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Amish Farmers in New York Denied Gun Rights by SAFE Act

Apparently the SAFE Act is having an unintended consequence for Amish farmers. The Amish maintain a religious objection to being photographed. Before the SAFE Act, private transfers of rifles used to be legal in New York, so the Amish still had means to get a firearm without photo-id. Since SAFE outlawed private transfers, there’s now no way for an Amish person to get around the photo-id issue. New York State has required photo-id for pistol licenses for some time. The Shooter’s Committee on Political Education (SCOPE) is meeting with the farmers to presumably discuss a lawsuit.

The Brady Act essentially requires photo-id to purchase a firearm, and ATF has been pretty clear on the matter:

ATF has been asked whether firearms purchasers may be exempted from the requirement for an identification document with a photograph based on religious objections. The Brady law does not provide for such an exemption. All over-the- counter transfers are subject to the photo identification requirement.

The Brady Act may not provide any exception, but the RFRA certainly does. I would think a plaintiff would easily prevail in a suit against ATF for failing to make a reasonable accommodation under the RFRA.

The SAFE act is another matter, however, being a function of state law. The federal RFRA was ruled not to apply to the states under the 14th Amendment, and unlike most other states, New York has never passed a state analogue. I am not aware of whether or not New York provides religious protection through its courts that is greater than the federal courts provide, but it looks like as of at least 1999 they had not. There has, however, already been a case in the New York courts involving this very subject, from that same article linked previously:

In an interesting application of the state constitution’s free exercise clause, the court in In re Miller recently authorized a religious exemption to a requirement that an applicant for a pistol permit must submit a photograph. An Amish man refused to allow himself to be photographed for the permit on the ground that being photographed was against his religion. In lieu of a photograph, he offered to allow himself to be fingerprinted. The court balanced “the importance of the right asserted” against the governmental “needs and objectives being promoted” and concluded that the defendant’s right to free exercise justified an exemption from the photograph requirement. Although the court did not explicitly spell out a compelling interest test, it did note that “the Assistant Attorney General has argued very ably and cogently that the State’s interests in requiring a photograph are ‘compelling,’ extending beyond mere administrative convenience.” Nevertheless, the court decided that the applicant’s free exercise interest outweighed these compelling state interests because a less restrictive means of identification was available.

This would help them if they pursue relief in state court, but it would seem to me that if it is the federal photo-id requirement that is at issue here, the federal RFRA would be the easiest way to force an accommodation here. If the photo-id requirement is a function of the SAFE act directly, and not just an indirect consequence of banning private transfers, it’s good to see there’s existing cases in the New York Court system that make an accommodation for people’s religious practices and beliefs.

SCOPE may want to consider engaging the ACLU, who has shown a willingness to get involved in these kinds of suits that involve Second Amendment rights, but also touch on some of their traditional areas of litigation, like this case. Their presence on the case may play well with old-school liberal judges (who date back to when liberals cared about civil liberties), and they are experienced at fighting cases like this.

Shannon Watts’ Circle of Fail is Complete

After equivocating a bit on the issue of guns in parks, Governor Haslam has signed the bill making carry in Tennessee parks legal. I thought that the demanding moms had a reasonable chance of getting a veto out of the Governor after his equivocating on the issue, but nope. Maybe he was influenced by Shannon Watt’s huge protest fail, contrasted to a number two attendance figure for NRA’s Annual Meeting two weeks ago.

Bill Haslam may be a former MAIG Mayor, but it appears he knows where his and his party’s bread gets buttered.

Brady Victim Exploitation Reaching New Lows

Several weeks ago, John Richardson reported that Brady had lost their lawsuit against Lucky Gunner and Sportsman’s Guide for selling ammunition to the Aurora mass murderer, and were ordered to pay legal fees for the defendants. Apparently those fees amounted to some $280,000 dollars. Dave Hardy notes that the PLCAA doesn’t seem to specifically call for attorneys fees to be paid , “I wonder if the judge might have awarded the fees as sanctions for bringing an utterly frivolous suit. That’s a rare action for a court to take, the suit has to be utterly beyond the pale, and in awarding them the judge could assess them directly against the attorneys.”

Dave notes that the judgement is a significant part of Bradys’ income and assets. Are we witnessing the dying gasp of the Brady Center? Let’s hope so. Preying on the families of victims to raise their profile by filing frivolous lawsuits is beyond the pale. Recall they recently withdrew from another suit for ethical lapses. Depending on how the judgement is structured, it might be possible for Brady to leave the victims holding the bag; on the hook for the 280 grand. If they do scurry off and leave the judgement to the family, it’s beyond the pale to exploit victims like that.

I think it’s time for the Brady Center to quietly disband. Even looking at the situation from the perspective of a person who supports gun control, the Brady organization no longer serve any useful purpose. How the mighty have fallen.

Civil Rights Victory for International Travelers with Guns

This issue has kind of flown under the radar, but the gist of it is that the Obama Administration made changes to the procedures for traveling internationally with a firearm that made it impossible for ordinary people. NRA notes in it’s press release:

Fairfax, Va. – The National Rifle Association today claimed victory for beating back an Obama administration policy that would have essentially stopped American hunters and sport shooters from travelling internationally with their personal firearms and ammunition. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today that it is returning to its previous system of facilitating the international transport of personal firearms and ammunition, after meeting with representatives from the NRA, firearms industry and sportsmen’s groups, and key members of Congress.

“We are pleased that we have been able to reverse a bureaucratic nightmare that would have jeopardized the freedoms of law-abiding gun owners,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “On behalf of our five million members, I want to thank Senator John Hoeven and Representatives John Carter and Chris Stewart for their work to protect American hunters and sport shooters from a web of bureaucratic red-tape when traveling outside the United States.”

CBP recently began enforcing regulatory changes requiring Americans travelling abroad to comply with commercial export requirements when transporting firearms and ammunition outside the U.S. for personal use. Under these requirements, in order to take personal firearms and ammunition to another country on a temporary visit, the individual would have to register the firearm in the Automated Export System (AES), after completing a 30 question test with 34 pages of user instructions, and provide their transaction number to CBP.

As the AES is designed for commercial exporters, it requires all users to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS in order to access the system. According to the IRS, however, EINs are issued for business purposes, and applicants have to specify a business reason for obtaining one. This left American hunters and sport shooters with no recourse. In today’s announcement, CBP affirmed that it will allow international hunters to use the same paper system they have used for years, while it works with the Department of State on automating that system in the future.

This is the second high-profile defeat of a proposed Obama administration anti-gun regulation in recent months. Earlier this year, the NRA led the effort to defeat an attempt by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives to ban commonly used rifle ammunition.

“It is clear that in the final years of his presidency, President Obama will stop at nothing to push his gun control agenda. This merely underscores the importance of electing a pro-Second Amendment president in 2016,” concluded Cox.

To learn more about the NRA’s efforts to resolve this issue click here (https://www.nraila.org/articles/20150417/you-cant-get-there-from-here-obama-administration-shrugs-off-woes-of-international-travelers).

They are going to keep trying to see what they can get to stick for the next two years.

The Magazine Battle in Colorado

Most everyone is aware of the effort by Senate Republicans in Colorado to repeal Colorado’s post-Sandy Hook gun control laws. That effort runs into issues in the Democratically controlled house, and then finally with Governor Hickenlooper. So you’d think of the Democrats conceded that maybe they went too far, and they’d be willing to consider a bill that would ease the magazine ban to 30 rounds, you’d jump at that right?

Not Dudley Brown. See more at the Denver Post:

“It is unforgivable that it is RMGO and not Michael Bloomberg keeping me from buying a 30-round magazine,” Caldara said Friday. “Just as every gun owner needs to know who was behind the terrible gun laws in 2013 — Bloomberg and Gov. John Hickenlooper — every gun owner needs to know that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is stopping a huge step toward fixing it.”

Dudley is holding out for full repeal, suggesting the Dems need to repeal the law or “face the election consequences in 2016.”

First, I’d never be that confident that the 2016 elections are going to go our way. If the GOP fails to take back the Colorado House, you’re probably stuck with the 15 round limit, unless the courts come through, which I also would not count on. If Colorado stays in Democratic hands through the 2020 census, there’s a very good chance there is no saving the state at all, and it’ll continue to get worse.

On the other hand, 30 rounds is on the table now, which would mean the vast majority of magazines people tend to own in Colorado would be legal. It would render the magazine law essentially meaningless, which would mean getting the other half of the pie later would be an easier sell. If the GOP does prevail in 2016, well, then you’re one step closer to full repeal already. I just don’t see any downside to taking the House Dems up on their offer.

The Denver Magazine asks “Has Dudley Brown Finally Gone Too Far?” Also see this video with Dave Kopel:

Last Wednesday, Brown tried an unheard of maneuver that caught everyone off guard, and was eventually ruled out of order, and ultimately defeated, with five Republicans joining the Democrats. It should be noted that even on a straight party line vote, this would have been defeated. Brown is now threatening the five Republicans who voted against the motion in primaries. Those Republicans are:

  • NRA A Rated and Endorsed Rep. J. Paul Brown
  • NRA A Rated and Endorsed Rep. Timothy Dore
  • NRA A Rated and Endorsed Rep. Bob Rankin
  • NRA B+ Rated Yeulin Willett
  • Rep. Jon Keyser (never returned the NRA questionnaire

OK, I’d give Dudley challenging Keyser, and maybe Willett depending on whether or not that district can support a better candidate, or whether replacing him with a stronger gun rights candidate would throw the race to an anti-gun Democrat. I don’t know the district. But the first three are solid people on the issue, who perhaps voted against the maneuver because once you unleash a weapon like that, you invite your opposition to use it on you. There is a reason deliberative bodies have procedures.

We all want the magazine ban completely gone. But we can get 95% of the way there now, or hold off and rely on vague hopes that things will go as well or better for the GOP as they did in 2014. I’m for taking what we can get now. This no compromise stuff just doesn’t work in the real world. If Dudley were really the powerhouse he claims to be, and if he were truly a strategic genius, Colorado would never be in this mess in the first place.

Brady Attorneys Withdraw From Lawsuit Over Ethics Issues

According to NRA, Brady Center Attorneys Jon Lawy and Alla Leftkowitz got in hot water for posting inadmissible evidence on the Brady website, which is a violation of Wisconsin ethics rules:

Milwaukee County Judge Jeffrey Conen may have given Lowy and Lefkowitz the benefit of the doubt when he said, “I don’t how things are practiced in Washington, D.C., or New York or anywhere else, but out here in the Midwest we have certain rules.”  Judge Conen’s reference to Washington, D.C. and New York was likely due to those being the jurisdictions of Lowy’s and Lefkowitz’s bar membership, respectively.

NRA also notes, “all attorneys are charged with understanding ethical rules in the jurisdiction in which they’re licensed,” and note that both New York and D.C. have substantially similar rules.

This is more evidence that the Brady Campaign and Brady Center are becoming the Junior Varsity of the gun control movement. They lack Bloomberg’s deep pockets and strategic acumen, and lack CSGV’s willingness to troll the depths of the Internet in search of mouth foaming supporters. This leaves Brady without a real niche. PLCAA pretty much prevents the Brady Center from doing anything useful, so they are stuck pretending to their supporters that they are making a difference.

Update on Bushmaster Lawsuit

According to Annual Firearms Law Seminar:

Update in the Bushmaster et al. lawsuit. Although the case was removed to federal court back in January, the plaintiffs have filed a Motion for Remand back to the Connecticut state court. It does not look like the plaintiffs’ Motion should be successful, but the fight over jurisdiction could continue for awhile. The plaintiffs are fighting hard to get this back to state court.

At least some of the defendants will to file a Motion to Dismiss based upon the PLCAA and for failure to state a claim – FRCP 12(b)(6).

I think their strategy is just to waste time and force the other side to keep running up the legal fees. Maybe then they can hope for a settlement? I can’t really see them succeeding on their bizarre theory of negligent entrustment (that essentially selling AR-15s to civilians at all is negligent entrustment), unless they completely luck out by drawing the most severe of Obama appointed hacks to preside over the case.

Friday News Links 04-17-2015

It’s been a long week for work, what with taking a few days off to attend the NRA Annual Meeting. But I have been trying to keep up with the news, and with that my tabs are quite constipated.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board banned firearms in Pennsylvania Casinos, a relic of the fact that it was Ed Rendell who set up that board. The Board just rescinded that regulation. Good. It was never really legal to begin with.

Stirring the pot: 6.8mm Remington SPC not so special after all. I have an AR chambered in this caliber. It was my only flirtation with any of these new boutique cartridges.

Constitutional Carry bill introduced in Ohio, and Maine’s bill draws hundreds to the State House. We just need enough people that want it bad enough.

Jim Geraghty from NRAAM: A yawning cultural gap begets clueless reporting on GOP field.

There’s a recall effort afoot against New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney. Additionally, recall effort have been filed in Oregon. This works for us in Colorado, but it might not everywhere. Still, I don’t see any reason not to keep them afraid. Oregon looks particularly precarious. More here. Once the waters top the levee, it’ll be hard to stop. Once they think you can’t hurt them, it’s all over.

I admire this guy, but he’s lucky he didn’t become the next George Zimmerman. The system doesn’t want you to get involved. They’re designing it so you won’t.

More effort to restrict 3D printing of guns. Can’t stop the signal.

Remember that Bill Haslam was a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, when he was Mayor of Knoxville.

Does Kenya really need a may issue concealed carry regime? Seems they don’t have licenses to carry in Kenya. If you have a license to own it, you have a license to carry it. But the licenses to have it are may-issue.

Obama hasn’t given up on gun control. That has David “Mudcat” Saunders worried about the future. That’s funny, Mudcat wasn’t all that worried after Sandy hook.

Joe Manchin isn’t too happy with NRA. That’s fine, because the feeling is mutual. Let’s see how Joe does in a reddening state come his re-election.

It looks like GOAL of Massachusetts may have won a minor victory against the anti-gun billboard king John Rosenthal. See this release from GOAL.

If this study were true, America would be awash in blood. It’s not. Violent crime has dropped as gun ownership has increased. The problem these people have is that they would like to disbar people from owning guns if they were “angry” people. But owning a gun is a right, and that should, necessarily, take certain policy options off the table.

A lot of people are upset NRA didn’t invite Rand Paul, and fewer that they didn’t invite Chris Christie. Rand shills for a gun organization, NAGR, that opposes federal civil rights legislation to protect the RKBA. Federal Civil Rights legislation is the only way we’re going to free people in anti-gun states. Even though Paul voted for National Reciprocity last time it came up in the Senate, the organization he supports and promotes opposes it.

SayUncle: “So, basically, my butt refuted The New York Times.” More here.

Hey, good on this kid for building a smart gun without formal training. I have no problem with smart guns, if people want to buy them. I have a big problem with the busybodies that want to mandate them.

Miguel takes a look at crime during NRA Annual Meeting. As is usually the case, there was less of it.

One thing Bloomberg and Watts are good at is doubling down on failure.

Thirdpower on Brady: “She’s dead, give us money.” If it wasn’t for Bloomberg’s money, the gun control movement would be finished already.

 

Arguments Heard in Act 192 Case

Yesterday, a Pennsylvania Court heard the case challenging the constitutionality of Act 192, the enhanced preemption law. Pennsylvania’s constitution has a single subject requirement for bills, and the preemption enhancement was attached to a bill about metal theft.

Even if this law is invalidated, preemption still remains the law of the land, and Act 192 still has done a lot of heavy lifting in getting municipalities to repeal illegal ordinances. Even if the act is ruled unconstitutional, it has been a major setback for Bloomberg to bet set so far back in his campaign to end preemption in Pennsylvania.

Not Deliberately Ignoring You

My apologizes for the light posting since I’ve returned from Annual Meeting. I’m working on a deadline to get a report done for a client. So far it’s looking like 20+ pages. Probably more by the time it’s all done. It’s good to have clients with lots of problems, since that’s how we make a living, but since this requires me to write all day, it kind of saps all my writing energy for the blog. I’ll have several news stories and a news dump once I get some time. It’ll be an epic news dump. The tabs are quite constipated!

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