Talks to revive gun control legislation are quietly under way on Capitol Hill as a bipartisan group of senators seeks a way to bridge the differences that led to last week's collapse of the most serious effort to overhaul the country's gun laws in 20 years.
It's not over yet. Stay vigilent, and be thinking of ways we can improve our response.
I missed this story a while back about Obama "using executive power to move gun control forward":
The president has used his executive powers to bolster the national background check system, jumpstart government research on the causes of gun violence and create a million-dollar ad campaign aimed at safe gun ownership.
The executive steps will give federal law enforcement officials access to more data about guns and their owners, help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and lay the groundwork for future legislative efforts.
In January, Obama directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to begin studying the causes of gun violence for the first time since Congress, at the behest of the NRA, began blocking funding for such research in 1996.
The CDC has since awarded a contract to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which this spring will soon begin looking at the role video games and social media play in gun violence, as well as whether gun technologies and access to guns can be used to reduce violence.
As part of the agency's preliminary research, the CDC and IOM will host an all-day conference on April 23 in Washington, D.C., to hear from firearm and gun violence experts; researchers; and advocates on both sides of the issue, according to Richard Feldman, a former NRA lobbyist who now leads the Independent Firearm Owners Association.
Problem: I had not heard Congress had removed the block on expenditures related to gun control "research" by the CDC. Neither have some of the people who are attending, but they seem willing to attend anyway.
But wait, there's more:
In another administrative move, Obama directed the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to examine the efficacy of existing gun trigger locks and firearm safe standards to determine if they need to be improved. The CPSC has partnered with the American Society for Testing and Materials International, but does not have a firm timeline for when its examination will be finished, according to a spokesman.
Separately, the administration has given $1 million to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to create, produce and distribute a nationwide multimedia ad campaign on safe gun ownership and storage. The campaign is heading into the research phase and is expected to air by the early fall, according to a NCPC spokeswoman.
Gun locks, and a national ad campaign on "safe gun storage", which we can assume will be as political as Obama can possibly make it while still spending public money.
So, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes that the public's interpretation of the Constitution must evolve in the face of terror attacks such as the one in Boston. "You're going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days," the man explained, "and our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change."
Bloomberg don't get to make that decision. We do. For now, at least.
Bloomberg's recent efforts to raise his national profile on issues such as gun control suggest that he plans to run for higher office soon. I won't be surprised if he seeks the Democratic nomination for President in 2016. If so, quotes like this, along with nanny-state behavior like regulating soda cup sizes and banning salt from restaurant food, will hopefully destroy any chance he has of receiving the nomination.
Rubio worried Boston will make immigration reform more difficult
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that he was worried that last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon would make it tougher to pass the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill.
And so it should, since both alleged bombers were immigrants. Not all immigrants are bombers, but not all are here to "do the jobs Americans won't do" either. Until we control the border, we won't have any idea who is coming into our country.
This one was so good I figured I would pass it along to my audience as well.
There are tens of thousands of firearm laws in the U.S.A. to which a citizen could fall victim. One of them is Federal Form 4473, which must be completed by any applicant wishing to purchase a firearm from a licensed gun dealer anywhere including a gun show, neighborhood meet or person to person.
Recently defeated background check legislation originally included all (universal) transfers but was modified to exclude some family members. Making a false statement on form 4473 is a felony which carries a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison. Remember there is no parole in the federal system ? only supervised release after serving the full term.
According to the most recent data available from the Department of Justice, the FBI denied 72,659 form 4473 applications in 2010, based on the background check system (NICS). That's just 1.2 percent of the more than 6 million applications processed that year. The system is so rife with errors, that of the 72,659 only 44 applications were considered prosecutable, and only 13 were proven to be form 4473 violations.
Background checks cost the consumer $48 million a year and the taxpayer $30 million a year or $13 per application. (source: Justice Department spokesman Bill Cosh) The cost to USA citizens of the 13 convictions maths out to $6 million per conviction in NICS fees alone.
Kopel explains some of the problems with calling for more enforcement
A common trope of many Second Amendment advocates is to urge more vigorous enforcement of existing federal gun control laws, as the alternative to enacting additional laws. Rhetorically, that?s very effective. But as a policy matter, it is not always a good idea. Consider legislation recently considered by the Senate...
Both Manchin-Toomey and Grassley-Cruz included a variety of other changes in federal gun laws, and some of them were very constructive. But as for the prosecution provisions, I think they were dubious.
Reports of firearms being confiscated from residents during Waterdown lockdown
Then the next day, we weren't allowed out at all -- not even to get some coffee. Men dressed in black gear paraded through the streets with weapons. In Watertown, they were confiscating guns from residents. This they don't tell you on the news.
Unconfirmed, so far, but it wouldn't surprise me. Especially given that we have video of people -- not the bombing suspects, just ordinary residents -- being yanked out of their homes at gunpoint.
Why gun control failed: a perspective from an unarmed subject in the UK
He has some interesting perspectives, but also a lot of misconceptions. For example:
He accepts that 90% of the public supported gun control -- when that number was inflated by lack of specificity, ignorance of current law, and untrustworthy polls. If 90% of the people supported new gun control laws, more then 4% would see it as the most important problem facing America, especially with the media screaming about it for months. Instead, Americans consider gun control a solved problem within existing law.
He blames the NRA for being extreme, and the Democrats for being wimps and failing to support a more comprehensive bill. Yet the comprehensive bill got much less support, and independent legal scholars exposed the Democratic gun control proposals as being much more extreme than Democrats claimed them to be. Democrats asked for a small piece of gun pie, then tried to swipe half the pie in the process.
A word, first, about that Senate "minority." Majority Leader Harry Reid was free to bring the deal struck by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey to the floor for an up-or-down vote, and this background-checks amendment might have passed. It did convince 54 Senators, including four Republicans.
But under Senate rules, a simple majority vote would have opened the measure to up to 30 hours of debate, which would have meant inspecting the details. The White House demanded, and Mr. Reid agreed, that Congress should try to pass the amendment without such a debate.
Why try to pass legislation -- any legislation -- without 30 hours of debate? The only possible reason is if you are afraid that the details of the bill will be discovered, and the resulting public opposition will sink the bill. As, in fact, happened -- Dave Kopel sunk the legislation with a single post on the Volokh Conspiracy, and thanks to the internet the word spread fast enough to turn a bill that might have passed into one that was significantly short of votes.
I just have to pull this quote out: "liberals tend to be less ambitious and tenacious than their conservative rivals." When was the last time a conservative tried to impose Obamacare on the whole country?
And finally, he blames Obama for being difficult to work with. That's a good point, because Obama has certainly not been a good representative for his side of the debate. He has a track record of negotiating in bad faith, rhetorically claims the center while arguing from the left behind closed doors, and refuses to engage in honest debate. That said -- if Obama had been a reasonable person on this issue, I don't think he would have gotten much more traction.
There is a very real, very intense problem with bad faith on the gun control side of the argument. Put simply, gun owners know that the ultimate goal of every major leader of the gun control movement is total confiscation. This has been reinforced again and again. No matter what "reasonable compromise" is agreed to today, they will be back tomorrow for more.
Any attempt at "reasonable compromise" will be viewed in light of that past bad faith, with predictable results.
A citizen with a gun stopped a knife wielding man as he began stabbing people Thursday evening at the downtown Salt Lake City Smith's store...
Then, before the suspect could find another victim - a citizen with a gun stopped the madness. "A guy pulled gun on him and told him to drop his weapon or he would shoot him. So, he dropped his weapon and the people from Smith's grabbed him."
Third person charged with black powder bombs in Boston area
He was allegedly trying to use them on a train April 5th. The methods appear similar to the Marathon Bombings, at least from the information released so far, and the man is white and has a name that could easily be Chechen. It would be foolish to assume there is no connection at this time.
At least they caught this guy before he did any damage.
[Name and address redacted] was charged by Watertown police on Wednesday afternoon at Samaritan Medical Center with two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a felony.
Police said he illegally possessed a Bushmaster assault weapon and a CMMG rifle when they were found at his home on Saturday. He was held at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building pending arraignment.
There are a lot of caveats necessary in reporting on this story. We don't know why the police were at his home, or whether the person was a prohibited person (and thus the firearms would have been confiscated whether they are "assault" or not). (The fact that he was charged at a medical center suggests perhaps he was injured while resisting arrest?) I presume that the name of the city is not the same Watertown that saw a lot of news recently with the Marathon Bomber incident.
I do think it's worth noting a case where police do seem, at first glance, to have entered this person's home and confiscated his firearms with no other charges offered.
Background checks would have prevented the Marathon Massacre? Really?
No, not really. But that's the argument they are already trying to make.
But if you are a foreign or domestic terrorist or sympathizer living in the United States, whether connected to Al Qaeda or the Taliban or white supremacists, or even a radicalized loner, you can - in 33 states - walk into a gun show and purchase any kind of a weapon you want.
Sure, you can do that... if you can find whatever you want to buy from
a private seller and don't mind making your purchase while being observed by the multiple police and BATFE agents "loitering" in the vicinity. The vast majority of gun sales at gun shows are from
licensed dealers, who are, in fact, required to run the same background
checks at a gun show as they are if you went to their store.
You can even purchase something as deadly as a .50 caliber sniper rifle capable of penetrating some armored vehicles.
If you have $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket and can find such a rifle from a private seller. This is ... unlikely.
You can do this without a background check or waiting period and without notice to any national agency, not to Homeland Security, not to the FBI, not even to ATF - the federal agency tasked with investigating illegal use of firearms.
With the Boston Marathon bombings we learned what use it is to give notice to a federal investigative agency that someone may be a terrorist interested in committing mass murder: precisely zero.
As a recent Salon piece notes, the federal government can prevent a firearm sale for only 11 specific reasons suspected ties to terrorism, or even suspicion that a gun would be used in an attack, are not one of them.
Because suspicion is not proof, and in the United States, firearms ownership is a Constitutional right that cannot be taking away without due process of law.
Moreover, between February 2004 and December 2010, over 90% of the 1,453 people on the federal terror watch list that tried to buy a gun were allowed to.
This would be the same terror watch list that famously stopped Senator Ted Kennedy from flying? The one that anyone who works in an airport can anonymously add anyone that annoys them to, and which is impossible to remove yourself from (unless, of course, you are Senator Ted Kennedy)?
Clue: They were allowed to buy a gun because they had not been convicted of a felony or qualifying misdemeanor in a court of law. That's the standard.
The organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns notes, "American-born terrorist Azzam al-Amriki touted the ease with which, 'you can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check.'"
Azzam was either ignorant or lying, because in the real world, if you want to buy a fully-automatic assault rifle, it will take at least six months of anal probing background checks, a $200 tax stamp to register your purchase with the federal government, permission from the BATFE, additional permission from your local police chief (leave your donation to my re-election campaign with the officer at the front desk on your way out), assuming you can even find one because they are no longer legal to manufacture for civilian use, and have at least $6,000 on hand to pay the prior owner.
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombing last week also engaged in a deadly firefight with police. They had with them bombs, handguns, a rifle and more than 250 rounds of ammunition. The guns were unlicensed and how they obtained them is still under investigation.
They lived in Massachusetts. That state requires a license to purchase a firearm, which presumably is not issued without a background check. They did not obtain a license for their firearms. That law, requiring a license from the government in order to own a gun, is the gold standard of gun control advocates (at least those who claim they don't want total confiscation). It did nothing.
I will say that again. It did nothing.
Criminals and terrorists do not obey the law.
Equally stunning; current federal law allows someone to purchase as much as 50 pounds of explosive "black powder" -- the apparent explosive the Tsarnaev brothers used in their pressure cooker bombs -- and unlimited amounts of "smokeless powder" and "black powder substitute" without a background check.
Equally stunning: current federal law allows me to pull up to a retail establishment and drive away with as much gasoline and fertilizer as I care to buy. Should we run a background check on drivers? Gardeners? Farmers? Cooks? Chemistry teachers?
We are a free society. We depend on people being, basically, good people who don't need a police officer following them around 24 hours a day. Sometimes that has risks.
We will do much, much better identifying the people who are actively malicious and dealing with them as people, rather than trying to turn the whole country into a padded cell.
Here it comes... "I support the Second Amendment, but..."
I believe that the Constitution -- including the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms -- is a vital document enumerating civil liberties and protections the nation must accord all its citizens. But as Abraham Lincoln averred, and the Supreme Court has echoed, the Constitution is not a suicide pact. The courts have allowed First Amendment free speech rights to be tempered as to time and place. The courts have allowed exigent warrantless searches under the Fourth Amendment. Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and to be informed of the right to counsel may be briefly delayed when public safety is threatened.
I support the Second Amendment. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I also support the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth amendments -- the real versions without the Supreme Court's watered-down list of exceptions.
Thank you, Drew, for openly admitting for everyone to see that you are willing to throw out the whole Constitution, not just the Second Amendment, in return for some nebulous feeling of safety that is nothing more than a pretty lie.
Another opinion poll on the outcome of the gun control votes
A plurality of Americans -- 47 percent -- say they are either "angry" or "disappointed" with the Senate's action on gun legislation, far different from the amount of people who strongly approved the proposal before the vote. Meanwhile, 39 percent say they are "relieved" or "happy" about the vote.
The above poll is totally useless to anyone who actually wants to understand reality beyond the basic point that "90% of Americans" aren't outraged that gun control failed. Consider:
Obviously, they intend for people who support gun control to be "angry or disappointed" about the vote, and people who oppose gun control to be "relieved or happy".
But as a gun owner and human rights advocate, I'm disappointed that the issue even came up for a vote, and angry that the government and the media have spent almost 5 months demonizing people for exercising their constitutional rights.
Police don't want anything to do with New York gun law
What this article doesn't mention is that the cops are likely pissed because the law forgot to exempt them. Since I haven't heard of any successful amendments being passed (though I could have missed them -- I don't live in New York), that means the police are still in violation of the law themselves. Of course they won't enforce it on each other.
It's amazing how a simple drafting mistake can increase "professional courtesy" in an entire state!
So much so that, last week, the New York
State Troopers Police Benevolent Association issued a statement
distancing troopers from Cuomo and warning of public resentment toward
law enforcement since the gun law's passage.
No shit, sherlock.
A poll by the Siena Research Institute, released in March, found that
61 percent of New Yorkers like the NY SAFE Act, with the greatest
support among the state's large pool of registered Democrats.
However, 48 percent of those polled also said they felt the law was
rushed into enactment, in a bout of emotion following the Newtown
A similar poll released this week by Quinnipiac University found that 63 percent of voters said they support the new gun laws.
The pollsters noted a regional split, with supporters of the NY SAFE
Act concentrated in the New York City area, while upstate voters
In other words, voters in New York City -- who don't own guns, because their city's laws represent an effective ban on firearms to anyone who isn't a cop, a public figure, or a bodyguard -- are quite happy to vote their more rural citizens into a similar state of disarmed victimhood. And that's assuming that the polls are accurate.
On Wednesday, William G. Greene, a Saratoga-area man, became one of
the first to run afoul of a provision sealing the so-called "private
sale loophole." Greene posted to a Facebook page for gun enthusiasts, announcing he was selling an RUNS .223 caliber rifle.
He found a buyer, who turned out to be
an undercover state trooper. If Greene had sold the weapon a week
earlier, before provisions of the new gun law took effect, he would have gone home with a pocket full of cash. Instead, he was hauled off in handcuffs.
In other words, someone is most likely going to prison for 5-10 years and subsequently rendered unemployable for the rest of his life for doing something that harmed no one, was legal a week ago, and for which he had no criminal intent.
When this is how the law works, people lose respect for the law.
After passing draconian gun control laws targeting honest gun owners and manufacturers, the Colorado legislature seems to think they might as well pass more gun control laws... since they have already pissed off all the gun owners in the state, why not piss them off even more? It's not like honest gun owners will vote more than once, or that there's some community of gun owners they haven't already motivated to pull out all the stops in 2014.
The latest bills would require domestic-violence offenders to surrender their firearms, create a task force to study ways to prevent those with mental health problems from obtaining guns, and ban gun owners from obtaining a concealed-carry permit via an online class.
So... they create a task force NOW, after they have already passed all sorts of laws that were supposed to fix the problem of the mentally ill obtaining guns? In the military, this would be described as a "Ready, Fire, Aim" situation. Joking aside, though, this means they aren't done yet. In a few weeks or a few months, this task force will come back with recommendations for even more gun control laws.
They also want to make it illegal to get a concealed-carry permit via an online class. Why? Seriously, why? The requirements for concealed-carry permits usually include several forms of identification, fingerprinting, a thorough background check, and (at least in Texas) a practical shooting qualification... none of which is going to be changed by letting people attend a lecture about the legal issues of firearms and self-defense from the comfort of their home rather than spending hours in a classroom.
Finally, the domestic violence issue. At first glance, this looks ok -- after all, people convicted of domestic violence offenses are barred by federal law from possessing firearms. Why not have a legal process to confiscate them?
One big objection: not all those barred from possessing firearms by reason of domestic violence are permanently barred. Federal law also covers those who are currently subject to a domestic violence restraining order -- orders which are handed out like candy in divorce court -- and those orders can expire or be overturned. If the police confiscate the lawfully-owned firearms of such a person, he will likely never get them back, or receive any compensation for the confiscation of his property.
Why is this a better process than allowing an individual in those circumstances to transfer his firearms to a friend for temporary safekeeping until the legal issues are settled, or to a gun dealer for sale?
Oh, wait, Colorado just outlawed private transfers without a background check, didn't they?
Well, that explains that.
Between dealer checks and universal background checks, Colorado knows -- loosely now, but with more precision in the future -- exactly what guns its law-abiding residents own, and if you ever get divorced, you can expect the police to raid your home and confiscate every firearm they find. If you are in their database as owning a firearm that they don't find, you'll be charged with an unlawful (un-background-checked) transfer.
If you are found with a firearm not on their list, better hope you can prove you got it before the law was passed, or they will add an unlawful transfer charge to the unlawful possession charge.. since as soon as you got that restraining order as part of your divorce proceedings, they raided your home before you had the chance to arrange for legal disposal of the firearms you lawfully owned up until the wife decided the grass was greener on the neighbor's lawn.
If you ask me, the Colorado legislature has decided they can save their asses in 2014 -- or earlier, if any recall votes take place -- by ensuring the Colorado gun owners will self-deport rather than vote them out. And if not, well, you usually lose the right to vote when you are convicted of a felony, even a bullshit one.
Would you want a gun if your neighborhood was on lockdown?
Sixty-nine percent say if they were in a situation similar to Bostonians, they would want a gun in their house.
That includes a large 88-percent majority of those in gun-owner households, as well as 50 percent of those in non-gun homes.
Those 50 percent of people in non-gun homes have likely never really considered the possibility before, at least not seriously. When they are forced to think about it, by an event like the Boston Marathon Bomber lockdown, they often come to the conclusion that they want a gun -- just in case.
The problem is, if you find yourself in that kind of situation, you can't just run off to the gun store, buy a gun, and run back home. You're usually stuck with whatever you had available before the crisis started.
Worse, if by some chance you can run to the gun store, you'll find yourself suddenly faced by all the barriers placed by gun control efforts. In most red states, you'll have to fill out an exacting form under penalty of perjury, wait for the dealer to call the FBI for a background check, and wait for results. (Anywhere from half an hour to three days, and subjectively people seem to feel that first gun purchases are usually longer). You'll have to pay for the gun, and probably a cheap and nearly useless gun lock.
In blue states, you might also have to get yourself fingerprinted (at your expense), produce references, mail in an application, wait months for a government employee to approve your application, wait longer to receive it back in the mail, all before you can even take a gun off the shelf in the store to see how it feels.
Either way you'll have a lot of learning to do about what the gun laws are and what you can and can't do legally, all under the ever-present threat of spending years in jail on a felony conviction if you get any of the details wrong.
That's an intimidating process, especially if you don't have someone you know to help you through the process.
In the middle of that night listening to the Boston police scanner, I evolved.
I realized right then that if I were holed up in my house while a cold-blooded terrorist roamed my neighborhood, I wouldn't want to be a sitting duck with only a deadbolt lock between me and an armed intruder. There are not enough police and they cannot come to my rescue quickly enough. They carry guns to protect themselves, not me. I knew at that instant if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev showed up at my door while I was "sheltered-in-place" and aimed a gun at my head and only one of us would live, I could pull the trigger.
Self-defense is not only a human right, it is a moral imperative. To refuse to defend yourself effectively means you depend on others putting themselves in danger to save you. Conversely, if you defend yourself successfully, you may well save the next person's life.
I'm shopping for guns this week. I've been told a 12-gauge shotgun is a good choice for home protection, but I'm open to suggestions.
Well, my first piece of advice would be to stop taking suggestions about firearms -- or anything else, really -- from Joe Biden. While a 12-guage shotgun isn't a bad choice, you might want to take one out to a shooting range and make sure you can handle it first. (This applies to any firearm you might purchase, not just shotguns -- but shotguns are the ones that end up in youtube videos). You would do well to consider a handgun or the modern militia rifle, the AR-15, as well.
Boston bomber suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly horded a small arsenal of guns. They were semi-automatic weapons. They did not have to go through a background check or have a permit. Authorities will now be forced to spend countless hours and personnel trying to track down exactly how, when and where they got their guns. They could have easily have gotten them over the Internet, at a gun show, or just simply bought them from an individual seller on the street or anywhere else.
They lived in Boston. Massachusetts requires a license to own a firearm. They did not have licenses. The younger brother was too young to own a handgun.
In other words, it was already illegal for them to have guns -- and it did not stop them.
Indeed, public opinion appears to be on the administration's side. Fifty-five percent of Americans said in April's NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that they support tougher gun laws -- roughly the same number who expressed a similar sentiment in the weeks following Newtown.
Oh, good, I see we're admitting that the 80%-90% support numbers were completely bogus now. Amazing what a little damage control can do.
New York resident arrested for IMITATION assault weapons
"It turned out to be air rifles configured to look like assault rifles. There's a local ordinance in New York City that makes it unlawful to possess an air rifle or an imitation weapon. So the student was arrested," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told WCBS 880.