A rogue ex-cop who shouldn't be armed

Christopher Jordan Dorner is an example of a 'law-abiding' gun owner who turns violent.

SACRAMENTO — Here's an idea for a new gun control law: How about immediately seizing the personal arsenal of a fired cop?

Dishonorably discharged soldiers, after all, aren't allowed to own firearms. Why should dishonored cops?

Like booted officer Christopher Jordan Dorner, who allegedly went on a vengeful killing rampage four years after being fired from the Los Angeles Police Department.

Maybe, at least, Dorner should have been required to undergo psychological testing upon being sacked to determine whether he was mentally fit to own weapons.

True, there may be a constitutional problem with that idea. He's still a citizen, presumably with a 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. That doubtless would be the argument of gun-rights groups.

He wasn't convicted of a crime. If we're going to confiscate the weapons of an axed cop or subject him to psychological testing, shouldn't we also take that precaution with, say, a fired fast-food burger-flipper?

Well, no, there's a difference: We expect and demand more from police, who have been trained at public expense to be expert killers.

But never mind.

Dorner seemingly was law-abiding — until he wasn't.

And that brings up a larger point: At minimum, he is another example of a so-called law-abiding, innocent gun owner who apparently went berserk and used his arsenal to kill people.

It makes such comments as this one recently uttered by National Rifle Assn. executive Wayne LaPierre look particularly inane and off target: "Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals."

News flash: Some law-abiders do become violent criminals. And their kill rate too often increases with their firepower.

Of course, this gets into the whole definition of "law-abiding." Unfortunately, you don't need to be exactly law-abiding to legally purchase a gun.

"It's one of the really pervasive myths," says Garen Wintemute, director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. "If you ask people the question, 'Can criminals legally buy guns?' they laugh and say, 'Of course not.' But a large segment of the population has a criminal record and can still buy guns."

Especially under federal law. Less so under California law.

Wintemute, an emergency room doctor who has been researching gun violence for three decades, refers to one category of firearms owner as "not so law-abiding." These are people who have committed misdemeanors, but still are allowed to own guns.

"Under federal law, if I assault my intimate partner, I'm prohibited [from possessing a gun] for life," he says. "But I can beat you up and nothing happens. I can have any number of convictions for violent misdemeanors — assault and battery, brandishing a firearm in a threatening way — and can buy as many guns as I want.

"California is different. California almost uniquely bans possession for anyone who has been convicted of a violent misdemeanor."

A national study of prisoners convicted of a firearms-related felony found that 60% were not legally barred under federal law from owning a gun when they committed their crime, Wintemute says.

If California's tighter gun-eligibility rules were applied, however, only around a third of the criminals would have been legal gun owners.