Gun News of the Week: Congressional Fall Agenda Includes De-listing Suppressors, National Reciprocity, and Federal Preemption
Plus: Advances In DIY Firearms Milling Alarms Law Enforcement
Congressional Fall Agenda: De-listing Suppressors, National Reciprocity, Federal Preemption
According to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) report issued in late August, the number of National Firearm Act-regulated items legally in public circulation is at an all-time high.
Included among those NFA-regulated “items”: Suppressors. BATFE reports that 285,000 suppressors were legally purchased in 2010 and more than 1.36 million were legally purchased in 2016. The agency says revenues from suppressor sales generated by the $200 tax on each transfer increased from $32 million in 2015 to $62 million in 2016.
The proposed Hearing Protection Act, HR 367, would eliminate the $200 transfer tax on suppressors by dropping them from NFA rules, but would still requires they be purchased through a federal firearms licensee after a background check. They would essentially be regulated as a firearm. The bill, submitted by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) in January, has 159 co-sponsors and is in the House – Ways and Means, and the House Judiciary committees.
The Hearing Protection Act is among several significant firearms-related proposals most gun owners want to see adopted this fall. Also on tap is the proposed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (National Reciprocity) HR 38, submitted by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) with 209 co-sponsors and currently in the House Judiciary Committee. A relatively recently proposed bill is the Second Amendment Guarantee Act HR 3576, submitted by Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) on July 28. This bill would essentially mandate federal preemption of state capacity to impose gun laws more restrictive than those encoded in federal statutes.
Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), formed by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, issued a statement on Aug. 30 claiming the growth in suppressor purchases support their contention that there is no need to loosen regulations to make them easier to acquire.
ARS proposes that BATFE retain the $200 fee and rather than deposit the revenues into the Treasury, funnel them back into the agency as well as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to make them more efficient.
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Advances In DIY Firearms Milling, 3-D Printing Technologies Alarms Law Enforcement
With advances in milling and in 3-D printing technology, police agencies across the country are raising an alarm over “ghost guns” — homemade firearms that don’t have serial numbers, aren’t purchased through federal firearms licensed dealers and are, thus, untraceable.
In an August 28 San Diego Union-Tribune feature by Kristina Davis, federal, state and local local enforcement officials discuss their growing concern with “ghost guns.”
State laws — including those in California — prohibit the sale of these home-made completed rifles without serial numbers, but it is not illegal to posses them in specific configurations, according to Paul Ware, counsel for the Los Angeles division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).
Ware told Davis that he first heard of “ghost guns” a few years ago when an investigator forwarded him a video from a San Diego news station about how a local business was inviting people to make their own AR-15-type weapons around Christmastime.
“I watched the video and said ‘That’s interesting,’” Ware told Davis, noting the business didn’t have a firearms manufacturing license, which is needed to make guns for sale legally. “We told them they needed a license, and they decided not to get a license,” he told Davis.
Licensed gun manufacturers are legally required to engrave identifying information on a weapon’s lower receiver. It must include the manufacturer’s name and unique serial number. An unfinished lower receiver (URL) can be sold legally without a license if it is missing key components that make it an operable firearm. This is typically called the “80 percent rule,” meaning the firearm is fourth-fifths complete but inoperable. It is a not a formal rule or mandated, merely an industry term.
A buyer can easily manipulate URL to house other components, such as barrel, trigger mechanism, upper receiver and stock, to make it operable, also from legally available parts. URLs can also be made from scratch.
None of this is illegal and there is a growing do-it-yourself gun smithing community.
“It’s not as nefarious as it sounds,” Steve Herrick, owner of MakerPlace in Morena, told Davis. Herrick’s MakerPlace includes a workshop that rents everything from metalworking tools to 3-D printers.
While his workshop asks that people do not manufacture complete firearms on the premises, Herrick told Davis it would not be difficult to build the parts for assembly elsewhere. He said the quality of 3-D printer firearms has increased dramatically in just a few short years.
“People laughed off the first versions of 3-D guns, they were terrible,” Herrick told Davis. “They shot a few rounds, blew up in your hand. It’s not that anymore. They are nearly as good as ones you can buy.”
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Georgia Grade-Schoolers Get Lesson In Anti-Gun Hysteria
First- and second-graders at Holdheide Academy, a private school in Woodstock, Ga., were learning about Annie Oakley as part of their introduction to American history and went on a class trip to a local gun shop to view an authentic 1894 Winchester rifle and a six-shooter similar to the weapons used in the Wild Wild West.
Now the school is being shut down, even though all the children’s parents signed permission slips. Indeed, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning has issued the school a ‘cease and desist order.’
According to CBS46, state officials on August 29 handed down on August 29, following an “in-house” investigation that determined pre-school aged children had been cared for in “an unlicensed space meant for a private school.”
But what drew investigators to the school was the widespread outrage on social media after word got out about the older students’ field trip to Hi-Caliber Firearms.
Tammy Dorsten, who runs the school, defended the outing, telling CBS46 that “it was a fantastic experience” for students.
“This was a lesson on our country’s history — that is in their GA approved curriculum about Annie Oakley, Pecos Bill and Davy Crockett,” the school posted in statement published on its Facebook page.
“Our goal was to show the students that it was very difficult for Annie Oakley and Davy Crockett and Pecos bill to be able to accomplish the things that they did,” it said. “This WAS NOT a lesson on guns.”
Maybe not, but it sure is a lesson in anti-gun hysteria.
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— [NEW: Gun sales sag under Trump — so Florida’s gun market is adapting)
IN THE COURTS
Cal guns, SAF Seeks SCOTUS Review Of Ruling On California’s Waiting Period Laws
The Calguns Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) on Sept. 1 filed a petition for certiorari in Silvester, et al. v. Becerra, requesting that the United States Supreme Court review a 2016 Ninth Circuit decision upholding California’s 10-day waiting period for handgun purchases.
In addition to Calguns and SAF, two individual plaintiffs are named in the request — Brandon Combs and Jeff Silvester, an insurance broker in Hanford, Calif., who initiated the suit in 2014.
“I passed a rigorous state and federal background check and have a license to carry a handgun in public throughout the State of California,” Silvester told Ammoland on Sept. 2. “The DOJ knows that I am a law-abiding person, and I’m even in their Rap Back system. What possible reason does the state have in denying me my Second Amendment right to take possession of a firearm after I pass yet another background check?”
In 2014, Federal District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii held that the waiting period laws were unconstitutional as applied to three categories of gun purchasers after undertaking significant discovery, depositions, and a three-day bench trial, according to a Calguns press release.
But in 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that even a person legally carrying a concealed handgun as he buys another gun, and who passes a further background check, needs to be “cooled off” for another 10 days before being permitted to proceed with the purchase, Calguns states.
The petition, authored by attorney Erik. S. Jaffe of Washington, D.C., noted it “is no secret that various lower courts, and the Ninth Circuit especially, are engaged in systematic resistance to” the Court’s landmark Heller and McDonald decisions.
In doing so, the Jaffe writes that the petitioners argue that the Ninth Circuit “ignored important legal rules that govern how infringements on constitutional rights are to be scrutinized and that govern review of a trial court determinations of the facts in a case.”
Combs, the other individual plaintiff in the case, is the executive director of Calguns, said fundamental, individual Second Amendment rights are being treated like second-class rights.
“In its decision to ignore the trial court’s ‘Findings of Fact’ and ‘Conclusions of Law,’ as well as longstanding principles of appellate review, the Ninth Circuit has made it crystal clear that it has no intention of following the Supreme Court’s precedents no matter how unconstitutional, arbitrary or irrational the law,” Coombs said. “This case and the Ninth Circuit’s treatment of fundamental rights are beyond ripe for review.”
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