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What Are Draconian Laws?

August 31, 2022
Mike Sampson

Gun Talk readers may have heard the term “draconian laws” resulting from firearms legislation. But what does the term mean?

A trip back in history reveals that: 

Draconian laws can be traced to Athens, and they were created by Draco, a Greek aristocrat in the 7th century BC. He created laws as a way of reducing feud between people. However, these laws became harsh and intolerable. 549BC saw the end of the Draconian law as it was termed oppressive, and people could no longer live with it.  

An example of a draconian law today might be “A punishment that is so severe that it seems disproportionate to the offense that is being punished.” Some may consider firearms laws that restrict what we are allowed to do under the U.S. Constitution and in certain states as draconian.

A 2015 article in the National Review provides a clear example how state laws can affect firearms and safety. Lengthy state permit application times can be draconian.

Carol Bowne is dead — murdered in cold blood on her own property by a violent criminal who would not be restrained by good intentions. But there is no smoking gun because she lived and died in New Jersey.

Bowne was a 39-year-old hairdresser from Berlin Township who had become increasingly nervous about her ex-boyfriend. Convinced that he intended to do her physical harm, she took out a restraining order, had security cameras installed at her home, and purchased an alarm system. She also hoped to buy a firearm for her defense. On April 21 of this year, she began the glacial process of obtaining a New Jersey permit to purchase a gun.

She never heard back. She never will. Per the Courier-Post, Bowne was stabbed to death in the driveway of her Patton Avenue home on Wednesday night (June 3)”. Her ex-boyfriend was charged and committed suicide.

By state law, New Jersey is required to get back to permit petitioners within 30 days. It didn’t.

Guns and Ammo (G&A) reported In August that New Jersey has issued only 1,000 carry permits to its 9 million residents. G&A lists New Jersey as the third worst state for firearms owners.

Other states including Illinois have lengthy and restrictive wait times (sometimes 120 days or more). The June 23 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA) v. Bruen addressed lengthy wait times in processing license applications. The court also noted the use of exorbitant fees to deny ordinary citizens their right to public carry.

Take a look at Conservative Supreme Court Renders 3 Historical Rulings ( that appeared in Gun Talk on June 28 for more information.

Unfortunately, after the court’s ruling, we are seeing liberal states throwing up even more draconian laws and roadblocks to restrict firearms ownership and use.

For recent state actions, check the July 13 Gun Talk article on Some Gun Control Predictions Do Come True | Gun Talk Media to see what New York, New Jersey and California are doing to block firearms ownership and carry.

And of course, the federal government and its agencies also enjoy imposing draconian firearms laws. A great example is the July 29 U.S. House-passed H.R.1808 - Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 that restricts a number of AR-15 and AK platforms and magazines.

The Federal Trade Commission is challenging firearm advertising, and recently Smith and Wesson “returned fire” on politicians who demonize gun makers.

Along that line, U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Aug. 19 proposed two pieces of legislation (be sure to open this link for more detail) aiming to incorporate more accountability measures for the firearm industry.

On Aug. 23, Maloney lost her House reelection bid to long-term Second Amendment foe Jerrold Nadler, so not a win for New York firearms owners either way.

According to NBC News, the two bills seek to create penalties for gun manufacturers that sell "weapons of war" to civilian customers. The two measures focus on imposing tax increases and the creation of a criminal tracking system.

We no doubt can expect even more draconian laws to hamper legal firearms ownership. Some states are imposing red-flag laws with little if any due process. So how do Gun Talk followers take action?

Stay on top of pending legislative action on local, state and federal levels. Follow Gun Talk news and sort out fact from political fiction. The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act and “tax” implications is a classic example of political fiction.

Also check out informative websites such as the Second Amendment Foundation, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the National Association for Gun Rights, Gun Owners of America, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the National Rifle Association and a wide range of state organizations.

Do Internet research on other sites, such as Pew Pew Tactical for an interesting list of pro-gun groups. 

Know your candidates’ leanings and look at their voting record. Also look at the NRA Political Victory Fund’s ranking of candidates on firearms issues.

Keep in mind though, one key to dealing with draconian laws and legislation ultimately boils down to your vote at all elections, including the November midterms.

Be informed, ask questions and decide what’s vital to Stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike

Mike Sampson
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home but has lived and worked in several states and internationally. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.

He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and has newspaper and agency writing and editing experience. At Washington State University in Pullman, he earned a master’s degree emphasizing adult education and communications.

While living in Lander, WY, Mike provided photographic coverage of the One-Shot Antelope Hunt for three years and got to meet and accompany folks such as Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, Buzz Aldrin, Dale Robertson and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on their hunts. He also worked as an outfitter’s guide.

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