After the American Civil War and during the decades of Jim Crow segregation that followed, there was a great Diaspora of African Americans toward the North, seeking economic opportunity and political freedom. Gun owners are likely to react similarly in light of a slew of new anti-gun owner restrictions being proposed and enacted in certain states. Of course, I certainly do not mean to compare the experiences of gun owners in gun hostile states to those of former slaves in the South but the fact is that when you make people feel unwelcome, they tend to leave.
If the eggheads at the New York Times and other elitist urban main stream news outlets are already complaining about the increasing polarization of the electorate between blue and red states, these gun control efforts are sure to make things much worse. However strongly the left may feel about gay rights, women’s rights, abortion, or immigration, gun owners feel much stronger about our rights.
I myself moved from Maryland, where I grew up, to Virginia in large part because of gun rights even though at the time the differences between the two states were minimal. Still, I could see the writing on the wall and have thanked God every day I left Maryland. Of course other factors were also in mind such as Maryland’s higher taxes (even higher now) and high regulatory apparatus (even worse today).
Not surprisingly, the states that want to restrict gun rights the most are also over taxed and over regulated. Today, gun owners across more than a dozen states are harassed and demonized, they are subjected to a patchwork of laws and regulatory schemes all intent on entrapping them. They face harsh felony penalties for completely harmless, victimless and unintentional paperwork mistakes and oversights.
Almost daily we hear accounts of people being charged with felonies at the airport for declaring an unloaded gun in their checked baggage (legal almost everywhere). We hear about people moving from one state to the next becoming instant felons the minute they cross the state line. We hear about endless and expensive licensing and registration requirements, background checks that involve the police talking to your neighbors, limits on the type of firearms you can own, how much ammunition you can buy and where, and even restrictions on common accessories such as magazines. And we hear about Elementary age school children being arrested and/or suspended for having an obvious toy gun at school or just drawing a gun or pointing a finger.
No other group would put up with this type of treatment. Journalists would never agree to be fingerprinted and registered or undergo background checks or have their articles limited by the government. Immigrants wouldn’t stand for their children being arrested at school for speaking Spanish. But gun owners routinely have to deal with this and worse.
Already gun owners are fighting back with huge rallies and protests at state houses, calls and e-mails to legislators, voting and organizing, and if that still doesn’t work then voting with their feet and wallets. Just recently firearms companies have also reacted. Magpul Industries, which is responsible for hundreds of jobs in Colorado, has promised to leave the state if the legislature passes any magazine capacity restrictions. Olympic Arms, which makes AR type rifles, has cut off all business with law enforcement agencies in New York. Years ago when California banned .50 caliber rifles, Ronnie Barrett, the inventor of the rifle ceased all business with that state and refuses to sell or service any of his guns to California law enforcement.
No big deal right? There are plenty of other gun makers willing to sell to the police in these states. True, but there is a price to be paid in terms of gun owner boycotts and since civilian gun owners buy a lot more guns than all state law enforcement agencies combined, this is no small concern.
This stands in sharp contrast to the recent actions of gun friendly states that as I write are expanding gun rights, making it easier for law abiding citizens to carry guns for self-defense in more places and tramping down on localities that want to limit gun rights. State legislators and local officials from Wyoming to Virginia are also threatening to nullify any attempt at gun control by Federal officials.
Some will argue that gun owners should not abandon anti-gun-owner states, but instead stand and fight. I agree, by all means stay and fight as long as you can and I will help anyway that I can but some places are too far gone already and the only thing left to do is pack up and move out. Plenty of states offer more freedom, fewer hassles and regulations, and less taxes. That is what our founding fathers sought when they left merry old England to come here after all.
Jorge Amselle is firearms instructor and writer covering all aspects of the industry from military and law enforcement firearms and training to the shooting sports. His youtube channel is http://www.youtube.com/amselle.