Gun Law Update
Jan. 21, 2009. Gun Rights Licensing Planned (HR 45)
PLUS -- SHOT Show 2009
Gun rights aren't a big issue at the SHOT-Show gun-industry sell-fest;
And SB2099, circulating for months, is totally bogus,
Gun Rights Licensing Test Planned
by Alan Korwin, Author
1. SHOT Show Brief Summary
[Note: The 2009 Traveler's Guide to the Gun Laws of the 50 States
1. SHOT Show Brief Summary
The Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show is the biggest meeting of gun, ammo and accessory companies in the world, open only to the trade (nearly 50,000 people). Miles and miles of aisles, it's exhausting (and astounding!).
Commerce was so robust Jan. 15 - 18 at SHOT this year there was little time to waste on a tiny concern like the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
That's SOP at SHOT, a discussion for another day. At SHOT the focus is to sell more product, open more accounts, introduce new designs, make marketing plans and party at night. Were you at the monster Glock bash? What a band... and the food!
The fact that the entire industry is based on a fragile 27-word line written on parchment two centuries ago is lost in the shuffle. And for the huge police and military segment, with their own acres of floor space at the Orlando show, it simply doesn't matter at all.
The gun-rights community sees this as hopelessly shortsighted of course, and the firearms industry sees it as business as usual. They're both right. Let me tell you where the two sides meet -- at HR 45, the proposed bill that requires you to pass a test to have gun rights. Complete details below. Will a reduction of gun rights affect the gun business? You betcha.
Most intriguing new piece of gear at the SHOT Show this year, in my opinion -- a bayonet for handguns. How did we overlook this essential extra for so many years?
Gunfighting rule #62:
2. HR 45 -- Gun Rights Licensing Test
Illinois congressman Bobby Rush, from Obama's home state and with a voting record on gun ownership as bad as Obama's, introduced a bill on the first day of the 111th Congress that shows what we can expect. If we don't defeat this bill, and others expected to follow it, gun owners will lose guns and the industry will suffer harm beyond description.
Under HR 45, if you can't pass a complex test written by the U.S. Attorney General (described in detail below), pay the tax, give up fingerprints and a biometric-capable photo of yourself (that can be turned into a digital facial-recognition number and used as a de facto national ID), every gun you own will become contraband and subject to confiscation, while you stand trial before imprisonment. You'd think Bobby, a former black panther, would know better.
Your rights will have an expiration date, and if you screw up and miss it, you'll be in the same mess as people who can't pass the test. Can you say "unconstitutional"? Do you think these "gun bigots" care?
Now that the Supreme Court has made it clear in the Heller case that government can't ban guns, the Brady's have stopped saying they want to ban guns. So the virtually treasonous Bobby Rush bill doesn't ban guns, it bans gun owners, maybe by the millions. How many gun owners read poorly or don't test well? How many can't explain local, state and federal gun laws? They'd become prohibited possessors under HR 45. Are there any limits to what the AG can put on the test? The bill doesn't mention any -- it gives the AG a free hand to include anything.
Had enough? HR 45 has an innocent-looking line that says 'strike the second sentence of 18 USC 926(a)'. That's the line that says the federal government cannot make a central registry of gun owners.
The anti-rights people have to repeal that line, because Bobby's bill flat-out creates a central gun registry. Every gun owner must be registered to keep on possessing the guns they already own, and any transfer of any kind must be registered as well. The mark of the beast is upon us, to apply a metaphor.
See the bill for yourself (click "Bill Number" and enter "HR 45"):
Read the gun-ban list the antis have already published:
Get a book on how you can be more effectively politically:
March 21, 2009 Update: Two months after introduction HR45 still has no co-sponsors and is currently unlikely to go anywhere. But it remains a shot across the bow, is still an actively pending bill, and indicates how these people think. No one in the anti-rights camp has come out to condemn it as draconian and illegal (assuming we still have a Constitution); in contrast, everyone on the pro-rights side of the balance sheet has blasted the language in the strongest words they can find.
Here's my detailed analysis of the HR 45 bill, in plain English.
The bill starts with a statement of purpose that says: "because the intrastate and interstate trafficking of firearms are so commingled, full regulation of interstate commerce requires the incidental regulation of intrastate commerce." They are saying that to control commerce between the states (which they have legal power to do), they have to control commerce within a state (which they explicitly do NOT have power to do). Basically, this eliminates the Tenth Amendment and the Interstate Commerce Clause. The Constitution can't legally be amended by statute like that. Is that enough to seek Mr. Rush's removal from office? I won't bore you with the other "purposes" which are as bad or worse.
Only "qualifying firearms" are affected. That means any handgun, or any semi-auto firearm that has a removable magazine (what they call a " detachable ammunition feeding device").
After the bill becomes law (IF it becomes law), it's illegal for you to get or have those firearms, even if you already own them, without a special federal license. There are grace periods up to two years to register yourself once the law is passed.
Do you see how clever this is? You cold-dead-fingers guys can keep your guns if you like, refuse to register yourselves, and then you're subject to arrest on the spot. If you go anywhere with your guns -- to the range, a store, a gunsmith, a friend's house, hunting, competition -- and you're spotted, you go straight to jail. If you're already on a list (can anyone say "carry permit" or "hunting license"?) and you don't sign up, well, just connect those dots.
Where does the cold-dead-fingers part come into play? I'll bet the ranges will start requiring you to show your papers before you can hit the line.
To get the license you must "submit to the Attorney General" (they chose that phrase right by golly): a passport-type photo, identifying info, any name you have ever used or ever been known by (I have nicknames, pen names, stage names, omitting any presumably violates the statute) a thumbprint, certification that any firearms will be "safely" stored (they'll write out what that means later in a regulation, I'm guessing unloaded and locked away will be their stance, even though the Heller case flatly prohibits that -- but it was Eric Holder's position in his brief in that case) and out of possession of people under 18, authorization to give up any mental health records, and a certificate that you passed a government-run test.
The test must include knowledge of: safe storage, safe handling, use of firearms at home, the risks of firearms at home, local state and federal legal requirements for firearms, reporting requirements for firearms, and ANY other subjects the AG decides are appropriate. You date and sign the submission, making it perjury if your info is inaccurate.
I'm skipping some details on who can accept the form, time periods for filing it and similar red tape on this 4,600 word bill. The AG "shall" issue the license if you pass the test and do everything else, and also "shall" charge you a tax for the privilege of getting your rights licensed, up to $25 at present. This gets you a tamper-resistant photo ID card with your official number, address, date of birth, signature and the expiration date of your "rights" (about five years, it's complicated). There's a renewal procedure (it's complicated) and no apparent limit on the renewal tax you will be charged (the AG gets power to control the details).
The license can be revoked for cause of course, and the AG "shall" make sure you give it up if it's revoked.
Once this thing is in place, it's illegal to transfer or receive any affected firearm (all handguns and any semi-auto with a magazine) without the license. Transfers can only be made to or from a licensed dealer, who has to jump through hoops and file papers, and has 14 days to get that done (a waiting period on the dealer's shoulders), to get government approvals and authorization numbers.
The dealer must send the feds the gun name and/or model number, maker, serial number, your license number, name, address and transfer date, which the feds must store in a "Federal Record of Sale System," a permanent national gun registry.
This needs to be said verbatim: "(c) Elimination of Prohibition on Establishment of System of Registration -- Section 926(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking the second sentence." That sentence says the feds can't register the firearms Americans own:
"No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act  may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established." The Bobby Rush bill says kiss that sentence and its extremely crucial protections goodbye.
There are a few small exceptions for an undefined "infrequent" firearm gift, bequest or intestate succession among parents, their kids and grandparents and grandkids, and also for lending a firearm " for any lawful purpose for not more than 30 days between persons who are personally known to each other." Sloppy language in this part of the bill bans the transfer of any firearm (not just "qualifying" firearms) between anyone without going through the hoops.
If you lose a handgun or magazine-fed semi-auto, or if one is stolen from you -- you've broken the law if you don't report that to the AG within 72 hours.
If you own such guns, change your address and don't notify the AG within 60 days -- you've committed a crime. In other words, they track you non-stop or you're subject to arrest. No victim, no harm, no foul, no evil, just government placing you in jail for failure to comply. Bobby Rush thinks this is good law, a legitimate use of government.
If you keep in your home a loaded firearm, or an unloaded firearm and ammo for it, and a person under 18 gets it and harms someone with it -- you've committed a crime. There are some flimsy exceptions (like you know or should reasonably know federal and state gun law for kids) and of course, all the "proper" authorities -- federal, state, local, military, elected, appointed, even employees of government on the job are exempted -- twice. Bobby Rush says OK for thee but not for me, tee hee.
Lengthy penalty sections include two-, five- and ten-year sentences and fines for paperwork violations, possession violations, transfer violations, child-access violations, safe-storage violations and of course, failure to pass the test if you still keep your guns.
The bill ends with sweeping powers for the Attorney General that could be interpreted to mean almost anything, so the details I've described might be little more than a smokescreen! For instance: "The Attorney General may issue an order prohibiting the sale or transfer of any firearm that the Attorney General finds has been transferred or distributed in violation of this Act, an amendment made by this Act, or a regulation issued under this Act."
There's plenty of that in here, plus endless inspection powers, injunctive powers and even, "shall issue regulations... as the Attorney General determines to be reasonably necessary to reduce or prevent deaths or injuries resulting from qualifying firearms..." Is the AG someone we can trust? Or is it someone with utter contempt for the right to keep and bear arms? If it's Eric Holder, Obama's nominee, we get a guy who told the Supreme Court that a total gun ban in your own home is just fine and doesn't violate the Bill of Rights.
Oh, and one final kick in the ribs. Federalism, the idea that states have powers the feds don't, could get in the way. So the bill makes it clear that "...this Act may not be construed to preempt any provision of the law of any State or political subdivision of that State... except to the extent that the provision of law is inconsistent with any provision of this Act or an amendment made by this Act..." I am not making this up. The hubris and audacity of this bill's author is monumental. My lawyer friends will tell me that legal mumbo-jumbo has become SOP, as the feds usurp any remaining crumbs of your state's legitimate powers.
Maybe you've noticed that virtually none of this addresses criminals or crimes. Innocent gun owners are the target. This is about controlling the public and its private constitutionally protected property. Criminals are guaranteed to ignore the entire plan, and in fact, criminals CANNOT apply, since they can't possess firearms in the first place. Even if criminals could apply, they're protected from incriminating themselves by the Fifth Amendment, so they never would apply.
The bill of course makes no mention of this. That's my job. And people tell me I'm paranoid, that gun bans are just a delusional fantasy of the wacko fringe. What does that say about Bobby Rush from Illinois, the perpetrator of this travesty. He and every co-sponsor he can find should be removed from office. Wherever he appears, people should rise and turn their backs on him as a gesture of disgrace.
3. Police-Only Ammunition
The ongoing militarization of the police was a major segment of the SHOT Show, with huge floor space dedicated to weapons and gear the public cannot get. Gnarly looking tough hombres with rippling muscles bulging in skin tight black tactical t-shirts roamed around booths like the tremendous Blackwater recruitment center and outfits selling gear to make cops look like spacemen.
I especially liked the roof-turret mounted, bullet-proof-camera equipped, fully remote controlled, drum fed, suppressed machine gun with 360-degree sweep and elevation control now available for law enforcement vehicles.
OK, OK, you want some scantily clad babes, the SHOT Show is loaded with eye candy.
1. No woman known has ever gone into combat dressed like that.
Heavily armored "community relations" vehicles for a quarter-million dollars and up are available for areas suffering high winds and street crime, but the paint jobs are pretty dull.
This vehicle now belongs to a parish in Pennsylvania.
On the flight home, I read an inside-the-industry article by Massad Ayoob (if you don't know this fountain of knowledge just google him, or get one of his books on our website). He was telling dealers how to handle customers who want to buy LEO-only ammunition. It seems some manufacturers are making good ammo that only law enforcement officers can buy. It's not law, it's just company policy, and dealers can offer roughly equivalent rounds to their clients.
The Winchester Ranger 127 grain +P+ is the "ultimate personal defense load in 9mm Luger," he suggests, or the Federal HST 230-grain +P for .45 ACP. These are hot rounds, not explosive military ordinance or anything. If dealers don't want to provide it, they can substitute Speer's Gold Dot 124 grain +P (used by NYPD and Chicago PD) or the Remington Golden Saber 230-grain .45 round used by FBI "super-elite hostage rescue teams."
What gives with that? You mean police can get regular pistol ammo that we can't? We don't face the same bad guys? What, does the stuff kill an attacker more dead than a consumer round? Is it safer, more effective, higher energy, more impact, less overpenetration, what? It's all about political correctness, and making "officials" feel more special than the average person. If it's safe enough or good enough for the police, it's certainly safe enough and good enough for the public. But what do I know, I'm a moderate.
I'm working on a new Page Nine report, http://www.gunlaws.com/PageNineIndex.htm I expect to have that out before the end of the month, along with some great new books and DVDs I've located.
[P.S. Did I mention that the 2009 Traveler's Guide to the Gun Laws of the 50 States is now available -- http://www.gunlaws.com/travel.htm
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