You can always count on California to be on the bleeding edge of liberal legislation, especially when there’s a Democrat in the governor’s mansion. This week Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a piece of legislation that will make it legal for family members to ask a judge to take away a relative’s firearms.

The proposed bill was ostensibly in response to the Elliot Rodger rampage of May, though it’s unclear how this kind of law would have helped prevent it. The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department said that they were unaware that Rodger owned any guns. It would therefore stand to reason that Rodger’s father, who said this week that –  with these laws – “things could have been very different”, never told law enforcement about them.

Same Old Tactics

Unfortunately, that’s the nature of all of these overbearing anti-gun laws. Unscrupulous politicians and misguided supporters latch on to horrible tragedies and use them to push through legislation that wouldn’t have done anything to stop them. We see it time and time again. And all of it misses the biggest point of all – most gun crime in this country is committed by people who got their weapons on the black market. How do stricter gun control laws do anything to stop that from happening?

Quick answer: they don’t. This is security theater at its worst. Politicians like Jerry Brown get to puff out their chests and pretend they’ve done something that matters. Opponents, meanwhile, worry with good reason that these laws bring us one step closer to nationwide gun bans.

30,000 – 40,000 Americans are killed each year in vehicle accidents, yet we don’t see politicians scrambling over each other to take away the freedom to drive. Why could that be? Is it because Americans have more of a right to drive than to own firearms? That can’t be, because there is nothing in the Constitution about the right to drive. In fact, it’s very explicitly taught to us from the moment we get our learning permits that driving is a privilege, not a right.

Gun deaths are responsible for roughly as many deaths each year as car accidents, but there are some important distinctions to be made. For one thing, 60% of those deaths are attributable to suicide. Sorry, but the federal government doesn’t need to be in the business of keeping people from killing themselves. Not only is it beyond the government’s scope of authority, it’s also beyond its abilities.

Only around 11,000 deaths can be blamed on gun violence, and that’s not the end of the story either. An overwhelming amount of this violence is gang-on-gang homicide. A problem, to be sure, but certainly not something that’s going to be solved with gun restrictions. Unless, of course, you think Crips and Bloods are buying their firearms at authorized outlets.

One supporter of California’s new law said that “it only takes avoiding one loss for this to be worth it.” But that is absurd. That line of reasoning can be used to justify just about anything.

Including a national ban on automobiles.