By Laura Carno
The Gibsons live in Johnston, Iowa, and are both involved in shooting sports.
The state of Iowa, however, has a problem with these young ladies. While they participate in the shooting sports, they are not yet 14 years of age. Meredith shoots 3-gun and USPSA, and Natalie shoots USPSA. But both of these sports involve competing with pistols, which is prohibited for Iowans under the age of 14. (Incidentally, there is no other state in the union that has a problem with kids their age shooting a pistol under adult supervision. They are legally able to shoot a shotgun or a rifle in Iowa, but not a pistol.)
This forces the Gibson sisters to go to Illinois—yes, that Illinois—to practice their pistol skills.
This law is a relic from the Civil War era. In truth, it is a law that should have been repealed long ago, but no one has done so yet.
When the Gibson sisters asked their dad, Nathan, what they could do about it, he took them to the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines to talk to legislators. Each Wednesday, their school has “early out,” and they go to the state capitol in Des Moines to visit with legislators to seek their support for legislation to repeal the ban. Yes, they go every Wednesday. “We just want to get back to our sport.” — 12-year-old Meredith and 10-year-old sister Natalie Gibson
(You can watch a great interview that Meredith, Natalie and Nathan did with Cam Edwards on NRA News’ “Cam & Company” describing their interaction with legislators here.)
Unfortunately, this repeal bill keeps getting killed in the Senate. Democrat state Sen. Steven Sodders has told the girls that he supports the bill and even said he’d bring it up for a vote, but he never has. Instead, Sodders assigned it to the three-member Judiciary Committee that has two anti-gun senators on it. They never get around to scheduling a hearing, which results in the bill dying without even a vote. It should be noted that the girls have talked to all 50 state senators, and 35 have pledged to vote “yes” on the measure.
When the Gibson girls couldn’t get anywhere with Sodders, they tried to track down Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. They told me that when Gronstal saw them, he tried to get away via one of two sets of stairs that lead to the building’s main exit. Not to be outmaneuvered, the girls were waiting at the bottom of each set of stairs, essentially blocking him from not talking to them. Who doesn’t love this image of a legislator running away from a couple of kids!
The situation is truly ridiculous and unfair. The girls aren’t looking to carry a concealed firearm. They aren’t even trying to make a political point.
As they told me, “We just want to get back to our sport.” And what I want is for Sen. Sodders to do his job and get the government out of the way of 10- and 12-year-old sisters simply wanting to participate in their chosen sports.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this whole story is what the girls are doing this summer now that school is out. They plan to knock on every door in the district “to make sure Steven Sodders is not re-elected.”
How great it is when children take action to fight for their rights!
How can we help? First, check out IFC-PAC, a PAC that is working on the Gibsons’ issue, as well as promoting other pro-gun measures in the state legislature. Second, if you are in Iowa or can travel to Iowa, consider helping Meredith and Natalie knock on doors. Third, share this story with anyone you know in Iowa, and ask them to share it within their local networks. Finally, feel free to reach out to Senators Sodders and Gronstal. You can telephone Sen. Sodders at (641) 751-4140 and Sen. Gronstal at (712) 328-2808.
By Laura Carno
The Gibsons live in Johnston, Iowa and they are both involved in sports.
The State of Iowa has a problem with these young ladies. They participate in the shooting sports, but they are not yet 14 years of age. Meredith shoots 3-gun and USPSA and Natalie shoots USPSA. Both of these sports involve competing with pistols, which is prohibited for Iowans under the age of 14. There is no other state in the union that has a problem with kids their age shooting a pistol under adult supervision. They are legally able to shoot a shotgun or a rifle in Iowa, but not a pistol.
This forces the Gibson sisters to go to Illinois —yes, that Illinois— to practice their pistol skills.
This law is a relic from the Civil War era. It is a law that should have been repealed long ago. But no one has done so yet.
The Gibson sisters asked their dad Nathan what they could do about it, so he took them to the Iowa State Capitol to talk to legislators. Every Wednesday, their school has “early out” and they go to the State Capitol in Des Moines to talk to legislators, to seek their support of legislation to repeal the ban. They go every Wednesday.
Watch this great interview that Meredith, Natalie and Nathan did with Cam Edwards from Cam and Company on NRA News, describing their interaction with legislators.
This repeal bill keeps getting killed in the Senate. Senator Steven Sodders tells the girls that he supports the bill and even says he’ll bring it up for a vote, but he never does. Instead, Sodders assigns it to the 3-member Judiciary Committee that has two anti-gun Senators. And they never get around to scheduling a hearing. This results in the killing of the bill without a vote. It should be noted that the girls have talked to all 50 Senators and 35 have pledged to vote yes.
When they weren’t getting anywhere with Sodders, the girls tried to track down Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. They told me that when Gronstal saw them, he tried to get away via one of two sets of stairs that lead to the building’s main exit. The girls were waiting at the bottom of each set of stairs, essentially blocking him from not talking to them. Who doesn’t love this image of a legislator running away from a couple of kids?
The girls aren’t looking to carry concealed. They aren’t looking to go hunting. They aren’t even trying to make a political point. They told me, “We just want to get back to our sport.” I want Senator Sodders to do his job and get the government out of the way of 10 and 12-year old sisters engaging in their chosen sport.
My favorite part of this story is what the girls are going to do with their summer, as soon as school is out. They told me they are going to knock on every door in the district, “to make sure Steven Sodders is not re-elected.”
How great is it when 10 and 12-year olds are taking action for their rights?
How can we help? First, there is a PAC helping out that could use your donations and volunteer time. Second, if you are in Iowa or can travel to Iowa, please consider helping Meredith and Natalie walk precincts. Third, share this blog with anyone you know in Iowa and ask them to share it within their local networks. And finally, feel free to reach out to Senators Sodders and Gronstal. I’m sure they’d love to hear your thoughts. Senator Sodders can be reached at 641-751-4140 and Senator Gonstal can be reached at 712-328-2808.
By Laura Carno
Where do you stand on the current state of the Presidential election?
Feel The Bern.
Feel The Johnson.
I’m With Her.
None of the Above.
I have heard all of these Presidential campaign slogans in the past 24 hours —all from people I know personally. Yet the two front runners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have record negative poll numbers among primary voters and among general election voters. The President we wish we had is never coming. So what is a responsible registered voter to do? This is a Presidential primary year, and we know we must do something.
We. Must. Do. Something.
I propose a different way to look at this Presidential election. Whomever we have in the Oval Office, the Executive Branch is but one of three co-equal branches of government. And the federal legislative branch offers a substantial constitutional check and balance on the power of the executive office.
- A nominee to the Supreme Court cannot be confirmed without a compliant US Senate.
- The President can sign a bill only after it has first passed through both houses of Congress.
- Two-thirds of the members in both houses of Congress can override a Presidential veto.
Additionally, the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution offers protections to the states against federal overreach.
If your candidate for President didn’t make the finals, don’t walk out on the entire election season.
Do whatever you need to do at the top of the ticket. Then look at what you can do to provide a check and balance to the next occupant the Oval Office, regardless of who that is. The President is one person —a powerful person— but just one person. There is much more you can do.
- Work to elect consistently principled local candidates, especially your state legislative candidates. They provide a check on federal overreach. Consider the leadership qualities it takes to stand up for what is right and what is constitutional.
- Work to elect consistently principled Congressional and US Senate candidates. Consider the leadership qualities it takes to stand up for what is right and what is constitutional.
Focusing your energy on down-ticket races will help to provide the backstop necessary to place a check on the powers of the President. I’m not excited about any of the choices for President. If you are as concerned as I am about who our next President might be, then our obligation is to minimize the negative impact they will have on our country.
We have a system of checks and balances for a reason. Let’s use it.
See the original post here
As of this writing, there have been 666 bills proposed, plus memorials and resolutions. That means that there were 166 “late bills” (a full 33% more than the 500 “normal” bills introduced) that the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate approved to be introduced late in addition to the original 500.
What are we, the taxpayers, getting in these extra late bills, and why is it a problem?
First, if the bill was important enough, why wasn’t it in a legislator’s initial 5 bills?
Second, due to the compressed time frame, the rules are often suspended to allow the late bill to make its way through the legislative process more quickly. The steps involved in typical bill passage —which can take weeks or months— include:
- Introduction in the first chamber
- Assignment to a committee
- The committee hearing
- Second reading on the floor
- Third reading, final passage on the floor
- Introduction in the second chamber
- Assignment to a committee
- The committee hearing
- Second reading on the floor
- Third reading, final passage on the floor
There may be additional steps depending on whether either chamber had amendments, and conference committees if both chambers didn’t agree on the final version as amended. For late bills, all of these steps can be completed in a matter of days, not weeks or months.
Out of the 166 late bills so far, there are three bills worthy of your attention.
First is Senate Bill 16-193, Concerning the Duties of the Safe2Tell Program. Sounds great on the surface. We want children to feel safe to tell a responsible person about a threat to the school. The bill aims to provide “at no charge to the school” a Safe2Tell program centrally run by the state. That state program will cost the taxpayers more than $200,000 annually, per the fiscal note for this bill.
This bill codifies a 2015 working group report that establishes the structure of Safe2Tell, including:
- Replacing local control with a new state-level bureaucrat
- A loss of due process as investigations would be based on whether a student poses a threat as opposed to whether a student has made a threat.
- New student data collection to align with multi-state guidelines
With all of the data-privacy concerns on previous education bills, why rush this one through? What’s the hurry? The working group concluded its work in 2015. If this was so urgent, why didn’t any legislator carry it as one of their 5 bills, as opposed to rushing it through as a late bill, with very little opportunity for public input?
Interestingly, the Republican leadership in the Senate, and the Democrat leadership in the House are sponsoring this bill. That would indicate that they expect to get their caucuses in line and pass this bill.
Next is House Bill 16-1454, the Primary Participation Act. In the aftermath of the inaccurate national reporting on Colorado’s delegate selection process, we heard from lawmakers that something needed to be done. Although there was also significant accurate reporting from the ground in Colorado, from Mike Rosen, Ari Armstrong, and my piece in National Review, the national narrative has stuck.
Yet in Colorado, we heard that if the legislature doesn’t pass a law giving Colorado a Presidential Primary now, there would be a ballot initiative that will give us something even worse. And that ballot initiative is being led by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and is supported by the Colorado GOP Chair and the Colorado Secretary of State, among other public servants. You would be wise to ask why the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce cares how Republicans and Democrats go about electing their party’s nominee. According to the Denver Business Journal:
“….. to get more moderate individuals involved in a process of selecting candidates that ….. has become too partisan and led to stalemates rather than compromise in Congress and the Legislature, especially on business-related bills.”
Ah, I see now, the Denver Metro Chamber wants a Colorado State Legislature that is more moderate. They don’t care about the Presidential Primary. Yet the primary is the alleged emergency causing this last minute legislation.
Remember the last time a legislator told us we’d have to put up with bad legislation in order to keep something worse from befalling us? That’s when Colorado passed “AmyCare”. Our obligation is to fight the bad legislation, or ballot initiative. Not to accept something that is slightly less bad.
Whether the ballot initiative or this year’s bill are successful, either one would take effect for the 2020 Presidential Primary.
So what’s the hurry?
House Bill 16-1454 was introduced on Friday afternoon, April 22nd, and the committee hearing was Monday, April 25th. This is what it looks like to suspend the rules at the end of the legislative session. If you are a concerned citizen who doesn’t live in the Denver area, how likely was it for you to rearrange your schedule to attend the committee hearing, to make your voice heard, between Friday and Monday? The supporters of this bill say that moving to a primary gives everyone, including those registered as Unaffiliated, a chance to have a voice. I’m asking that the legislature not pass this bill and give the people of Colorado a chance to have a voice in the process.
Again, what’s the hurry?
Finally, Senate Bill 16-206, Concerning a Ban on Powdered Alcohol was introduced two days ago. Recall that in 2015, there was a similar bill to ban powdered alcohol, to which I was in strong opposition. It finally passed, but was amended down to say that powdered alcohol would be regulated like regular alcohol, which was how the inventor proposed it be handled in each state. It was not banned, nor should it have been banned.
SB 16-206 doesn’t seem to be in response to anything. Unlike the primary bill, there is no hot news story creating a sense of urgency. So, what’s the hurry?
As a reminder, this is the state where weed is legal for recreational use. And alcohol is also legal, provided there is water in it. Go figure.
Like the Safe2Tell bill, a bi-partisan leadership team also sponsors this bill. Why are the Republican Senate President and the Democrat Speaker of the House both so interested in passing a ban on powdered alcohol and rushing it through at the end of session? I’m open to theories.
My message to legislators on both sides of the aisle: Passing bills in a rushed manner, without ample notice and the without the ability for public input is not what we expect from you. Kill these bills as a matter of principle. The sponsors can bring them back during the next legislative session if they are that important.
This is why so many are saying that Government Ruins Nearly Everything.
Was the Colorado election stolen from grassroots activists by the party elites?
Put simply, no. Plenty has already been written about the organizational advantage that Ted Cruz has demonstrated in the race for national delegates — smartly, the Cruz campaign had been on the ground in Colorado for eight months, whereas the Trump campaign hired its first ground operative last week — but few have noted that the rules in Colorado yielded a broader win for the grassroots over the elites.
On Friday, April 8, I attended the Fifth Congressional District Assembly, to which I was elected as a delegate after I attended my neighborhood caucus in March. Typically, these assemblies are boring and predictable. But not this year. In a surprise nomination from the floor, 32-year old Calandra Vargas was nominated to challenge sitting congressman Doug Lamborn (who had been unanimously nominated for re-election). Taking full advantage of the opportunity, Vargas gave the speech of her life.
When delegate balloting was completed, it was revealed that Vargas had won 58 percent of the vote. Representative Doug Lamborn, by contrast, was left with only 35 percent. (The balance of the votes went to another floor nomination.) Had Lamborn received less than 30 percent, he would have been kept off the ballot completely, left with no other way to run for re-election.
Bottom line: The establishment almost lost its congressman because of Colorado’s grassroots-caucus process. Moreover, because of the delegate vote results, Vargas will be listed first on the ballot — a huge advantage for any candidate. If the party elite were in fact pulling the strings, an upset like this wouldn’t have been possible.
The following day at the state assembly — to which I had also been elected a delegate — we heard speeches from ten U.S. Senate candidates who chose to go through the caucus and assembly process. An additional four candidates for Senate chose to bypass the assembly, and petition directly on to the ballot. Of those who attended the state assembly, state senator Tim Neville was the clear favorite. Without question, Neville had the best delegate outreach, fundraising, and assembly presence. Walking in, the delegates were sure of one thing: Neville would make the ballot.
At least they were sure of that until El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn made his unexpectedly fiery nominating speech. Glenn hadn’t been successful in the traditional measures of candidate strength, such as fundraising. But, within Colorado’s assembly process, that didn’t matter. During his speech, Glenn received seven standing ovations — more than even Ted Cruz received later that day. Even better, Glenn received a remarkable 70 percent of the delegate votes, while Neville received just 18 percent. Because they were kept below the 30 percent threshold, Neville and the others were kept off the ballot. Glenn will now appear first on the US Senate ballot, above the four candidates who bypassed the assembly process.
Twice in two days in Colorado, grassroots Republican activists upended party expectations. None of us who were there were surprised by that. In Colorado, that’s just the way it works. Stealing? Not at all. That’s democracy.
March 27, 2016
Guest post by Keith Coniglio, Good friend and fellow 2A advocate
Gun owners’ opposition to background checks is probably the most difficult position for non-owners (and even some owners) to fathom. They’re supposed to prevent “people who shouldn’t have them” from getting their hands on guns – or at least that’s what we’re told. But the objection isn’t about what they’re supposed to do, it’s the fact that they have been used to deny an increasing number of people their second amendment rights, long after the headlines over their passages fade. They’ve not only been used to deny purchases, they’ve been used to force the surrender of arms that had been legal for decades, only to be reclassified long after the purchase and with no wrongdoing by the owners.
Often, this devolves into pro-gun rights activists chanting “registration is confiscation” while anti-rights activists respond with cries of, “Paranoid gun nuts!” What we hope to accomplish in this piece is to explain the mechanics of how a background check works, what becomes of that information, and how it has come back to harm those who go through the process.
The Cliff Notes version is that, to an extent, both sides are right.
Understanding the Process
To understand the distrust and objections, you must first understand how the process works. Since November of 1993, any commercial purchase – and, in many states, any private transaction – requires a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check to be performed by a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL).
[NOTE: The “internet loophole” is a deliberate misstatement. All communication regarding gun sales can absolutely be made online, just as with any communication about any subject. But, unless the seller is deliberately seeking to violate federal law, any gun crossing state lines must then be shipped to an FFL in the buyer’s state. The FFL then performs a background check. If both buyer and seller are in the same state and that state does not require background checks for private sales, then no FFL involvement is legally required and no law has been broken.]
This background check process begins with the purchaser filling out a federal form known as a “4473.” The 4473 requires the buyer to provide personally identifying information such as full name, address, and state-issued driver’s license number. There is a field for social security number, which is currently optional. The seller then fills out the remainder of the form (viewable here), which includes the make, model, and serial number of the firearm(s) being purchased.
The information from the 4473 is provided by phone or computer (where online submission is an option) and a NICS check is run. If approved, a unique authorization code is generated for the transaction and provided to the FFL for their records.
Federal law requires the FFL to retain the 4473s for completed transactions for twenty years, and 4473s for potential buyers who decided not to complete the transaction for five years. There is no retention requirement beyond these periods. However, the National Shooting Sports Foundation states in its FFL information sheet that the “ATF prefers that these records be retained.”
During the twenty years that the records are required to be stored, they can be inspected annually by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE or, more commonly, the ATF). By law (27 CFR 478.23(d)), agents are not legally allowed to copy/scan/photograph records unless it is part of an active criminal investigation.
When the FFL eventually goes out of business or has its license revoked, all records – including all 4473s in their log book – must be surrendered to the ATF.
Objection One: Abuse of the System
The unique identifying record that ties a specific firearm to a specific individual is required by federal law to be destroyed after 24 hours. However, not long after the system was implemented, it was found that the Department of Justice under then-Attorney General Janet Reno had been keeping such records for several months for “audit purposes.” Since then, there has been a persistent, recurring effort to remove the retention limit from existing law. In 2009, Senator Frank Lautenberg introduced SB 2820, which would allow the DoJ to keep those records “indefinitely.” In 2013, Representative Barbara Lee introduced HR 661, which would also remove the requirement.
Of course, even when that transactional record is deleted, the information is available for twenty years – or longer – through ATF inspections and surrendered records. While ATF agents are not legally allowed to copy or remove records unrelated to a specific investigation, incidents of this taking place are not uncommon. In fact, a consulting group created to help FFLs stay in compliance with regulations specifically offers advice regarding how to behave when it occurs. The advice, essentially, is that the agents should be allowed to do what they will, and the matter will be taken up in the courts later – after the records have been copied or removed.
The only thing preventing the existence of a decades-long (assuming laws are not amended to allow indefinite retention) federal record of individual and specific firearm ownership is private transactions taking place in states that do not require background checks.
This is what is meant by “background checks are registration.”
Defining the Terms
A frequent counter to concerns about registration is simply, “So what? If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” That sounds logical but ignores some important things. The first is that it’s completely irrelevant – a Constitutional right should not have a scrutiny clause for its exercise. The second is that it’s a frankly offensive and insulting stance, implying that opposition could only mean that you are in the wrong or somehow “up to something.” And, finally, it’s factually incorrect. Because, while we shouldn’t have anything to fear, the history of gun law implementation shows that innocence is a relative term that can be redefined at the whim of a legislator (or sometimes even just a police administrator).
For well over a century, firearm laws “for the common good” have been used to reduce who is eligible to exercise their Constitutional right. In some cases, new regulations were implemented, requiring permitting criteria to be met – and often prohibitive fees to be paid – for continued legal possession of already-owned guns. In others, the class of “prohibited persons” was expanded to include people that were previously considered legal gun owners (Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently had something to say about this), requiring the immediate transfer of ownership or surrender to authorities of all firearms. In still others, classes of firearms were redefined – a person could still own a gun… just not one they’d owned for years because it was now banned. In each case, the only way to determine that you, personally, needed to be brought into compliance with the new law was by consulting registration rolls – local, if available, or through federal 4473 records.
The dictionary definition of “confiscate” is to seize private property by public authority, and this is the scene envisioned when people mention confiscation. But it would be dangerous, expensive, and inefficient to literally send officers to the homes of thousands of gun owners to physically do so. What actually happens is that registration records are consulted by state or municipal authorities to identify affected owners. A letter from government attorneys is then sent, advising the registered owner of the change in law, and ordering them to either prove that the firearm was sold outside of the jurisdiction or to surrender it to the local police. It is made clear that failure to do one or the other will result in arrest and prosecution.
Being law-abiding, most gun owners begrudgingly comply rather than ruin their lives with a criminal charge (which would preclude them from owning other firearms in the future). The pool of holdouts is usually small enough that sending law enforcement becomes less dangerous, and the expense is well worth the psychological effect of using overwhelming force to make an example of the scofflaw. There is also the added advantage of making the firearm seizure incidental to an arrest rather than the whole point, avoiding the textbook definition of “confiscation.”
Despite semantics, forced disarmament under threat of confiscation is confiscation, and the existence of registration rolls has been instrumental in these actions.
Objection Two: Abuse of the System… Again
New York City has witnessed just about every form of abuse, and will make for a good case study.
Prior to 1911, residents of NYC could own a pistol and carry it concealed, if they so chose – and many did so, given the pervasive violence and crime perpetrated by various ethnic gangs. However, those same gangs also served as bodyguards and enforcers for the corrupt leadership of the Tammany Hall political machine. One such Tammany Hall politician was Timothy Daniel Sullivan.
Involved in everything from prostitution and gambling to extortion and election fraud, “Big Tim” Sullivan found a clever way to give himself an edge over his political opponents. Under the guise of “public safety,” he was able to lobby state lawmakers into passing the Sullivan Act, which required New Yorkers to obtain a police-issued permit for handguns (along with any other weapon that could be concealed in a pocket).
In theory, anyone in New York City could still own a pistol and carry it. In practice, such permits became the nearly exclusive perk of Sullivan and his cronies, who all but owned the NYPD. The “right” criminals got permits. The “wrong” criminals found ways around the law. Truly law-abiding citizens who relied on carrying a gun for self-defense were disarmed or faced a felony conviction.
Today, New York City pistol permits – permits simply to own, not carry, a handgun – cost approximately $450. The fees are non-refundable, and denial rates can run over thirty percent, depending on the county. You must provide photographs, proof of citizenship (this is apparently only racism when applied to voting), proof of residence, an Affidavit of Familiarity with Rules and Law, and an Affidavit of Cohabitation to be filled out by anyone over the age of eighteen who lives with you. These must be notarized and turned in, in person, at One Police Plaza in Manhattan (you cannot merely go to your local police precinct) between 8:30am and 3:00pm, Monday through Friday.
You will now wait up to three months for the next phase, at which point you will be advised of the officer who will interview you for suitability. You will schedule that face to face interview and find out if any additional documentation is required. You will need to provide personal reference letters from at least three people who have known you at least two years. During the interview, you will be asked a battery of questions regarding why you want a gun, what you plan on doing with it, if you’ll be transporting it, and if you’ve ever been the victim of a crime. After another one to three months, you will get a letter with the interviewer’s determination.
If you are approved, you will then be required to travel once again to One Police Plaza and pick up your license in person, along with your Purchase Authorization – which is good for 30 days. The one gun you purchase – you will not be able to get another for a minimum of 90 days – must be NYC compliant, and the FFL selling it must fill out the authorization form. Once you purchase the gun, you must again return to One Police Plaza to have it inspected and the serial number recorded on your license (check it carefully, as any typo or mismatch between the gun and your paperwork can lead to your arrest). You may now purchase ammunition for that caliber.
In contrast, Colorado’s process for purchasing a pistol is… go to the store when the whim strikes you, have a background check performed by the FFL, then leave with your gun. Local law enforcement doesn’t care about the transaction, unless it’s a particularly cool gun, in which case they might ask permission to shoot it with you. You may buy as many as you can afford, as often as you wish, and can buy any ammunition at any time for any caliber that strikes your fancy, in as large a quantity as you desire.
But, Wait – There’s More (Abuse)!
Returning to our New York case study, in 1967, then-mayor John Lindsay signed into law a long gun (rifle or shotgun) registration ordinance passed by the New York City Council. From that point forward, anyone seeking to possess any rifle or shotgun within the city limits merely had to register it by make, model and serial number to obtain a permit for legal ownership. The fee was set at very “reasonable and common sense” $3. Gun owners were promised that registration rolls would never be used to confiscate the firearms of law-abiding citizens. Bill sponsor City Councilman Theodore Weiss vowed that that the fee would never be raised, and that “the city would always bear the brunt of the real costs of administering the law.”
Immediately after passage of the law, Mayor Lindsay proposed amendments to increase the fee to $25. As of this writing, the cost is approximately $230 ($140 for the application fee and $90 to process fingerprints). So much for a politician’s promise.
Then, in 1991, Mayor David Dinkins signed a City Council bill banning the possession of many semi-automatic rifles, claiming they were a now considered “assault weapons,” a term recently defined but now codified in NYC Administrative code, S 10-303.1. The registration rolls established in 1967 – the same rolls that “would not be used to confiscate the firearms of law-abiding citizens” – were used to identify the owners of such arms, which had been legal just the day before. Another promise broken.
2,340 citizens received letters demanding the forced sale or surrender of the guns. A Staten Island man who announced his refusal to comply was the subject of a police raid. He was arrested, and his guns were seized.
In 2006, NYC Administrative code S 10-306 was added, outlawing any “ammunition feeding device greater than five rounds.” This further reduced the number of formerly-legal rifles that could continue to be possessed, but no real enforcement effort was attempted until the passage of the statewide “SAFE Act” law in 2013. Then, once again, the records that “would not be used to confiscate the firearms of law-abiding citizens” were consulted and “sell or surrender the guns we know you own” were sent out to New York City residents.
Guns were being confiscated – again – even if doors weren’t being kicked in.
Objection Three: It’s All For Nothing
We’ve shown precisely how universal background checks are used as a direct form of registration, and have illustrated how, in the lifetime of anyone old enough to read these words, registration rolls have been used to disarm citizens – people just like you, who have committed no crime and done no wrong – under threat of legal action.
This sort of codified abuse would be unacceptable even if background checks achieved what they promise. But, adding insult to injury, they do not.
Background checks are sold to the public as a means of ensuring that “folks who shouldn’t have guns can’t get them.” But that doesn’t happen. According to the Department of Justice, 2010 saw 72,659 denials… out of 6,037,394 NICS checks. That means only 1.2% of all attempted commercial purchases were denied.
Of those 72,659 denials, 47% (or 34,459 people) were under felony indictment or had a felony conviction, 19% (or 13,862) were fugitives, and 11% (or 7,666) were prohibited by their state law. However, only 13 of them were ever successful prosecuted.
That’s not a typo; there’s no missing percent sign. 13 people out of 55,987 faced justice for violating the background check laws – translating to 55,974 felons, fugitives, and other denied parties simply going about their business that year. This hardly seems like an effective public safety tool.
Now consider the people who did pass their background check:
- Colin Ferguson, perpetrator of the 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre in which six were killed and nineteen were wounded;
- Seung Hui Cho, the 2007 Virginia Tech shooter who killed thirty-two and wounded seventeen;
- Nidal Hasan, who murdered thirteen fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in 2009;
- Jared Loughner, who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffordsin 2011, killing six and wounding thirteen others in the process;
- James Holmes, who killed a dozen Aurora Theater moviegoers in 2012;
- Aaron Alexis, who murdered a dozen people at Washington Navy Yard in 2013;
- Karl Pierson, who murdered a fellow student at Arapahoe High School in 2013;
- Elliot Rodger, who fatally shot, stabbed, and ran over six victims, injuring another fourteen during his Isla Vista spree in 2014;
- Dylann Roof, who killed nine church goers in Charleston in 2015.
And before you ask, there are others. Background checks don’t “stop” anything. All they do is create a record that can be exploited to disarm citizens years after the promises are forgotten.
The Bottom Line
As we said at the start, both sides of the argument are right, to an extent.
Background checks create a record of which specific firearms are owned by which specific citizens. Those records have been used – repeatedly, recently, and not just in New York – to force such citizens to surrender or sell their firearms. This isn’t opinion, propaganda, ignorance, or delusion – it’s all verifiable and part of our legal and historical record.
And when a segment of society is repeatedly targeted and abused by a system, it is natural for that segment to be suspicious and distrustful – paranoid, even – of any attempt to expand that same system. We gun owners are somewhat paranoid about the matter. But it is perfectly justifiable paranoia, given our irrefutable treatment.
We hope all of this has provided you with food for thought and that you’ll join us in opposing the use – especially the mandated use – of background checks. But if you need any further persuasion, we’d like to offer one more thing.
Go re-read the section on the process required to purchase a single pistol in New York City. Now imagine it all – the months of waiting, the documentation required, the travel back and forth from your home borough to Manhattan, the subjective interview, the time limit if permission is granted by some bureaucrat – applied to any other Constitutionally-protected right we enjoy as Americans.
You don’t need to have something to hide to have much to fear.
Government Ruins Nearly Everything is available on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0692…