Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gun Rights News Roundup

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

Critics deride King bill:
A bill designed to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists is drawing fire from gun rights advocates who say it could infringe upon regular citizens' constitutional right to bear arms.

The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009 would authorize Attorney General Eric Holder to deny the sale or transfer of firearms to known or suspected terrorists -- a list that could extend beyond groups such as radical Islamists and other groups connected to international terror organizations.

Critics say the names of suspected terrorists could be drawn from existing government watch lists that cover such broad categories as animal rights extremists, Christian identity extremists, black separatists, anti-abortion extremists, anti-immigration extremists and anti-technology extremists.

"It doesn't say anything about trials and due process," said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. "This is one of the most outrageous pieces of legislation to come along in some time. It's basically saying, 'I suspect you, so your rights are toast.'"
The proposed gun control bill, which was introduced by Rep. Peter King, R-NY, last week and has bipartisan support, is currently before the House Judiciary Committee.

A spokesman from King's office said his decision to propose the bill had nothing to do with either DHS report. This is at least the second time the congressman has pushed a bill designed to restrict gun sales to suspected terrorists.

But, while nobody wants domestic terrorists to have easy access to guns -- King called the bill a "no-brainer" in a statement released by his office Tuesday -- some critics say it could be treading a thin line constitutionally.

Taking away an individual's constitutional right without giving him the opportunity to stand trial would likely open the federal government to legal challenges, said Robert Cottrol, a law professor at George Washington University.

"There is a Second Amendment right to hold and bear arms," he said. "That right is not absolute, for instance with convicted criminals. But there would have to be an individualized determination, as in a trial, to prove someone is guilty of something before they are deprived of such a right." ...

Comment: Mr. King, a Republican, is from the socialist, anti-gun hellhole of New York, so his support for denying citizens their constitutionally-protected rights without trial by a jury of their peers is not that hard to fathom. Would be tyrants are sadly alive and well in both major political parties.

[D.C.] Coburn Amendment legalizing National Parks carry draws fire from anti-gunners:
Opponents say U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s efforts to change decades-old rules for national parks could lead to loaded guns, even assault weapons, in some of the nation’s most sacred sites.

"This is a bad idea,” said Scot McElveen, president of the Association of National Park Rangers.

McElveen even took issue with the Oklahoma Republican’s claims that his Senate-passed amendment would not apply to monuments.

"That’s not how I read it,” he said, citing Coburn’s own language that indicates his amendment, if it became law, would apply to all units of the National Park System.

McElveen said that would include Southwest sites that are "very sacred” to some American Indians.

"To have folks with firearms there would be very disturbing to them.”
Insisting his legislation was not a "gotcha amendment,” Coburn claimed his proposal was to ensure constitutional rights were not being trampled by unelected bureaucrats.

"It is to say, does the Second Amendment mean something?” Coburn said.

His language would allow visitors to carry loaded guns into national parks located in states that do not bar such activity. ...

Christian Science Monitor on the rise of bloggers:
... But here’s the real news: In the press box, bloggers outnumbered national reporters by a good margin. And officially, nearly 50 bloggers — compared to 100 mainstream print journalists — were accredited by the NRA press office to attend the 138th annual convention.

Experts say that ratio at a major national news event featuring a panoply of GOP stars — including John McCain and Mitt Romney — presents a stunning affirmation of the rise of a mix of both partisan and fiercely independent and sometimes downright cranky “New Media,” marking its growing power to not only cover breaking news, but set the tone for political policy — and, in the case of Second Amendment rights, even the direction of the NRA itself.
No matter where you look on the Internet these days, bloggers are mucking it up, taking on the big bad “mainstream media” with a mad mix of polarization, cheerleading, and snark. But just as lefty bloggers got the word out about the promise of Barack Obama during last year’s election, the rightosphere is pulling out its big guns, too. And in few places is the keyboard jockey scene as fast-growing or as influential as the world of firearms and Second Amendment rights.

While their standard battle stance is from an underdog position, the pro-gun forces are, for now at least, winning the battle for hearts and minds, even gun control advocates concede. ...

[Colorado] Ammo supplies scarce:
He came in search of ammunition.

Walking the length of Sportsman's Warehouse on Friday, John Lewis found only empty shelves. Tiered displays at the end of each aisle, once overflowing with bullets — with even more in the back — now held black canvas bags instead. Orange signs limited purchases to two boxes of ammo per person, if even that many could be found.

It's a shock for gun owners like Lewis, a 52-year-old former Marine looking to buy 9 mm rounds.

"People are afraid," he said. "They're getting concerned."

Sporting goods stores across Colorado Springs are reporting the same thing: ammunition sales are booming, in some cases leaving shelves drained and customers disappointed. This mirrors a national trend fueled in part by President Barack Obama's stance on gun control and the introduction of a gun-control bill in Congress.

Still, others say they're worried about their safety as the economy worsens and major cities see the number of break-ins and violent attacks tick higher. ...

[Massachusetts] Newbie gun owner writes about his experience:
ON A BEAUTIFUL May morning I leave my house and walk a short distance to a shop advertising "sporting goods and firearms." As I approach the counter, a man asks if he can help. Trying not to stammer, I say I want to buy a gun. I have various stories prepared to explain my odd request but he simply asks, "Do you have a permit?" When I say no, he says that I need one from the police, which they will issue only after I have taken a gun safety course. This costs around $100. I leave the shop clutching not a deadly weapon but several phone numbers.

The following morning, I step into a room where a man is sitting at a table with half a dozen handguns. We shake hands and he asks what I want a gun for. "Self-defense," I say, and, worrying that this is implausible, quickly add something about friends in Maine who hunt. But again, there is no need to elaborate. "Right," says my teacher.
I pass the multiple-choice quiz and my teacher issues me a certificate and wishes me luck. I am ready for the next stage: applying for a class "A" permit, which will allow me to carry a concealed weapon. I phone the Cambridge police and learn that this costs $100. Along with my certificate, I must provide proofs of residence and citizenship, and write a letter stating the purpose for which I want a firearm. The permit takes four to six weeks. As I am rapidly discovering, Massachusetts offers no quick route to legal gun ownership.

But drive only 45 minutes north and everything changes. In New Hampshire, money and a valid ID will get you a handgun, although the dealer - a Federal Firearms Licensee - will conduct an instant background check by phone. Assuming you are not a prohibited person, at age 21 you can buy a gun and carry it openly. ...

Comment: Note that if the author is a Massachusetts resident, he could not legally purchase a handgun in New Hampshire.

[Alabama] Lawmaker says he'll push guns in parking lots bill again next session:
Bills to allow employees to store guns in their cars at the workplace were shot down this Legislative session, but a powerful state senator said he will reload and pursue similar legislation next year.

The legislative session ended Friday without the House and Senate bills com­ing up for a vote. Time just ran out: amendments were tacked onto the Senate ver­sion late last week and there weren't enough days left in the session for the bill to work through committees and then both chambers.

"Late in the session bills can get held up, competing with 200 other bills trying to come out," said state Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russel­lville. "I wholeheartedly sup­port the bill, and hope to work with the NRA next ses­sion to introduce similar leg­islation."

Democratic Rep. Craig Ford also sponsored a bill in the House. The bills would have made it a Class A mis­demeanor for companies to ban firearms locked in vehi­cles in parking lots. ...

[California] San Francisco sued over gun controls:
The City is being sued by gun owners and gun-advocacy groups because of a local law that says firearms have to be locked up or kept disabled.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court Friday afternoon, challenges a local restriction that forces handgun owners to either store their guns in a locked container or disable them with trigger locks. Mayor Gavin Newsom signed the law into effect in August 2007.

National Rifle Association attorney Chuck Michel, who filed the case, said the locking restriction interferes with citizens’ rights to immediately defend their families.

Plaintiffs include a group of San Francisco gun owners, retired police officers and the NRA. ...

[Florida] Governor urged to veto permit fund raid:
TALLAHASSEE — As more people in Florida seek concealed weapons permits, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson wants Gov. Charlie Crist to veto a $6-million raid on a fund that pays for the program.

Bronson's request presents a timely opportunity for Crist to score political points with gun owners just as he's embarking on a race for the U.S. Senate.

In a letter to Crist, Bronson cited "unprecedented growth" in applications for gun permits that has created a "tremendous backlog" of cases to be processed. All applicants are subject to criminal background checks.

To balance the $66.5 billion state budget that takes effect July 1, legislators swept nearly $600 million from dozens of accounts known as trust funds. Most funds are sustained with fees that pay for specific programs. ...

[D.C.] Dems hold fire on more gun controls:
Last week, 27 Senate Democrats joined Republicans to pass an amendment that allows concealed weapons in national parks.

This week, the Senate could take the first step toward overturning a gun control bill passed by their own Democratic brethren more than a decade ago.

After a soul-searching exile, the Democratic Party that regained control of both Congress and the White House in the past two election cycles is proving in many ways to be a distinctly different breed than the one that last ruled the capital.

Nowhere has that transformation become more evident than on the issue of gun control, which was promoted by Democrats in 1992 to attract suburban voters and abandoned by Democrats in 2008 to gain support among rural voters.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is expected on Thursday to advance the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, which is being co-sponsored by Sens. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

The legislation would overturn a section of the law that prohibits veterans who are unable to manage their finances from obtaining a firearm. The bill maintains a 1990s gun restriction on veterans found to be a danger to themselves and others. ...

David Codrea says ATF gun raid sends us all a message:
There's been an armed raid in Connecticut. Mary Ellen Godin of the Record-Journal reports:
A usually quiet mobile home park was shaken Friday morning when about 15 officers from the U.S. bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and local police descended on one of their neighbor's homes with force.

"They had their guns drawn and were surrounding the house," said Jennifer Monroe of Hosford Bridge Road. "These weren't small guns, they were machine guns. It wasn't normal."

"Machine guns"? You know, true "assault weapons," not the neutered kind the citizen disarmament cartel says you and I can't be trusted with, because they are "weapons of war designed only to kill people."

Except when deployed by the "Only Ones," they magically transform themselves into "patrol rifles"...

And the purpose of the raid? The compelling reason 15 heavily-armed police state ninjas used a battering ram on an unlocked door, assaulted and threw citizens to the ground, put guns to their heads, terrorized a man with a heart condition, destroyed and seized property, and generally trashed the place?

Because a son who "was arrested 34 years ago at the age of 17 with a friend who had forged a check [and] hasn't been arrested since" was living with his gun owner father. ...

Comment: Read the Journal Record's article on the raid here, which depicts a rather sordid treatment by the ATF of the family. I recall reading that there are over 3,000 crimes classified as felonies at the federal level, with likely many thousands more at the state level. Many of them don't involve acts of physical violence against others. Restricting those convicted of violent felonies to (legally) own guns arguably makes sense; restricting the fundamental human rights of those convicted of non-violent offenses who have served their time and paid their debt to society in full makes much less sense.

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