Gun News of the Week: Trump Rule-Change Would Remove Gun Exports from State Department Purview
Plus: Constitutional carry momentum from 2016 blunted In 2017, stymied in 2018
‘Hardening’ A Concrete Way To Limit Carnage While Ideologues Pontificate
More comprehensive background checks and banning “assault weapons” would not have stopped Dimitrios Pagourtzis from using a shotgun and a .38 pistol to kill nine students and a teacher at Santa Fe High School on May 17.
Something that could have stopped—or at least slowed—Pagourtzis and school shooters before him is redesigning, or “hardening,” schools in a way that secures access to classrooms while not making them into fortresses.
It is, literally, a concrete way to address mass shootings: Make them more difficult than shooting fish in a barrel.
Overlooked in the criticism and legal challenges of the gun control components of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, adopted in the wake of the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, are school “hardening” and mental health measures.
The $400 million Stoneman Douglas school safety law appropriates $99 million for school “hardening,” $97.5 million for additional school safety officers, $69 million for school-based mental health care services and $67 million for a program to non-teacher volunteers to serve as armed school marshals on school property.
In addition, the bill creates a state Office of School Safety with a director to coordinate the “hardening” program as well as implement cohesive standards in security policy.
Texas may follow Florida’s lead in addressing school safety from a structural standpoint.
“We have our schools that are not hard targets,” Texas’s Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told ABC’s ‘This Week.’ “We’ve done a good job since 9/11 of protecting government buildings, and airports and private buildings, but we have not done anything to harden the target at our schools.”
The emphasis on saving lives through design and architecture enjoys support from all sides of the gun debate, with incoming National Rifle Association (NRA) President Oliver North and gun control advocate Mark Kelly both calling on state and federal legislators to dedicate more resources to school “hardening.”
Kelly, married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was seriously wounded in 2011 shooting, said schools “absolutely” need additional protections like metal detectors.
“We should make it more difficult — I mean figure out a way to prevent people coming in the door with a firearm,” Kelly told “Fox News Sunday.”
North, who the NRA tapped earlier this month to serve as its next president, also told “Fox News Sunday” that he would push for metal detectors and other “hardening” upgrades to be implemented in schools.
“You’re not going to fix it by taking away the rights of law abiding citizens,” North said.
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IT’S COMMERCE, DUMMY
Trump Rule-Change Would Remove Gun Exports From State Department Purview
The Trump Administration is expected to publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register this week that seeks to transfer authority to license U.S. gun manufacturer sales overseas to the Commerce Department from the State Department and remove a requirement that Congress be notified of American-made gun sales of $1 million or more.
Once the proposed rule is published, it is subject to a 45-day comment period.
The rule’s 21-word title: Control of Firearms, Guns, Ammunition and Related Articles the President Determines No Longer Warrant Control Under the United States Munitions List.
The measure is strongly backed by National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and could open up new markets for manufacturers such as Colt, Stag Arms and O.F. Mossberg & Sons.
“This development is a crucial milestone to allowing U.S. manufacturers to compete on a more even playing field with international manufacturers,” NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Larry Keane wrote in a blog post.
Under the rule, responsibility for oversight of gun sales will transfer from the State Department — with its traditional focus on diplomatic solutions and human rights — to the Commerce Department — primarily concerned with promoting U.S. business abroad.
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Constitutional Carry 2016 Momentum Blunted In ’17, Stymied In ’18
In 2016 and 2017, legislators nationwide more than doubled the number of states that recognized permitless carry — or constitutional carry — from six to 14. But that momentum appears to have dramatically stalled in 2018.
According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s ‘Gun Law Trendwatch’ column, 22 permitless carry bills have been defeated in 10 states so far this year.
The latest was Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin — a “pro-Second Amendment” Republican with good NRA grades over the years — vetoed a constitutional carry measure approved by the state House and Senate.
Other permitless carry measures in Tennessee, South Dakota, and Iowa also failed in chamber votes after facing stiff opposition from law enforcement officials.
Right now, at least 14 states allow for some kind of permitless concealed carry. Nevada has no laws prohibiting open carry of a loaded firearm, unless the person is otherwise prohibited from possessing a gun.
Twelve states — the number has increased from six in 2016 — have adopted permitless concealed carry firearms laws. They include Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and West Virginia. A permitless carry bill was passed in Michigan’s House this month and is on the way to its Senate.
But 2017 was not necessarily a banner year for gun rights advocates in state capitals either. According to Giffords, 13 states also rejected measures last year to allow guns on campus, and legislators in 20 states defeated measures to allow people to carry loaded, concealed firearms in public without a permit.
Giffords said 25 gun safety bills it supported have been signed into law in 15 states this year. — Four states (Maryland, Florida, Vermont, Washington) have passed bills to ban bump stocks. — Three states (Maryland, Florida, Vermont) have passed extreme risk protection order legislation. — Seven states (Washington, Vermont, Kansas, Utah, Oregon, Ohio, New York) have passed laws to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. — Republican governors in 10 states have signed gun safety bills into law (Maryland, Florida, Vermont, Utah, New Mexico, South Dakota, Ohio, Nebraska, Indiana, Kansas).
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IN THE COURTS
NRA Appeals Federal Judge’s ‘Jane Doe’ Ruling In Florida Suit
The National Rifle Association is appealing a federal judge’s refusal to keep the identity of a 19-year-old Alachua County woman secret in a challenge to a state law that raised the age to purchase rifles and other long guns to 21.
The case was placed on hold May 18 pending a decision regarding “Jane Doe” from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to court documents provided by the Associated Press.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker has issued a decision earlier last week stating previous court rulings forced him to reject the request to keep the identity of “Jane Doe” private.
The debate over the pseudonyms came in a lawsuit filed March 9 by the NRA, just hours after Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a sweeping school-safety measure that included new gun-related restrictions. The legislation was a rapid response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 students and faculty members dead and 17 others wounded.
The law raised from 18 to 21 the minimum age to purchase rifles and other long guns. It also imposed a three-day waiting period on the sale of long guns, such as the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz last year legally purchased and is accused of using in the Valentine’s Day massacre at his former high school.
In late April, the NRA filed a motion to add “Jane Doe” as a plaintiff to the lawsuit, which contends the age restriction in the new law “violates the fundamental rights of thousands of responsible, law-abiding adult Florida citizens and is thus invalid under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”
The NRA requested the use of the pseudonym for Jane Doe and “John Doe,” another 19-year-old who is part of the case. The request was based largely on a declaration filed by the group’s Florida lobbyist, Marion Hammer, who detailed threatening emails she had received featuring derogatory words for parts of the female anatomy.
“It’s time somebody stood up for the First Amendment right to go into court to fight to protect our Second Amendment right without being victimized by hatemongers who threaten you and your family,” Hammer, a onetime president of the national gun-rights organization, told The News Service of Florida on May 18.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit against Florida state officials aimed at removing roadblocks that stop local governments implementing their own gun laws is gaining momentum.
Twenty municipalities and 61 elected officials have now joined the litigation as plaintiffs against the state government, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pamela and other state officials.
“Municipalities and elected officials from across the state — in urban, suburban and rural communities — have all joined the fight to protect the home rule authority of local governments, and to reflect the passion of their residents,” lead attorney Jamie Cole, managing director of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, told the AP.
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