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Deal Reached on Gun Control?

The Republican instinct to “get tough on crime” is almost like a poorly programmed subroutine that executes any time they feel imagined heat on the gun issue. Granted this is just agreement among the four person negotiating team, which comprises two mouth foamers and two soft Republicans:

The bill strengthens the law prohibiting material false statements in connection with purchasing a firearm and strengthens penalties for purchasing a gun with intent to transfer it to someone involved in violent crime or drug trafficking.

This is already a crime. You can do five years for some, and ten years for others. It’s not well enforced. So how is raising it to 25 years going to help anything? If you’re not enforcing the existing law, enhancing the penalty isn’t going to do squat.

It would also outlaw illegal purchasers of firearms from smuggling weapons out of the country.

Already a crime, it’s just not enforced. Ask Eric Holder, who is still walking the streets a free man despite his DOJ breaking numerous federal laws in Fast and Furious.

The legislation is largely based on a bill Gillibrand has been working on for the past four years. It cracked down on both the sale and purchase of guns likely to be used in crimes and lowered the mens rea thereshold for prosecuting offenses. Sellers and purchasers can be found guilty if they think — instead of know — the firearms will be used in crimes.

And how exactly does that work? Meas rea is important, because it requires the state to prove you were aware of the crime you’re committing. Strict liability offenses for serious crimes on any subject matter ought to be very suspect. For instance, if you were pulled over in a rental car where someone had stuffed a kilo of coke into the wheel well, you technically can’t be convicted for it unless they can convince a jury you were aware it was there. Knowing is an important element of possession. If possession were a strict liability offense, you could still go to jail in that situation, since all the prosecutor would have to prove is that they pulled a kilo of coke from the wheel well, and you were renting the car. So lowering the standard from “knowing” to “thinking” is essentially creating a strict liability offense.

Let me explain how this would work in the Gillibrand bill context, if I understand it correctly. If you sold a gun to someone, and they told you ahead of time they were going to rob a bank with it, that makes you guilty. You knew, and if that was in an e-mail or note, or someone can credibly testify about your knowledge, that gets over the mens rea requirement. So how does a standard of “think” even work? Do you have to tell or document somewhere, “I think that guy might use that to rob a bank?” Can the government just assert you should have been thinking that, and there is essentially no barrier to the crime being a strict liability offense?

19 Responses to “Deal Reached on Gun Control?”

  1. Archer says:

    Follow the case of the Reese family in New Mexico, and that’s essentially the trouble they’re in. (Link goes to the most recent – at this moment – update from the Luna County Tea Party Patriots site. Luna TPP has been following the case diligently for a long time.)

    TL;DR version: Family of successful gun dealers arrested, home/business raided/searched, assets seized, sham trial, evidence withheld from the defense, eventually leading to most charges dropped, but a couple convictions on charges that – basically – the family members “should have known” that the undercover government agents were lying on their 4473 forms. The evidence the prosecutors withheld consisted of Brady/Giglio material: their key witness was himself under investigation for corruption, but the defense was not made aware of that. A new trial has been ordered for the remaining charges, and a motion to dismiss with prejudice (i.e. if granted, the prosecutors cannot pursue these charges again) will be filed by the defense.

    Even more alarming, the lead U.S. Attorney who withheld evidence – Kenneth J. Gonzales – has been nominated by the President to be a U.S. District Judge. Fine role model they have there, huh?

  2. Andy B. says:

    “For instance, if you were pulled over in a rental car where someone had stuffed a kilo of coke into the wheel well, you can’t be arrested for it because you were not knowingly in possession.”

    You’re kidding, right?

  3. TS says:

    Yeah, but they’re “doing something”.

  4. LC Scotty says:

    I guess I fail to see how this is anything other than a nothingburger. They’re claiming it makes all sorts of stuff that was previously legal to be illegal, yet it does not seem that that is the case.

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      I think the liability aspect that Sebastian outlines is bad. It isn’t really based on any precedent and legally it’s shaken ground. It will probably be challenged in court at some point in time by the first guy that gets it selectively enforced. But it’s also nothing that would probably affect most gun owners so it falls on the “low impact” side of things for fence sitters to hang their hats on.

  5. Wouldn’t this make it illegal for an FFL to cooperate in almost any BATFE/L.E. operation?

  6. MicroBalrog says:

    This means:

    1. Gun registration/universal background checks (which are the same thing) are dead.
    2. Assault weapons bans are dead.
    3. Magazines bans are dead.

    All they can do is put makeup on the dead body of gun control.

  7. Stan says:

    ‘Sec. 933. Forfeiture and fines

    ‘(a)(1) Any person convicted of a violation of this chapter shall forfeit to the United States, irrespective of any provision of State law–

    ‘(A) any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds the person obtained, directly or indirectly, as the result of such violation; and

    ‘(B) any of the person’s property used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission of, such violation.

    Ten dollars says part B is why they really want this. They arrest you for trafficking but don’t have enough evidence so you get released, then you spend the next ten years trying to get back your rifle, truck, and house that they also arrested as part of this law. When you do get your what was once new rifle back you find it’s been shot thousands of time and is covered in rust, your truck has 50,000 new miles on it but still has the same oil it had in it when you had it and your house has been being rented out to Ray Ray and Ice Dog while you were gone.

  8. Laughingdog says:

    That’s so cute. You think mens rea still matters in courts these days.

    News flash for you. They don’t care. The prosecutors don’t care. The judges don’t care. Hell, they won’t even let the defending attorney tell the jury that it’s supposed to matter.

  9. joated says:

    I would argue that increasing the penalty for false statements to 25 years would result in even less enforcement. If judges and attorneys aren’t embarassed to seek that 25 years for something relatively minor, then this would become no more than a chip in any plea bargaining…like many illegal gun possession charges.

  10. RAH says:

    A man buys a gun for his girlfriend , wife or child and is now guilty of straw purchases

    • Matthew Carberry says:

      No. Those remain explicitly legal acts as long as the the giftee is not a prohibited person.

  11. Zermoid says:

    Seen this?
    25 minute video, and Sebastion I’d love to hear your comments on it!

    Assuming she’s right (which I think she is) just how do we go about getting all this unConstitutional crap repealed?
    Sure we could do as she says and just ignore the laws, but the local cops usually take offense at things like that. So, in a practical sense, how do we ‘ignore’ unConstitutional laws?
    And not spend time in jail, preferably?

  12. Bubblehead Les says:

    Let’s see. Collins is a long-time RINO who’s about to retire, Kirk’s an Illinois RINO, Gillibrand used to be a Republican who whored herself over to the Dems to get Hillary’s Senate seat (and wasn’t she NRA “A” rated when she was in the State Legislature?); so I guess this what they mean by “Bi-Partizenship,” huh?

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