Gun News of the Week: With Fix NICS Adopted, Other Lawmakers Step Up to Do Something
Plus: "Red Flags," Age Restrictions, and Bump Stock Bans
With Fix NICS Adopted, Other Lawmakers Step Up To Do Something
When President Donald Trump signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill in law on March 23, also enacted with the slash of his pen was SB 2135, The Fix NICS Act, Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) bill that was drafted in the wake of November’s Sutherland Springs church shooting.
The Fix NICS Act will strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to ensure convicted felons and domestic abusers cannot illegally purchase a firearm, according to a briefing statement from the White House.
“After the tragedy in Sutherland Springs, I vowed to that community to do what I could so no family, school, or congregation would have to go through that again. While it’s not the only solution, I’m confident this bill will save lives.”
What it does:
Requires federal agencies and states to produce NICS implementation plans focused on uploading all information to the background check system showing that a person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under current law—including measures to verify the accuracy of records.
Holds federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to the background check system through public reporting and prohibiting bonus pay for political appointees.
Rewards states who comply with their NICS implementation plans through federal grant preferences and incentives, while increasing accountability through public reporting for those who do not comply with their plans.
Reauthorizes and improves important law enforcement programs to help state governments share relevant criminal record information with NICS.
Creates a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law.
Provides important technical assistance to federal agencies and states who are working to comply with NICS record-sharing requirements.
Of course, now that it appears politically providential to camouflage opportunistic ambition with actual intent to conclusively address an unresolved issue that may be more beneficial for partisans to remain unresolved, Congressional stalwarts are clamoring over each other to submit a gun control bill with their name on it.
More than 100 bills addressing firearms have been submitted in Congress this 2017-18 session alone — many since the Valentine Day school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Among them is an omnibus package introduced on April 2 by Rep. Joyce Beatty. House Resolution 5410, The Safer Now Act, would “keep weapons out of the hands of stalkers and domestic abusers” who somehow legally get their hands on guns despite the matrix of federal and state laws — including The Fix NICS Act — that already keep guns out of their hands.
Beatty’s bill would also ban bump stock devices, close the so-called gun show loophole, ban high-capacity magazines and allocate grant money for gun buyback programs — all of which are already proposed in many bills that have been introduced and referred to committee purgatory for years and years.
The many splendored, splintered things in the proposal guarantees it will fail, but that’s not important. What is important is Beatty joins the ranks of brave lawmakers doing something.
That is what is important.
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With Retailers, Manufactures Demonized, You’re Next
Retailers who responsibly sell legal products using all the tools provided by elected officials and regulators to follow the laws of the land, the state and, in some places, the city/town, were knee-jerk demonized in the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Some — such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart — responded with their own policies, such as restricting sales only to gun buyers over 21-years-old and removing some semi-automatics, those described by the TV-educated as “assault weapons,” from their shelves.
They will have to defend those actions in court.
But other retailers, such as REI, demonized by deferral, cravenly throwing wholesalers and manufacturers, such as Vista Outdoor, to the dogs before such ripe, red meat was ripped from the menu by a celebrity tragedy or a miracle kitten-in-a-burning-tree rescue.
Kira Lerner of Think Progress, who was not satisfied with stain-spread web of guilty accomplices, found a whole new constituency to finger-wag: You.
That’s right, you — you the working stiff with a 401k or other mutual fund investments who doesn’t care enough about children, celebrities or kittens in trees to scour through your statements to determine if you — yes, you — are aiding and abetting mass slaughter to aid and abet your retirement.
Have you not done that?
If you can bear some righteous scolding, don’t worry, Lerner has done that for you.
Find out how guilty you are.
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‘Red Flags,’ Age Restrictions, Bump Stock Bans — States Can’t Pass ‘Em Fast Enough
It’s an even year, which means four state legislatures — Texas, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota — will not convene and, therefore, will be the only bodies of elected officials not to debate gun laws this year. Since the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Fla., state legislatures nationwide have been in a frenzy of well-worn deliberations regarding gun control proposals because there are elections this fall and gun control is suddenly sexy.
Of course, Florida lawmakers were under intense pressure to do something in the wake of the Parkland shooting and what the traditionally gun-friendly legislature did surprised many and enraged Marion Hammer, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist, into filing a lawsuit within minutes of Gov. Rick Scott signing the $400 million, 73-page Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
The bill increases minimum age to purchase any firearm from 18 to 21, require a three-day waiting period on all firearm purchases and ban bump stocks.
According to the Associated Press, other states considering raising the gun purchase age to 21 include California, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington while more than a dozen other states are considering “re fas” measures.
A snapshot glimpse:
Washington’s legislature has banned the sale of bump stocks.
Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order for a “red flag” policy that allows relatives or the police to ask judges to temporarily strip gun rights from those showing warning signs of violence.
An Oklahoma House committee advanced three bills that would curtail restrictions on gun rights. The measures would end state licensing and training requirements for handgun owners.
New York lawmakers have adopted measures creating extreme risk protection orders and are considering bills to ban bump stocks and bolster background checks.
California legislators have introduced a dozen new gun control measures this week, including proposals to raise the legal age for buying shotguns and rifles to 21.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has asked lawmakers to create new gun violence protection orders to prevent those who might be a danger from obtaining or possessing firearms. He said he would propose banning bump stocks and the sale of armor-piercing ammunition.
The Minnesota House will consider measures to expand background checks to private sales and to create a red flag warning system.
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IN THE COURTS
Florida Mayors Challenge State Preemption Again
There’s been a long-brewing preemption battle simmering in the Florida sun, mostly spearheaded by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a recently announced Democratic candidate for Governor.
But now Gillum has allies — 10 Miami-Dade and Broward county mayors have filed a lawsuit challenging a 2011 state law that prohibits local governments from adopting their own gun laws and makes city leaders personally liable for fines up to $5,000 if they disobey the law.
Gallium and Tallahassee disobeyed the preemption and were sued in 2014 by Florida Carry and the Second Amendment Foundation.
Florida’s First District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Tallahassee in 2017, ruling it couldn’t compel the city’s government to repeal local ordinances it wasn’t enforcing anyway. The court also denied Tallahassee’s counter-claim that parts of the state’s preemption law were unconstitutional.
Tallahassee has refused to repeal gun ordinances in place since 1957 and 1988, which prohibit someone from shooting a gun in a park. Under state law, Gillum, the city’s former mayor and two city commissioners, could have been subject to a $5,000 fine and removal from office if they didn’t repeal local gun ordinances in compliance with the state preemption law.
Gilliam was defiant in refusing to buckle to state law. “If a law like this is able to stand, it allows for the state legislature to penalize personally elected officials who are dually elected by the citizens in their community over a policy difference,” he said.
Florida Carry Attorney Eric Friday predicted last year that if Tallahassee was not forced compelled to with state law, it could set a dangerous precedent.
“These officials swore an oath, and took a job, to follow the laws of the state of Florida. They have chosen not to do so,” he said. “They have stated here that they want to continue to regulate firearms, whether the legislature tells them they can or cannot.”
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