Category Archives: Chris’s Blog

 

Chris’s Blog

While I do some of the writing chores, my main role is behind the scenes. In particular, look for updates about the web site here. We’ve added several new features recently and there are more to come. Please let me know what you think. You can reach us by following the Contact Us link in the menu.

This is an exciting time for The Firearms Coalition. We’re encouraged by the level of encouragement we’ve received so far. It would seem there’s a need for what we envision The Coalition to be. Help us keep it on the right track.

 

Chris Knox 


Myth and Reality

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/04/10/1845721/your-essential-guide-to-the-background-check-debate/

MYTH REALITY Real Reality
Background checks are ineffective and restrictive. Checks “would significantly restrict the rights of law-abiding Americans while doing little or nothing to protect against further gun violence.” [Sen. Mike Lee, 4/9/2013] Ninety percent of background checks can be completed in less than two minutes and the Manchin-Toomey proposal would expedite the process. Under the amendment, if a background check at a gun show does not result in a definitive response within 48 hours, the sale may proceed. After four years, the background check would be required to be conducted in 24 hours. Background checks have already contributed to violence reduction. In the 14 states and Washington D.C. that require background checks for private handgun sales (including Toomey’s home state of Pennsylvania): 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners, 17 percent fewer firearms are involved in aggravated assaults, and 48 percent less gun trafficking.
Criminals will avoid background checks. “My problem with background checks is, you’re never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks.” [Wayne LaPierre, 1/30/2013] From 1999 to 2009, 1.8 million people were blocked from purchasing guns after failing a background check because they had criminal records or suffered from mental illness. In fact, Seung Hui Cho, the shooter at Virginia Tech and Jared Loughner, who targeted Gabby Giffords, both obtained their guns legally and slipped through the cracks of the existing background check system. The Manchin-Toomey bill addresses this by encouraging states to provide their available records into the federal database and directing future grant money towards creating systems to send records into the database. The bill will also reduce federal funds to states that do not comply.
Background checks will lead to a gun registry. “The Democrats’ proposed legislation would require universal background checks for private sales between law-abiding citizens, which according to DOJ would be effective only if accompanied by a national gun registry. ” [Sen. Ted Cruz, 4/9/2013] Federally licensed gun dealers have conducted background checks for more than 40 years without ever creating a national gun registry, which federal law specifically prohibits. Under this agreement, federal dealers would conduct screenings for private sellers and keep the record; the federal government would not. When a gun is recovered at a violent crime, law enforcement can use the records to track down the perpetrator. All information identifying the buyer generated by the background check would be destroyed by law enforcement within 24 hours. The Manchin-Toomey amendment explicitly bans the federal government from creating a registry in three different places and treats the misuse of records for the pursue of creating a registry as a felony punishable by 15 years in prison.From the legislative language:

And:

Background checks wouldn’t have prevented Newtown. “The reality is, when you look at the tragedy of Newtown, nothing that’s been proposed would have any effect on that at all.” [Sen. John Boozman, 4/10/2013] As Toomey admitted during a press conference announcing the measure, background checks will not prevent every gun crime, but they can keep hundreds of thousands of people who shouldn’t have weapons from obtaining them. For instance, it’s estimated that 62 percent of private gun sellers on the Internet and 63 percent of private sellers at gun shows have agreed to sell a firearm to buyers who said they probably couldn’t pass a background check. More than 6.6 million gun sales were transferred in 2012 without a criminal background check and a survey of prisoners who committed crimes with handguns found nearly 80 percent of them acquired their firearm from a person who was not a licensed dealer.
Obama isn’t prosecuting people who fail background checks. “[T]he Obama Administration has failed to make this a priority — in 2010, out of more than 15,700 fugitives and felons who tried to illegally purchase a firearm, the Obama Justice Department prosecuted only 44.” [Sen. Ted Cruz, 3/28/2013] Federal firearm prosecutions has remained steady, varying by no more than 5 percent each year, data from the Department of Justice reveals. Republicans and the NRA specifically cherry pick prosecutions for background checks to imply that the Obama administration has stopped enforcing existing law, though it has gone after gun-related crimes at the same rate as its predecessors. Law enforcement officials often see these cases as a poor use of resources because prosecutors must prove that “the person knew they were lying when they tried to purchase the firearm” in order to secure a conviction which “usually carries a maximum sentence of just six months.”
Obama isn’t enforcing the laws on the books. “It’s not about new gun laws; it’s about enforcing the ones we have.” [Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), 4/4/2013] The laws on the books are inadequate. Criminals and mentally ill individuals can buy guns at gun shows or online and many who go through a federally licensed dealer often slip through the cracks because states are not putting records into the NICS system. In fact, following the Newtown tragedy, the NRA successfully attached riders to the resolution funding the government through September that limited enforcement tools against crooked dealers and interfered with ATF gun trace reports. That’s why the Manchin-Toomey bill expands checks and improves the existing system.
Background checks are an invasion of privacy. “You just worry that you’re going to see searches of the databases and an expansion for purposes that were not intended when the information was collected.” [ACLU, 4/4/2013] Federally licensed gun dealers have successfully performed millions of background checks without violating personal privacy and Americans disclose personal information to the DMV or the IRS and their data is successfully walled off from nefarious uses.

Gun Ban Rope-a-Dope

Feinstein Ban – Rope-A-Dope

http://www.firearmscoalition.org/

The president, in his recent “children’s hour” photo-op, proposed three major legislative measures:  1) renewal and expansion of the “assault weapons” (sic) ban, 2) limitations on magazine capacity, and 3) “universal background checks” for all gun purchases.  The first two measures were out of the chute early, being filed in different and overlapping versions by Dianne Feinstein and Frank Lautenberg.  Each is every bit as bad as anyone predicted.  In fact they are so bad that they are generating a huge amount of publicity and churning up all kinds of turmoil within the firearms community.  

While it’s gratifying to see the gun culture fired up, I can’t help but think of Ali vs. Foreman – the “Rumble in the Jungle.”  In that fight, Ali covered up and leaned into the ropes absorbing slugger Foreman’s infamous body blows.  By the fifth round, Foreman had drained his tank.  As he started slowing down, Ali whispered to him, “This ain’t no place to be gettin’ tired, George.” Ali won by a knockout in the eighth round.

Continue reading Gun Ban Rope-a-Dope

Bill Ruger’s Magazine Ban

Reprinted from Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War

Bill Ruger’s Magazine Ban

Editor’s Note:

This piece appeared in the December 1, 1989 Gun Week opposite a letter from Sturm, Ruger & Company General Counsel (later CEO) Steve Sanetti defending Ruger’s and SAAMI’s (Small Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute) support for a ban on over-fifteen-round magazines.

“After the [1989 Bush] import ban was announced,” Sanetti writes, “and after long consideration, the SAAMI member companies felt that a substitute had to be offered which respected the right of all law abiding citizens to own all firearms of their choice, yet which responded to the public outcry concerning the highly visible shootings involving dozens of shots being fired from so-called ‘assault weapons,’” Sanetti writes.

“While being aware of the SAAMI position since April,” Sanetti continues, “the anti-gun media have said virtually nothing about the SAAMI position. The plain and simple truth is that the magazine substitute hurts their goal, which is the banning of the guns themselves, so they have down played it, in fact the New York Times even called the President’s belated switch to the focus on magazine capacity as opposed to firearms themselves, ‘a victory for the NRA.’”

Neal Knox

Steve says I “know better” than to ascribe Bill Ruger’s magazine ban proposal to business considerations. Maybe so; I don’t think Bill is by any means “anti-gun,” nor do I think he really wants a ban on either guns or magazines (after all, he got his start as a machine gun designer). But I do think Bill is pushing a plan that would protect his business while affecting only his competitors, and I think he’s damaging the efforts of those of us attempting to stop all proposed bans. Further, I don’t think his actions on this issue, and other issues in the past, allows him to be described as “the strongest supporter of our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

What I know is that about 9 p.m. the night before Bill sent a letter to certain members of Congress calling for a ban on high-capacity magazines he called me, wanting me to push such a ban. His opening words, after citing the many federal, state and local bills to ban detachable magazine semi-autos, were,“I want to save our little gun”—which he later defined as the Mini-14 and the Mini-30. I’m not ascribing Bill’s motives as “expedient from a business standpoint;” Bill did.

While I agree that a ban on over-15 magazines would be “infinitely preferable” to a ban on the guns that use them, that’s not the question. Neither I nor the other gun groups have ever believed that we were faced with such an either/or choice. Early last year the NRA Legislative Policy Committee discussed various alternatives to the proposed “assault weapons” ban, and wisely decided that magazine restrictions wouldn’t satisfy our foes, but would make it more difficult to stop a gun ban.

I was particularly shocked when I realized Bill was talking about a ban on possession of over-15-round magazines, rather than a ban on sales (which would be bad enough). I told him that such a law would make me a felon, for not only did I have standard over-15 magazines for my Glock pistol (a high-capacity handgun which has sharply cut into Ruger’s police business), I have many high-cap mags for guns I don’t even own, and don’t even know where they all are. As I told Bill, after a lifetime of accumulating miscellaneous gun parts and accessories, there’s no way I could clean out all my parts drawers and boxes, then swear—subject to a five or ten-year Federal prison term—that I absolutely didn’t have a M3 grease gun mag or 30-round M2 magazine lying in some forgotten drawer.

Bill said (and all these direct quotes are approximate),“No, there’d be an amnesty for people like you. We have to propose a ban on possession before they will take us seriously.” He contended that the public’s problem was with “firepower,” which could be resolved by eliminating high-cap mags.

I told him Metzenbaum and Co. would gladly use whatever he offered, but that they weren’t about to willingly agree to eliminate high-cap magazines as a substitute for banning guns; that their intention isn’t to eliminate “firepower” but “firearms.”

Bill finally said “Neal, you’re being very negative about this.” I replied, “Bill, I feel very negative about it.” He got angry, then said, “Well somebody’s got to do it; by God I will.” And the next day he sent his letter to the hill; a few weeks later he talked SAAMI into supporting undefined “regulation” of magazines over 15 rounds—a vote that might have gone a little differently if any produced high-capacity magazines as standard for either rifles or pistols.

I suspect that Ruger and SAAMI’s actions are responsible, directly or indirectly, for the Bush Administration’s proposal to ban high-cap mags, but that proposal has been ignored—except as evidence that “the Bush Administration and the American firearms industry recognize that there’s a problem—that Americans shouldn’t be allowed to have such guns.”

Of course, that isn’t what Bill and SAAMI are saying, but that’s the message they’re sending. Perhaps it isn’t business expediency to pro- pose banning only that which they don’t make, in an effort to protect what they do make; but it sure can’t be claimed to be defense of the Second Amendment.

Editor’s Note

At the 2008 SHOT Show, half a dozen years after Bill Ruger’s death, a special-edition NRA Ruger Mini-14 appeared with a 20-round magazine as standard. It was the first time in nearly two decades that Ruger offered large-capacity magazines to the civilian market. The 20-round magazine, once marked “Law Enforcement Only” is now an option for the Mini-14.

Beware the Grandfather Clause

Our friend Jim Shults of Shults Media Relations, LLC sent the following to his email list with the request that it be circulated within the pro-rights community.  Jim is in Colorado which is may soon become the epicenter of the next fight over Second Amendment rihts.  My take is that an amendment that makes a bad bill more palatable, and thus more likely to pass, is not good for our rights.  One such “sweetener” is a “Grandfather Clause” which would exempt current owners from a ban or prohibition.  The term has no meaning in law and is simply shorthand for some exception that exempts some currently-possesed items that would be otherwise banned.  The actual wording is, as Jim points out, critical.  It may mean that the grandfathered item is exempt from the ban and can be pass on to heirs or be sold, or it could mean that it is exempt only so long as the original owner is alive and must be in effect buried with the owner. 

The idea that one generation could sign away the rights of the next generation is hateful and short-sighted anyway — not unlike passing a staggering debt on to the next generation, but that’s another topic.  Here is Jim’s release.  Read it and keep it in mind as the Gun Rights War heats up again.

Chris Knox


Continue reading Beware the Grandfather Clause

From ‘Front Sight’ — Beware the Stupid Law

Beware the Stupid Law

 

By Chris and Jeff Knox

“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble,… “the law is a ass—a idiot.”

Charles Dickens Oliver Twist

One of the gravest mistakes anyone can make in dealing with the law is to assume that the law has the slightest shred of common sense, and that the agencies enforcing the law have any interest in justice. Our writing in other publications such as Shotgun News, Jeff’s column at World Net Daily (wnd.com), and on our own web site at FirearmsCoalition.org is generally geared toward injecting some common sense into the bodies that make law and eventually into the law itself. Our focus changes a bit when we come to Front Sight. Here, rather than talking about changing legislation or legislators, we turn our focus to helping readers stay safe from both.

The law has proven that it knows little about guns, and cares less about people who use them. A malfunctioning AR15 landed David Olofson in jail. The Ruby Ridge fiasco stemmed from a shotgun barrel that was crudely cut a half-inch shorter than an arbitrary limit. The Waco conflagration started from a botched attempt to serve a warrant for a rifle that might have contained an automatic sear. The allegation has never been proven; an independent testing lab offered to examine the charred remains of the guns but the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives has so far refused to let any outside party see the evidence.

While the press gets riled up over “sawed-off shotguns” and “machine guns,” the root of the issue is a $200 tax stamp. None of the guns that triggered the subsequent incidents was used, nor expected to be used, in a crime of violence.

One recent stupidity to be exposed is the fact that under federal law, as interpreted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), millions of law-abiding gun owners could be committing a serious felony by simply possessing their guns.

ATF has refrained from pursuing prosecutions of these millions of illegal gun possessors − so far. Nonetheless, pretending that a law doesn’t exist is not a solution to the problem – especially when ATF has a history of pulling forgotten laws out of the closet when they need something to pin on someone they’ve targeted.

If you’re old enough, you might remember Steve McQueen’s TV show from the late 1950s, Wanted Dead or Alive. In that show McQueen’s character carried a chopped Winchester Model 92 lever-action rifle. That gun almost landed the show’s producer in jail and cost the studio over $1100 in special taxes. Cutting a rifle’s barrel down to less than 16” or reducing the gun’s overall length to less than 26” turned that gun into a “Short Barreled Rifle,” or SBR, subject to the taxes and rules of 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA).

If one of us were to take a Model 92 today and cut it down to 19” like McQueen’s gun, we would be subject to up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine unless we went through the process of obtaining an NFA tax stamp. If we really wanted a gun like that, it’s available for about $600 with no special restrictions. If you put the original and the replica through side-by-side comparisons and testing you would be hard pressed to find any differences at all besides some government-required import markings and a different manufacturer’s name.

The difference is that the replica was manufactured short, not cut down from a longer gun. Officially, it is a pistol and so, it does not fall under the rules of the NFA.

If you were to replace the stock on the replica with a full length shoulder stock though you would have a problem because that would move the gun’s official classification into what the NFA calls “Any Other Weapon,” making it subject to NFA taxes and regulations.

Add a longer stock to McQueen’s SBR and extend the barrel a few inches and the gun will qualify as a rifle again and you could de-list it from NFA and sell it like any other regular gun.

Here’s another example. Today’s most popular rifle is the AR platform, the civilian version of the M16. Many returning soldiers want a gun like the one they carried in combat and a few are willing to pay the extra $200 taxes to have one with a barrel less than 16” long. But the ATF has decreed that since the barrels of AR-pattern rifles are easily interchangeable, if a collector with a legal SBR possesses another receiver on which that barrel can be installed, he is in possession of multiple SBRs and is in violation of the law if he doesn’t pay the extra taxes and register each one.

So far, ATF has pressed only a few cases like this, preferring to exercise discretion and to use this aspect of the law as a lever. Frankly, that much discretionary power makes us nervous.

ATF has taken some serious punches over the past few months, as the agency has apparently been shown to be a leading supplier of the Mexican gun-smuggling trade. Wounded, the agency is liable to be dangerous. A recently leaked internal memo to “All Public Information Officers” encouraged regional offices to look for opportunities to generate positive press. “Positive press” in the ATF’s eyes, and in the eyes of the dominant media, may mean busting a “cache” of scary looking guns and “getting those guns off the street” − even if they previously resided peacefully in a gun safe. We’re not saying to hide your guns, but it might be injudicious to engage a friendly stranger at a gun show in a conversation about swapping a short barrel onto an AR15 platform rifle.

What seems like common sense we who like, own, and shoot guns may be deep, arcane knowledge to a lawmaker, judge or juror. What seems like a simple tweak to a gun using interchangeable parts might be presented by a hostile prosecutor as a dangerous modification that puts the gun under the NFA. When you tinker with your guns, be aware that anything that changes the overall length or the length of the barrel can easily lead you into dangerous legal territory. Until the law changes, that’s the world we live in.

ED Kicks in Door — Updated 9 June

Department of Ed Serves Warrant with Tactical Entry

I have been wondering how long it would take to see this story. Our friend David Codrea flagged the story over a year ago.  We wrote about it here:

The police forces are being militarized and our armed forces are deep into “nation building” and acting as local police forces.  The world is upside down.

June 9 update — Backup documentation

An Education Department press release, available here, (or from ED) mostly states what the raid was not.  Countering unspecified media reports, the press release asserts that the raid was not staged to collect a debt, and goes on to say that the Education Department’s Office of Inspector General is tasked with investigating “fraud, bribery, or embezzlement.”  The release goes on to assure the public that the OIG “always assess the risk involved” to guard the safety of the general public, looking at “a number of factors, such as the persons known to occupy or frequent the location and whether they have any criminal or violent histories.”

That’s certainly a welcome assurance, but the unnamed subject of the federal search warrant was the homeowner’s estranged wife, according to news reports, and no longer lives with the homeowner.  That fact, the homeowner’s lack of criminal record, and the presence of children in the home at the time of the raid, at least call into question how carefully those “factors” were investigated prior to serving the warrant.

The Department of Education remains mum as to the purpose of the warrant citing ongoing investigation.

Link to warrant.

Link to ED press release.

Link to Cato Center map of police raids

 

Comments for multiple rifle sales reporting re-opened

Multiple Rifle Sales Comments Re-Opened

Immediate Action Alert . . . . FirearmsCoalition.org . . . . Immediate Action Alert . . . . FirearmsCoalition.org . . . . Immediate Action Alert . . . . FirearmsCoalition.org . . . . Immediate Action Alert . . . . FirearmsCoalition.org . . . . Immediate Action Alert . . . .

Immediate Action Needed – Window Closes Tuesday!!

Copy the text of the email below or rewrite it in your own words and email it to:

oira_submission@omb.eop.gov

The comment period for the ATF’s proposed “temporary,” emergency regulation requiring firearms dealers to file reports every time someone purchases more than one semi-auto long gun was reopened, but that comment period closes this Tuesday, May 31.

During the last comment period on this gun owners were outnumbered by the prohibitionists. That should NEVER happen! We outnumber them 10 to one and our response to outrageous proposals like this should reflect that numbers advantage.

Continue reading Comments for multiple rifle sales reporting re-opened

Chris Pokes NPR

Chris Pokes at NPR’s Bias

Last month I happened to see a piece in The Hill about then-NPR CEO Vivian Schiller facing the National Press Club and asking with a straight face, “What bias?”  If you’ve been following the story, you know that Ms. Schiller’s “Moi?” was followed by the Ron Schiller (no relation), the head of fundraising, who let his mouth run about the Tea Party.  Between Ron’s up-front hatred and Vivian’s ham-fisted firing of Juan Williams, the network is now down two Schillers.  Both were encouraged to move on.  The weekly show “On the Media” followed the events up with three weeks of navel gazing (they called it soul searching, but they didn’t seem to find much).

I listen to NPR quite a bit.  I take it with a large grain of salt.  What I know that they mis-report on the gun issue leads me to question what they report on other topics, such as the economy, health care, and the federal budget.  Nonetheless, I have yet to find any radio or television coverage that provides as high a signal to noise ratio.  I have on occasion contributed to my local station, being sure to make the pledge during their music programming, and accompanying my check with a note complaining about the bias of NPR’s news coverage.

Dear OTM:

I know one area where NPR is biased. I spend a significant amount of my time thinking and writing about the positive aspects of guns. I have quite a bit of knowledge in this very narrow field (enough that I’ve been interviewed on ‘All Things Considered’), and the bias at NPR is palpable.

My bet is that Brooke, Bob, and Ira have not shot a firearm in the past year, if ever. I’ll risk stereotyping to speculate that their views, as well as the views of their friends and colleagues are probably better represented by organizations like the Violence Policy Center or the Brady Center than the National Rifle Association or some other pro-gun group.

I commend to you the work of Jonathan Haidt (http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/postpartisan.html). The issue of guns is a “tribal-moral” issue in the sense that Dr. Haidt uses it. According to that view, Brooke, Bob, and Ira are of the Northeastern Media tribe, while I am of the Southwestern Gun-Owning tribe. The Northeastern Media sometimes refers to my tribal group as “gun-toting” — any hint of bias in that language?

Not only do I hear stories that portray guns and gun owners in a negative light, I don’t hear stories that mention the positive aspects. I can’t recall any mention on NPR of successful civilian defensive uses of guns. It happens, but I’d never know it if I only listened to NPR.

I can’t recall ever hearing an NPR report on competitive shooting except maybe for a rare Olympic story. The National Matches held every summer at Camp Perry, Ohio typically draw thousands of participants, yet I’ve never heard coverage. I suspect you might cover a golf tournament of that scale.

In the narrow field of firearms, I have enough independent knowledge to know that the NPR bias exists. On other topics where I have less knowledge, I can only assume that the same bias is present.

Chris Knox

I sent a similar note directly to their letters address, but saw no response to this or that direct note.