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Monday, April 15, 2013

A Split in the Community

Over the weekend a split emerged in the pro-rights community on the Manchin/Toomey/Schumer background check amendment.  Alan Gottlieb announced that the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms not only was supporting Manchin/Toomey/Schumer, but that they had a hand writing it and making the claim that the amendment has far more goodies for gun owners than bad measures.  Bitter at Shall Not Be Questioned posted about this yesterday complete with video of Gottlieb talking about CCRKBA's role in the "compromise."  Shortly after her post, Gottlieb appeared on Tom Gresham's Gun Talk Radio program to discuss it further.  You can hear that discussion below.

In short, Gottlieb claims that we are only giving up private checks at gun shows and those advertized over the internet, but we are getting all these pro-rights pieces including:
  • Interstate sales of handguns, 
  • Veteran gun rights restoration, 
  • Travel with firearms protection, 
  • Divil and criminal immunity lawsuit protection, 
  • The guarantee that people, including federal officers, will go to federal prison for up to 15 years if they attempt to use any gun sales records to set up a gun registry.”
Dave Kopel address the travel with firearms and gun registry here:
The Attorney General may not create a registry from the records of “a person with a valid, current license under this chapter.” In other words, the AG may not harvest the records of persons who currently hold a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Thus, pursuant to inclusio unius, the AG may centralize and consolidate the records of FFLs who have retired from their business.
Under current law, retired FFLs must send their sales records to BATFE. 18 USC 923(g)(4); 27 CFR 478.127. During the Clinton administration, a program was begun to put these records into a consolidated gun registry. The program was controversial and (as far as we know) was eventually stopped. Manchin-Toomey provides it with legal legitimacy.
Then Kopel address the travel provision that Gottlieb promotes:
But notice part (2) of the new definition: a new exclusion for any firearms crime punishable by more than year of imprisonment. In some states, such a crime includes merely not having a state-issued gun permit. So now let’s suppose that the Pennsylvanian is going to Maine. On the way, he travels through Massachusetts. Under current law, FOPA protects him. Under Manchin-Toomey, Massachusetts can arrest and imprison him, and he will have no federal defense. In Massachusetts, possession of a firearm without a state permit is punishable by imprisonment up to to 2 years. Possession outside one’s home or business is a sentence of 2.5 to 5 years, with a mandatory minimum of 18 months. New Jersey and New York City also have penalties of over one year for simple possession without a local permit.
Maybe the Pennsylvanian might qualify for some exemption under the laws of Mass., NYC, or NJ. Or perhaps not. What we know for sure is that today the Pennsylvanian is protected by FOPA, and if Manchin-Toomey passes, he will not be.
On a related note, Larry Keene addressed the issue on Bill Bennett's program this morning. As the trade association for manufacturers and retailers, he is looking at Manchin-Toomey from that perspective and sees a lot to not like in it.

Finally, the editors of National Review had this to say about the "compromise" amendment:
The provision would create new hurdles for law-abiding gun owners, requiring two private parties to seek out — and pay — a federally licensed intermediary before they could carry out a simple transaction. Worse, the vagueness of the legislative language would make it difficult for private sellers to determine if a given sale requires a check. The new regime would make even the most innocently intentioned of firearms transfers significantly more risky for the average American.
In addition to being difficult to comply with, the provision is likely to prove difficult to enforce. Because it would exclude a broad class of transfers, unscrupulous sellers would quickly establish methods of advertising their wares that hid in the lacunae of the legislative language, and adequate enforcement of the law would require police and prosecutors to devote considerable resources to the parsing of close cases and the ferreting out of intent. This mess would likely lead to the reappraisal of today’s legitimate and noncontroversial exclusions as tomorrow’s unacceptable loopholes. Indeed, the very same “gun-show loophole” Toomey/Manchin attempts to close was once a perfectly respectable member of the class of private sales the bill makes a show of protecting.
VSSA stands firm in opposition to Manchin/Toomey/Schumer.

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