Bankruptcy Protection Passed House

This is good news. Overall I consider this to be a minor step forward, but what’s more interesting is the process and the votes. This will also be, potentially, the first pro-gun bill that will be sent to President Obama in whole form. His action will be very interesting.

This bill only exempts one firearm of any value, or up to $1,500 for a combination. It’s ambiguous as to whether it covers NFA items, because it covers a “rifle, shotgun, or pistol.” It does not provide a definition of these items, or refer to which definition from the United States Code applies, but my feeling is there’s a good case for NFA items not being included in this exemption.

You can see the recorded votes here.  Even more than the gain we get if this passes, it helps weed out friend from foe. All Republicans except for one voted for this. The one Republican no vote was Charles Djou, who I won’t be donating any more money to. He’s going to lose come November anyway, and I don’t support lost causes that vote against one of my key interests on what should be an easy vote. Even Mike Castle voted yes. Patrick Murphy, my own Congress Critter, voted yes. The no votes are the usual suspects, but some of the yes votes are surprising.

8 thoughts on “Bankruptcy Protection Passed House”

  1. What if a rifle has a barrel less than 16 inches? What if a rifle incorporates a permanently attached suppressor? Does that stop it from becoming a rifle?

    I can see MGs not being included since the definitions of the other weapons all explicitly state that they only fire one shot per pull of the trigger. That’s why a full auto mac-10 with a shoulder stock isn’t an SBR in addition to a machine gun.

    Also, many destructive devices should be included as well. One of the big issues being litigated in the 1960s was whether the M79 grenade launcher was a short barreled rifle. The case obviously got mooted, but there’s really not much debate as to whether rifle that fires big bore projectiles or projectiles that explode is still a rifle.

  2. One correction – the vote incorporated an amendment to the bill that the sponsors had agreed on. The amendment got rid of the provision allowing unlimited value for one gun, but raised the cap to $3,000.

    Text is at

    Whether it covers machine guns is kind of academic. Just about any transferable MG today would be worth more than the $3,000 cap, so the bankruptcy trustee would take it, sell it, and return the debtor’s $3,000 protected interest. (Besides, how many people only have an MG and less than $3,000 worth of other guns?)

  3. Lets see what happens in the senate. Doesn’t matter obama will veto it anyway. That or just not sign it at all and let it go.

    But I kinda do expect some of the more iffy dems and RINO’s to vote for it anyway. After all it is an election year and anything to make them look a little better in the eyes of a voting group close to getting torches and pitchforks. But afterwards they will just do buisness as usuall as dictated to by their masters in the white house.

  4. Interesting. What happens if the debtor has only high-end guns? A collector, say. Even more interesting would be if the collector lives in a juristiction with a waiting period. Can he be left unarmed by the BK trustees while he waits out the sale of his guns, the return of his $3K, and then the waiting period?

    Also, indexed to inflation, or not? A bill likd this that used, say, 1934 dollars (a la NFA) would be worthless today if it exempted enough money to cover a cheap 3-gun set (say, $150).

    Nonetheless, a good start; and a chance for Reid to show how much he will work for pro-gun bills…

  5. This is good, I guess. I agree that it makes sense to exempt one defensive firearm from bankruptcy. But on the list of pro-gun things I want from Congress, this is way, way down the list near declaring “John Moses Browning Day” or passing a resolution that extended-slide-stops for 1911s are goofy looking.

  6. @ Ian –

    Dollar amounts in the bankruptcy code are indexed to the Consumer Price Index and adjusted every 3 years.

    The bankruptcy process doesn’t take away all of the debtor’s money, so a person whose high-end guns are being sold could choose to scrimp somewhere else and buy something cheap to tide him over. Or, if he expects to file for bankruptcy, he could buy some lower-end guns that the trustee wouldn’t take.

  7. I wasn’t concerned that the debtor would not be able to obtain firearms eventually. I was more interested in the effect of depriving our hypothetical collector of firearms for a temproary period. The intent here seems to be that since even a debtor has a right to self-defense, he may protect same from his creditors. In that case, can the trustees and the state put him in the position of not having any firearms while a)his current firearms are sold and he is waiting for his share (In states where there is a limited homestead exemption, how does this work? That would appear to be an analogous case) and b) can the state deprive him of his right to a firearm while the waiting period expires? Obviously (though imho) waiting periods are an unconstitutional infringement, and this law would appear to be based on the view that depriving someone of a firearm via bankruptcy is a infringement.

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