In a series of tweets on June 8, Virginia Heffernan, a columnist trained at Harvard to The Los Angeles Times, wrote: âReal estate listings should include the prevalence of gun ownership within a 50 mile radius and the number of annual mass shootings in the area. It’s time to change what a âbad neighborhoodâ is. In follow-up tweets, she added: ââ¦ and introduce a significant tax on guns and gun violence. No one should say âthis is a great place to raise kidsâ in neighborhoods where even one person has an assault rifle. “The idea is to take” race, class [and] politics out of the real estate equation.
There are so many flaws in this piece of lopsided idiocy that it’s hard to know where to start. Perhaps the most neutral point is to consider the implementation of its new approach to âbad neighborhoodsâ.
Heffernan’s “gun ownership measure” calls for disclosure not just for a particular neighborhood, but for every location within a “50 mile radius.” Using Los Angeles as a base, the 50 mile zone would include the cities of Long Beach, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Glendale, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Pomona, Torrance, Rancho Cucamonga, Garden Grove, and dozens more. The real estate disclosure in Washington, DC is expected to cover several sensitive federal facilities (including the White House, ATF headquarters, and the Pentagon) as well as cities in neighboring Maryland and Virginia. Is it realistic or relevant?
Another problem (even assuming that this information would never need to be updated) is how the âprevalence of gun ownershipâ in a given area would be determined. There is no national gun registry or federal license required to own a gun. While a recent request regarding Hunter Biden is a reliable indication, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) says he is prohibited from disclosing his records under the Freedom of Information Act where “the subject of the request for records is a third party and a private citizen â, unless the individual has authorized the disclosure orâ the public interest in the disclosure outweighs the personal interests of privacy âof the individual.
Many states protect their own records of firearms licenses, permits and the information they contain, and criminalize the disclosure of these records to anyone other than law enforcement or other authorized personnel engaged in law enforcement. specific official functions. Real estate agents, potential homeowners, or ordinary snoopers can’t scan public records to see if authorized people are keeping firearms nearby.
Expecting voluntary disclosure to make this weirdo proposition work is fancy in the extreme. Criminals – the class most exposed to gun violence – are as likely to comply with voluntary disclosure requests as they are with existing mandatory gun laws (and therefore are unlikely to appear on a property card of firearms owners). Those in legal possession of firearms may have their own good reasons for not wanting to disclose this fact, not least of which are the distorted value judgments of people like Heffernan. (Heffernan, in case you forgot, wrote a column in February comparing her Trump-friendly neighbors to Hezbollah mafias and Nazi sympathizers because the “Trumpites” had the nerve to clear an alley for her, in telling him “Free aisle work, as though it is, is just not the same motto as justice and truth.”)
More fundamentally, Heffernan’s proposal ignores the fact that in America the freedom to exercise constitutionally protected rights does not depend on the approval of its neighbors or the opinions of (what passes for) the media. information.
In addition to the practical and legal shortcomings, Heffernan’s tweets expose his contemptuous assumptions that all gun owners are immoral or at least undesirable (“it’s time to change what a ‘bad neighborhood'” is) , as are all firearms, even legally owned ones (âNo one should say ‘this is a great place to raise kids’ in areas where even one person has an assault rifleâ). Less obvious is the underlying argument for universal gun registration, the usual end game for gun control activists, as the success of his proposal depends entirely on identifying the owners of guns. guns in a given location. With such a program in place, how long will it be before gun owner areas face Heffernan’s “significant gun tax” or other forms of gun tax? financial penalties for this gun control version of redlining?
Heffernan’s assertion that his idea takes “race, class [and] politics outside the real estate equation “crumbles given his response, detailed in his February column, to the” Trumpites next door. “Owners of weapons or not, they do not deserve” absolution. ” for the offense of having supported the elected president. Heffernan makes the banal observation that “[l]Loving your neighbor is obviously much easier when your neighborhood is full of people like you. As a record number of Americans choose to exercise their Second Amendment rights and acquire firearms, we predict that it will become increasingly difficult for her to find a place where she can wholeheartedly love her. like-minded neighbors.