Thursday, January 10, 2019

Key Provisions Of Feinstein's New AWB (Updated)


Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) reintroduced her assault weapon ban yesterday. It is S. 66 and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill has 28 co-sponsors - 27 Democrats and one Independent (Bernie Sanders).

The full text is not yet available. However, from Feinstein's press release we can see she aiming wide and deep.
Key provisions:
  • Bans the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name. Owners may keep existing weapons.
  • Bans any assault weapon that accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock. Owners may keep existing weapons.
  • Bans magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which allow shooters to quickly fire many rounds without needing to reload. Owners may keep existing magazines.

Exemptions to bill:

  • The bill exempts by name more than 2,200 guns for hunting, household defense or recreational purposes.
  • The bill includes a grandfather clause that exempts all weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment.

Other provisions:

  • Requires a background check on any future sale, trade or gifting of an assault weapon covered by the bill.
  • Requires that grandfathered assault weapons are stored using a secure gun storage or safety device like a trigger lock.
  • Prohibits the transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • Bans bump-fire stocks and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at fully automatic rates.

Updates to Assault Weapons Ban of 2017:

  • Bans stocks that are “otherwise foldable or adjustable in a manner that operates to reduce the length, size, or any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability of a firearm.”
  • Bans assault pistols that weigh 50 or more ounces when unloaded, a policy included in the original 1994 ban.
  • Bans assault pistol stabilizing braces that transform assault pistols into assault rifles by allowing the shooter to shoulder the weapon and fire more accurately.
  • Bans Thordsen-type grips and stocks that are designed to evade a ban on assault weapons.

I had to look up Thordsen-type grips. She is referring to stocks and grips from Thordsen Customs which are meant to allow firearms to be California and New York compliant.

You can tell by the updates to her AWB of 2017 that she is after any adjustable stock and AR-pistols with or without a stabilizing brace.

Looking at the Key Provisions, firearms like the Ruger PCC pistol caliber carbine would be banned as it has a threaded barrel. I think she learned her lesson from the original AWB which allowed no more than two features. Not that I think this bill will pass the Senate but I could foresee the development of pump carbines that feed from a detachable magazine. Remington used to have such a rifle called the Model 7615. You can see an example here.

It will be interesting to read the full text of this bill when it is published. To get an idea you might want to look at her 2017 version.

UPDATE: Ryan Cleckner, attorney and former Director of Governmental Affairs for NSSF, has this analysis of the Feinstein's new AWB. Given his background in the industry and his shooting background, it is well worth a read.

The Text Of HR 8 - The "Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019" (Updated)


The text of the Democrat's universal background check bill has been released. The bill will be HR 8 which has been reserved for the Speaker and which number was chosen to represent the day that then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was shot. I think Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) will be the official sponsor of the bill and I presume most Democrats will be on board as co-sponsors. Gotta get that Bloomberg money, ya know.

As to the "Bipartisan" part of the title, I presume that is because Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and maybe a few others will be co-sponsors of the bill. One Republican or 20 really doesn't make it "bipartisan" any more than a Republican bill that has one or two Democrats as sponsors.

Here is the text of the bill:

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Mr. THOMPSON of California introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on January 8, 2019.

A BILL

To require a background check for every firearm sale.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019’’.

SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

The purpose of this Act is to utilize the current background checks process in the United States to ensure individuals prohibited from gun possession are not able to obtain firearms.

SEC. 3. FIREARMS TRANSFERS.

Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by striking subsection (s);
(2) by redesignating subsection (t) as subsection (s); and
(3) by inserting after subsection (s), as redesignated, the following:

‘‘(t)(1)(A) It shall be unlawful for any person who is not a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to transfer a firearm to any other person who is not so licensed, unless a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer has first taken possession of the firearm for the purpose of complying with subsection (s).

‘‘(B) Upon taking possession of a firearm under subparagraph (A), a licensee shall comply with all requirements of this chapter as if the licensee were transferring the firearm from the inventory of the licensee to the unlicensed transferee.

‘‘(C) If a transfer of a firearm described in subparagraph (A) will not be completed for any reason after a licensee takes possession of the firearm (including because the transfer of the firearm to, or receipt of the firearm by, the transferee would violate this chapter), the return of the firearm to the transferor by the licensee shall not constitute the transfer of a firearm for purposes of this chapter.

‘‘(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to—

‘‘(A) a law enforcement agency or any law enforcement officer, armed private security professional, or member of the armed forces, to the extent the officer, professional, or member is acting within the course and scope of employment and official duties;
‘‘(B) a transfer that is a loan or bona fide gift between spouses, between domestic partners, between parents and their children, between siblings, between aunts or uncles and their nieces or nephews, 1or between grandparents and their grandchildren;
‘‘(C) a transfer to an executor, administrator, trustee, or personal representative of an estate or a trust that occurs by operation of law upon the death of another person;
‘‘(D) a temporary transfer that is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, if the possession by the transferee lasts only as long as immediately necessary to prevent the imminent death or great bodily harm;
‘‘(E) a transfer that is approved by the Attorney General under section 5812 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; or
‘‘(F) a temporary transfer if the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee will use or intends to use the firearm in a crime or is prohibited from possessing firearms under State or Federal law, and the transfer takes place and the transferee’s possession of the firearm is exclusively— 
‘‘(i) at a shooting range or in a shooting gallery or other area designated for the purpose of target shooting;
‘‘(ii) while reasonably necessary for the purposes of hunting, trapping, or fishing, if the transferor—
‘‘(I) has no reason to believe that the transferee intends to use the firearm in a place where it is illegal; and
‘‘(II) has reason to believe that the transferee will comply with all licensing and permit requirements for such hunting, trapping, or fishing; or
‘‘(iii) while in the presence of the transferor.

'‘(3)(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Attorney General may implement this subsection with regulations.
‘‘(B) Regulations promulgated under this paragraph may not include any provision requiring licensees to facilitate transfers in accordance with paragraph (1).
‘‘(C) Regulations promulgated under this paragraph may not include any provision requiring persons not licensed under this chapter to keep records of background checks or firearms transfers.
‘‘(D) Regulations promulgated under this paragraph may not include any provision placing a cap on the fee licensees may charge to facilitate transfers in accordance with paragraph (1).
‘‘(4) It shall be unlawful for a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to transfer possession of, or title to, a firearm to another person who is not so licensed unless the importer, manufacturer, or dealer has provided such other person with a notice of the prohibition under paragraph (1), and such other person has certified that such other person has been provided with this notice on a form prescribed by the Attorney General.’’.

SEC. 4. TECHNICAL AND CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.

(a) SECTION 922.—Section 922(y)(2) of title 18, United States Code, is amended in the matter preceding subparagraph (A) by striking ‘‘, (g)(5)(B), and (s)(3)(B)(v)(II)’’ and inserting ‘‘and (g)(5)(B)’’.
(b) CONSOLIDATED AND FURTHER CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2012.—Section 511 of title V of division B of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (18 U.S.C. 922 note) is amended by striking ‘‘subsection 922(t)’’ each place it appears and inserting ‘‘subsection (s) or (t) of section 922’’.

SEC. 5. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.
Nothing in this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to—
(1) authorize the establishment, directly or indirectly, of a national firearms registry; or
(2) interfere with the authority of a State, under section 927 of title 18, United States Code, to enact a law on the same subject matter as this Act.

SEC. 6. EFFECTIVE DATE.

The amendments made by this Act shall take effect 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
 
UPDATE: Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned notes that those of us who have Curios & Relics licenses would have to go through a licensed dealer for our transfers. Notice that the wording in the bill makes no mention of "licensed collectors" but only importers, manufacturers, and dealers.

UPDATE II: Attorney and scholar David Kopel has a textual analysis of the bill on the Volokh Conspiracy. Dave notes that it would also ban the transfer of a handgun to those 18-20 years old which is now legal in many states in private sales. You can't have a FFL transfer a handgun to you unless you are 21 years of age or older.

SHOT Show Is Coming





I will be heading to the 2019 SHOT Show in little more than a week. There have already been some new product introductions such as Mossberg's first pistol in about a 100 years and a .357 Magnum revolver from Colt.

What do you want me to check out? If you will tell me in the comments section, I'll do my best to check it out.

Remember, if you tell me everything, I'll only have 22 seconds to check it out.

Five Out Of 199 Doesn't Make A Bill "Bipartisan"


Now that HR 8 - the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 - has been posted to the Library of Congress website we can see who is listed as a co-sponsor. Five Republicans out of 199 Republican House members in the 116th Congress doesn't really qualify the bill to be called "bipartisan". It is a semantics game played by both parties and it is equally misleading whichever party sponsors a bill.

Here are the five Republicans who are co-sponsoring the bill:
Rep. King, Peter T. [R-NY-2]

Rep. Fitzpatrick, Brian K. [R-PA-1]

Rep. Mast, Brian J. [R-FL-18]

Rep. Upton, Fred [R-MI-6]

Rep. Smith, Christopher H. [R-NJ-4]
King, Fitzpatrick, Mast, and Upton were all co-sponsors of a similar bill, HR 4240, in the prior Congress. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Bad Boy Updgrade? Ummm.


Cimarron Firearms Company is a Fredricksburg, Texas company that imports fine reproductions of Old West guns from Italy. They range from Single Action Army revolvers to Wyatt Earp's Buntline as well as a line of both shotguns and rifles. They are uniformly well made and are exacting reproductions.

That is why I was a bit surprised at this "upgrade" to their Model P Pre-War "Bad Boy" single action revolver. You can see the sneak peak of it in the video below from The Adventure Cowboy YouTube channel.




I guess putting a Vortex Venom pistol red dot on a single action army revolver is an "upgrade" to some as it could be used for hunting or target shooting. That said. the traditionalist in me is horrified. It just doesn't seem appropriate to sully up a classic of the Old West with a battery operated optic made in the Philippines.

Industry Consolidation And Homogenization


Jim Shepherd, publisher of the Outdoor Wires, is at the Archery Trade Association show this week in Louisville, Kentucky. He made this observation about consolidation within the archery and hunting industries. He points out that it is not only those industries who are consolidating but it is widespread across the fishing, hunting, shooting, and outdoor industries.
Some news releases we’ve distributed this week have again pointed out something that isn’t unique to archery -consolidation is happening across the industry.

From nutritional supplements to tree stands, scents and broadheads, archery is seeing to the absorption of smaller companies into larger ones.

For many small businesses, it’s a matter of survival. The business climate’s tough right now, and if you’re a company with little capitalization and no margin of error, adding your niched products into a larger operation makes sense. These businesses began because their owners were passionate about the sport, and saw a real need for a product that wasn’t there. With very few exceptions, a single-product or limited-product business isn’t viable.

That’s the part of consolidation that concerns me most.

Large companies with fixed operating costs look at new products differently that an entrepreneur who’s willing to bootstrap a good product to market.

If potential sales volumes or margin are in question, most big companies tend to take a pass on the concept. That number-centric approach doesn’t encourage innovation.

When innovation dies, homogenization is the best possible outcome.

And homogenization doesn’t drive participation. Nothing other than oxygen appeals to everyone.

So while we’re looking at the latest-and-greatest from the major players, we’ll be prowling the smaller exhibits looking for those undiscovered innovators. We want to encourage them.
I wholeheartedly agree with Jim - the little guys can come up with the innovative stuff that is really interesting. Moreover, new cool stuff is what pulls people in and that applies to both the old and young.

 This is why I try to spend at least a day and a half at SHOT Show looking around the lower level which is where the new and younger companies usually end up.

US V. Torres - Do "Unlawful Aliens" Have The Right To Possess Firearms?


Does an illegal alien, unlawful alien, undocumented immigrant, or whatever your favorite term for those in this immigration class have the right to possess a firearm under the Second Amendment? Five circuit courts have said no and now the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in an unanimous decision agrees in a decision released yesterday. They have all found that 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5)(A) is constitutional.

Some quick background on Victor Manuel Torres. He was born in Mexico and was brought to the San Jose, California area when he was four years old in 1989. Neither of his parents had legal immigration status. Notwithstanding that, he was enrolled in the San Jose school system until he was expelled in 2000 for gang membership in the Sur Santos Pride gang. A couple of years later he was sent to live with relatives in Mexico to get his act together. In 2005, he made three attempts to illegally enter the United States. The first two times he was caught and allowed to voluntarily return to Mexico. His third attempt was successful and he returned to live in the San Jose area. He married a US citizen in 2012 but made no attempt to apply for legal status. So you have a person who is in the United States unlawfully, did not have a right to legal status due to his parents, and who made no effort to change his status after his marriage to a US citizen.

In 2014, Torres was arrested when attempting to sell a stolen bicycle by the Los Gatos Police Department. When he consented to allow officers to look in his backpack for identification, they found a loaded .22 revolver, bolt cutters, and two homemade suppressors. In addition to state criminal charges, Torres was indicted and convicted on one count of being an unlawful alien in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5)(A). He moved to dismiss this charge on the basis that the Second Amendment protections applied to him and that § 922(g)(5)(A) violated the Second Amendment. The District Court disagreed and after trial sentenced him to 27 months in prison with three years probation. He then appealed to the 9th Circuit.

The 9th Circuit used a two-step inquiry to see if § 922(g)(5)(A) was unconstitutional both facially and as applied to Torres. The inquiry sought to determine whether the law burdened the Second Amendment and then. if so, the proper level of scrutiny. Noting that the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 10th Circuits had dealt with this question they proceeded to examine those cases. The key issue was whether "the people" in the Second Amendment was meant to apply to those illegally in the United States.

The two cases that all six of the circuits used to determine "the people" were US v Verdugo-Urquidez (1990) and DC v Heller (2008). The first case said "the people" in the Bill of Rights were those in a class of persons who are a) part of a national community and b) who have developed a sufficient connection with this country to be considered part of it. Likewise, the Heller case emphasized the Second Amendment as "protecting the rights of citizens" and "belonging to all Americans". It went on to use the terms "law-abiding" and "responsible" in reference a citizen's right to use arms in defense of their home. The five other circuits had all agreed that § 922(g)(5)(A) was constitutional but disagreed on the reasoning.

The 4th, 5th, and 8th Circuits found that unlawful aliens (the preferred term of the 9th Circuit) were not members of the law-abiding community per Heller and thus not entitled to be "the people" under the Second Amendment. Conversely, the 7th and 10th agreed that Heller was not conclusive on who should be considered "the people" as that was only secondary to whether it was an individual or collective right. They thus relied upon Verdugo-Urquidez to determine that those in question were "the people" or assumed to be. However, under intermediate scrutiny their exclusion from Second Amendment rights was allowed because it did not severely burden that right.

The 9th Circuit decided that:
However, we agree with the Tenth Circuit’s approach, because we believe the state of the law precludes us from reaching a definite answer on whether unlawful aliens are included in the scope of the Second Amendment right. The Tenth Circuit correctly held that this question is “large and complicated.” Id. at 1169. Therefore, on this record, we find it imprudent to examine whether Torres (as an unlawful alien) falls within the scope of the Second Amendment right. As such, we assume (without deciding) that unlawful aliens, such as Torres, fall within the scope of the Second Amendment right as articulated under Heller and Vergudo-Urquidez and proceed to the appropriate scrutiny we should give to § 922(g)(5).
The court then had to decide whether § 922(g)(5)(A) imposed a permissible restriction on Torres' Second Amendment right and what was proper level of scrutiny. Torres argued for strict scrutiny but the court disagreed.
However, intermediate scrutiny is appropriate “if a challenged law does not implicate a core Second Amendment right, or does not place a substantial burden on the Second Amendment right.” Jackson, 746 F.3d at 961. Although not dispositive of the question, we note that there has been “near unanimity in the post-Heller case law that, when considering regulations that fall within the scope of the Second Amendment, intermediate scrutiny is appropriate.” Silvester, 843 F.3d at 823.
Here I might say that the "near unanimity" is due more to resistance by the lower courts to Heller and McDonald than to true constitutional jurisprudence.  The court goes on to decide that the severity of the law's burden on Torres' right is tempered. That is due to the fact that the prohibition on an unlawful alien's possession of a firearm does not continue once he or she has left the United States. Moreover, if an unlawful alien was to acquire lawful immigration status the prohibition in § 922(g)(5)(A) would be removed.

The court agreed with the government's contention that § 922(g)(5)(A) had an important governmental objective and that it was a reasonable fit between the objective and the conduct regulated. The primary objective is crime control and public safety. Armed unlawful aliens are a threat to immigration officers, they purposefully seek to avoid detection by often adopting false identities or staying outside the formal system of identification, and have already shown a willingness to disobey the United States' law on immigration.

They conclude:
The present state of the law leaves us unable to conclude with certainty whether aliens unlawfully present in the United States are part of “the people” to whom Second Amendment protections extend. Nonetheless, assuming that unlawful aliens do hold some degree of Second Amendment rights, those rights are not unlimited, and the restriction in § 922(g)(5) is a valid exercise of Congress’s authority.
They thus affirm the lower court's ruling that § 922(g)(5)(A) is constitutional.

The opinion was written by Circuit Judge N. Randy Smith. He was joined in the opinion by Chief Judge Sidney Thomas and US District Judge Sharon Gleason who was sitting by designation.

The full text of the opinion is here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Oleg On Red Flag Laws


Oleg Volk posted a comment on Facebook on Sunday evening that needs repeating. It is in reference to Red Flag Laws. Everyone who supports these ill-conceived laws and every politician who plans to vote for them needs to read it, digest it, and understand it.

A fun thought about Red Flag laws: the confiscators have no way of telling that they got all the available weapons. Even if the confiscation proceeds without gunfire, they've created an understandably disgruntled person with access to weapons (not limited to guns) and a kill list, starting with the finks and probably encompassing everyone who signed off on the confiscation, and those who helped carry it out. In other words, made the accusation a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Oleg points out something that I hadn't even considered. While I consider Red Flag Laws dangerous to civil rights, to due process, and to the person whose guns are being confiscated, I failed to consider that the application of such laws might be the trigger for someone who had not previously thought of violent actions.

The law of unintended consequences indeed.