Rubio, Jordan Bill Would Extend Constitutional Right to DC Residents
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Feb. 17 introduced S. 162, The Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2017, that would preempt the District of Columbia Council from enacting the city’s harsh gun control measures and force the District’s laws to conform to federal law governing firearm sales.
Rubio said the bill allows District citizens to own firearms for sporting and lawful defense. Jordan said the proposal “would make Washington, D.C. a safer place for law abiding citizens.”
The bill would enable residents to obtain firearms from licensed dealers in Maryland and Virginia; repeal the District’s gun registration requirement system; allow a more permissive system for residents to possess firearms. It would limit the District to the standard NCIS background check, make firearm training optional, and allow private entities and public buildings to determine their firearm policies.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said by re-introducing the bill, which was initially filed in 2015, Rubio is “trampling on D.C. home rule” and should “focus on the needs of his own constituents.”
“We intend to keep Sen. Rubio from walking over the principle of local control over local affairs while he uses federal authority to overturn the District’s duly-enacted local laws,” Norton said in a statement. “As the nation’s capital, we have enacted gun safety laws that match the needs of our unique local jurisdiction, which hosts high-profile events, such as the presidential inauguration and houses high-profile federal officials and foreign dignitaries.”
Before the Heller v. Washington DC ruling, the District had some of the most strident gun regulations laws in the country. In fact, a resident wasn’t allowed to own a handgun unless they were active or retired in the military and owned a firearm before the advent of Home Rule in 1973.
Bearing Arm’s Pamela Jablonski wrote that Rubio is focusing on the needs of his constituents — which include Washington residents and all those who visit the nation’s capital because it is a federal district.
“The Second Amendment Enforcement Act will put guns in the hands of the good guys,” she wrote. “So, when the criminals hear their targets may be armed in order to protect themselves, it could be the game-changer that helps to deter crime in D.C.”
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DOCS V GLOCKS
Federal Court Restores Physicians Right To Discuss Firearms With Patients
The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 16 ruled 10-1 to overturn a 2011 Florida law that threatened doctors with losing their license for asking patients if they owned guns and for discussing gun safety.
The court ruled that the prohibition was a violation of doctors’ First Amendment rights.
“Florida does not have carte blanche to restrict the speech of doctors and medical professionals on a certain subject without satisfying the demands of heightened scrutiny,” the majority wrote in its decision published by the Associated Press.
In its challenge in the so-called ‘Docs v. Glocks’ lawsuit, individual doctors, medical organizations and, among other groups, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that questions about gun storage were crucial to public health because of the relationship between firearms and both the suicide rate and the gun-related deaths of children.
“We are thrilled that the court has finally put to bed the nonsensical and dangerous idea that a doctor speaking with a patient about gun safety somehow threatens the right to own a gun,” ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon told the AP. “This was a dangerous free speech restriction, especially for the health and lives of children.”
The court found that a provision that stated one part of the law — that doctors cannot deny service to patients who owned guns — was constitutional.
The Florida Legislature became the first — and only — legislature to adopt a law restricting physicians from discussing firearms with patients in 2011. Under the law, doctors could lose their licenses or risk large fines for asking patients or their families about gun ownership and gun habits. Pediatricians routinely ask parents questions about safety in the home, including the safe storage of guns and precautions to prevent drowning in pools.
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Proposed License For Washington State Semi-Automatic firearms Dies In Committee
A proposed bill to require licenses for residents who own, buy or sell semi-automatic firearms failed to clear the Washington State House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 16 and is likely dead for the year, according to the Associated Press.
The committee approved several other gun bills, the AP reported, including one that requires dealers to report to the Washington State Patrol the name of people who fail a background check when they try to buy a weapon. If that would-be buyer is the subject of a domestic violence protection order, the person protected by the order also would be notified of the attempted purchase.
Other bills reported by the AP would expand the exemptions from background checks for transfers or gifts of firearms among certain relatives and allows voluntary temporary transfers of weapons from people who are suicidal. It recommended tax exemptions for gun storage devices, although sponsor, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, noted “exemptions are always tough to get through” the Appropriations Committee.
A safe storage bill also passed, but was changed to no longer call for criminal charges for a person whose unsecured firearms are stolen in a burglary and later used in a crime., according to the AP. Under a “middle ground” amendment approved by the committee, a person who leaves an unsecured firearm accessible to a child could be charged with reckless endangerment if that the child takes the gun and hurts or kills someone.
Proposals to ban certain semi-automatic rifles, under the politically-contrived term, “assault weapons,” never got a hearing.
Jinkins, who also sponsored the bill to require licenses to own semi-automatics, had prepared an amendment that would strip out references to licenses for semi-autos or large capacity magazines, leaving only the requirements that anyone buying such a weapon go through the same background checks required for a handgun.
But Jinkins pulled the bill from the Judiciary Committee schedule. She told the AP that she would submit the bill only if it had the support of the National Rifle Association. On Feb. 15, the NRA emailed to say it would oppose even the stripped-down version.
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IN THE COURTS
Lawsuit Challenges Massachusetts Ban On Taser, Stun Gun Ownership
Two Massachusetts residents and a self-defense activist have filed a federal lawsuit against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, claiming the the state’s ban on civilian ownership of tasers and stun guns infringes on their Second Amendment right to bear arms and 14th Amendment right to equal protection of the laws.
Christopher Martel, a Middlesex County sales engineer with LG Electronics, Donna Major, a Suffolk County magnetic resonance imaging technologist who works the night shift at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Lyn Bates, a founding member and current vice president of AWARE (Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment), a pro-Second Amendment women’s organization, filed the suit against Healey in U.S. District Court on Feb. 15.
According to the New Boston Post, Martel’s filing notes that he installs expensive video displays “worth tens of thousands of dollars,” working odd hours and travel throughout the country, “often in downtown areas and sometimes in dangerous neighborhoods.”
His lawsuit states that Martel “believes that in this type of situation a stun gun is preferable to lethal force.” Despite possessing a Class A gun license, his filing states, “it is not legal for him to carry a firearm in many of the states in which he travels, and he cannot bring pepper spray on an airplane.”
Martel wants to “purchase a Taser, stun gun, or similar electrical weapon to use for lawful self-defense purposes” but “fears arrest, criminal prosecution, incarceration and fines if he purchases or possesses an electrical weapon in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” according to his filing.
Massachusetts state law specifies “no person shall possess a portable device or weapon from which an electrical current, impulse, wave or beam may be directed, which current, wave, or beam is designed to incapacitate temporarily, injure or kill.”
The state has retained its taser and stun gun ban despite a decision issued in March by the United States Supreme Court that essentially overturned the Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court ruling that Second Amendment rights do not apply to stun guns.stun gun ban remains on the books.
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