Monday, April 20, 2009

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

[Wisconsin] Lawsuit filed against West Milwaukee for open carry arrest:
Today civil rights attorney John Monroe filed a federal lawsuit against West Milwaukee and it's police force for gross abuses of power against a man solely because the man was legally carrying a holstered gun. A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

The complaint alleges that police illegally detained, harassed, and arrested Jesus Gonzales without cause in violation of the federal constitution. Further, the complaint alleges that police unlawfully demanded Gonzales' social security number in violation of Section 7 of the Federal Privacy Act, arguably a felony under the Social Security Act at 42 USC 408.

Mr. Gonzales was never actually tried in court, but the complaint alleges that the police have refused to return the property confiscated from Mr. Gonzales.'s co-founder John Pierce, a law student at nearby Hamline University in Minneapolis, MN where open carry is also legal, says that "the police have no more power to confiscate openly carried handguns that they do to confiscate openly carried cell phones."

In Wisconsin, like most states, citizens can openly carry handguns in public without any permit. Recently a Wisconsin judge ruled that mere open carry of holstered handguns is not "disorderly conduct" in Wisconsin. ...

Firearm sales surge:
Since November, more than seven million people applied for criminal background checks in order to buy guns, according to the FBI. That figure excludes anyone buying a weapon at the thousands of gun shows in states such as Virginia, without facing any checks.

The sudden run on weapons has also stripped gun shops in some parts of the country almost bare and led to a national ammunition shortage, the Guardian reports.

Gun-shop owners and the National Rifle Association claim the surge is driven by concerns that Mr Obama is planning to ban many types of firearms and that the deepening economic crisis will fuel a crime wave. ...

Obama to Mexican president: "I have not backed off at all" on gun control:
Gun control was among the chief topics to emerge from President Obama's meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Obama said the talks were "productive and wide ranging" and Calderon characterized them as an "open, frank discussion."

Obama said while he still supports an assault weapons ban, the lapsed law isn't likely to be renewed anytime soon.

"None of us are under any illusion that reinstating that ban would be easy, so what we focused on was enforcing our existing laws," Obama said.

"I have not backed off at all," he said, from his position during the campaign. [emphasis added] ...

Washington Post reports that Obama favors "assault weapons" ban, wants Senate to ratify international gun-control treaty:
... On his first presidential visit to Mexico, Obama praised Calderón for taking on the drug cartels, whose potent arsenals and economic power are threatening the integrity of the Mexican state. Obama announced that he will push the U.S. Senate to ratify an inter-American arms-trafficking treaty.

But Obama indicated that while he favors reinstating the U.S. ban on assault weapons, which Congress allowed to expire five years ago, the move would face too much political opposition to happen soon. He said better enforcing existing laws to prevent arms smuggling would have a more immediate effect on keeping U.S. weapons from Mexican cartels.

"I continue to believe that we can respect and honor the Second Amendment rights in our Constitution, the rights of sportsmen and hunters and homeowners who want to keep their families safe to lawfully bear arms, while dealing with assault weapons that, as we know, here in Mexico, are helping to fuel extraordinary violence," he said in a news conference with Calderón at Los Pinos, the presidential compound. "Now, having said that, I think none of us are under the illusion that reinstating that ban would be easy." ...

Retired Navy captain says arm merchant seamen [audio of Capt. Nash's comments available at link]:
A retired Navy captain who now serves as an analyst says arming the civilians who run freight ships through the waters offshore from Somalia would allow them to defend themselves and fix much of the pirate problem.

Crew members from the recently attacked Maersk Alabama returned today to the United States and told reporters, "All we had was knives. They had AK-47s."

But retired U.S. Navy Capt. Chuck Nash, who also has served as an analyst for Fox News, said the right of the crew members to defend themselves – even with force – needs to be established firmly.
Nash suggested the shipping companies need to "get out from under the nebulous conditions that exist today, where they are afraid from a legal perspective to arm their crews."

"It comes down to the inherent right to self-defense," he said. "We have to arm these merchant marines."

He explained the U.S. Navy, and ships from other nations, simply cannot patrol the millions of square miles in the ocean.

He said a second significant move would be to "start imposing limitations on where these pirates operate."

The pirates initially worked within a few miles of the coast because they were in open-hulled fishing boats. Then they moved into large trawlers, he said, and that greatly expanded their coverage.

"Therefore what we need to do is roll up that process, starting with getting the rules of engagement for our Navy to take out those mother ships, squeeze them back up against the coastline, which automatically makes the job of the military easier," he said. ...

Oliver North says he's an "extremist":
WASHINGTON -- According to the U.S. government, I am an extremist. I am a Christian and meet regularly with other Christians to study God's word. My faith convinces me the prophecies in the Holy Bible are true. I believe in the sanctity of human life, oppose abortion, and want to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. I am a veteran with skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. I own several firearms, and I frequently shoot them, buy ammunition, and consider efforts to infringe on my Second Amendment rights to be wrong and unconstitutional. I fervently support the sovereignty of the United States, and I am deeply concerned about our economy, increasingly higher taxes, illegal immigration, soaring unemployment, and actions by our government that will bury my children beneath a mountain of debt.

Apparently, all this makes me a "rightwing extremist." At least, that's what it says in the April 7 "Assessment" issued by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. The nine-page report, titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," is full of warnings about American citizens who share any part of my background or subscribe to the beliefs above. It is one of the most alarming documents produced by our government that I ever have read. ...

[Idaho] Senate panel narrowly approves guns in parking lots bill:
A Senate committee narrowly approved a bill that would encourage companies to adopt policies that let workers keep guns in their cars.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 4-3 on April 16 to pass a measure that would provide legal protections to companies that “allow or (do) not prohibit” employees to store firearms in their vehicles. Those businesses could not face civil damages for such policies.

Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls, said prohibitions on guns in employee vehicles infringe on the rights of hunters and people who carry guns for self-defense. But he said businesses that have such policies wouldn’t have to change their procedures because of the bill.

“We’re just trying to encourage employers to help employees practice their Second Amendment rights,” Thompson said.

Julie Pipal, a lobbyist for the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, also spoke in support of the bill. She said chamber members support any measure that provides protections for “those things beyond an employer’s control.” ...

[Texas] Campus carry bill sparks debate, opponents vow to walk out of classes:
Legislation allowing concealed handguns on state campuses has incited passionate debate at UT. This battle has been ongoing since the founding fathers guaranteed “the right to bear arms” in the Bill of Rights.

In protest of a new bill, UT students and faculty, will walk out of classes today at 11:30 a.m. and march to the steps of the Texas Capitol against guns on college campuses.

Today marks the second anniversary of the shooting at Virginia Tech.

Several constitutional law professors across the country, however, are debating this issue in light of the rights listed in the U.S. Constitution. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in the militia, but the question remains whether or not this right applies to the states.
Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the Texas Constitution gives power to lawmakers to prevent crime but that the question remains whether the Legislature should restrict carrying guns in certain places and certain ways.

“The constitutional matter is not imperative, but at the same time it’s a matter of good policy,” Volokh said. “Protecting the right to self-defense is an important moral right. My sense is that allowing concealed carry is, generally speaking, a good idea.” ...

[California] Politician visits guns hops to promote "shall-issue" CCW bill:
VICTORVILLE - Assemblyman Steve Knight spent Thursday afternoon visiting local gun shops to promote his proposed legislation to streamline the concealed weapons permitting process.

“It’s an equality issue...” said Knight, R-Palmdale. “If you go through the process fully and you complete your firearm training class, complete the paperwork, pay the fees and pass your background checks, you should be allowed to carry a (concealed carry weapon) — clean and simple.”

Currently, law enforcement agencies “may issue” concealed weapons permits at their discretion.

But Knight’s proposal, Assembly Bill 357, changes the law to state that law enforcement agencies “shall issue” concealed weapons permits to residents who meet certain criteria. ...

Comment: Those readers in California may want to contact their elected servants to have them support this "shall-issue" bill.

[Oregon] Lawmakers push for permit privacy protections:
A bill to limit public release of information about concealed handgun permit holders is headed for a vote in the Oregon House.

The measure endorsed Wednesday by a House committee was sought by Oregon sheriffs who want to prevent newspapers and others from getting lists of people with concealed handgun permits.

The sheriffs and gun rights groups say that releasing the information would jeopardize permit holders' personal security. ...

Columnist: Senate must reject international gun-control treaty:
Having backed off--for now--from the politically difficult push for a ban of so-called "assault weapons," President Obama hopes to assuage Mexican President Felipe Calderón's disappointment with a promise to push the Senate to ratify the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and other Related Materials, a treaty signed in 1997, but never ratified in the U.S.
President Obama announced in a visit here today that he will push the U.S. Senate to ratify an inter-American arms trafficking treaty designed to curb the flow of guns and ammunition to drug cartels and other armed groups in the hemisphere.

Obama no doubt believes that ratification of this treaty is much more feasible than passage of a renewed AWB, and in that assessment he is almost certainly correct. There is, for example, no indication to this point of any organized resistance to ratification of the treaty. Although the NRA contests the Washington Post article's contention that it participated in the meeting at which the treaty was drafted, the NRA has not made clear that it has determined the treaty to be a threat to gun rights in the U.S., and thus something to be forcefully opposed.

Even a cursory glance at the text should convince any gun rights advocacy group (or individual) that this agreement is indeed dangerous to the rights of American gun owners. This section stands out (emphasis added): ...

Obama administration says it won't contest judge's injunction against National Parks concealed carry rule:
The Obama administration says it will not appeal a federal court ruling that prohibits carrying loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Instead, the Interior Department says it will conduct a full environmental review of an earlier policy that allowed concealed, loaded guns in parks and refuges. ...

Comment: Not surprising. Anyone want to bet how the "environmental review" of the concealed carry rule will turn out?

[Washington] Gun, ammo sales booming:
SEATTLE—More people have bought concealed pistol permits, guns and ammunition in the Seattle area since November, apparently because of fear that the Obama administration could impose new restrictions on gun ownership.

The state Department of Licensing has handled more than 27,000 concealed pistol permits so far in 2009, about 2,000 more than the first four months of last year and 3,700 more than the same period in 2007. ...

[Canada] Want a gun permit? Tell us about your sex life:
... Pierre Lemieux is an economist whose most recent book, Comprendre l’économie, just won the prestigious Prix Turgot in Paris. When it comes to guns, he’s a hobbyist, not a lobbyist, but in his spare time he has been trying to make the authorities comprehend something about the relationship between public safety and his love life. Not because he thinks there’s a nexus, but because the government does.

Before renewing his gun permit in 2007, the authorities decided to inquire into Lemieux’s bedroom history. Did he divorce anyone in the last two years? Did he break up with a girlfriend? If yes, use a separate sheet to explain.

Pardon me? Explain?

Well, it was nothing personal. Apparently, Canada’s government feels it ought to know the romantic status of all firearm owners. Hmm. Didn’t someone say the state had no business in the nation’s bedrooms? Who would say something so fuddy-duddy? Oh, the same fellow who actually said fuddy-duddy: Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Well, that was before the Flood.

It could be worse, I suppose. Canada’s gun clerks could ask applicants if they suffer from erectile dysfunction. Perhaps clerks don’t ask because they worry about a human rights tribunal finding the question discriminatory. Or maybe they haven’t thought of it yet. ...

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