Gun News of the Week: Nelson Gun Trace Bill a Backdoor Gun Registry

Plus: California Bills Raising Legal Gun Purchase Age Advance

TOP STORY

Nelson Gun Trace Bill A Backdoor Gun Registry

The National Rifle Association and a wide array of civil rights groups are alerting advocates to resist a backdoor attempt by Senate Democrats to create a federal gun registry.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has filed his proposed “Crime Gun Tracing Modernization Act,” which would create a computerized, searchable database of gun records, which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is explicitly forbidden to do by federal law.

The NRA and others more concerned with the Constitution than, specifically, with gun rights, oppose the measure because law-abiding citizens should not have to register with the government to exercise a fundamental, individual constitutional right.

Florida state law forbids any entity from creating a list of gunowners. Government agencies can be fined up to $5 million for violating the statute.

The Florida Legislature concluded a database of gun owners would be “an instrument for profiling, harassing, or abusing law-abiding citizens based on their choice to own a firearm and exercise their Second Amendment right.”

Nelson’s bill would give the ATF three years to create a searchable, computerized database that would include all records in its possession on the sale, importation, production or shipment of firearms.

“The fact that there is a law on the books that forces agents to comb through millions of files by hand is absolutely ridiculous,” said Nelson, who is facing an election challenge from Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

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REVENGE BY RETAIL

Dick’s Admits Gun Control Betrayal Hurting Bottom Line

Dick's Sporting Goods concedes its February endorsement of gun control policies and hiring gun control lobbyists has hurt their sales of firearms and hunting accessories—but it doesn’t sound as if the outdoors retailer is too perturbed.

In fact, Dick may be planning to remove firearms from its inventory completely.

CEO Edward Stack said during a May 30 first quarter earnings call that Dick's may get out of the firearms business altogether unless firearms sales pick up in the face of gun owners buying elsewhere.

"That depends on a lot of things that have to be determined yet," he said when asked about Dick's commitment to long-term firearms sales. "That is how the business plays out, how the manufactures decide they want to do business together. There's a number of things that are yet to be determined. The one thing we do know is that it will continue to be challenged."

During the earnings call with financial analysts, Dick's CFO Lee Belitsky would not reveal specifics about how much their firearms business had fallen but said the decline was directly connected to their decision to stop selling AR-15s and similar rifles, banning the sale of firearms to anyone under 21 years of age and hiring lobbyists to advocate for stricter gun laws.

"As expected, our firearms policy changes impacted our hunt business which saw an accelerated decline in an already challenged category," Belitsky said. "We expect these businesses to remain under significant pressure throughout the remainder of the year."

Stack said the company does not see the firearms segment of the business improving any time soon.

"We expect, based on our firearms policy, it's going to continue to be challenged through the balance of the year," he said. "We don't see a big change."

Stack also addressed the company being expelled from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry's trade group, by saying "it's really not that big of a deal."

"As far as the National Shooting Sports Federation [sic] expelling us, we didn't have a whole lot to do with them," Stack said. "They primarily run the SHOT Show. We would go to the SHOT Show. We don't go to the SHOT Show now."

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STATE ROUNDUP

California Bills Raising Legal Gun Purchase Age Advance

Gun bills advance in California capital, would raise to 21 the legal age to buy rifles, same as handguns

Facing a June 1 deadline to vote on bills introduced during its 2018 session, legislators in the Senate or Assembly both advanced proposed bills that would raise the age for buying rifles to 21 and make it easier for authorities to confiscate guns from people believed to be dangerous.

AB 3, sponsored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and SB 1100 by Sen. Anthony J. Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, would both would raise the legal age to purchase all firearms to 21, the same as for handguns in California.

Portantino’s bill also would limit purchases of all guns, not just handguns, to one every 30 days.

The bills were filed in the wake of the Valentine’s Day school shooting.

Gun rights supporters and other civil rights groups argue that someone who at 18 is entrusted to drive a car, enlist in the military and vote shouldn’t be deprived of gun rights.

Opponents acknowledge it will be difficult to defeat the bills.

“There is always hope, but we have to work hard during the second half of the session,” Sam Paredes, the executive director of Gun Owners of California, told the AP.

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IN THE COURTS

California Gets Legal OK To Expand ‘Assault Weapons’ Definition

Superior Court Judge Mark Snauffer has upheld a California law that expands the state’s existing definition of "assault weapon" to include centerfire rifles with "bullet buttons,” ending a last-ditch legal challenge to prevent it from going into effect own July 1.

"The legislature has found and declared that the proliferation and use of assault weapons poses a threat to the health, safety, and security of the citizenry of California," Snauffer wrote in an opinion issued May 30. "The challenged regulations appear to carry out the intention of the legislature."

"We're disappointed but not surprised," Sean Brady, an attorney at Michel & Associates who represents the California Rifle and Pistol Association in the case, known as Villanueva v. Becerra, told Declan McCullagh in a June 1 Reason article.

"These complex technical cases are usually challenging, particularly when you're up against the state,” Brady said.

“Snauffer's decision underscores how hostile to gun owners the California judiciary has become. Just as the state is trying to nullify federal marijuana and immigration laws, it's also trying to effectively nullify the federal Second Amendment,” McCullagh writes. “And unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in, California's anti-gun politicians and bureaucrats might get away with it.”

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