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CT Gun Control Groups Jump into Elections

It looks like Connecticut gun control groups are worried that enough gun owners may have been pissed off by their legislative package that they fear blowback at the polls. To try and keep that from happening, they are launching a new political action committee with the blessing of the Governor to back anti-gun lawmakers. They claim they spend most of their money on billboards and social media advertising.

To counter this, I would strongly suggest that CT gun owners, and any others who want to help them in their fight, open their wallets to the good opponents to make sure those candidates have the resources to buy up their own targeted messaging. Locally, gun owners also need to get involved in the campaigns in a big way. If you’re not the most social of folks, volunteer to put some signs together and deliver them to areas where they need them. If you’ve got a property along a very busy street, offer to put up the really big signs for candidates. If you’re the outgoing type, make some phone calls or do literature drops. These things will go farther than a social media ad.

More Stalling in the Pennsylvania Legislature

Dear Pennsylvania GOP,

You know what you need to do this year? Motivate some voters. One way to motivate some pro-gun voters is to get moving on preemption legislation that you guys have been ignoring in various forms through the last four year instead of recessing to enjoy spring weather.

Of course, you’ll need more than just pro-gun voters to help save your party’s most visible candidates this year. The completely lack of ability to move any real reforms on ridiculously popular issues like liquor privatization have turned quite a few voters off since it’s clear that a vote for some of your candidates isn’t a vote for any kind of change at all. Regardless, you need all the friends you can get this year.




Dear Pennsylvania Democrats,

You know what some of your moderates may need this year in tough districts? Votes to show they aren’t totally associated with the complete disaster the national party seems to want to bring down on candidates who aren’t running in solid blue districts full of rabidly liberal voters. You know an issue that can help with that? Gun rights. One thing you might want to encourage from some of your more moderate Democrats is to publicly push for the House leadership get moving on preemption legislation, but without the 124 amendments filed.

Now, because the national party has done a really good job at pissing off lots of people across the country, I can’t promise this vote will save you if you’re being challenged by a credible opponent. But, it certainly will help cement your NRA grade while the other guy has to run on a questionnaire only rating.




Dear Pennsylvania Gun Owners,

Have you called your state representatives yet to ask them why they aren’t moving this bill?



No Federal Gun Control Push in the Senate

Not surprisingly, Harry Reid is reassuring red state Democrats that he is unwilling to continue sacrificing the future of his political power – and their Senate seats – by bringing gun control to the front page and the Senate floor in 2014.

I’m pretty sure the only people who are surprised by this are the Moms who believed him when he promised a big gun control vote right before the mid-terms last year. Anyone who seriously follows politics would have known that was a lie.

On Faux Libertarians

Something I had read recently took me back to and old quote from David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy that I think is as true today as it was six years ago:

The consensus is, basically, that libertarianism needs to more aggressively disassociate itself from right-wing fringe loonies who use libertarianism as a mask to disguise other agendas, or who support libertarianism only because they adhere to some bizarre conspiracy theory or other involving the federal government. Those of us who long ago (as I did) made a decision not to associate with the creepy-paleocons-disguising themselves-as-libertarians in the Lew Rockwell circle–Rockwell being, among other things, the primary suspect as the author of the offensive passages in Ron Paul’s newsletters, though he denied it to the New Republic’s James Kirchik–need to exert peer pressure on our libertarian friends to follow suit.

A big question for me is who Rand Paul really is. On the surface, he seems to “get it,” in that he’s decided to embrace some of the more mainstream elements of his father’s platform, but left the really kookier elements behind. He’s placing himself in his father’s place without all his father’s baggage. We have a long tradition in this country of eschewing corruption of blood, and I certainly don’t agree with my father on everything. So I’m tempted to take Rand for who he is and not hold his pop against him, but there’s always this in the back of my mind.

HB1243 and Implementing the Relief Provisions of NIAA

We’re currently engaged in a struggle in Pennsylvania to get a preemption enhancement bill through our generally sluggish legislature. Despite what at least one FOAC board member and some mouth foamers have accused me of, I have not yet made up my mind on this bill. The reason is because HB1243 is not so cut and dry, and there’s a lot of context in which the bill needs to be placed in order to understand it.

I’ve seen dozens of NIAA implementations pass in other states without too much controversy. I know FOAC has come out against HB1243, and I’m open to the idea that Pennsylvania is different, or there’s something irregular about the law, but if there are specific concerns, they have not been articulated as far as I can tell. As soon as I started questioning, I was immediately lumped in with CeaseFirePA, who are supporting the bill on the stipulation that the Santarsiero Amendment be added, which would end private transfers of long guns. I do not support this amendment, nor would I support HR1243 with such an amendment attached under any circumstance.

To put the unamended HB1243 in context, we first we need to back up seven years to the Virginia Tech aftermath in Congress when HR2640, which would later become the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, came onto the scene. This was originally a bad bill by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy that was gutted and replaced by a bill that was nominally a fair compromise, given that in exchange for states being encouraged to report records to NICS, we got a mechanism to relief from firearms disabilities due to mental health. Previously, such a firearm disability was lifelong with no recourse. There were groups opposing it at the time, and my disagreement then earned me quite a bit of enmity from folks who opposed the bill at the time. Now it seems old arguments are cropping up again with HB1243.

Now, back to today’s fight in Pennsylvania: at a first glance, HB1243 looks like run-of-the-mill NIAA implementation, complete with a defined process for relief from both federal and state disability. These have passed in dozens of states with little controversy, but for Pennsylvania, things can get a bit more complicated. The reason is our Mental Health Procedures Act, which is can be severe when it comes to imposing state firearm disabilities.

We have several kinds of involuntary commitment procedures in Pennsylvania — an involuntary observational commitment under Section 302 and an extended involuntary commitment under Sections 303, 304, and 305. ATF has traditionally not considered Section 302 commitments to have sufficient due process to count for federal firearm disability. There is almost zero due process protections for a 302 commitment. Section 302 commitments will get you a firearms disability for Pennsylvania, but if someone with a 302 on their record moved out of state, absent state law to the contrary in the new state, they’d be able to possess firearms again. That looked like it might change when the Pennsylvania State Police decided up bulk upload a bunch of records unilaterally after the Sandy Hook massacre, which caused ATF to waver on the position over whether 302 commitments counted or not for a federal disability. I have not heard whether this has been resolved one way or another, but with or without HB1243, this is potential trouble. Actually if the feds decide to count 302s, we really need a mechanism that’s clear, defined, and predictable, that can offer relief from that disability that the feds will recognize. Currently, we have a process for state relief under 18 Pa.C.S. 6105(f), but it’s entirely discretionary on the part of the judge, and there’s no clearly defined process.

My understanding is that Pennsylvania has yet to implement the NIAA requirements in order for relief from disability under 18 Pa. C.S. 6105(f) to apply federally. HB1243 would implement those requirements, so people petitioning under 18 Pa. C.S. 6105(f) would also get federal relief.

The big question I have over HB1243 is whether the prescribed procedure for rights restoration is consistent with current practices. That’s not something someone who isn’t a practicing attorney in this field of law could tell you, and that person isn’t me. I’m open to the idea that the procedures could use some improvement, but I’m not against the principle of implementing NIAA requirements so there can be federal relief for mental health firearms disability. That’s going to be especially true if the feds change their longstanding policy on 302 commitments.

I don’t blame folks for thinking much of this is tremendously overcomplicated and fundamentally unfair. I don’t think a 302 commitment in and of itself should be sufficient to remove someone’s gun rights, but that’s an issue we’ll need to address separately, and is not all that related HB1243. I’m willing to listen to arguments that there are some material defects in the bill that make it unworkable from our point of view, but I think it would be nice if those arguments could be made on the merits, rather than trying to impugn those who dare to question.

122 Attempts to Stop a Preemption Fix

When an NRA-backed bill to allow citizens to more easily challenge their towns that are passing gun control laws in violation of state law passed a committee vote with a solid, bipartisan vote, we knew that anti-gun advocates would pull out all the stops to try and keep this bill from becoming law.

They do not want their residents to have standing to hold these cities accountable for their violations of state law.

However, even I was a little stunned by the number of amendments already filed to try and stop the bill – 122. I didn’t realize that public accountability of local government was so vehemently opposed by some members of the legislature.

California Gun Owners Enjoy the Day…

Well, the decision on San Francisco laws was unpleasant news late yesterday, but at least California gun owners can be happy that one Second Amendment opponent isn’t quite as likely to be a threat in the future. Sen. Leeland Yee was just arrested on bribery and corruption charges, and the FBI is apparently raiding his offices at the moment.

Bloomberg’s $600k Pennsylvania Politician

It looks like the Attorney General that Mike Bloomberg bought heavily contributed to in Pennsylvania is having a less than wonderful 2014. This was supposed to be the year that she would release the results of her Penn State “investigation” that would trash Gov. Tom Corbett right before the election – at least, that’s what some observers might think after watching her run on an immediate investigation with promised swift results in 2012 and not having anything to show for it after more than a year. Instead, it may be turning into the year that has investigations could be opening into her handling of political corruption cases.

For those who haven’t been following the general political news in Pennsylvania, Bloomberg’s golden girl who received hundreds in thousands of dollars in advertising during her campaign shut down a long-running undercover sting of politicians that found several Philadelphia-area lawmakers accepting cash and gifts from a lobbyist that they did not disclose. After the report came out, she lawyered up, refused to talk to the press during a meeting, and appears to be hinting at suing the press for even reporting the story that relied on named sources involved in the investigation for daring to run such criticisms of her.

Oh yeah, and it was said she tried to argue that because most of the politicians caught in the investigation up until the point she shut it down happened to be black, the investigation may have been racist. Then, the District Attorney from Philadelphia, who happens to be a black politician himself, stepped up and said that’s a bunch of bull and criticized her for shutting down the sting. Actually, that might be an understatement. Even the media called the criticism from the DA “unusually barbed criticism of a fellow prosecutor and fellow Democrat.”

Today, we learn that she has just gone through her 3rd spokesman in 14 months as the press begins to pile up against her for lawyering up. In addition, a website largely read by people pretty close to Pennsylvania politics ran a reader poll that asked if Kane should have brought charges against those politicians who were already on the record of accepting cash & gifts without reporting them, and a majority said she should have.

Bloomberg’s little Pennsylvania investment just put a big statewide spotlight on Democratic divides in the state, along with a reminder about the political corruption so well known in Philadelphia political circles as we come up in a big election year for the state. I’m not sure that’s what Bloomberg was hoping to get with his donations.

Back on the Offensive

It feels good to be back on the offensive in Pennsylvania, with HB2011 moving forward to a vote in the Pennsylvania House. Why does it feel good? Because we get to hear the lamentations of the media, who are absolutely opposed to putting any kind of teeth in the state’s preemption law.

Say goodbye to prospects for enactment of any new lost-and-stolen reporting rules, and say hello to court fights for the 30 towns that already have them on the books.

Awesome. Those towns had no legal authority under state law to pass those ordinances in the first place. We told them that, and they didn’t listen. Those towns can easily avoid expensive suits by repealing the illegal ordinance they never had any business passing in the first place. When cities and towns violate state law, we shouldn’t have to wait to be charged under it in order to challenge it. Its mere existence should give us standing.

Zero Sum Games

Off topic, because gun news is thin on the ground today. Obama’s statements on the Ukraine situation boggle the mind. I’d like to think there’s some kind of dastardly brilliant plan behind all this, but the only plan it looks like to me is this one.

The United States does not view Europe as a battleground between East and West, nor do we see the situation in Ukraine as a zero-sum game. That’s the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War.

You sure Putin views things the same way, Barry? Because it looks to me like he’s not agreeing this type of thinking ended with the Cold War. Look, we all know that we’re not going to war over Ukraine, and I’m not suggesting we should. But you at least need to make a show of it so he knows there’s lines, real lines, that he can’t cross. Like Poland and Estonia. And not that I really want him drawing any lines, since that hasn’t worked out to well for this Administration. This kind of obliviousness is how big wars start.

UPDATE: Not the only person who noticed this one.

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