ACSL Archives 2018
PLEASE NOTE: We have tried to maintain links where possible,but due to the archival nature of these articles,some links may have changed or be otherwise unavailable.
U.S. House Passes NRA-Backed Bill to Protect Second Amendment Rights of America’s Veterans
On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1181, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, sponsored by Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate.
H.R. 1181 in many respects mirrors a recently enacted resolution to repeal an Obama-era Social Security Administration (SSA) rule that sought to deprive certain SSA beneficiaries of their Second Amendment rights.
A federal statute prohibits firearm acquisition or possession by anyone who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective.” The statute, however, does not define the meaning of this term.
Like the SSA, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) interprets the phrase very broadly. It considers any VA beneficiary who is declared “incompetent” to manage his or her benefits and assigned a fiduciary for assistance to be a prohibited “mental defective.”
This is even broader and more arbitrary than the invalidated SSA rule. That rule at least excluded beneficiaries who were minors or of retirement age and applied only where the underlying condition that qualified the person for Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income was itself a mental condition.
The VA’s practice, however, has no such limitations. It applies to all beneficiaries receiving benefits for any reason who are assigned a fiduciary. The VA’s position is that an admission or finding that a fiduciary is needed is tantamount to an “adjudication” that a person “lacks the mental capacity” to “manage his own affairs.”
But in most cases, these decisions are summary bureaucratic actions. They very rarely involve a hearing, much less lawyers or judges. So calling them an “adjudication” is inaccurate.
It’s also false to claim that needing help with finances is the sort of “mental defectiveness” Congress intended would prevent a person from being eligible to exercise his or her Second Amendment rights.
Mental health experts warn that there is no connection between financial acumen and a person’s ability safely and responsibly to handle a firearm. That point was made again and again in the context of the debate on the SSA bill.
Thus, the same arguments against the SSA rule apply just as strongly, if not more so, against the VA’s regime.
In other words, the VA’s regime is unconstitutional; inconsistent with the underlying statute; unsupported by science or empirical evidence establishing any link between financial acumen and the ability to safely and responsibly handle firearms; and harmfully stigmatizing. It also serves as a deterrent for vulnerable people who need help and benefits from seeking them.
In addition to all that, it presents the bitter irony of being targeted directly at the very people who bore the cost for the freedoms that all Americans enjoy.
The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act would correct these deficiencies by ensuring that no beneficiary could be reported to NICS as a prohibited “mental defective” unless a judicial authority (such as a judge or magistrate) first determined the person to be a danger to self or others.
That leaves options in the case of a person experiencing an acute episode of dangerous mental illness, while also ensuring that veterans are not arbitrarily denied their rights without due process of law.
Meanwhile, the media is whipping up the usual frenzy about Congress “giving guns” to the “mentally ill.”
Even the self-styed legal experts from The View got in on the act, going so far as to encourage their viewers to contact their congressional representatives to object. Their comments on the bill and its effects, unsurprisingly, were rife with misunderstanding and misinformation.
Due process, as well as Second Amendment rights, are fundamental liberties that all Americans enjoy. They are exactly the sorts of rights for which America’s veterans have sacrificed so much. The fact that the VA would infringe them in this manner is a national disgrace and one that is long past due for correction.
The NRA thanks Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), as well as Chairman Roe, for their leadership in this critical effort.
The U.S. Senate should swiftly follow their lead and send the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act to President Trump’s desk.
Source: NRA / ILA
Pro-gun Bills Introduced to Reform FOPA, Protect Interstate Transport of Firearms for Lawful Use
Pro-gun members of Congress have introduced legislation to protect travelers who are transporting firearms interstate for lawful purposes.
The first such bill was H.R. 358, filed by Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and 38 cosponsors in February. Joining him this week was Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who introduced S.618 on Tuesday.
Unlike pending national reciprocity bills, this legislation deals specifically with transporting unloaded firearms, rather than for carry on one’s person en route.
Both bills would reform important provisions of the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) intended to protect the right of law-abiding gun owners to transport firearms throughout our nation. Yet in the years since its enactment, this law has too often been ignored by anti-gun local officials and effectively gutted by the courts. H.R. 358 and S. 618 would rewrite the law to implement the outcome Congress intended when it was passed more than 25 years ago.
FOPA’s safe transport provisions (codified at 18 U.S.C. ﾧ 926A) guarantee the right of a law-abiding person to transport an unloaded firearm between two locations where he or she may legally possess it, regardless of state or local laws along the route of travel that would otherwise prohibit such conduct. Under the current law, the gun must be cased or otherwise not readily accessible.
Most states have never had a problem with this law. However, both before and after enactment of FOPA, gun owners have had serious problems lawfully traveling in two states in particular: New York (especially New York City) and New Jersey. Rather than recognize Congressional intent to protect the rights of Americans traveling with legally owned firearms, these jurisdictions have used overly restrictive state licensing laws to harass and persecute nonresident gun owners.
In 2004, the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) arrested John Torraco at LaGuardia Airport for illegal possession of a firearm. Torraco, an attorney and law professor from Florida, had properly stored his legally owned, unloaded handgun in his checked luggage. However, when he declared the firearm to the counter agent (as required by federal law) he was arrested and charged for possessing the handgun without a New York handgun license.
In 2005, William Winstanley, a New York State resident, was detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport when he attempted to check a handgun in his luggage, again in compliance with the requirements of § 926A. Winstanley was not arrested, but his travel was delayed for several days while he proved that he was in compliance with federal law.
In 2005, Greg Revell, a Utah resident, was flying through Newark Liberty International Airport to his final destination in Pennsylvania. However, his flight into New Jersey was late, which caused him to miss his connecting flight. Revell was forced to collect his baggage and spend the night in a Newark hotel. When he attempted to recheck his baggage the following morning, he declared his unloaded handgun to the counter agent. PAPD officers arrested Revell for illegal possession of a handgun and ammunition under New Jersey law. Revell spent three days in jail before he was able to make bail.
Each of these gun owners filed a civil rights suit in federal court to vindicate their rights under FOPA. In each case, however, the courts interpreted the law to deprive travelers who comply with its provisions of any effective remedy after they’ve been arrested or detained by police for violation of state or local law.
Since that time, many other cases have resulted in guilty pleas to reduced charges, civil penalties, seized firearms, and delayed travel in situations where FOPA should have provided protection.
While cases of inappropriate arrest or detention are most common at the New York City airports, they are not limited to those locations. In Albany, NY, detention of gun owners and confiscation of firearms have been reported by persons traveling in full compliance with § 926A. The NRA has been forced to repeatedly warn gun owners that they should avoid using New York or New Jersey airports when traveling with firearms.
To correct this situation, the pending bills would:
Expand the protections afforded travelers to include “staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, and any other activity incidental” to the trip.
Put the burden of proof clearly on the state to show that a traveler did not meet the requirements of § 926A, rather than allow travelers to be arrested on local charges and forced to raise § 926A before a judge as an “affirmative defense.”
Make clear that transportation of firearms, their magazines, and ammunition is federally protected.
Make clear that violation of the right to transport firearms is judicially enforceable as a federal civil right, with attorney’s fees available to victorious plaintiffs in civil suits, as well as to defendants who prevail in criminal cases after raising a FOPA defense.
The NRA thanks Rep. Griffith and Sen. Hatch for their leadership in this vitally important effort and urges their respective chambers to take up the bills as soon as possible.
A constitutional “right” to arms that can be vetoed at every state, county, or municipal border is no right at all.
Source: NRA / ILA
Patients in Pennsylvania must choose: Medical marijuana or gun ownership
PHILADELPHIA — The town drunk can buy firearms. So can someone who has been involuntarily placed in a mental hospital for a short stay. But anyone who wants to treat Crohn’s disease with medical marijuana is forbidden from owning a gun.
Pennsylvania is preparing to roll out a statewide program early this year that will provide medicinal cannabis products to patients suffering from 17 serious health conditions. But some sick people will have to make a difficult decision: Is taking the medicine worth surrendering what gun-owning advocates see as an enshrined constitutional right?
“It’s hypocritical,” said lawyer Andrew Sacks, the co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Medical Marijuana and Hemp Law Committee.
“You can be an opioid addict, or buy a bottle of rum, drink it and go to a store and buy one,” Mr. Sacks said. “But a person who is registered as a medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania, and has a very small dosage of THC, can’t own a gun to protect themselves or hunt.”
A state police spokesman strongly suggested that patients also consider the consequences of holding on to any guns bought before enrolling in the medical marijuana program .
“It’s unlawful to keep possession of firearms obtained prior to registering,” said Ryan Tarkowski, a state police spokesman. “The Pennsylvania State Police is not in the business of offering legal advice, but it might be a good idea to contact an attorney about how best to dispose of their firearms.”
Twenty-nine states have legalized marijuana in some form.
But under federal law, all forms of marijuana remain strictly forbidden. The Drug Enforcement Administration considers it a Schedule 1 drug, on par with heroin and LSD, with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regulates the sale and ownership of guns and ammunition across the nation. ATF spokeswoman Cherie R. Duvall-Jones said any use of marijuana is a disqualifier.
“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law,” Ms. Duvall-Jones said.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2016 that the federal prohibition does not violate the Second Amendment.
The National Rifle Association has remained silent on the issue. A spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Gun dealers were sent an ATF bulletin in 2016 that left no room for loopholes. A dealer who even suspects that a customer may be using cannabis is obliged to stop a sale, Ms. Duvall-Jones said. Federal regulations bar firearms ownership to anyone who illegally uses a controlled substance or might be addicted to any drug.
Alcohol is not considered a controlled substance, Ms. Duvall-Jones said. “Therefore, a person who is addicted to distilled spirits, wine or malt beverages would not be prohibited” under the law, she said.
A federal judge in Pittsburgh ruled last month that the government could not restrict the gun ownership rights of a man who had been involuntarily placed in a psychiatric hospital.
In Pennsylvania, firearms dealers must conduct a background check on each customer. A registry, administered by the state police, identifies medical marijuana patients.
“If you’re a card holder, you’ll be flagged,” said Mr. Tarkowski, the state police spokesman.
But even before the background check is run, all customers must fill out a Form 4473, a firearms transaction record required by the U.S. Department of Justice.
One yes/no question asks:
Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance? Warning: the use of possession marijuana remains unlawful under federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.
“It’s game over if you check ‘yes,’ ” said Jim Benoit, owner of Cajun Arms in West Chester, Pa. “I can thank you for coming by, but I’ll have to tell you I can’t sell you this gun.”
Patients also may be required to surrender guns and ammo bought before joining the marijuana program, whether they are using the medicine or not. Police in Honolulu fired off letters last month to patients ordering them to turn in their weapons. The following outcry had the department put the order on hold two days later. No other jurisdiction has made a similar request.
The issue has been a hot-button topic in New England states that have legalized marijuana, said Becky Dansky, legislative counsel of the national Marijuana Policy Project, which opposes prohibitions.
“The compromise most of those states are reaching is ‘no new guns for patients,’ but they’re not tracking down guns and asking them to be surrendered,” Ms. Dansky said.
Source: Sam Wood
Dec 31, 2017
They’re going to need more prisons
By Bob Livingston
Two bills introduced in the House of Representatives are going to, if passed, necessitate the building of more and bigger prisons because they will automatically make criminals out of millions of Americans.
The bills are H.R. 3999 (aka bump stock ban) and H.R. 4052 (aka large capacity magazine ban). Both are kneejerk reactions to the Las Vegas music festival shooting that is purported to have left 58 dead and more than 500 injured.
I warned you last week that more and stronger attempts to steal your guns were coming and explained “Why governments want gun control.” Of course it’s not to “keep you safe,” as politicians always claim. It is to turn you into slaves. Politicians believe that only the state has a monopoly on legitimate violence.
H.R. 3999 was introduced by Florida Republican Carlos Curbelo and he has lined up nine Republican co-sponsors and 10 Democrat co-sponsors.
“For the first time in decades, there is growing bipartisan consensus for sensible gun policy, a polarizing issue that has deeply divided Republicans and Democrats,” Curbelo said. “This common-sense legislation will ban devices that blatantly circumvent already existing law without restricting Second Amendment rights. I’m proud to join Representative Moulton to lead our colleagues in this important first step to address gun violence in our country and show that Congress is capable of working constructively in a bipartisan way to make Americans safer.”
Anytime a politician tells you that legislation is “common-sense” you need to hold onto your butt. You know that what he’s doing is knocking one more liberty brick from the foundation.
The legislation is typically vaguely worded and seeks to ban “the manufacture, possession, or transfer of any part or combination of parts that is designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but does not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun.”
This broad language would criminalize basic parts of the trigger mechanism for every semiautomatic rifle, as the sole purpose of those parts is to “increase the rate of fire” of the rifle. And everyone with a trigger finger would likewise become criminals, as these guns will fire as fast as the finger will work and the more training one has the more rapidly he is able to shoot. And “bump fire” is an achievable technique through practice without the aid of a bump stock, and even such mundane things as rubber bands and belt loops can be employed to increase the rate of fire.
Among the devices that would be banned are those used by competitive shooters like lighter pull triggers, hammer drops and polished bolts.
After initially ceding ground on bump stocks and saying that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should revisit the legality of them, the NRA has backtracked somewhat and opposes this bill – likely because of pressure from its members who see it as capitulation and surrender to the gun grabbers. Gun Owners of America vehemently opposed a bump stock ban by any means, rightfully seeing it as an easy win and unnecessary capitulation to the anti-gun crowd.
H.R. 4052 bans the transfer or possession of “large capacity ammunition feeding devices.” These devices are defined as “a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”
While it grandfathers in large capacity magazines purchased before the bill becomes law, it makes it a criminal offense to transfer that device to anyone, making it impossible for anyone to dispose of them if they wanted to.
Both bills carry penalties of 10 years in prison and fines.
There aren’t enough prisons in the world to hold the people who suddenly become criminals at the stroke of a pen.
Authoritarianism or criminal government can never feel secure from fear as long as millions of people own guns. Likewise, when the people have no arms, they have no security and no hope of security.
Disarmament first comes by words and psychological warfare. Hence the attack on guns whenever people are weakened by mass murder events.
Winner of Pennsylvania elk tag raffle takes 850-pound 8×10 bull
Delbert Somerville was selected from 10,587 tickets sold in the Keystone Elk Country Alliance elk tag raffle drawing Aug. 20, at the Elk Country Visitor Center here.
On Sept. 28, the Bernville man harvested an 8×10 bull that weighed an estimated 850 pounds. The rut was in full swing that morning, and Somerville passed on six before settling on his trophy, which will score over 400 on the Boone and Crockett scale.
“When I shot the bull that afternoon, he went down on his front end and flipped completely head over heels,” Somerville said. “With all that weight on the huge antlers, one brow point was broken. We found the point with no problem.”
The hunt he won from the Keystone Elk Country Alliance – which included guides, taxidermy services and the effort being videoed – was a fabulous adventure, according to Somerville.
“It was unbelievable non-stop bugling – I have never seen anything like this ever in my life,” he said.
“I was just taking it all in and working closely with my guide. I could have harvested any number of bulls, but he said to pass, so I did. Can’t tell you how hard that was!
“We were in the middle of the herd on public Pennsylvania state forest land. It was a fantastic experience.”
The alliance’s elk tag raffle provides a unique opportunity for one hunter to harvest a mature bull elk in Pennsylvania, but everyone who purchased a ticket is a true conservationist and a winner, noted Rawley Cogan, president and CEO of the organization.
“We sincerely thank everyone who purchased a ticket for their support of this unique raffle,” he said. “Pennsylvania’s elk herd and its habitat are the beneficiaries.”
The alliance’s 2017 KECA elk tag raffle generated $195,350 in gross tickets sales. Elk tag raffle proceeds from past years were used to complete the first two phases of an outdoor classroom at the Elk Country Visitor Center, which offers educational programs for thousands of students and guests.
Money from the raffles also fund habitat improvement projects totaling hundreds of acres and a permanent land protection project. The alliance, a nonprofit organization, completed its first permanent land-protection project last year.
It acquired a 9-acre tract adjacent to the Elk Country Visitor Center, which consists of white pine and hemlock with mixed oak and hickory overstory. The property has two small streams that merge on the property and flow into Bennett’s Branch of the Susquehanna River.
The water is clean and runs year-round. No mining or acid-mine drainage has occurred on the property.
Source: Keystone Elk Country Alliance
Get Them Out of Their Chairs, They’ll Learn More
“So, who’s teaching the hunter education class this weekend?” Standing near the counter in a neighborhood tire shop, I wasn’t expecting the question and I didn’t recognize the guy who asked it. But, since I am a hunter education instructor, I knew the fellow probably had a son or daughter who had recently gone through one of the classes I helped teach. I told him I wasn’t aware of any classes being offered. And then he proceeded to tell me something that really made me feel good.
Source: BY Curt Miller
DEP Spotlights Clean Local Water Actions in Educational Exhibit, Activities at Pennsylvania Farm Show
The Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP’s) exhibit at the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show focuses on steps that farms, towns, industry, and residents can take to help clean up local streams and rivers. The exhibit is in the Main Hall of the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center from January 6 to 13.
“Although Pennsylvania is making some progress in cleaning up the thousands of pollution-impaired rivers and streams in the commonwealth, much work remains to be done,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “All individuals and organizations are part of the solution to help reduce sediment, nutrients, and chemicals in our local waters.”
The exhibit, created by the DEP Environmental Education Center, includes a beanbag toss game for kids and panels presenting simple steps that can help clean up water at home, on the farm, at work, and in communities.
Four clean water success stories are highlighted:
Mark and Beth Steck, who earned a 2017 Clean Water Farm Award for sediment and nutrient reduction measures at their Green Valley Farm in Franklin County;
Mack Trucks Remanufacturing Center, Middletown, Dauphin County, for stormwater pollution reduction on plant grounds;
Lemoyne Borough, Cumberland County, for their numerous rain gardens and other stormwater management measures; and
John and Barbara Schleicher, who use rain barrels at their home in York County.
One panel addresses the special challenge of cleaning up local water in Pennsylvania’s 43 counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The exhibit was created with funding support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Farm Show runs January 6 to 13, starting at 8:00 AM daily. Admission is free and parking is $15.
The following is a list of DEP public activities:
8:00 AM-close, Clean Local Waters in Pennsylvania, DEP Exhibit (Booth 705, near butter sculpture), Main Hall: Interactive educational exhibit with beanbag toss game.
Sunday, January 7
7:00 PM, Bunny Hop, Small/Sale Arena: Secretary McDonnell participates in the Celebrity Rabbit Hopping Contest.
Tuesday, January 9
3:30–4:00 PM, Tips to Be Stormwater Smart, Lancaster Farming/Ag 101 Stage, Expo Hall: Environmental Education Director Bert Myers demonstrates actions anyone can take to reduce or reuse stormwater runoff from their roof, driveway, and street and help clean up nearby streams.
Wednesday, January 10: Public Officials Day
8:30–9:00 AM, Secretary McDonnell Media Availability, DEP Exhibit (Booth 705), Main Hall.
11:00 AM, Secretary McDonnell’s participation in Public Officials Luncheon, Expo Hall.
Friday, January 12: Resource Conservation Day
11:30–noon and 2:30–3:00 PM, Agricultural Plan Reimbursement Program, Lancaster Farming/Ag 101 Stage, Expo Hall: TeamAg shows how farmers in Pennsylvania’s 43 counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed can get reimbursed for the cost of developing manure and/or nutrient management plans.
Source: The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)