This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things….

Like reasonable laws.

Recently, Indianapolis City-County Councilor Kip Tew sponsored an ordinance that would  require people to file a report if a gun they owned was lost or stolen.

Laws requiring gun owners to report loss or theft of a weapon help police in several ways:  they deter gun trafficking and discourage straw purchasing; they  facilitate the return of the guns, if found, to their lawful owners; and they help police disarm people who aren’t legally eligible to possess firearms.

As an officer friend pointed out recently, timely reporting of gun thefts and losses allows police to trace guns more effectively, and makes the successful prosecution of users of stolen guns more likely.

A very small step, granted, but a step in the right direction.

Currently, however, there aren’t enough votes to pass the measure. Not because council members are opposed to it, but because several of them worry that it might violate a relatively recent provision of the Indiana Code–a provision so ridiculous I couldn’t believe it was real.

Here are the relevant parts of Indiana Code 35-47-11.1 – 7.

Except as provided in section 4 of this chapter, a political subdivision may not regulate:
(1) firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories;
(2) the ownership, possession, carrying, transportation, registration, transfer, and storage of firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories; and
(3) commerce in and taxation of firearms, firearm ammunition, and firearm accessories.

Anyone “adversely affected” by such an action is authorized to sue for damages.

This is yet another example of the legislature telling local governments what they can and cannot do (my Home Rule complaint). And in this case, what our local folks can’t do is anything that even smells of gun regulation.

But the rest of this abomination is even worse:

A person is “adversely affected” for purposes of section 5 of this chapter if either of the following applies:
(2) The person is a membership organization that:
(A) includes two (2) or more individuals described in subdivision (1); and
(B) is dedicated in whole or in part to protecting the rights of persons who possess, own, or use firearms for competitive, sporting, defensive, or other lawful purposes.

Sec. 7. A prevailing plaintiff in an action under section 5 of this chapter is entitled to recover from the political subdivision the following:
(1) The greater of the following:
(A) Actual damages, including consequential damages.
(B) Liquidated damages of three (3) times the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees.
(2) Court costs (including fees). (3) Reasonable attorney’s fees.

Short version: if Indianapolis tries to protect its citizens by controlling guns or ammunition in any way whatever, the “membership organization” (i.e. the NRA) can sue the city and recover attorney’s fees and punitive (“liquidated”) damages from our tax dollars.

Think about that.

I can’t imagine what “damages” the NRA would suffer from the passage of an innocuous and helpful measure like reporting stolen guns. (For that matter, putting on my lawyer hat,  I don’t think that “theft” comes within the definition of “ownership, possession, carrying, transportation, registration, transfer, and storage,” but I do understand council members’ concern that it might.)

If you ever want an example of the way a well-heeled lobby overrides the will–and the welfare–of mere citizens, this one’s a doozy.


  1. Let’s form our own gun rights organization! I bet we can get two members. Our organization can have the aim of protecting lawful gun owners from having to carry their guns everywhere due to proliferation of arms among unstable right-wing zanies. Any time a law is passed allowing guns in churches, schools, or other places where they are totally inappropriate, we have been harmed, and we can sue.

    What a wonderful law!

  2. Police, Sheriffs, Fire Department, the Department of Public Safety, the 10 Point Coalition, various groups of ministers going into “problem areas” and those living in the designated “problem areas” need look no further for one primary cause of their problems regarding lack of safety. It lies with our elected leaders who would ignorantly support the NRA and their lobbyists to pass such a law supporting willy-nilly, baseless disregard for lives vs. ownership, sales and/or loss of deadly weapons. The lack of legal requirements such as upheld in this quoted sections of local legislation puts our lives in jeopardy at home and on the streets, the lives of workers in businesses during armed robberies and further endangers the lives of police officers like Perry Renn and other qualified, dedicated officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect victims in this city. Is there anything “nicer” to have than our lives?

    Just as we must start at the bottom (the foundation of our government) to rebuild and strengthen our leadership; we must start at the top to dismantle and remove the current weakened structure of laws and the lawmakers that support big business whose basic interest is making money vs. protecting lives of all potential victims. And, people, we are ALL potential victims in today’s circumstances. The problem can be traced to the age-old adage “follow the money” and urging the public to pay attention to what is going on and VOTE intelligently. Of course; we must first be informed PUBLICLY of such foolish and dangerous laws as the one quoted in this blog to know what we are voting for or against. I speak as a former gun owner who sold my weapon, ammunition and small holster back to the gun shop when I no longer felt the need for protection.

  3. We had five shootings in the city last night leaving two people dead. Wonder where the guns came from. Wonder who the people were. Guess as long as the victims were not wealthy white people we don’t need to get upset.

  4. “Recently, Indianapolis City-County Councilor Kip Tew sponsored an ordinance that would require people to file a report if a gun they owned was lost or stolen.”

    Tew should know better than to propose such a State-illegal ordinance. The State has full preemption of all firearm matters. Indianapolis doesn’t get to make any gun laws.

    Simple. Quit wasting time on silly and bad ordinances, Indy.

    Ordinances such as these are just silly. A gun owner no more knows if a single gun is stolen than he would if a single fork was stolen. Unless it’s your daily gun, you’re probably not going to notice one gun missing from a collection of 50.

  5. “This is yet another example of the legislature telling local governments what they can and cannot do”

    Sheila, as I instructed just a few days ago, States are government; municipalities are administration. Once my lesson of proper classification is fully understood, the easier life will be for those in each respective rank of public service.

    Governments are not open-ended. Each level of government has specific limits. Even the State couldn’t pass this laughable “reporting law,” because the law runs afoul of the Second Amendment, thus barred to the states by the national charter, and is not one of Indiana’s constitutionally enumerated powers, thus barred by the People to the State.

    Notice a gun missing. That’s funny. A man would have a better chance of noticing a pair of socks missing.

  6. There’s absolutely no way Gopper isn’t just a troll parroting and parodying wing-nut arguments.

  7. INSTRUCTED, INSTRUCTED; Gopper INSTRUCTED, I’m assuming he means he INSTRUCTED Sheila, a lawyer and law professor. If she hired him as an INSTRUCTOR, he should be fired for just cause – just cause he is foolish. If he is the INSTRUCTOR on this blog; I may have to switch courses to a site where he is not in charge of anything other than latrine duty.

  8. It seems to me that if someone had spent the money on purchasing 50 guns, they would want them to be insured against loss or theft. It only makes sense that they would store them safely, and check on them regularly to make sure everything was in order. If guns were missing, they would of course, and sensibly, want to contact their insurance company for reimbursement. Any normal person would want to find out who took the guns, how the thief gained access to them, and so on, and report the theft to the polices so that they could receive insurance reimbursement. Furthermore, any person with a conscience would want the authorities to know the guns were out on the street, with the potential to do harm.

  9. “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    Of course these words have been debated endlessly. Logically in today’s world there is no value in having a militia of any kind. In the founders world a militia was both effective and necessary. Today, neither.

    Military today is sophisticated in armament and logistics and command and control way beyond the capability of disorganized civilians armed with whatever killing machine the NRA is peddling on any given day.

    So if the reason given for prohibition of government limititation of privately owned arms is no longer valid, is the prohibition still valid?

    Why should it be?

    Of course the advertising agency for the killing machine industry is paid well to sell the idea that it is still valid. Because we tolerate a commercial Ministry of Truth the ad men so employed are effective in their brain washing efforts.

    There are some who point their killing machines at animals for food. No longer necessary but some environmental good comes of it so regulation rather than prohibition seems reasonable.

    Some point their killing machines at paper targets and bits of clay and take pleasure at destroying them. Idiotic to me but if that’s the only entertainment one can think of than considering those so limited what’s the harm?

    The argument given which experience denies for the rest of the NRA sales is protection from bad people who, the story goes, randomly kill strangers for pleasure. I’ve never encountered such a person and know no one who has but I suppose it’s possible. But the NRA being an equal opportunity peddler wants to sell killing machines to them also.

    The net impact of the NRA Ministry of Truth is lots of dead people most of whom died for reasons that greatly undervalue human life but have created a very robust arms industry and its attendant wealth.

    All in all compared to those who die every year or will due to fossil fuel waste dumped into earth’s atmosphere and that attendant wealth supported by another commercial Ministry of Truth I suppose we might claim it to be the smaller problem.

    This brings us to election 2016. Democrats solving problems vs Republicans offering them.

    Who you going to vote for?

  10. Gopper, if you own so many guns that are stored so sloppily, you should not be allowed to have guns.

  11. I recently read a brief history on the National Guard.
    It was interesting to note, how many times the word
    Militia appeared. Originally, the organization was split
    into two groups, the Organized Militia and the Reserve
    Militia. Initially formed in the late 1500’s/early 1600’s

    Dare I even think that a connection, between this group
    of people and the second amendment exists ?

    I think that all people who purchase and keep guns
    should be required to purchase liability Insurance.
    The insurance industry is probably the only organized
    body that could perform a very intrusive background
    check on all gun owners. Since the more flaws they find
    the bigger the premium would be etc.

    It brings the whole issue down to a Money Level and lets
    face it, in the US Money is the bottom line.

  12. Why do you feel that you must “require” such a filing? If I want to claim it on insurance sure, but to draft a law requiring it? How does that stop trafficking? How does it prevent more crime? It doesn’t.

    Liberals need to quit trying to come up with silly laws that do nothing about fixing anything, but only to get them more votes.

  13. “How does that stop trafficking? How does it prevent more crime? It doesn’t.”

    It seems to me that in order for police to do their job of enforcing laws, which is the only tool we have for reducing crime, they have to know when crimes are committed. How are they going to know it if the victim doesn’t report it?

  14. The above Libs tipped their hand. This ordinance isn’t about “reporting stolen guns.” It’s a trojan horse for “safe storage” laws.

    “Safe storage” laws are, in turn, a trojan horse for mandatory insurance laws, gun registration, “arsenal” licenses, firearms ownership bars for people who fail to notice a gun missing, registration of gun homes in proximity to schools, etc., firearms bans for people who fail to add a gun to their home storage license, certifying safe storage that is inaccessible to children, prosecutions for people who don’t have sufficiently “safe” storage to prevent theft of a firearm.

    Libs usually like to hide what they’re really after with their incremental attacks on Liberty. Here, they clumsily admitted the entire game. Fortunately, everyone on the other side already knows no Lib can ever be trusted, especially in discussions of Firearms and Freedom.

    When a Lib talks about a gun, you automatically know what they’re after. Just shut them down, right away. It’s easy to do, as I’ve demonstrated here.

  15. Beacon, would you say the same thing about shoes?

    “Of course these words [the Second Amendment] have been debated endlessly. ”

    No, they haven’t, Pete. Only in the second half of the 20th Century did a war on the Second Amendment appear when the Democratic Party became infiltrated with Communists looking to destroy the country from within by tearing down America’s nature, traditions and laws. America had little discussion about the meaning of the Second Amendment until the Communist arrival.

    It really infuriates the enemies of Liberty that the American citizenry would do things like dare to show up in arms to observe Jade Helm operations, reminding the military and those who would issue its orders of where the real power in the country resides.

  16. Gopper’s perspective is always interesting even if his history is largely imaginary. It seems to boil down to this: liberty occurs only when a well armed individual is able to prevail over all others in doing anything that he wants to. In other words freedom for the well armed individual at the expense of others. Quite like the one rule of capitalism. Make more money regardless of the cost to others.

    Of course that perspective predates civilization. In fact the failure of it is the main reason for the evolution and advancement of civilization.

    I suppose a measure of extremeness in conservatives is how far back in time they want to return to. By that measure none are more extreme than he.

    Perhaps that attitude is a symptom of more fundamental beliefs. Like who to trust and collaborate with.

    Needing to be armed in order to impose on all others and repell any ideas other than yours seems paranoid to me and certainly in no way productive. Of course paranoia is the real product of the NRA Ministry of Truth so Gopper is fully in their control. It is the opposite of liberty and much like the hold that the Communists of old in Joe McCarthy’s paranoid brain used to capture their supporters.

    Like I said, interesting. Similar to studying toxic organisms that use the same tools as all life but are able to succeed only at the expense of other life.

  17. Red George; I found your comments interesting and they brought up points not commented on. When the Constitution, Amendments and Bill of Rights were written; this new country sorely needed a well armed Militia in settlements and towns. Also; people at that time needed guns for survival as they had to hunt for food and protect themselves from wild animals. Many Amendments, as written, are open to interpretation, especially !st and 2nd. We are forced to tolerate laws based on politician’s personal religious views, lies, accusations, misrepresentations via freedom of speech, the media (press) is out of control and we must beware of strangers bearing arms everywhere we go. Strange isn’t it that SCOTUS has managed to rewrite the straightforward language of the Civil Rights and Voting Amendments to suit the 1% in this country. But that, as you said and I have repeated ad nauseum, the bottom line is always money.

    Your mention of insurance is an interesting and important one; why is insuring the value of weapons (very expensive items) not part of our homeowner and renter’s insurance coverage. I learned the hard way after a burglary that my jewelry was only covered up to $100; covering expensive jewelry required a rider…at additional cost of course. Covering expensive weapons, especially for collectors, would up their profits; expensive jewelry requires an expensive rider. When I bought my small handgun in 1988, it cost $250, what do they cost now? By the way; I didn’t consider myself as part of any Militia when I was licensed to carry. Weapons should be insured for replacement value if stolen or lost in a fire if no other reason. My son-in-law bred and raised pit bulls; being expensive animals, he contacted his insurance company to ask about adding their value to his policy in case they were stolen. Was he surprised to learn that insurance companies place no value on expensive pets but did require an expensive rider to cover possible law suits against his pit bulls attacking someone. So; they worry more about dog bites than gun deaths. They should watch Indianapolis local news each morning. Hey; what about murder victim insurance or is that covered under accidental death?

    But; returning to Sheila’s original message today, we must begin by having rational protective gun laws to prevent more victims from gun deaths. Protecting residents by demanding rational registration of gun ownership and sales even between private citizens would be a good start. I will only mention in passing the gun show open sales situation. Rational laws that do not leave the City of Indianapolis open to law suits for legal attempts to protect residents from gun deaths are needed and should not be controlled by the NRA or gun manufacturers or dealers.

  18. Mandatory insurance for gun owners is, I believe, a fertile direction. Such a process would leave gun ownership alone while offering those injured by guns at least one avenue for a kind of balance: your weapon injures me and/or mine, your insurance covers my costs, pain and suffering, and the rest.

    Compare to mandatory insurance for vehicles.

    Gopper, be ashamed. You did not seriously intend to defend gun owners who lose weapons did you? People misplace pens, car keys, hats…and usually have a plan to obtain another, or have an extra in a drawer. Misplacing your gun is more like say, losing your spouse – a tidy replacement plan is not a sufficient response.

  19. “liberty occurs only when a well armed individual is able to prevail over all others in doing anything that he wants to.”

    Not quite, Pete, but your straw man is charming.

    Try this edit:

    Liberty occurs only when an individual is able to prevail over all others in doing anything that he wants to, as long as his action does not infringe the rights of another person.

  20. “Compare to mandatory insurance for vehicles. ”

    Another repugnant fusillade against Liberty. Shame on you for hiding behind such a destruction of Freedom.

    Legally speaking, however (you amateurs will want to pay attention here), driving and firearms are not analogous. So far, the Liberty-haters have been able to get away with classifying driving as a “privilege.” The Second Amendment, however, recognizes the human right of keeping and bearing firearms. A privilege may be substantially burdened, while a right may not suffer even the most minor encroachment without the least restrictive means possible to accomplish an end that stands on at least the same footing as a human right.

    So, all you driving-is-a-privilege Freedom-haters have lost the ability to apply anything from that domain to the body of firearms law.

    Any of you Libs want to say driving is a right?

  21. “Liberty occurs only when an individual is able to prevail over all others in doing anything that he wants to, as long as his action does not infringe the rights of another person.”

    Again, interesting. Might make some sense if we could agree on a workable definition of rights.

    Do “rights” include mitigating risks like safety, fear and intimidation, fraud protection, health care, the practice of any/all religions, democracy, for existential life risk needs like food and shelter, education, sexual, old age, in other words equal access to the pursuit of happiness regardless of birthright?

    If not, what are “rights”?

  22. “Again, interesting. Might make some sense if we could agree on a workable definition of rights. ”

    You won’t ever accept a right, because you start with your consequences and work back to your premises. That never works, as that’s not what a right is.

    In order to accept rights, you have to accept that people will do things with rights that you won’t approve of, and you have to agree to let it go and not meddle.

    I’ll never be as conflicted on rights as you will, because I make a priori arguments. I concern myself with proper initial conditions. Once met, I’m willing to let things play out. You’re typical of both parties. You don’t trust Liberty, so you want to meddle in every transaction to ensure the trillions of interchanges all work as you want. That’s disaster.

    My way lets people be people; your way is an utter distortion and destruction of human nature, attempted only at all through totalitarianism. In your way, everyone eats gruel, drinks cheap gin, wears dingy clothing, and gives frequent praises to the state for making all of it possible, a la, the Soviet Union, 1953.

    Juxtaposing “workability” to “rights” proves you don’t get it, at all.

  23. In your world, Gopper, those practicing liberty need only concern themselves with the initial conditions. According to you they need not concern themselves with the long range consequences of their acts of liberty by taking responsibility for and responsibility to. They need not think of others. Hedonistic and immoral to boot.

  24. AHH another Governor Dense move from the Guardian
    >>> The National Rifle Association has been instructing Indiana’s national guard members on how to use concealed weapons after Republican governor Mike Pence directed the state’s military bases and training centers to beef up security in response to recent attacks in Tennessee.

    According to a survey by the Associated Press, Indiana is the only state to enlist the NRA’s help in the training, which the gun-rights group says it will conduct free of charge for any guardsman who wants to carry a concealed handgun. Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks declined to comment and directed inquiries to the Indiana national guard. <<<> The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence criticized Pence for recruiting the NRA, suggesting the organization is “first and foremost” a “lobbying organization”. “There is no institution better equipped to train our servicemen and women than the US military itself,” Dan Gross, the Brady Campaigns president said. “This is not a job for lobbyists.”

    Why the hell is the NRA conducting any firearms training for the National Guard it is job for the Army or Police?? I would ask and the answer is provided below.
    Robert Dion a professor of political science at the University of Evansville, comments, “Any sort of association with the NRA helps his reputation more than it hurts it,” Dion said. “You can burnish your social conservative credentials by cozying up to the NRA and you can claim being fiscally responsible because you are not costing tax payers anything.”

  25. Like most libertarians Gopper confuses liberty and power. Liberty of course must be for everyone but power is always selective. But what he/she wants is selective liberty, an impossibility.

    “My way lets people be people” which is conservative code for feudalism. Those that need power are entitled to it. Absolute power doesn’t corrupt but is liberty for those who take it.

    Notice how he/she scrupulously avoids any definition of “rights” because they are not part of his worldview only the packaging of it as being honest about those who feel entitled to power doesn’t grant it in a democracy.

    Like air said, interesting.

  26. Interesting confluence of the subject of “home rule” and the Second Amendment. I think there is a legitimate policy debate to be made concerning what and how extensive state subdivisions should be able to supplement state law. Gopper is right insofar as he says that a state has the legal authority to preclude such lawmaking at lower levels, but it also has the right to permit them.

    But I think he is in error concerning whether or not a state law of the type under discussion would violate the Second Amendment. Even Justice Scalia, in the seminal Heller decision, indicated that “reasonable regulations” would still pass muster. I suspect Gopper would say that ANY regulation would be per se unreasonable, though.

  27. All organizations have in their bones a power structure. In today’s and the future’s world everything gets done through organizations.

    Government is one of the few types of organizations that has defined a power structure that allows freedom. Democracy. The ruled hire and fire the ruling. That’s the genesis of freedom and liberty.

    That’s a main reason why organizations like corporations need, but resist, regulation. It disrupts their power structure by adding non monetary goals. Regulation by democratic government is how freedom exits for those who operate within non government organizations.

    But libertarians who worship hierarchical power based organizations fear regulation because of all of that. Freedom compromises power and control.

    Scary for them.

  28. “Like most libertarians Gopper confuses liberty and power.”

    No, Pete. Like most liberals, you try to confuse Liberty.

  29. First, I have to say that I have no idea what “you try to confuse Liberty” means. But here are some thoughts that may or may not pertain.

    There was a time long long ago when it was possible to live independently from all other people. A very very hard life that left no discretionary effort for anything but survival. Perhaps it’s still possible but so few are willing to bet their lives on surviving by only their efforts that probably nobody tries any more. Why should they?

    So we all live today connected to each other in a network so complex that it’s virtually impossible to even describe. That makes us dependent on each other in so many ways that almost no action on anyone’s part will have zero consequences for others.

    Still our Constitution clearly prohibits government only from passing laws in certain specific areas of life that are deemed essential to preventing tyranny.

    That protection from tyranny is also reinforced by democracy. The ruled choose the rulers.

    As I understand Gopper’s position he would like to return to the days of total independence. As far as I know there is nothing preventing that. That’s a freedom that he has. Of course to do that he would have to separate from both the benefits and responsibilities of modern life and conduct his life outside of everyone else’s. He is though apparently unwilling to pursue his dream.

    So the realization of his preference, total independence but part of the network of modern life, is not available to anyone living today. It’s a fantasy.

    I suppose there’s nothing preventing folks from living in conflict with reality as long as they don’t break the laws of their land. So as long as he lives within our law perhaps his expression of an alternative reality is merely his own business.

    My concern though is his efforts to sell his reality to others. Like others try to sell the delusion of benign fossil fuels to others. Or the delusion that more killing machines amongst us don’t result in more killing. Or the delusion of trickle down economics.

    The Universe including life is very rigid about reality. It’s the only thing that is sustainable. Let’s not let those who are incapable of understanding and accepting it lead the rest into the dead end of their dreams.

  30. This kind of “gun control” sounds exactly like what we experienced in the state of Idaho when we lived there a few years back. The state of Idaho never reported to the Federal Gun Registration unit when guns were stolen nor did they care if they were stolen. One of the signs which we saw numerous times near our home was “Our God, Our Guns, Our Gold.” We were told to leave the state and not return because we were “too liberal”, and that was when we were serving a church in one of the most beautiful towns in Northern Idaho. We were also berated because “we didn’t believe like they did”. After my husband retired from serving churches, we left, and never looked back. I’m so sorry that Indiana, a state we lived in twice during our married lives, has taken such a bend toward conservative politics.

  31. Gopper would be very happy, and accepted, in Idaho, I can guarantee it! He would be amongst his own kind!

  32. “The Universe including life is…the only thing that is sustainable.”

    Every sentence you write has a logical fallacy, but I’ll exhaust myself correcting all of them. Let’s stick with the scientific fallacy.

    The universe is not sustainable, and neither is life. When stars die, they extinguish life on their planets.

  33. Please, please. Lets not confuse one another with facts!

    Lets start out easy: Define life.

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