Supreme Court hears Lautenberg challenge in ‘harbinger of things to come’
The Supreme Court on Feb. 29 heard arguments in a case many believe could be “the harbinger of things to come” in imposing further restrictions on the rights of those with domestic violence convictions to legally own firearms.
The irony is when the Court originally accepted Voisine v. United States, many surmised that it could lead to a dilution of the 1996 Lautenberg Amendment, which makes it illegal for convicted domestic abusers to possess guns, regardless if the crime included an actual act of violent “force.”
The case, filed by Stephen Voisine, of Wytopitlock, Maine, challenges the definition of domestic abuse, spurring a lengthy discussion of the common law definitions of “force” as encoded in contemporary state and federal statutes, according to Rory Little in a March 1 “argument analysis” on scotusblog.com.
While that aspect of the deliberations is arcane to many, the gist of the defendant’s argument —Voisine has 14 convictions for assault and domestic violence spanning 28 years — that a “categorical approach” means his prior convictions should not count for federal purposes because, as Little recounted, he contends, a “reckless” assault cannot constitute the “use of physical force” required by the federal law.
With only eight justices on the bench in the wake of Judge Antonin Scalia’s death, Little said there appears to be little support for loosening restrictions on convicted domestic abusers. “By my count,” he writes, “that is five of the eight Justices lined up solidly against Voisine’s position.”
The Court should issue its decision in June. Regardless of the ruling, the case is already notable for prompting Justice Clarence Thomas to break a decade of oral argument silence by asking nine questions during deliberations.
“While a majority appears likely to rule against the defendants in this criminal gun possession case,” Little writes, “Justice Thomas’s questions indicate not only that he may feel the need to fill in for the absence of Justice Scalia’s voice at oral argument, but also that he may write a separate opinion here to advance serious Second Amendment arguments that the Court will soon have to confront.”
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‘GRAVITY’ STRIKES AGAIN
February marks 10th straight month of unprecedented gun sales
The FBI reported on March 1 that February was the 10th straight month of record-breaking gun with 2.613 million firearms-related background checks performed by the agency.
According to the Associated Press, February’s firearms sales topped the previous record, set in 2013, by more than 300,000 checks. In the first two months of 2016, there were nearly 5.159 million checks run through the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System.
“That’s more than half the 10,036,933 checks run in all of 2006, just a decade ago,” writes Stephen Gutowski, a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon.
Of course, while FBI background checks are considered a good gauge of how many guns have been sold, they are not a one-to-one metric of gun sales because many states do not require checks and others use the checks for reasons other than sales, such as gun carry permit applications.
Nevertheless, with a 10th straight month of background checks now in the books, the Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb said the meaning is clear.
“The more gun rights are attacked, the more people are going to buy firearms and ammunition,” he told Gutowski. “It is like the law of gravity. It will not change.”
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California Senator wants to regulate DIY ‘ghost guns’
A Los Angeles Democrat has filed a bill in the California Senate to require a state Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms background check and authorization before anyone could legally build their own firearm in their own home.
State Sen. Kevin de Leon, who introduced SB 1407 in late February, is the current California Senate president pro tempore. He sponsored a similar bill on 2014 that was approved and nearly became law before being vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
According to Guns.com’s Chris Eger, de Leon’s “Ghost Guns” bill would require a DIY gun applicant to “show proof that building the gun would not violate local city or county codes. In effect, adding multiple layers of regulation to a process which is already legal under federal law.”
Ever notes that the proposed law would require those who made their own gun after December 1968 to obtain and engrave or affix a DOJ-issued serial number and prohibit the sale, transfer or inheritance of these guns. Handguns made back to 1898 would also have to be serialized.
“In a final step,” he continues, “all guns made by unlicensed home-builders would have their serial numbers logged by the DOJ, and kept on record. Furthermore, homebuilders would have to pay a fee to accomplish that registration.”
Noncompliance would be a misdemeanor and could garner a $1,000 fine and/or a year in prison.
De Leon’s calls his proposal the “Ghost Guns bill” because its an effort to regulate what he believes are unregulated, invisible firearms. As Eger recounts, his 2014 bill galvanized the movement to make DIY firearms more accessible.
Cody Wilson, the man behind the Liberator — the first 3-D printed gun — built a miniature computer-aided design machine to complete home-built AR-15 lowers, naming it the “Ghost Gunner as a hat tip to the lawmaker,” Eger writes.
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DON’T BE A THIEF IN GREENLEAF
Idaho town warns criminals: ‘This is not a gun-free zone’
A Boise, Idaho, suburb which in 2006 passed an ordnance that encouraged residents to own a firearm has posted five signs that greets visitors with the following message: “Welcome to Greenleaf, Idaho. This is Not a Gun-Free Zone.”
According to a report by KBOI Radio, the signs were posted in July at each of the five entrances of the town, and each was paid for by a private donations. The city council said the town’s 900 residents overwhelmingly approved installing the signs.
“There’s a right place for guns,” Kelly McBride, a 10-year resident, told KBOI. “A place that they can be used. We should have the right to protect ourselves from criminals and hopefully these kind of signs deter crime in the long run.”
Founded by Quakers and named in honor of the abolitionist and poet John Greenleaf Whittier, the town prides itself on its self reliance. Greenleaf has no police force and crime is low enough to where minor vandalism is considered big news.
According to KBOI, residents fear booming populations of nearby Boise suburbs may bring crime to Greenleaf. Ironically, some say, the pro gun rights stance is actually drawing people to the town.
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