Tag Archives: 2nd amendment

Schakowsky: Assault Weapons Ban ‘Just the Beginning’

Schakowsky: Assault Weapons Ban ‘Just the Beginning’

by Joel B. Pollak

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the Democratic Party’s leadership in the House of Representatives, suggested to Jason Mattera at a Feb. 13 women’s rights rally that plans for an assault weapons ban and private-sales background checks were only the beginning of a broader gun control agenda extending to handguns as well.

Schakowsky evidently did not recognize Mattera, a conservative video journalist and senior investigative reporter for Talk Radio Network, who infamously confronted Vice President Joe Biden in the Capitol. (Mattera introduced himself to Schakowsky by name but did not indicate that he was filming or that he is conservative.) She spoke to Mattera as if he were a fellow gun control enthusiast–and Mattera played along, eliciting answers about Schakowsky’s enthusiasm for gun control.

“We want everything on the table,” Schakowsky told Mattera. “This is a moment of opportunity. There’s no question about it.”

One poignant exchange was as follows:

Schakowsky: We’re on a roll now, and I think we’ve got to take the–you know, we’re gonna push as hard as we can and as far as we can.

Mattera: So the assault weapons ban is just the beginning?

Schakowsky: Oh absolutely. I mean, I’m against handguns. We have, in Illinois, the Council Against Handgun… something [Violence]. Yeah, I’m a member of that. So, absolutely.

In another exchange, Schakowsky proposed allowances for states and municipalities to ban guns–though such laws have been repeatedly rejected by the Supreme Court:

Mattera: We’ll never get a handgun ban with the Second Amendment as stated.

Schakowsky: I don’t know. I don’t know that we can’t. And there may be an allowance, once again, for communities–I have communities in my district that prohibited handguns within their borders. The rights of municipalities and states to view that as a sensible way to keep people safe–I don’t think it’s precluded.

When Mattera asked why legislators were not pressing for a handgun ban, given that most murders are committed with handguns, Schakowsky replied: “Because we’re not going to be able to win that. Not now.” She went on to explain why background checks were a useful interim policy, arguing that they would “address any kind of weapon.”

Schakowsky’s remarks about plans for broader gun control are not the first time she has revealed the long-term goal behind short-term policy debates. She has a tendency to do so when speaking to apparently sympathetic audiences. In 2009, she told a crowd that the goal of Obamacare would be to “put the private insurance industry out of business.”

Officially, Democrats–including Schakowsky–hew to the party line as laid down by the president, which pledges support for the Second Amendment and for gun ownership in rural communities where hunting and shooting are viewed as traditional pastimes.

Gun owners fear that the Sandy Hook-inspired gun control measures before Congress–none of which would have stopped the mass shooting at Sandy Hook–are a prelude to broader regulations, including the banning of handguns and the eventual registration and confiscation of firearms, despite earnest assurances by Democrats to the contrary.

The Democratic Party has taken a hard line on guns recently, with President Obama’s strategist, David Axelrod, joining New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in backing gun control enthusiast Robin Kelly over former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, in the recent primary to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Illinois. Kelly has promised to be a “leader” in “banning guns.”
SOURCE

ATF Preparing to Outlaw Shotguns

ATF Preparing to Outlaw Shotguns

The Constitution states that Congress and the federal government shall not infringe upon the right to bear arms. However, we know in the past the federal government has trampled this liberty. Remember the assault weapons ban that banned AR-15s and other rifles?

It appears the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is preparing to pass its own law leaving Congress out of the equation and clearly ignoring the Constitution. This time its shotguns that are under attack.

The Greeley Gazette
notes of the ATF’s coming ban:

The ATF completed a study regarding the importability of certain shotguns. The basis for a possible ban is based on a loosely defined “Sporting Purpose” test. Using the vague definition almost all pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns could be banned as they are all capable of accepting a magazine, box or tube capable of holding more than 5 rounds. Other characteristics determined to be “military” by the ATF can also be used as a basis for a ban.

Ironically, many shotguns with “military” features are currently being used in shooting competitions held by the USPSA, IDPA and IPSC. The rules could also result in obscure regulations where an individual would be unsure if he is violating them or not.
Dudley Brown, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said if the ATF succeeds with the banning of tactical shotguns it “will be the most dangerous interpretation of the 1968 Gun Control Act ever envisioned and will outlaw thousands of perfectly legitimate home defense shotguns.”

The ATF is currently allowing public comments on the study until the end of the month. Those wishing to express concerns about the study can send an email to [email protected]

SOURCE

Could Your Shotgun Soon be Outlawed? Maybe, If the ATF Has Its Way

by Jonathon M. Seidl Jonathon M. Seidl

What’s the definition of a “shotgun?” According to Dictionary.com it’s “a smoothbore gun for firing small shot to kill birds and small quadrupeds, though often used with buckshot to kill larger animals.” For the gun enthusiasts, that’s only partly true, as there is also the option of using slugs. But what if there’s another addition that will soon be added to the definition? How about, illegal.

Could Your Shotgun Soon be Outlawed? Maybe, If the ATF Has Its Way

In a series of fascinating, and eerie, posts over at the blog Beregond’s Bar (and linked on Redstate.com), author “Tom” pens a four-part series on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and their new campaign to change the definition of the term “shotgun.” A change, based on a recent study,* that could soon make some of them illegal. But as Tom points out, the implications for all guns are chilling.

Could Your Shotgun Soon be Outlawed? Maybe, If the ATF Has Its Way

Below are excerpts from the series. Click on the appropriate link to read more.

Part 1, which focuses on changing the term “sporting use” in order to ban certain shotguns:

The Obama administration is seeking once again to do via regulation what they would never be able to do via legislation. This time shotguns are in the crosshairs, specifically certain popular imported weapons.

[…]

Sporting use is one of the three main thrusts of gun control efforts in America. The other two are racism and those who openly advocate complete bans except for military and police. (The complete ban advocates often hide under cover of sporting use, but that and the racist history of gun control are topics for another day.
Click here to find out more!

Sporting use was how the original distinction was made about what weapons would be subject to a special tax in the National Firearms Act (NFA) in 1934, and again in Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. The congressional power to tax was used selectively to make ownership of weapons the government didn’t like burdensome and expensive. This was gun control via the back door, as even the ATF admits. As would become the pattern, politicians found that actually dealing with crime and criminals was difficult and expensive. Blaming guns and passing a law to look like they were doing something about it was much simpler.

Part 2, which notes that the administration and the ATF’s definition of “sporting use” includes a list of things that cannot apply to such use. Things that are common in hunting and self-defense:

In this case the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is seeking to master the definition of the term “sporting use” to “traditional” sports, things similar to what might have been found in 1934 when the Treasury Department first began regulating firearms. The ATF “Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns” (PDF) limits “sporting purpose.”

However, consistent with past court decisions and Congressional intent, the working group recognized hunting and other more generally recognized or formalized competitive events similar to the traditional shooting sports of trap, skeet, and clays.

In order to decide what shotguns fit the “sporting purpose” definition the study comes up with a list of characteristics that aren’t sporting. Nobody has yet taken to bayoneting deer or skeet as far as I know, so I’m not going to raise a big stink about bayonet lugs being on the list of features that aren’t particularly suited for sporting purposes. (Please stop shouting that the Constitution of the United States says nothing about “sporting purpose.” We’ll look at why the “sporting purpose” rule violates the constitution in Part 3.)

One major problem (aside from the constitution) is that many of the features the ATF study group settled on make a shotgun particularly useful for self defense, especially home defense. Here are the characteristics that the study has decided are unsuitable for sporting use:

(1) Folding, telescoping, or collapsible stocks;

(2) bayonet lugs;

(3) flash suppressors;

(4) magazines over 5 rounds, or a drum magazine;

(5) grenade-launcher mounts;

(6) integrated rail systems (other than on top of the receiver or barrel);

(7) light enhancing devices;

(8) excessive weight (greater than 10 pounds for 12 gauge or smaller);

(9) excessive bulk (greater than 3 inches in width and/or greater than 4 inches in depth);

(10) forward pistol grips or other protruding parts designed or used for gripping the shotgun with the shooter’s extended hand.

Some of these features, such as folding stocks and larger capacity magazines clearly are useful in sports if you include practical shooting sports.

Part 3, which looks at how “sporting use” stacks up to the Constitution and how it came into use:

But there is a far more basic objection that must be raised to this new attempt at regulatory gun ban- Nowhere in the constitution of the United States is there anything about a “sporting purpose.” The second amendment says:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Like all rights of Americans, the rights exist because you are a person. The Constitution is a contract we have with the central government to protect those rights against all enemies, foreign and domestic. One of the enumerated rights is the right to keep and bear arms. Nary a “sporting purpose” in sight in the entire document. So where did it come from?

And finally, Part 4, which shows that the ATF’s “sporting use” definition puts all guns, not just certain shotguns, at risk of being outlawed:

One factor that jumps out from the current ATF study is that it differs from the Clinton gun ban in a critical way. The Clinton ban looked at guns and said if it could accept a high capacity magazine and had any 2 other characteristics then it was banned. Thus you could have a magazine and a pistol grip, or a magazine and night sights, and still be legal. Few people missed having a bayonet lug, and grenade launchers and grenades had essentially been banned from civilian hands since the NFA became law in 1934. The current study says that any ONE item on a list, including a magazine that holds more than five rounds or a place to attach a flashlight so you can see the burglar in your home, and the gun is banned.

So the problem doesn’t end with shotguns. The current study refers to the conclusions drawn in prior ATF studies of rifles in 1989 and 1998, and handguns in 1968. It also draws on the NFA and the GCA (Gun Control Act of 1968) to justify the “sporting purpose” test, and the narrow interpretation that the ATF places on the test. The justifications are all linked together, like a knitted sweater. Pull on the piece of yarn called “imported shotguns” and you find when it’s unraveled enough that you’re tugging on the “domestic shotguns” yarn. Only now the “imported rifle” bit of yarn is hanging loose, just begging for someone to tug on it. Unravel that a bit and you reach “domestic rifles.” A similar bit of unraveling is likely to happen with the piece of yarn labelled “handgun.”

Each piece is well worth the time it takes to read it. Meanwhile, the ATF is taking comments on its study. Tom lets you know how here.

But here’s the catch: in order to let the ATF know what you think, you have to give it your mailing address.

Interesting.

*According to Tom, the study “spends a lot of time showing that hunting, trap and skeet, and target shooting are sports, but plinking and practical shooting sports are not REALLY sports, and therefore guns that are particularly suitable for, or readily adaptable to those sports shouldn’t be allowed into the country.

UPDATE:

Jack Minor of the Greeley Gazette covered the ATF’s study, too. He puts in terms of “military”-style shotguns vs. others. But, he notes, according to the specifications used, “military” could apply to so many shotguns:

The ATF completed a study regarding the importability of certain shotguns. The basis for a possible ban is based on a loosely defined “Sporting Purpose” test. Using the vague definition almost all pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns could be banned as they are all capable of accepting a magazine, box or tube capable of holding more than 5 rounds. Other characteristics determined to be “military” by the ATF can also be used as a basis for a ban.

Ironically, many shotguns with “military” features are currently being used in shooting competitions held by the USPSA, IDPA and IPSC. The rules could also result in obscure regulations where an individual would be unsure if he is violating them or not.

Dudley Brown, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said if the ATF succeeds with the banning of tactical shotguns it “will be the most dangerous interpretation of the 1968 Gun Control Act ever envisioned and will outlaw thousands of perfectly legitimate home defense shotguns.”

The Vetting – Holder 1995: We Must ‘Brainwash’ People on Guns

The Vetting – Holder 1995: We Must ‘Brainwash’ People on Guns

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by Joel B. Pollak

Breitbart.com has uncovered video from 1995 of then-U.S. Attorney Eric Holder announcing a public campaign to “really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.”

Holder was addressing the Woman’s National Democratic Club. In his remarks, broadcast by CSPAN 2, he explained that he intended to use anti-smoking campaigns as his model to “change the hearts and minds of people in Washington, DC” about guns.

“What we need to do is change the way in which people think about guns, especially young people, and make it something that’s not cool, that it’s not acceptable, it’s not hip to carry a gun anymore, in the way in which we changed our attitudes about cigarettes.”

Holder added that he had asked advertising agencies in the nation’s capital to assist by making anti-gun ads rather than commercials “that make me buy things that I don’t really need.” He had also approached local newspapers and television stations, he said, asking them to devote prime space and time, respectively, to his anti-gun campaign.

Local political leaders and celebrities, Holder said, including Mayor Marion Barry and Jesse Jackson, had been asked to help. In addition, he reported, he had asked the local school board to make the anti-gun message a part of “every day, every school, and every level.”

Despite strict gun control efforts, Washington, DC was and remains one of the nation’s most dangerous cities for gun violence, though crime has abated somewhat since the 1990s.

Holder went on to become Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration, and currently serves as Attorney General in the Obama Administration.

The video of Holder’s remarks was uncovered by Breitbart.com contributor Charles C. Johnson.

SOURCE

Obama will move to outlaw guns in 2nd term warns NRA official

NRA official: Obama wants to outlaw guns in 2nd term

By Sean Lengell

A top official with the National Rifle Association said Friday that President Obama will move to “destroy” gun rights and “erase” the Second Amendment if he is re-elected in November.

While delivering one of the liveliest and best-received speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said the president’s low-key approach to gun rights during his first term was “a “conspiracy to ensure re-election by lulling gun owners to sleep.”

“All that first term, lip service to gun owners is just part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment during his second term,” he said.

“We see the president’s strategy crystal clear: Get re-elected and, with no more elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms’ freedom, erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and excise it from the U.S. Constitution.”

Mr. LaPierre said the president’s two Supreme Court appointees — Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan— are “two of the most rabid anti-gun justices in history.” He also accused Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of being a foe of gun rights.

And with the possibility of two or more Supreme Court justice positions opening during the next four years, the NRA official warned that gun ownership would be in jeopardy if Mr. Obama stays in office.

“If we get one more like those three, the Second Amendment is finished,” he said. “It’ll be the end of our freedom forever.”

Mr. LaPierre, who said “there is no greater freedom than to own a firearm,” predicted that gun owners will rally en masse to defeat Mr. Obama in November.

“All of what we know is good and right about America, all of it could be lost if Barrack Obama is re-elected,” he said. “It’s all or nothing.”

SOURCE

Utah Firearms Revisions Bill Could Prevent ‘Open-Carry’ Gun Owners From Facing Criminal Charges

Utah Firearms Revisions Bill Could Prevent ‘Open-Carry’ Gun Owners From Facing Criminal Charges
S.H. Blannelberry

Last year, around this time of year, Philip W. Taylor was peacefully walking along the sidewalk adjacent to University Mall in Orem, Utah.

The 51-year-old Orem resident was carrying an assault rifle slung over his shoulder and a handgun.

Shoppers in the nearby mall called the police on Taylor. The police shortly arrived to the scene.

“Keep your hands where I can see them,” an officer shouted at Taylor.

“Utah is open carry, officer,” Taylor calmly replied.

The officer asked why Taylor was carrying a gun?

Taylor repeated his earlier reply, “Utah is open carry, officer.”

“Not open carry for an assault rifle,” the officer reprimanded.

The police swarmed in and handcuffed Taylor. After checking his firearms, they determined that they were unloaded.

And although Taylor was not breaking any laws for openly carrying his firearms (despite the officer’s claim), the police labeled his actions as reckless and he was charged with disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor.

According to Orem Police Sgt. Craig Martinez, it wasn’t the first time Taylor was stopped for lawfully carrying his firearms.

“We dealt with him in the middle of December (2010), two days back-to-back for the exact same thing, walking down the street with guns that were not loaded, and in both of those circumstances, we checked him out and let him go like we did here,” said Sgt. Craig Martinez told KSL.com.

This time the charges would stick. Taylor was convicted of disorderly conduct, fined $500 and placed on 12 months probation.

He was also ordered to seek a mental health evaluation as part of his probation, according to court documents.

Hearing of this story and others like it, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, decided to propose a bill for the 2012 Utah Legislature that would prohibit a person who is lawfully carrying a firearm in public from being charged with non-firearm related crimes such as disorderly conduct or failure to disperse (for a more detailed breakdown of what’s included, click here).

The bill is entitled H.B. 49, “Firearms Revisions,” and states “… in the absence of additional threatening behavior, the otherwise lawful possession of a firearm visible or concealed” would not constitute a violation of Utah’s various criminal provisions and statutes.

In short, if the bill is passed law enforcement can’t arbitrarily charge one with a crime for lawfully carrying a firearm – as in the case with Taylor.

According to KSL.com, “other provisions of the current HB49 say that local authorities may not enact laws that place any restriction on the lawful possession of firearms without explicitly referring to the specific state law that grants them such authority. And any law that does not meet that requirement would become void, according to the bill.”

Not everyone is on board with Rep. Ray’s “Firearms Revisions” bill.

Steven Gunn, a board member of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah, told KSL.com, “The bill appears to be an attempt to clarify ambiguities in existing Utah statutes about open-carrying firearms; however, it seems to expand the rights of gun owners to display such weapons, not merely to codify the status quo.”

Gunn added that the bill would “make it harder for private property owners, such as store and mall owners, to exclude someone from their property who is openly carrying a gun.”

“Representative Ray chooses to cater to extremists rather than those who seek public dialogue and open expression of unpopular views,” Gunn wrote in an email to KSL.com.

SOURCE

Disarmed: Veterans declared “Mentally Defective” denied Second Amendment Rights

100,000 Veterans Declared ‘Mentally Defective,” Denied Second Amendment Rights


They go off to war, fight for our country, for each other, and for the lives of foreigners they do not know. They kill the tyrants and despots who promote and sponsor terrorism. Our veterans are selfless, brave and they represent the best of a generation. So, why does the U.S. government arbitrarily strip many of them of their Second Amendment rights?

Well, one could argue that it stems from the way in which Washington views our veterans.

In 2009, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano released a memo that said, “The return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”

Napolitano later apologized for the memo, but actions speak louder than words. And in reviewing the policy the government takes toward those veterans who have been assigned a fiduciary trustee, it becomes evident that there exists, at the very least, a tinge of discriminatory behavior on behalf of Washington.

Currently any U.S. military veteran assigned a fiduciary trustee to act on his/her behalf is automatically declared “mentally defective” and is reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the database Federal Firearms Licensees use to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms and/or explosives. Anyone deemed “mentally defective” in the system will be ineligible to make a purchase.

Where the confusion lies with respect to this particular policy is that the VA review process for determining whether or not a veteran requires a fiduciary trustee is based upon an evaluation of a veteran’s ability to manage his/her personal finances, veteran’s benefits, disability compensation, pensions, etc. At no point during the fiduciary review process does the VA examiner make a judgment on whether the veteran is a danger to himself/herself and/or others.

So, in short, the policy says: if a veteran needs assistance managing his/her finances, he/she cannot own a gun. Is it fair to make this assumption?

Sen. Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Webb (D-VA) don’t think so. Together they have introduced the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, which would “clarify the conditions under which certain persons may be treated as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes.” In other words, it would require a judicial authority to determine whether veterans pose a threat to themselves or others before they can be added to the NCIS database.

“As a matter of fairness, a veteran should be permitted to purchase a firearm under the same conditions as every other American,” said Sen. Webb. “This bipartisan bill ensures consistent guidelines are used for reporting citizens to the FBI, and that no veteran is needlessly stripped of their Second Amendment rights.”

Sen. Burr added, “Taking away a Constitutional right is a serious action, and veterans should be afforded the same due process under the law as all other American citizens. This legislation would protect the rights of veterans and their families by ensuring that only a proper judicial authority is able to determine who is referred to NICS. Our veterans took an oath to uphold the Constitution and they deserve to enjoy the rights they fought so hard to protect.”

According to Sen. Burr, more than 100,000 veterans have been referred to the NICS as a result of the VA’s fiduciary trustee evaluation process. As a result, they’ve all been stripped of the right to keep and bear arms.

Again, is this fair? Or is it discriminatory/prejudicial?

Well, as it turns out, there are approximately 7.6 million Social Security beneficiaries who have been assigned fiduciary trustees. However, the Social Security Administration has not turned one name over to the NICS.

It would appear that not everyone the government assigns a fiduciary trustee is subsequently denied the right to keep and bear arms.

Hopefully, Congress recognizes this double standard and gives serious consideration to the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act

SOURCE

57 Senators Sign Letter To Protect Second Amendment Rights From UN

Senator Hatch recently released the following statement on this issue.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) joined his colleague Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and 43 other Senators in expressing grave concern about the dangers posed to Second Amendment rights by the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty. In a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the 45 senators said they would oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty that in any way restricts the rights of law-abiding American gun owners. This is enough to block the treaty from Senate passage, as treaties submitted to the U.S. Senate require approval of two-thirds of Senators present to be ratified.

“Our Second Amendment is non-negotiable,
” said Hatch. “We don’t need a bunch of bureaucrats at the United Nations dictating our liberties and freedoms. This Treaty should not be ratified and I will fight it tooth and nail.”

In the letter, the senators wrote: “As the treaty process continues, we strongly encourage your Administration to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership. These freedoms are not negotiable, and we will oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty presented to the Senate that in any way restricts the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens to manufacture, assemble, possess, transfer or purchase firearms, ammunition and related items.”

“As we have for the past 15 years, the NRA will fight to stop a United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that infringes on the Constitutional rights of American gun owners,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “This letter sends a clear message to the international bureaucrats who want to eliminate our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms. Clearly, a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty that includes civilian arms within its scope is not supported by the American people or their elected U.S. Senators. Sen. Moran is a true champion of our freedom. We are grateful for his leadership and his tenacious efforts on this issue, as well as the 44 other senators who agree with the NRA’s refusal to compromise on our constitutional freedoms.”


In October of 2009 at the U.N. General Assembly, the Obama Administration reversed the previous Administration’s position and voted for the U.S. to participate in negotiating the Arms Trade Treaty, purportedly to establish “common international standards for the import, export, and transfer of conventional arms.” Preparatory committee meetings are now underway in anticipation of a conference in 2012 to finalize the treaty. A treaty draft has not yet been produced.

The full text of the letter the Senators have signed reads:

July 22, 2011

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
2201 C St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear President Obama and Secretary Clinton:

As defenders of the right of Americans to keep and bear arms, we write to express our grave concern about the dangers posed by the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty. Our country’s sovereignty and the constitutional protection of these individual freedoms must not be infringed.

In October of 2009 at the U.N. General Assembly, your administration voted for the U.S. to participate in negotiating this treaty. Preparatory committee meetings are now underway in anticipation of a conference in 2012 to finalize the treaty. Based on the process to date, we are concerned that the Arms Trade Treaty poses dangers to rights protected under the Second Amendment for the following reasons.

First, while the 2009 resolution on the treaty acknowledged the existence of “national constitutional protections on private ownership,” it placed the existence of these protections in the context of “the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership,” implying that constitutional protections must be interpreted in the context of the broader power of the state to regulate. We are concerned both by the implications of the 2009 resolution and by the hostility to private firearms ownership manifested by similar resolutions in previous years—such as the 2008 resolution, which called for the “highest possible standards” of control.

Second, your Administration agreed to participate in the negotiation only if it “operates under the rule of consensus decision-making.” Given that the 2008 resolution on the treaty was adopted almost unanimously—with only the U.S. and Zimbabwe in opposition—it seems clear that there is a near-consensus on the requirement for the “highest possible standards,” which will inevitably put severe pressure on the United States to compromise on important issues.

Third, U.N. member states regularly argue that no treaty controlling the transfer of arms internationally can be effective without controls on transfers inside member states. Any treaty resulting from the Arms Trade Treaty process that seeks in any way to regulate the domestic manufacture, assembly, possession, transfer, or purchase of firearms, ammunition, and related items would be completely unacceptable to us.

Fourth, reports from the 2010 Preparatory Meeting make it clear that many U.N. member states aim to craft an extremely broad treaty. A declaration by Mexico and other Central and South American countries, for example, called for the treaty to cover “All types of conventional weapons (regardless of their purpose), including small arms and light weapons, ammunition, components, parts, technology and related materials.” Such a broad treaty would be completely unenforceable, and would pose dangers to all U.S. businesses and individuals involved in any aspect of the firearms industry. At the 2010 Meeting, the U.S. representative twice expressed frustration with the wide-ranging and unrealistic scope of the projected treaty. We are concerned that these cautions will not be heeded, and that the Senate will eventually be called upon to consider a treaty that is so broad it cannot effectively be subject to our advice and consent.

Fifth, and finally, the underlying philosophy of the Arms Trade Treaty is that transfers to and from governments are presumptively legal, while transfers to non-state actors (such as terrorists and criminals) are, at best, problematic. We agree that sales and transfers to criminals and terrorists are unacceptable, but we will oppose any treaty that places the burden of controlling crime and terrorism on law-abiding Americans, instead of where it belongs: on the culpable member states of the United Nations who have failed to take the necessary steps to block trafficking that is already illegal under existing laws and agreements.

As the treaty process continues, we strongly encourage your Administration to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership. These freedoms are not negotiable, and we will oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty presented to the Senate that in any way restricts the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens to manufacture, assemble, possess, transfer or purchase firearms, ammunition, and related items.

SOURCE

Open-Carry quite contrary

Open-Carry Experiment Shows Cops Don’t Know Their Own Gun Laws
By Jon Campisi

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

It was late last week when gun-rights activist Mark Fiorino joined PW for a stroll around downtown Philly. The Montgomery County man, who was featured on the cover of yesterday’s Daily News for his stance on carrying pistols openly, walks down 15th Street toward Sansom, attracting nary a look.

Eventually, one man offers a double-take. The head turn probably has something to do with the fact that Fiorino’s belt contains an openly holstered firearm alongside his cell phone and keys. After all, Fiorino’s story hadn’t yet appeared in the Daily News, so his face wasn’t yet recognizeable.

Surprisingly, that one brief stare was about the only bit of reaction Fiorino received on that particular day, a few days before the Daily News story broke. But minimal public feedback is often the norm. People typically go about their business unaware that someone like Fiorino has a gun strapped to his hip—even when it’s in full view. “For the most part, it’s either a look or a dismissal or nobody notices,” says Fiorino. And unbeknownst to many Pennsylvanians, “open carry,” or the act of carrying one’s firearm unconcealed by clothing, is actually quite legal. Even in Philadelphia, legal gun owners who have a license can wear their holstered handguns in plain sight. In the rest of the state, open carry requires no license. Still, despite the law being quite clear on the issue, open-carry advocates like Fiorino sometimes find themselves in the crosshairs of an ignorant public.

But what happens when the ignorance comes from the very people who are paid to uphold the law? For open carriers like Fiorino, it’s a problem that can have dire consequences.

Like the time he found himself with a gun pointed at his head. Back in February, when he was visiting his native Northeast Philadelphia, his gun attracted the attention of a passing city cop. After a 40-minute ordeal in which Fiorino was ordered to the ground and detained, the cops eventually cleared him for release, but not before they got in a few choice words. But it wasn’t the profanity used by the responding officers—audio from Fiorino’s recorder was posted to Youtube—that totally offended Fiorino. Rather, it was the lack of police knowledge regarding the open-carry law. “I obviously did a ton of research beforehand,” says Fiorino. Police, he says, ought to do the same.

Not that Fiorino totally faults cops for having a heightened sense of awareness. But he does take issue with the fact that officers aren’t being trained to respect law-abiding citizens. “In my experience, in the city, it’s always been negative,” Fiorino says of his interaction with Philly cops, many of whom appear unaware of the legality of open carry. “There’s always a lot of attention with the police because they know you’re armed and they automatically perceive you as a threat,” he says.

One city cop, who requested anonymity, said that he was unaware carrying a firearm openly within the city limits was legal. “To see somebody carrying a gun in full view, it’s kind of, I would say, scary in a big city,” the officer says. But as Fiorino sat on a bench at Dilworth Plaza talking about his cause, very few eyes glanced his way. Passers-by didn’t even seem to notice him—even though his gun was out in the open on his left hip. “Nobody’s screaming or running around,” Fiorino says.

Still, the officer maintains that the sight of a gun on someone without a badge could cause a problem. “When people see you doing that, people assume you’re a police officer,” the cop says, adding that even off-duty, most city cops carry concealed. “I think all guns should be concealed.

Fiorino says open carry is meant to raise awareness, to let people know that they still have rights. And in Philadelphia, they are, thanks to people like Fiorino.

“Technically, the answer is yes,” says Lt. Fran Healy, a special adviser to Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey. “You can carry openly within Philadelphia as long as you have a license.” Healy, who is also an attorney, doesn’t dispute the claim that city cops are often ignorant on the open-carry law, which has been on the books since 1995. He says it’s just never been a problem, that citizens were simply never observed carrying openly in the city. He adds that incidents such as Fiorino’s have prompted the PPD to better train its officers. The training has come in various forms, Healy says, including educating beat officers during roll call and conducting “teletype training,” which is when a sergeant receives a message from the commissioner that is passed down to his or her subordinates. “When they [officers on the street] know the law, that helps them respond better,” he says. “These [citizens] are decent people. They’re not criminals.”

But Healy certainly understands why the sight of someone openly carrying a firearm might put off some cops. “The bottom line is this: If I stop you and your behavior and conduct is such that I feel at risk … I personally may have my gun out,” he says. “That doesn’t mean I’m pointing it at your head. I don’t know who or what you are yet.”

The other factor contributing to cops’ confusion is that according to state law, a license is needed to carry openly in the city, but it’s not required in the rest of the commonwealth. Because of that, officers don’t technically have cause to detain an open carrier without reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime having been committed. But in Philly, because a license is needed, law enforcement officers contend they have authority to stop people to make sure they’re legit. Gun-rights activists take issue with this, saying probable cause is still required for a police stop. They liken it to driving: Officers aren’t legally allowed to stop everyone who is driving a car to ensure they’re licensed, unless a violation has been committed.

Healy, however, says it comes down to an “officer safety” issue, meaning if an open carrier is spotted, there might be brief police interaction. “I think the officers are well justified in Philadelphia … to do an investigation,” he says. “We just want to confirm that you’re lawful, and we’ll let you go on your way.
Add to all that the convoluted wording of the state law, which essentially makes open carry de-facto legal: “No person shall carry a firearm, rifle or shotgun at any time upon the public streets or upon any public property in a city of the first class unless:(1) such person is licensed to carry a firearm; or (2) such person is exempt from licensing under section 6106 of this title (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license). The second bullet point generally refers to law enforcement and others for whom their job requires the carrying of a gun. Because the law doesn’t explicitly say open carry is legal, some question whether it really is. State law also doesn’t make a distinction between open versus concealed carry. “By not addressing it, the Legislature has left it open,” Healy says. “The statute is vague, which leaves a little bit of a problem.”

To gun-rights advocates, the law is quite clear. After all, if there isn’t a law against something, anything, it’s legal, right? Proponents of open carry were so adamant about getting their message out that they organized a rally in Center City last weekend. One of the activists was Derek Price, who on May 14 was strolling up the steps toward City Hall wearing black pants, a blue button-down shirt, a black vest and a gun on one hip. The Harleysville resident arrived for a gathering organized by members of the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association. “Open carry, concealed carry, it’s totally up to the individual,” said Price, 38, who has been open carrying since getting his license in 2007.

Price, like the others attending the rally, aim to make open carry more visible. One woman came up to Price, asking him to point her in the direction of the Ritz Carlton. “Perception is everything,” Price said.
As more protesters arrived, it seemed as though the rally had the makings for some interesting feedback. Again, nothing. Here they were, a group of about 25 or so gun-toting average Joe’s, walking through the outdoor plaza at City Hall, and nobody seemed to notice. “We’ve been standing here, what, 20 minutes?” Price asked. “Nobody’s complained.”

Finally, Healy arrived with officers from the department’s Civil Affairs Unit, the armband-clad cops who monitor protests and labor disputes, and off the group went. During the next four hours, the gun-wearers and a handful of cops, all in plainclothes, strolled downtown Philadelphia. There were stops outside police headquarters and the District Attorney’s Office. Since federal law was recently changed to allow for firearms in gun-friendly states to be brought into national parks, the group figured it would stop by and take a photo near the Liberty Bell, too. “Exercising our Second Amendment where the Second Amendment was signed,” one member could be heard calling out.

Over the next four hours, the group walked, held signs and handed out pamphlets to members of the public. A few people cast stares. Some asked questions. None seemed worried or concerned in the least. That’s the way it should be, the open carriers contend. Even Healy seemed pleased with the results of the peaceful protest. “These interactions can be positive,” he said at the rally. “I’m looking at this as more of an educational thing on both sides.”

Ted Noga, the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association member who organized the rally, was also pleased that everything went off without a hitch that rainy Saturday. “I’m quite impressed with the response by the police department,” he said.

Lt. Lisa King, head of the department’s Gun Permits Unit, said her division is now working to amend language on a supplemental sheet accompanying the firearms license application that says a licensee must conceal. The wording on is old, she concedes. King, who attended the rally, says didn’t even know the practice was legal before it was brought to her attention.

“It’s definitely going to do something,
” says Josh Dillon, a Philly gun owner who typically carries concealed. Dillon, who carried openly on this day, says the whole aim of the event was to create awareness. Still, since he doesn’t want to be harassed, he keeps it concealed. But that’s not to say he opposes open carry. People can choose for themselves, he says.

As for Fiorino, he’s just glad the encounter in Northeast Philly sparked some awareness. “I think that if people like myself don’t get out there and do it, that often misinformation and ignorance continues to spread,” he says.


Read more: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news-and-opinion/Open-Carry-Experiment-Shows-Cops-Dont-Know-Their-Own-Gun-Laws-121989564.html?page=2&comments=1&showAll=#ixzz1MkJbCJVM