Monday, April 27, 2009

Gun Rights News Roundup

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

Sen. Lautenberg wants to close the gun show "loophole":
Exploiting the tenth anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, perennial gun control advocate Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced his latest gun show bill. Lautenberg was joined at the press conference by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jack Reed (D-RI). "The Hill" quotes Lautenberg as saying:
“There is no rational reason to oppose closing the loophole,” said Lautenberg, the bill’s sponsor. “The reason it’s still not closed is simple: the continuing power of the special interest gun lobby in Washington.”

The bill is S. 843: “A bill to establish background check procedures for gun shows.” What makes it a greater threat than other gun bills in the 111th Congress is the fact that Lautenberg has signed eleven powerful Democrats as cosponsors, including formerly pro-gun Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Dave Workman says Milwaukee police chief setting stage for confrontation:
Milwaukee, WI Police Chief Ed Flynn is playing with political nitro glycerin, and he doesn’t seem to realize it, or perhaps he simply doesn’t care.

Quoted by the La Crosse Tribune, Chief Flynn says he will ignore a finding by State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen that peaceable open carry of firearms is legal. Flynn’s directive to officers in his department is “if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”

The chief displayed a rather cavalier, if not outright arrogant, attitude when he added, “Maybe I’ll end up with a protest of cowboys. In the meantime, I’ve got serious offenders with access to handguns. It’s irresponsible to send a message to them that if they just carry it openly no one can bother them.”
My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.

Perhaps some higher legal authority might explain to the chief that it is also irresponsible to send a message to the public that a police chief can literally tell the state attorney general to pound sand, he’s going to do it “his way,” and too bad if that violates someone’s civil rights. Already, some people have been arrested for carrying openly, according to my colleague Candace Dainty.

Note to Chief Flynn: Wisconsin is still part of the United States, not a police state. This is the kind of attitude that gets people grumbling about “jack-booted thugs.”

Yet “police state” is exactly what critics in the Open Carry movement have suggested Flynn is trying to establish, evidently with the support of anti-gun Gov. Jim Doyle, and State Rep. Leon Young, a Milwaukee Democrat who plans to introduce legislation banning open carry. ...

[Colorado] CCW permit applications soar:
The number of people in Grand County seeking permits to carry a concealed handgun increased by 283 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Statewide, the increase was 212 percent, and the trend shows few signs of abating.

“We just haven’t seen an end to it,” said Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson.
“We believe it started with the presidential election,” the sheriff said of the rapid acceleration in the number of people seeking the permits.

He said permit-seekers often volunteer political views regarding Second Amendment issues and that many of them recently have expressed concerns about the Democrats controlling Congress and the White House.

Democrats traditionally are more inclined than Republicans to favor gun-control legislation.

“I believe that citizens have the right to own and carry” firearms, [Sheriff] Johnson said. “Permit holders have never caused me any problems.” [emphasis added] ...

[Texas] Op-ed: College professors support campus carry bill:
Mass public shootings are a horrific feature of modern life. Many of the bloodiest examples of this scourge have occurred on college campuses. As professors, we are particularly sensitive to this danger.

Despite this – no, because of this – we support a bill currently pending in the Texas Legislature that would permit the concealed carrying of firearms on college and university campuses in the state by holders of concealed-handgun permits.

Any public policy involving matters of life and death should be decided only after weighing carefully the competing risks. Examining the relevant facts and data indicates that permitting Texas permit holders to carry weapons on college campuses would improve safety because:

•The best available empirical evidence shows that concealed-carry laws reduce the incidence of mass public shootings.

•Mass public shootings occur almost exclusively in places – like universities – where concealed carry is proscribed.

•There are numerous examples of firearms owners acting to disarm would-be mass murderers, thereby saving lives.

•Concealed-handgun-permit holders are overwhelmingly law-abiding individuals.

If gun bans truly reduced the risk of mass public shootings, then gun-free zones would be refuges from such havoc. Sadly, the exact opposite is true. All multiple-victim public shootings in the United States with more than three fatalities have occurred where concealed handguns are prohibited. Moreover, the worst primary and secondary school shootings have occurred in Europe, despite its draconian gun laws. ...

NSSF explains why Tiahrt amendment restricting gun-trace data is needed:
There are good reasons for preventing firearm tracing data from becoming public information. Doing so protects the lives of law enforcement officers and also the integrity of undercover operations that may have been in place for weeks or even months. Restricting access also prevents the misuse of the data to bring nuisance lawsuits, as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg did when he launched his own private sting operation against out-of-state firearms retailers and interfered with up to 18 federal investigations for which he was chastised in a letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

For these reasons and others, legislation called the Tiahrt Amendment rightly protects gun ownership information from being released to the public, while at the same time allowing law enforcement to access and share the data for their investigations.

Introduced by Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) in 2003, the legislation has been renewed every year since then and has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police. Even New York's police commissioner, Ray Kelly, opposed the public release of such sensitive information, saying in a 2002 letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, "The release of trace information . . . seriously jeopardizes not only . . . investigations, but also the lives of law enforcement officers, informants, witnesses, and others." [emphasis added] ...

Gun, ammo sales booming:
Gun sales are soaring in the US amid fears that President Obama is planning a new crackdown on the ownership of weapons.

The country is even facing a shortage of ammunition as gun stores are besieged by customers - even though the President has insisted he is not planning new legislation.

Seven million people have applied for background record checks with the FBI in the last few months so they can obtain a gun licence.

The Guns and Ammo store in Manassas, Virginia, says it has seen a 50% rise in sales since November's election. ...

[Pennsylvania] NRA sues Pittsburgh over city gun ordinances:
The National Rifle Association today sued Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Pittsburgh City Council in an effort to overturn a law that penalizes gun owners who fail to report lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours.

The 19-page lawsuit was filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on behalf of four Pittsburgh gun owners who say the ordinance — intended to crack down on "straw purchasers" of guns — "severely restricts" their Second Amendment right to keep firearms in their homes.

"The plaintiffs will be prevented from exercising their rights under state law to freely own, possess and transport firearms," according to the lawsuit.
The NRA argues the law should be declared invalid because city lawmakers don't have the authority to regulate firearms under the state's Uniform Firearms Act of 1939. It states: "No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession or transportation of firearms." ...

[Wisconsin] Anti-gun Gov. Doyle wants to repeal state preemption law:
Governor Jim Doyle (D) is proposing to repeal the state's preemption statute which prohibits localities from passing gun laws that are more restrictive than the state's. Wisconsin's preemption law was originally passed in 1995 when Doyle was Attorney General. Doyle was vocally opposed to statewide preemption and its passage left a bitter taste of defeat in his mouth that has never gone away. Now, Governor Doyle is using the arrest of law-abiding Wisconsin citizens exercising their constitutional right to openly carry a firearm for self-defense as a platform to call for its repeal.

If Doyle succeeds in repealing preemption, it would bring Wisconsin into the dark days of draconian gun laws. Cities, counties, and municipalities cannot be allowed to pass ordinances, rules, or regulations more stringent than state law. This leads to a patchwork of laws across the state, which can be confusing for residents and non-residents visiting the state. It can also make criminals out of law-abiding citizens who inadvertently run afoul of a local ordinance. Imagine the extremists in Madison determining their own gun laws! Rest assured, they would use Chicago as their model for their gun laws. ...

[Wisconsin] Mike Stollenwerk says Milwaukee police chief using Bull Connor's playbook:
Earlier this week TV News caught on video a consensual encounter between West Allis police officers and Brad Krause who happened to be open carrying a holstered handgun in public. Like the old Roman saying, the police officers' action can be described simply as: they came, they saw, they left.

In states where open carry has become popular the police often don't even come anymore unless they see or are told of actual unlawful conduct.

But while Wisconsin gun owners like Mr. Krause prepare to play ball with consensual police inquiries into their orderly open carrying of holstered handguns, Milwaukee police chief Ed Flynn appears to be borrowing a page from Bull Connors' playbook. As the Birmingham, AL Public Safety Commissioner in the 1960s, Bull Connors became a symbol of bigotry by using fire hoses and police attack dogs against protest marchers.

Now comes Milwaukee police chief Ed Flynn - hailing recently from Massachusetts but acting like he's from the old South - telling his officers to "take down anyone with a firearm despite Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's finding that people can carry guns openly if they do it peacefully." Chortled Flynn, "My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we'll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it."

With good reason, Reason Magazine notes "You know you have a problem when the chief refers to peace officers as 'troops.'" ...

[Wisconsin] Gene German muses on lawmaker's proposed ban on open carry:
... The Governors reaction to last Monday’s memo by Attorney General VanHollen was to suggest that the state should return to the days when local jurisdictions could enact their own set of ordinances – implying Milwaukee for example could ban open carry if it wanted to. What the Governor (who is also a former Wisconsin attorney general) seems to have ignored is a local ban on open carry would also be an unconstitutional infringement on a citizens protected right.

Rep Leon Young, a former Milwaukee cop is telling everyone that he is “fast tracking” a new state law to ban open carry statewide. Of course, that law would be unconstitutional also for the same reasons. Fortunately, we already have a pretty good idea what the Wisconsin Supreme Court will say about any such law.

Chief Justice Shirley Abramson said in her dissent in Hamdan;
Article I, Section 25 does not establish an unfettered right to bear arms. Clearly, the State retains the power to impose reasonable regulations on weapons, including a general prohibition on the carrying of concealed weapons. However, the State may not apply these regulations in situations that functionally disallow the exercise of the rights conferred under Article I, Section 25.

So, what we don’t know yet is would the Wisconsin Supreme Court only overturn Rep. Young’s new law banning open carry or would the court overturn both the new law and the old ban on concealed carry too? Why force the court to choose? The court could just overturn them both. The sooner Rep. Young can “fast track” his new law banning open carry to the Governor’s desk for his signature, the sooner we will be able to get the Supreme Courts answer to which law or laws will have to fall.

With the help of Governor Doyle and Rep. Young all Wisconsin citizens may soon be able to carry guns totally unrestricted like they did before 1872 - again. ...

[Alaska] College students rally for campus carry:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Some students at the University of Alaska Anchorage want to be allowed to carry guns on campus.

George Hines, a UAA student, organized a protest Thursday against a UA-system gun ban. About 15 sign-waving students showed up for the protest, held at a street corner near campus. ...

[California] Shooting sports fair closes due to ammo shortage:
The Raahauge's Shooting Sports Fair, a hands-on gun show where you can shoot all the latest firearms on the market, has been cancelled for 2009. The Sports Fair is normally held the first weekend in June each year at Mike Raahauge Shooting Enterprises in Corona. Mike Raahauge said the fair was cancelled because it had become impossible for all the firearm makers to get enough ammunition for this event.

"I just spoke with all of the manufacturers and none of them can get ammo," said Raahauge late last week. "We could hold the fair, but we'd probably be out of ammunition by Friday afternoon."

"Whether the shortage is due to the election of President Barack Obama or the economic downturn or fear of an increase in crime, ammo sales have been like plywood and bottled-water sales before a hurricane in Florida," Raahauge said.

Since President Obama's election, gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed. Most ammunition manufacturers are operating multiple shifts on their production lines and still can't produce enough ammunition in the major handgun and military-style rifle calibers to meet demand. Besides ammunition, there is also a shortage of semi-automatic handguns, semi-automatic rifles, and reloading components. ...

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