Some repeat players this week in our gun law roundup — surprise, surprise — but there’s also some stuff you probably haven’t seen before. It’s never a sure bet whether that’s a good or bad thing, but alas…
Illinois Prints Licensees
In what Illinois lawmakers claimed was addressing the failure of the federal NICS system to stop the Aurora shooter from buying a gun, Illinois decided to increase the price of a firearms license. And also take their fingerprints.
This measure was taken because harassing poor people and forced arts & crafts exercises are sure to get Mississippi to update their conviction records. Or something.
The stated justifications for laws are drifting further and further from their operation. There is no way the Illinois gun owner card will have any impact a NICS check.
NYC Tries to slip out of SCOTUS
As we’ve discussed before, New York City is the defendant in the most important Second Amendment case of the decade, and they want out. The city was in the news this week, advancing through their blatant attempt to give the Supreme Court’s less stalwart justices a way out of deciding their case.
Ironically, New York City’s actions here are similar to those taken by the NRA before Heller was decided in 2008. As that case headed for the Supreme Court, the NRA lobbied heavily for DC to repeal their handgun ban. This would have rendered the Heller case moot.
The NRA eventually relented under pressure from pro-gun litigators, but New York City doesn’t have that kind of pressure to stop here. Still, the optics of New York’s attempted exit are bad enough that it’s unlikely to moot the case.
The only concern this move has is whether it will empower the incremental “law-and-order” Chief Justice Roberts to force his pro-gun colleagues into a narrower ruling.
Obama Says It’s Too Easy to get a Machinegun
While participating in VTEX Day in Sau Paulo, former president Barack Obama went on a tirade about American gun law. He said your typical host of how anybody “can buy any weapon, anytime…without much if any regulation.” What was most interesting, though, was his assertion that it is easy to buy machineguns in the US. This is laughable. Yes, civilians can own machineguns in the US. As for how easy it is, ask someone who had to drop eleven grand on a piece of full-auto plumbing, then wade through nine months worth of bureaucracy how easy it was. (Spoiler: it’s not.)
NJ Ammo Control
A small contingent of new bills were unveiled in the already nightmarishly anti-gun state of New Jersey. They include one banning already-illegal straw purchases as well as the possession of an unserialized firearm. Another one requires gun safety training every four years to keep a gun license, and one requiring ammunition sellers to track sales of “handgun ammunition” and report them to State Police.
This push comes after NJ Dems struggled for years to pass new laws under Chris Christie, but the new Gov. Phil Murphy wants to make NJ a “national leader” on gun control. Whatever that means.
Salesforce Shows its Guns
This week Salesforce, a monolithic e-commerce provider instituted a new policy which prevents any of their customers from using their technology to sell semiautomatic weapons or accessories. Salesforce helps website run shops, maintain info on customers, and other things. It’s a prolific producer, operating out of a branded skyscraper in California.
The company is not concerned with the “small number of existing customers” they will lose, according to company spokeswoman. To be frank, this type of corporate cultural “wokeness” might give rise to stakeholder lawsuits – especially when the policy, as here, serves no business purpose and has a guaranteed negative impact on revenue.
Washington State’s Novel Suicide Prevention Strategy
Washington State this week made some rumblings after implementing a gun suicide prevention system championed by Alabama Law professor Frederick Vars. I first learned of Vars’ idea for a voluntary “no-sell” list years ago when I was his student. He now, as he did then, presents the idea as a voluntary way to keep people at risk of suicide from purchasing a gun to end their lives.
One thing is unquestionably true: guns make suicide attempts more lethal. But mental health issues are stigmatized enough in our society as it is, that revoking civil rights for people struggling with depression would only worsen the stigma and make people less likely to seek needed help.
To Vars “it’s about respecting the autonomy of people even though they may have mental illness, they’re still independent agents and ought to be able to control their own destiny.” That’s where Vars’ idea has merit: it’s predicated on a private, revocable, individual choice to be put on a “no buy” list.
The only downsides to this problem, of course, would be if records were allowed to creep into other uses. For now, the model law requires the destruction of all records of the person’s gun rights waiver upon request.
As long as that stays in effect, or is even strengthened (perhaps be requiring the records be eliminated within 24 hours, and allowing a civil cause of auction should the records not be destroyed), there is truly little risk to the law. That said, it remains to be seen whether enough people use the program to justify the cost of implementation.
Texas safe storage campaign
On Monday, Texas lawmakers approved a massive spending bill, within which $1 million was injected to fund a “public safety campaign on gun storage.” The information campaign is a tiny drop in the $250 billion state budget, and likely a large nothing-burger with cheese. Governor Abbott can use his line item veto to zero it out if he so chooses.