Month: January 2019

2019 and the Second Amendment

2019 and the Second Amendment

Threats to the Second Amendment in 2019

There is little doubt the year 2019 will be a rocky one for firearm owners and second amendment advocates. The change of majority in the U. S. House of Representatives places a vocal anti-firearm, pro gun-control crusader as the Speaker of the House, who, by the way, controls the flow of proposed bills brought before the house for voting. There have already been a flurry of bills pre-filed that are simply awaiting the investiture of the new Congress. Among them is a proposal to revoke the right of the individual to make, or modify, a firearm, as well as prohibiting the advertising and sale of firearm parts.

Focus on Prohibiting Access Rather Than Punishing Crime

A trend among gun control advocates seems to be developing that concentrates on preventing criminal violence with firearms by attacking the supply side. Ostensibly, if the supply of firearms is curtailed crime involving them will be curtailed. However, the federal government’s own research documents demonstrate that premise is not statistically supportable.

Controlling access to firearms is often compared to limits on speech. The most common analogy is to compare restrictions on firearms to restrictions on speech in that one cannot, legally, shout “fire” in a theater without incurring criminal proceedings. If one carries out the analogy, requiring background checks before firearm purchases would be analogous to requiring background checks before you can go into a theater. Similarly, curtailing purchases of firearms to certain age groups because they might be used in a crime would be analogous to prohibiting movie goers of certain age groups from going into a theater because they might yell “fire.”

If supply side curtailment is so effective, how is it there is epidemic-scale abuse of illegally obtained drugs in the U. S.?

Background Checks

We addressed background checks in an earlier post, but the frequency with which gun control advocates bring up “universal background checks” warrants another look. Currently, background checks serve to prevent prohibited persons, such as convicted felons, from purchasing firearms. A typical gun control argument is “loopholes” that serve to circumvent background checks must be addressed. One such “loophole” is the private sale between firearm owners, which gun control advocates charge allow criminals access to firearms, especially at gun shows. A system of “universal background checks” would, ostensibly, ensure any buyer is not prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm at the point of sale. However, a “universal background check” system could also prevent parents from buying a firearm intended for their child, since allowing a minor to possess (while hunting, for example) that firearm would violate the “universal background check” law.

The most insidious aspect of “universal background checks” is the de facto, centralized, universal gun registration it requires. In order to trace an illegal transfer of a firearm under a “universal background check” system, that is a transfer that occurred without a background check, the serial number of the firearm has to be linked to a specific individual. In other words, the government has to know who owns what firearm(s) for the system to work. Then, if a firearm is discovered in the possession of someone else without the requisite background check, the possessor is automatically a felon, and very likely the seller as well. A “universal background check” system gives the government centralized gun registration without ever directly proposing gun registration.

Taxes and Insurance

New York state legislators recently proposed a requirement that firearm owners in NY purchase a 1 million dollar liability insurance policy. Other proposals, at both local and federal levels, include levying additional taxes on the purchase of firearms, and ammunition. The gun control argument is that the additional taxes can fund research of violence with firearms. Initially, such taxes would likely be modest to avoid rejection. However, once imposed, firearm and ammunition taxes can be increased far more easily, usually at a bureaucratic level without representative legislation. Gun control advocates could easily leverage existing taxes on firearms to make them too expensive for most people to purchase.

Corporate Control

I almost forgot this one. Banks (e.g., Bank of America and Citibank) are one of the corporate entities beginning to deny services to customers that sell or purchase firearms. In related financial gun-control steps, some insurance companies that once issued liability insurance to firearm instructors no longer offer it. Other corporations restrict sales to otherwise legally eligible citizens, and some went so far as to remove from sale, and destroy firearms they considered dangers to society. The good news is that since corporations are profit driven entities, we can deny them our money by buying and transacting business elsewhere.

Another of the avenues to restrict firearm sales by corporations is through merchant accounts. Credit and debit cards are processed through third-party clearing houses. A few already have policies that prohibit firearm sales through their portals. Gun-control advocates are actively recruiting other merchant account processors to follow suit.

One new call upon credit card corporations by gun-control advocates is to track firearms transactions purchased by their cards and create private firearm registries. So far, the reaction by card companies is that private transactions are that, private, and they have rejected calls to create explicit firearm registries.

Outright Gun Bans

One of the targets of gun control advocates is the “assault rifle,” or “military style weapon,” followed closely by all semi-automatic firearms (ironically, virtually every style of civilian firearm was derived from a similar, if not identical, military weapon of its era). Latching onto a politically motivated phrase from the late 1940s, and fomenting fear through imprecise language, gun control advocates deem semi-automatic firearms threats to society. It is likely their first efforts will concentrate on the AR-15, erroneously equating “AR” with “assault rifle” to garner support for banning firearms that have some combination of cosmetic features, such as pistol grips, bayonet lugs, movable buttstocks, muzzle devices, and removable magazines. After AR-15 style firearms are banned, expect all semi-automatic firearms to be subject to similar bans, such a banning thumb-hole rifle grips, adjustable cheek risers, and so on.

A question that frequently rises from gun control advocates is “why do you need an AR-15?” Surprise. In the United States, property ownership is not grounded in “need.” Ownership of property is a universal right that is external and antecedent to any governing body. That means that citizens’ rights do not begin with, or emanate from the state. In point of fact, the Constitution of the United States was written to limit state (as in state and federal) intrusion on citizens’ rights. Amendments 2, 3, and 4 of the Bill of Rights recognize property rights of individuals, and restrict the federal government from infringing on them.

Red Flag Laws

A recent flurry of legislation around the U. S. introduced “red flag” laws (aka, “risk protection orders”), a legal maneuvering whereby someone designated by the law can initiate an ex parte (one-sided) petition before a court that a firearm owner may pose a danger to him or her self, or others. Granting the petition gives civil authorities permission to seize the defendant’s firearms. At least one second amendment advocate noted every state in the Union already has mechanisms to declare someone mentally incompetent, and therefore ineligible to own or possess firearms. She also noted these established mechanisms do not infringe on the right to due process and rebuttal, as the ex parte legislation does. That is, under ex parte rulings, a complainant can begin the process whereby a gun owner’s firearms may be confiscated without the gun owner being permitted to rebut the charges until after your firearms have been seized, if then. Further, most “red flag” laws allow civil authorities to seize your firearms indefinitely, and most have no mandate that requires their return. Under these conditions, firearms only can be claimed, and returned, after costly and time consuming legal rebuttals, and court proceedings. Once again, pricing firearm ownership out of existence.

“Red flag” laws are insidious in that they are not triggered by the commission of a crime, but rather by someone who thinks another person may potentially commit a crime by harming others, or may potentially be a danger to him or her self. Where domestic violence ex parte protective orders are initiated after a domestic attack to thwart another attack, “red flag” ex parte orders need no antecedent crime for their authorization. “Red flag” laws severely threaten constitutional protections such as the right to free speech, the right to possess arms, protection against unlawful seizure of property, right to trial by jury, the right to be represented by counsel, and one’s right to face accusers, among others.

Interestingly, the U. S. Congress is considering adding financial carrots to states that implement “red flag” laws through grants.

Oh, By The Way, No Duty to Protect

For those who may claim that personal firearms for self defense are unnecessary because the police and sheriffs are there to protect us, court cases in New York and Florida, upheld by the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals, consistently posit civil authorities have no legal duty to protect individuals.

Remedy

A remedy that we, as gun owners, have is to support organizations that fight infringements on the Second Amendment, organizations such as the Gun Owners of America, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Firearms Policy Coalition. Joining and supporting them financially gives us, the American gun owner whose right to gun ownership is constitutionally protected, a collective voice to thwart infringement. The threats to gun ownership are serious and escalating. It is a matter of death by a thousand cuts. Our “Related Organizations” page offers links to many of these organizations.