S. 649: 11th Hour

April 16th, 2013

Senate Democrats spent much of the last two days scrambling to rally the votes for their gun-control bill, but without much success. While there are still amendments to be debated, Majority Leader Harry Reid has called an end to the stalling, and it looks like a vote will be taken tomorrow at 4:00 PM.

Of course, Feinstein's still trying to shoehorn her Assault Weapons Ban into the bill, and Lautenberg's pushing his magazine ban. Neither of those help its chances.

On the Republican side, Senator Toomey seemed to be avoiding contact with the press, and the mood seemed dour. …

Wavering Optimism

April 15th, 2013

Today, the Supreme Court declined to hear Kachalsky v. Cacase, a challenge to New York's arbitrary restrictions on issuing carry permits. I had high hopes for this one, but there are other potential candidates.

First is the Woollard case. We had a favorable ruling in the District Court, but it was overruled by the 4th Circuit last month. A rehearing is still a possibility.

The 7th Circuit's decision in our favor in Moore v. Madigan still stands. That creates a split among the Circuits, which begs hearing by the Supreme Court, but they …


April 13th, 2013

The Senate agreed Thursday to move forward on debate over S. 649, also called the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013. Contrary to what you may have heard, nothing has been passed. At the moment, they're hammering out the details. Amendments will be suggested, there will be debates, and it might go back to committee. After all of that, it heads to an uncertain fate in the House. It's going to be awhile.

At the moment, we really only have the broad outlines of the bill. Yes, the proposed text is available, but that's going to change quite a bit.

Of particular note is a "compromise" amendment proposed by Senators Toomey (R-PA) and Manchin (D-WV). Its title is the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act.

Sounds harmless, right? Well, so did the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, and look where that got us.

Tools vs. Intent

April 9th, 2013

15 students have been injured in a stabbing spree at Lone Star College in Texas. This is exactly why we need universal background checks and registration of firearms.

Think I'm being facetious? Nope. Adam Lanza resorted to theft and murder to get his guns. Such a system would not have deterred him. James Holmes was able to pass the NICS check because he hadn't done anything to get himself on the radar. Jared Loughner also passed because the Pima County Sheriff's Office had declined to charge him for the death threats he'd made.

Universal background checks aren't going to …


April 3rd, 2013

Connecticut's Senate has approved a draft of their new gun-control law. It's now off to the House, where it's expected to pass. As with New York, Colorado, and Maryland, this is a poorly-considered rush job, to be passed while emotion over Sandy Hook can be exploited and before voters can have a chance to give it careful consideration.

Naturally, many folks are dismayed by this. In our system of government, the people have the right to protest and have their voices heard. Many did just that at the capitol in Hartford today.

But there's no law that says …

H.R. 1369

April 2nd, 2013

I was wondering how long it would take them to trot this sickly pony out. Sponsored by Carolyn Maloney, HR 1369 would mandate a $10,000 fine for firearms owners who fail to maintain liability insurance.

It shall be unlawful for a person who owns a firearm purchased on or after the effective date of this subsection not to be covered by a qualified liability insurance policy.

There are two rationales behind this. The first is that firearms liability policies will be expensive, and in many places, impossible to get. This will have a chilling effect on gun ownership.

The second is …

Colorado Follows New York

March 20th, 2013

Colorado Governor Hickenlooper has signed all three of the gun-control laws that landed on his desk. The first consequence will be the imminent departure of Magpul Industries from the state. From their FaceBook page:

We have said all along that based on the legal problems and uncertainties in the bill, as well as general principle, we will have no choice but to leave if the Governor signs this into law. We will start our transition out of the state almost immediately, and we will prioritize moving magazine manufacturing operations first.

The bill to which they're responding is HB 1224 [pdf], which bans all large-capacity magazines.  As defined in the bill:

"Large-Capacity Magazine" means: a fixed or detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip, or similar device capable of accepting, or that can be readily converted to accept, more than fifteen rounds of ammunition or more than five shotgun shells.

Pump shotguns are excepted so long as the tubular magazine does not exceed a capacity of 28 inches. That's a capacity of 8 3.5" shells. It's worth mentioning that Republican lawmakers tacitly accepted this as it doesn't ban "common shotguns."

The problem is, Colorado's ban on "high capacity" magazines bans all removable magazines.

Feinstein's Last Hurrah

March 19th, 2013

Negotiations are still underway in the Senate for a unified package of gun-control bills to be introduced next month. One conspicuous piece of legislation that will not be part of it is S. 150, Dianne Feinstein's revised Assault Weapons Ban.

Majority Leader Harry Reid excised S. 150 in a meeting on Monday. His rationale was,

Right now her amendment, by the most optimistic measures, has less than 40 votes. I am not going to put something on the floor that can’t succeed.

Does that mean it's dead? No. Feinstein can still reintroduce it as an amendment to another bill. …

Pass It to See What's in It

March 12th, 2013

Charles Schumer had been in talks with Tom Coburn to introduce S. 374, also known as the "Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers" Act.

Those talks fell through, and Schumer chose to forge ahead with his own version, now entitled the "Fix Gun Checks" Act. If that sounds familiar, it's the same bill he introduced last year, which was read on the floor but died in committee.

As I mentioned last week, we didn't have the text of the bill because it was being written in committee. Now we do [pdf]. It passed as an amendment by a 10-8 margin, with the vote being along purely partisan lines.

Read on for a synopsis.

The Sequester and Gun Control

March 4th, 2013

A whole slew of budget cuts took effect on Friday. I'm a little peeved that NASA's losing another $970 million. The beleaguered ATF will be taking a $60 million dollar hit, which would conceivably hamper their ability to enforce all those new gun-control laws folks keep proposing. Additionally, the FBI is losing $480 million, at least some of which is going to have an impact on NICS background-check processing. Expect delays.

Frankly, the whole thing reminds me of Gingrich's boondoggle in 1995, but I don't think the current President has the savvy to turn it to his advantage in the manner than Clinton did.

It goes without saying that this is going to be the political headliner for the near future. As such, the push for gun control in Congress is going to fade from public view and lose momentum.

That doesn't mean it's over, though.

Yo Joe!

February 9th, 2013

So I'm having a little trouble following Joe Biden's logic. He's the President's point man on gun control legislation, and he's the author of the original Assault Weapons Ban. He should at least stick to the program when he's talking to his own base, but he let this chestnut slip on Thursday:

Nothing we are going to do is fundamentally going to alter or eliminate the possibility of another mass shooting or guarantee that we will bring gun deaths down.

Well Joe, I already know that. So why are you wasting our time with this?

The New York Problem

February 4th, 2013

Tomorrow, we'll hear all about the ad Michael Bloomberg paid to air during the Super Bowl. It was a typically manipulative affair narrated by children over a faltering version of "America the Beautiful." The only point made was that the NRA once supported instant background checks, and that those checks should be expanded to cover all firearms sales.

The omissions are what interest me. Gone from their argument is the call to ban military-pattern rifles and limit magazine capacity. Weren't these the very things they said we needed to do to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook from happening again? …

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