provision". Even too many "trades" can trigger that dealer license requirement. If you are only selling, the law allows you to liquidate your holdings. But if you sell a lot of guns, then buy up more than a fixed number with all that cash, you can find yourself in serious felony territory with the folks at Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
The Gun Show Debate
The gun-control proponents would have you believe that a majority of the people in gun shows are criminals, as are the sellers and the parts vendors. Far from it, the shows are often rigorously run in accordance with state, local and federal laws. They claim that "many" guns are purchased illegally from private parties and "unlicensed dealers" at these shows. Additionally, they bemoan the availability of gun parts and books and magazines who's contents they find objectionable -- such as old military books on survival tactics, urban combat, sniper tactics or how to make fireworks and explosives.
Of course they use the term unlicensed dealers to refer to private parties who are selling their own firearms, be it a single .22 rifle or a whole collection of top-grade hunting rifles. Legally, these people do not need a license to sell a firearm. The problem, according to HCI et al, is that the buyers of these guns can be a criminal and that they can buy a gun "no questions asked" and avoid the Brady required background check. Let's examine this background check for a moment.
The Brady form requires the person's name, address, place of birth, social security number, driver's license or ID number et cetera to identify the buyer. Then it requires firearm information. The manufacturer's name, model, serial number, barrel length, cartridge caliber, finish of the gun (blue, stainless steel, nickle). If the purpose of the background check is to simply verify the eligibility of the person, why does the FBI (or your state) require the detail information about the firearm? All we really need is the person's identity information and a reference to the type of firearm -- rifle, pistol, shotgun or "other". Once the person's background is checked, if it becomes a negative response (i.e. prohibited from buying) the government has fulfilled its duty to prevent the sale. But when the government obtains the firearm detail it can record the owner's name and exactly what guns they own. And because history has repeatedly shown that when governments know what guns are in private hands they move to begin confiscation or "reduction" programs, gun owners are very sensitive to this intrusive "data collection". And remember, our government has lied to millions of Americans about the dangers nuclear fallout, the dangers of asbestos, MTBE in gasoline and many other serious concerns.
The current structure of the law allows access to state and federal "background" checks to be conducted only by licensed dealers. Private parties are excluded from access. Thus, there is no way for a private seller to check the background of a potential buyer. By following the logic of the gun control advocates we would have a "California-type" system where all sales must be conducted through an FFL dealer. This guarantees the recording of detail information to build registration databases of both firearms and gun owners, tied to the gun owner's driver's license AND social security number. But this is not necessarily a good thing, as discussed above.
There is a better way
Suppose that we permitted citizens who wanted to sell their firearms privately a way of using the Brady background check and in an unobtrusive manner (i.e. without all the firearm detail). What would this accomplish? First, each seller would be required to perform the non-invasive check by law. Secondly, a means to perform this check would have to be established that would allow easy access to almost any seller. Third, a way for the seller to record the fact that he performed the check and received an authorization.
All of this presumes that the government is actually permitted "prior restraint" on the exercise of a constitutional right. This is dubious from my research, but we'll assume that it's permissible for now. So let's suppose you want to sell a handgun to your neighbor and you are in a state who's laws are not more restrictive that the Brady Law (California for example).
Under our "better way" law, you ask your neighbor for a driver's license and perhaps some other information, such as their place of birth. Now, using a personal computer and the world-wide-web you fill out an on-line form to send to the FBI. What's that? You don't have a computer? And none is available at your local library or a storefront office of a company like MailBoxes Etc.? Try using the automated FAX system that some places have. Call a number, enter your fax machine's number and presto a form is sent to you. Fill it out, fax it back. Wait about 30 minutes to receive a reply fax (remember that Brady law established an "instant" check system).
The last resort is to use the telephone to actually speak to a person or perhaps an automated call system. The reason I say this is a last resort is that entering names and addresses using a telephone keypad is a royal pain. But it would work if designed properly. Same result.
At the end of this session, the government issues an authorization number. This number is tied to the buyer's ID number and the date you requested the check. By law, you will be required to provide a "bill of sale" that lists the gun's information, the buyer's information and that authorization number. This is not dissimilar to what occurs today with VISA or MasterCard transactions.
Fake IDs and Fake Authorizations
People are bound to attempt to purchase firearms with false identities. Fake licenses can be easily obtained for under $50. But these people have successfully purchased from licensed dealers so this will not be anything new. Likewise, some may attempt to fake the authorization number too. But this will be easily checked by law enforcement since the ID number and date have to match.
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Myth #5: Licensing and Registration will help prevent crime
Despite the fact that gun control advocates can offer little hard evidence on how licensing and registration will reduce criminal activities, they press forward with this idea. All one needs to do is to think about the nature of most crimes to understand that this scheme will be of little benefit.
The Nature of Crimes
For crimes that are planned and executed well the perpetrators will not leave a firearm behind. Indeed, they will wear gloves and masks to conceal their identities, perhaps steal a car or someone's license plates to aid in their evasion. So leaving a firearm, even a stolen one, behind negates much of their planning.
Of course a lot of crime is "gang" crime where known criminal gangs shoot at each other and often innocent bystanders. Guns used in these crimes are stolen guns, guns purchased through a straw man purchaser, or borrowed guns from some other criminal associate, such as another gang member. And these guns are seldom left at the crime scene.
A gun may be disposed of relatively easily. Most semiautomatic guns can be disassembled into parts and the parts disposed of in separate areas. The frame has serial numbers which criminals can try to obliterate, although they can be raised by forensic labs. So the simplest method is to torch the gun, especially cutting up the frame into small pieces of scrap metal. Guns contain "hidden" serial numbers like automobiles so simply removing the visible number is no guarantee. But disposal can be even simpler than that. Ten minutes work with a Dremeltm tool will remove most identifying marks that would be left on a bullet or cartridge casing, making identification of the crime gun nearly impossible.
Registration Makes Criminals
But supposing a criminal drops his gun during a getaway or pursuit and the police recover it. Even with registration it is doubtful that the gun will be traced to the criminal. When the police do trace it to the last registered owner what happens then? Why, that owner says it's locked in his safe, strong box, or tool cabinet. And he says that he hasn't had that gun out for months. He opens the cabinet and -- "Golly! It's gone! Someone must've stolen it!" Laws will require the reporting of a stolen gun within 48 or 72 hours, but he has just now discovered the theft.
Worse yet, the police may hold the owner responsible for the crime, claiming he was negligent in not checking on his gun every few days or each week to be sure it was still locked away where he put it, even though there was no evidence that it might have been stolen. This will manufacture criminals out of law abiding people.
The entire concept is based on the principle of catching the small percentage of people who supply guns to criminals by creating a database of every firearm in the country. Thus a firearm can't legally change hands without the government knowing about it. The result will be that the last registered owner will be held responsible for crimes committed with the firearm. Unfortunately, the government's ability to keep accurate records on a scale of over 200 million guns and hundreds of thousands of transactions per year is suspect. This means that there is a risk that a gun which was legally sold, perhaps several times in rapid succession, may still be registered to you when the police investigate. No matter what documents you have, the government's claim will be that their official database is the true, correct record.
Licensing is Deciept
If you think licensing will be a simple requirement that you obtain a special ID card for a few dollars, you better sit down and hold on to your chair. Currently a license and registration scheme is underway in California - Assembly Bill 273 (AB273) - which would require annual licensing and registration of all firearms. Besides the annual paperwork, there are some problems with this plan that make me worry for the safety of thousands of citizens. Licensing is a way to tighten the requirements of who may have a gun without an outright ban.
What is a license?
A license is defined in the Oxford Universal Dictionary as permission to do something; to allow liberty or scope to; to privilege, tolerate. Thus a license is permission from the government to own or possess a firearm. It is dubious if this is constitutional since "to keep and bear arms" is defined as a right and the courts have held that the government may not exercise prior restraint (seeking of permission or paying a tax or fee) on a civil right.
The California proposal would require people to take a class in firearm safety and learn how to handle a variety of firearms - most likely revolvers and semiautomatics, plus rifles and shotguns. There is a vague requirement to prove some level of marksmanship too. Add to this the requirement that to apply for a license you must register all firearms you own in person, be fingerprinted and demonstrate the proper operation of firearms. But who does this hurt?
Licensing is Discrimination
The most serious impact will be on those who need a firearm the most. The poor and the elderly. The single working parent. Those who are physically impaired and people who have an immediate need for self-defense. Consider these points.
The additional costs for training classes, which could range from $50 to over $200.
New fees charged for fingerprinting and registration checking. Estimated to be about $20 to $35.
Transportation costs to and from classes and to and from the police department for fingerprinting. This is especially costly to elderly on a fixed income or working single parents.
Child care costs while a single parent takes training classes and travels to the police department to obtain their license.
A physical demonstration requirement will be difficult for physically impaired people, those with arthritis, or some who have lowered strength due to illnesses.
Yearly registration costs burden the owner, especially those on a fixed income or the poor. Currently one fee covers one or multiple guns, but how quickly will that change when legislators realize it can be a revenue source for the state?
Driving up the cost to purchase a firearm by adding requirements such as these is one way to deny poor people and those with marginal incomes a way to obtain a firearm. Further, criminals won't obey this law any more than they have the 22,000 laws that already exist. But public officials will certainly be pressured to arrest and prosecute citizens who's guns are stolen. And there is the problem of a "valid" license requirement to even loan a gun to a friend while hunting. Should he show you a license, under the current scheme citizens aren't allowed to verify it's validity, so you risk being arrested if his license was suspended or revoked. Or you have to visit some government agency (and no doubt pay yet another "fee") to verify his license status.
Then there is the issue of requirements that citizens have to meet. If crime doesn't fall under such a program, then "obviously" the requirements aren't stringent enough. There will be a call for more training - perhaps several days of training, further raising the costs - or special requirements for those owning more than, say, six firearms. Such requirements may include an "approved" safe (cheap safes cost $600 or more), alarm systems on homes or businesses.
Years ago a memo circulated on HCI letterhead that indicated after a licensing plan was adopted that a requirement for an arsenal license be implemented for owners of more than eight guns. This special license would require an "approved" safe for the firearms, another for ammunition, requirements that all guns be locked in the safe at all times, yearly registration requirements and a provision for government inspection at any time under the threat of losing the license and firearms. Imagine you have such a license and are in bed early so you can give an important business presentation the next morning (perhaps after catching an early flight). Knock, knock. The government wants to inspect your "arsenal" at 9:30pm and they tell you it will only take an hour or so. But you cannot refuse to allow them to enter or you lose your license. Thus you have lost your 4th amendment rights against unwarranted searches! And any government agent will instructed look around in your home for anything that might provide them probable cause to "investigate" you for some potential crime. Once that happens, they start searching your closets, drawers, records, etc.
I should mention here that I believe that gun owners should undertake some type of firearms safety training when they first purchase a firearm. But that training is offered at very minimal cost by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and many local shooting clubs do it for free or on a donation basis. And plenty of experienced NRA sportsmen can provide you with safety rules and advice for free as well.