Reauthorized VAWA’s ‘Red Flag’ Provisions Pose Due-Process Concerns
The House reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act [VAWA] on April 4—its 25th anniversary—in a 263-158 vote, with 33 Republicans approving the act’s five-year extension through 2024.
The reiteration, crafted by the Democrat-controlled House, expands protections against discrimination for transgender individuals, extends tribal courts’ jurisdiction over non-Indians, and creates new categories of people banned from legally purchasing firearms, “red flag” laws that the National Rifle Association and most Republicans opposed.
VAMA’s new gun control provisions extend an existing ban on firearms purchases by someone accused of domestic violence against a spouse or live-in partner to now also include dating couples and those convicted of a stalking misdemeanor charge.
The NRA lobbied against the bill, arguing the proposed VAWA’s new rules are too vague and lack due process for gun owners or buyers.
NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said Democratic leaders were using a women’s protection bill “to advance their gun control agenda.”
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FIX NICS ACT
17 States Miss FBI Background Check Reporting Deadline
States were supposed to submit implementation plans for improving what they report to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICS] under a March 25 deadline set by 2017 legislation signed by President Donald Trump.
Although 17 states missed the deadline, by April 4, 46 states and the District of Columbia had submitted the required plans, U.S. Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle told Anthony Cave of KERA’s Guns & America, a national reporting collaborative of 10 public media newsrooms focusing “on the role of guns in American life.”
The Department of Justice did not yet release a list of states that failed to meet the deadline. There aren’t penalties for noncompliance.
States voluntarily submit data to the NICS system and many records are never uploaded to the system. At least 25 percent of felony convictions are not available in NICS, according to a 2013 report by the nonprofit National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics.
The Fix NICS Act, introduced in November 2017, requires states to create a detailed implementation plan to improve what they report to NICS.
“This bill aims to fix what’s become a nationwide, systemic problem,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who co-authored the legislation. “So we can better prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining firearms.”
States had one year to submit their plans, making the deadline March 25, 2019.
The Department of Justice has until the end of the fiscal year in September to disclose which states are not in compliance. Congress will be given a summary of the plans.
In February, Cornyn, Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, and several other senators sent a letter with 22 questions to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, asking for an update on the performance of the NICS system and urging compliance with the Fix NICS Act.
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Read Next: Bump Stock Ban Goes Into Effect
Gun-Rights Advocate ‘Crosses Line,’ Derails Texas Constitutional Carry Push
It’s never been appropriate to show up unannounced at an elected official’s home and it is doubly inappropriate these dangerously weird and over-exposed days, and it is triple, quadruple, inappropriate when gun rights are the passion that drives you to the door of a state legislator home with his family.
And because Chris McNutt, the executive director of Texas Gun Rights, could not make that common-sense distinction between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, Texas gun-owners will likely have to wait two more years before constitutional carry again goes before the Legislature.
On April 5, Texas House Speaker Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton said he would remove a proposed “constitutional carry” bill from consideration this legislative session after McNutt showed up at his house unannounced to push for the bill that would allow Texans to carry firearms without a license.
Bonnen told The Dallas Morning News the bill was “dead.”
According The Dallas Morning News, on April 3 McNutt posted rants on Facebook about the bill’s lack of movement and then drove 50 miles to Bonnen’s house to question why it wasn’t moving faster.
Bonnen told The Dallas Morning News that McNutt’s decision to show up at his house unannounced was a demonstration of “insanity” and called him an “overzealous advocate for criminals to get a gun.”
McNutt had also reportedly visited the homes of two GOP state representatives that night.
“If you want to talk about issues and you want to advocate, you do it in this building. You don’t do it at our residences,” Bonnen told The Dallas Morning News. “Threats and intimidation will never advance your issue. Their issue is dead.”
McNutt did not back down or apologize, calling Bonnen’s decision to nix the legislation a “deliberate overreaction.”
“If politicians like Speaker Dennis Bonnen think they can show up at the doorsteps of Second Amendment supporters and make promises to earn votes in the election season, they shouldn’t be surprised when we show up in their neighborhoods to insist they simply keep their promises in the legislative session,” McNutt told The Dallas Morning News.
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IN THE COURTS
Injunction Stayed, California Large-Cap Mag Ban Reinstated
On April 5, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez, who in late March struck down a California law banning high-capacity firearm magazines, agreed to suspend that ruling while the state prepares to challenge his ruling at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal.
The stay means California gun owners cannot buy magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. They can keep large-capacity magazines they own.
On March 29, Benitez found that California’s ban on high-capacity magazines violated Californians’ Second Amendment right to own firearms.
In his ruling, he outlined scenarios in which a high-capacity magazine would be helpful to protect someone from a criminal. He called the law “overreaching” in trying to prevent mass shootings.
Gun manufacturers and ammunition retailers immediately began selling large-capacity mags.
The state filed a motion seeking a stay on the ruling, contending that lifting the ban would allow large-capacity gun magazines to pour into California.
“It’s clear that there are those who are now trying to flood the state of California with what were until this decision, illegal high-capacity magazines, the type of magazines that are used in firearms to create the mass shootings that we’ve seen throughout this country,” Becerra said at a press conference.
Benitez’s court published his order granting Becerra’s request on April 5.
Benitez wrote, “The court understands that strong emotions are felt by people of good will on both sides of the constitutional and social policy questions. The court understands that thoughtful and law-abiding citizens can and do firmly hold competing opinions on firearm magazine restrictions. These concerns auger in favor of judicial deliberation. There is an immeasurable societal benefit of maintaining the immediate status quo while the process of judicial review takes place.”
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