This law invites more fatal police encounters with our most vulnerable community members and offers more opportunities for prosecutors to seek convictions and add to our mass incarceration catastrophe.
Some of our most vulnerable members of society also happen to be some of the youngest. By raising the age of possession to 21, the proposed law continues to strip any marginalized member from being able to adequately protect themselves from bigotry and other forms of oppression. Transgender youth suffer particularly high rates of homelessness and are disproportionately victims of sexual assault.
This also means the 20-year-old victim of domestic violence will have limited recourse to safeguard themselves from their abuser. This means the 19-year-old person of color will have limited recourse to protect themselves against violent bigots.
Criminalizing their capacity to defend themselves will lead to more death. Furthermore, I-1639’s required cost burdens for training, storage, and fees will restrict access to the poor specifically.
Gun laws have always been enforced primarily on the most vulnerable members of our community, and this law is no different.
As with the failed drug war, crimes of possession can only be enforced through an intrusion of privacy as there is no victim to report them.
This translates into policies like New York’s stop-and-frisk’s routine harassment of young teenagers of color. This also results in tense and often fatal pretextual traffic safety stops against defenseless drivers as police officers intimidate their way to a ‘voluntary’ search of the vehicle. The law invites more interactions with people of color and other marginalized communities and will inevitably result in more fatal police encounters.
Wealth and privilege are a powerful shield against firearm law obedience and so enforcement will fall upon our poorest members of society. Our marginalized community members simultaneously have the greatest need for self-defense and the greatest harassment by law enforcement.
The initiative will aid prosecutors in pressuring defendants into lengthier prison sentences as their menu of potential charges increases. They’ll offer to reduce or dismiss the new charges provided by this initiative in exchange for pleading guilty to some unrelated offense. It’s not the wealthy gun owner storing his collection against the law whom will be affected, instead it’s the abuse victim forced to choose between defending themselves or risking getting pulled over for their suspended driver’s license because of unpaid fines.
The United States continues to have a deep and systemic problem with violence; PSJBGC fully recognizes that. However, the expansion of incarceration and the threat of more fatal police encounters against our most vulnerable is a perverse reaction.