TOP STORY Federal court: Residency requirements for firearms sales unconstitutional
A federal judge in Texas on Feb. 11 overturned a component of the Gun Control Act of 1968 that prohibits the sale of handguns to out-of-state residents in response to a lawsuit on behalf of Washington D.C. residents banned by the District from purchasing firearms in neighboring states.
“This is a tremendous victory for the civil rights of Washington, D.C., residents and Americans in general—the court recognized there’s no need to destroy the national market for handguns,” Alan Gura, who argued the case for the plaintiffs, told Kelly Riddell of the Washington Times.
"District residents are free to purchase handguns so long as they comply with D.C. law and have those handguns properly registered," said Gura, founding partner at DC-based Gura & Possessky, who successfully argued two landmark constitutional cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago.
Judge Reed O'Connor's ruling said the federal Gun Control Act of 1968's ban on sales to out-of-state residents had to survive "the highest level of scrutiny" to be Constitutional and "plainly did not." He granted the gun vendors’ request for a summary judgment striking down the law.
“Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that Defendants have not shown that the federal interstate handgun transfer ban is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of achieving the Government’s goals under current law. The federal interstate handgun transfer ban is therefore unconstitutional on its face,” he wrote.
Gura argued that 1968 law is obsolete given technological advances in instant background checks, which are performed every time a gun is purchased from a federally licensed firearm dealer. It also prohibited a robust national handgun market from developing, as rifles and shotguns can be purchased regardless of state residency, but handguns are not, he said.
The court’s ruling in Texas and other states would allow a pistol to be purchased from an out-of-state buyer if that handgun is legal in the buyer’s state of residency. For D.C. residents, the ruling means for the first time, they will be able to make handgun purchases in neighboring Virginia or Maryland and bring the guns home. There is no place within the District where residents can legally purchase firearms.
Michael McLively, an attorney with the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, called the ruling "disappointing."
“For us, it’s a highly disappointing decision, the court made a number of errors in regard to other Second Amendment case law that’s out there—it overestimated the burden on the plaintiffs and underestimated the evidence the government provided about how this law protects public safety,” he said.
“The gun lobby simply won, you know?” Holder said in the televised interview, conducted to mark the end of his time as attorney general.
Holder said his visit to the Connecticut site of the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators was his worst day in office. After the shootings, President Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead a task force that would make recommendations for how to avoid such attacks.
The Chicago Tribune's Michael Memoli notes in a Feb. 10 article that the shooting spurred a Senate effort to enact stricter gun laws, including a broader requirement for background checks for gun purchases proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.).
The bill failed, Memoli writes, "In part because of opposition from the National Rifle Association." Now, with Republican majorities leading both the House and the Senate after the November 2014 elections, gun safety legislation is all but impossible on the federal level.
And perhaps that—the Republican rout of 2014—should also be considered part of Holder's legacy, writes AWR Hawkins on Breitbart.com.
"He did not address the resounding defeat Americans dealt to gun control and gun control candidates during the 2014 midterm elections," Hawkins writes. "In one fell swoop they took the Senate away from Democrats, increased the Republican majority in the House and expanded the number of pro-gun governors across the country."
‘Pop-Tarts gun bill’: Blame stupid people for stupid laws
Don't blame a law for being stupid. Blame stupid people for stupid laws, for making it necessary to adopt laws that protect the unstupid from the stupid.
Take, for example, Nevada's Assembly Bill 21—the "Pop-Tarts Gun Bill'—which would prohibit school officials from disciplining students for creating guns from building blocks or foods, as well as drawing guns or using hand gestures to simulate firing a weapon.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Wheeler and other Republican lawmakers, was introduced on Feb. 10 and sent to the Assembly’s education committee.
Among its supporters is Assemblyman Brent Jones, R-Las Vegas, who says anti-gun advocates—such as those in the Clark County School District—punish normal school children for behaving like normal school children with policies easily misinterpreted by stupid people without a lick of common sense.
“Sometimes people get so zealous to try to prevent the Second Amendment or go against it, that they don’t use common sense,” he told the Associated Press on Feb. 10. “Then their efforts trickle down to mimicry: Pop-Tarts, pieces of paper, drawings. We need to get back to common sense principles for the people who are ideologically against guns who use this to punish kids.”
The proposed bill is informally dubbed the "Pop-Tarts Gun Bill," referring to the 2013 suspension of a Maryland second-grader after he nibbled a pastry into the shape of a gun by school administrators who are now a case study in how bad policy and stupid people are a dangerous combination for us all.
The suspension spurred ridicule and outrage nationwide. Similar bills have been introduced in Maryland, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma. Florida passed the law while Maryland didn’t.
Assemblyman Elliot Anderson (D-Las Vegas) said the state has "more pressing issues" to deal with, but displayed a sense of humor rare among the dour, grim gun control crowd.
“I didn’t realize our pastry rights were being infringed upon,” he tweeted. Substituting "rifle," he paraphrased the boot-camp chant from Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam War film “Full Metal Jacket” to continue his lampoon of the bill. “This is my donut. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” Anderson wrote.
SEEING RED OVER BLUE LAWS
New Jersey pondering proposal to allow Sunday hunting
A New Jersey bill to allow hunting with firearms on Sundays is not just about recreation, but is necessary to control game populations, New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Chairman Anthony Mauro Sr. told Ammoland.com.
State Sen. Joe Kyrillos' bill, if passed into law, would allow firearms hunting every day of the week of any animal during the season prescribed by the fish and game code. The NJOA wants people to look beyond the anecdotes surrounding the debate about Sunday hunting and take a hard look at the numbers.
Deer caused 26,860 vehicle accidents in New Jersey in 2014, according to State Farm Insurance. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 2,785 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in New Jersey in 2013. There have been confirmed bear sightings in all 21 counties, Mauro said. The overpopulation of Canada geese raises public health concerns.
"Do we leave these numbers as they are? " he asked. "Are we irresponsible if we don't try to get a handle on these numbers?"
New Jersey is one of 11 states that ban hunting on Sundays. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, lifting the bans in the 11 states could result in more than 27,000 new jobs being created, generating more than $730 million in wages, and contributing about $2.2 billion in additional economic activity.
Hunters say the Sunday hunting prohibition is a relic of antiquated blue laws and an imposition on those who can only hunt on weekends.
A coalition of assorted organizations opposed to Sunday hunting argue Sunday is the only day New Jersey residents and others can enjoy public lands during hunting seasons without the sound of gunshots or the fear of accidentally getting hit by a hunter.
An unbylined Feb. 6 editorial in the Asbury Park Press deplored the proposed bill as an intrusion on "New Jersey's non-gun toting nature lovers." The bill would restrict access to hikers, bird-watchers, photographers and "everyone else who may just want to stroll in the woods" on Sundays during hunting seasons.
"Government has no obligation to provide unending opportunities for recreational hunting," the editorial says, concluding, "Oh, and by the way, those public lands are funded and protected by the public."
What the editorial fails to do is identify which "public" provides the lion's share of funds used to purchase and protect public lands—it certainly isn't "New Jersey's non-gun toting nature lovers." What knee-jerk anti-hunters either don't know, or don't want their gullible adherents to know, is that hunters and anglers, through excise taxes imposed by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act and the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act, are the primary funders and protectors of public lands used by all.
In 2013, hunters and anglers generated $1.1 billion in excise tax revenues that were distributed in March 2014 to state fish and wildlife agencies to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects. The funding is distributed to the states, but states are required to match $1 for every $3 of federal funding.
New Jersey's 2014 take? $10.5 million, which, with the state match, totaled $14 million. Since the P-R Act was adopted in 1931, New Jersey hunters have generated billions to finance the acquisition and sustenance of sensitive wildlife habitat and public lands.
So yes, under any concept of proportional share, government is, indeed, obligated to provide times for hunters to enjoy the lands they purchased and pay to maintain, not for "unending opportunities," but for a few Sundays during hunting seasons.