This is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal and legislative news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights. For a deeper dive into the topics discussed here, check out this week in gun rights at FPC.
State Court to Determine Whether Individuals Can Clean Guns While Having a Beer
Have you ever sat down and had a beer while you were cleaning a gun in your own home? According to
tyrants public servants in Ohio, this could constitute “using weapons while intoxicated” and should land you in jail.
After a man’s wife reported him to the police for doing the same with an unloaded shotgun, Ohio police charged him with a first degree misdemeanor. Now, the state supreme court is hearing the case, with oral arguments scheduled for 9 am next Tuesday.
There are a couple of things wrong with this statute and the way it has been applied here. First, it’s nobody’s business whether you’re intoxicated at home. If you’re not posing a risk to yourself or others, the police shouldn’t be bothering you.
The appellant for this case wasn’t pointing the barrel of his shotgun at anybody. He didn’t make any threats. Sure, he may have been slurring a bit, but the firearm was unloaded and being cleaned. This is simply a classic case of a statute written far too broadly, and I hope the court sees just how absurd it is to effectively criminalize touching a gun in the comfort of your home after having a sip.
Common-Sense Knife Control? Grocery Chain Sued for Selling Knife Used in Murder
In Florida, a 17-year old bought a steak knife from a grocery store, using it to stab someone to death later that day. A Florida law makes it illegal to sell weapons to persons under the age of 18, and lawyers representing the victim’s estate claim that the grocery store is directly responsible for the victim’s death.
While I can’t fault the attorneys for arguing zealously for their clients, it’s still important to take a moment to appreciate just how problematic this position really is.
The Florida statute for furnishing a weapon to a minor is a great example of legal interpretation gone wrong. It doesn’t define what a weapon IS, but includes “an ordinary pocket knife” as an exception. The legislature clearly weren’t thinking of kitchen utensils when they were writing the law, just as they probably didn’t picture baseball bats and lacrosse sticks either.
Broad constructions of laws are dangerous because they impute fault on people and businesses that had nothing to do with crimes that are committed, just as in the Remington Arms case. Blame for the actions of criminals should be placed squarely on the criminals responsible for the actual harm they’ve caused.
NAACP Chapter Ironically Opposes Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution
Earlier this week the Brunswick County chapter of the NAACP wrote a strongly-worded objection to the county’s recent Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution. While reading the letter, it became painfully clear that the drafters were ignorant of a number of facts.
First, despite what Moms Demand might tell you, muskets weren’t the only firearms around in the colonial era. Repeating arms have existed for centuries. In a display of casual racism, the organization said that it was okay to own firearms back then because “Indians still attacked occasionally.”
In a fit of terrible irony, the writers mentioned how laws permitted slavery while failing to consider that many colonial and early American gun control laws were used to oppress free slaves, preventing them from staging armed insurrections. And finally, toward the end of the letter, the writers use a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. (who had applied for and was denied a concealed carry permit) to urge the county commissioners to disregard their constituents’ desires, implying that a lack of gun restrictions is equivalent to a lack of freedom.
Fascinating. A simple look at the lives of Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, and other great Americans makes it clear enough that black Americans have a particularly acute need to stay armed.
Virginia Delegate is Triggered Following Failure of AWB Bill
Following a temporary yet very welcome defeat of the Virginia Democrats’ “assault weapons” ban, with credit due to VCDL and excellent grassroots activism in Virginia, Delegate Mark Levine said that he was afraid mass murder would be committed with the firearms that would’ve been subject to the ban. The weird thing is that Virginia has only had two mass shootings in the last 37 years, and neither of the perpetrators used a rifle.
But Delegate Levine doesn’t let things like the truth get in the way of policymaking. If you take a quick look at his apparently hand-coded webpage you’ll see “How the GOP Makes it Easy to Commit Mass Murder”, which is littered with legal and factual inaccuracy.
To address a few: From a legal perspective, no, you can’t just buy an item that would convert a semi automatic rifle to an automatic rifle. The ATF has been prosecuting people for purchasing automatic conversion kits.
Second, so-called “assault rifles” weren’t illegal before 2004. Owners merely had to ensure their furniture and attachments were compliant with the federal weapons ban. Third, bump-stocks were unconstitutionally banned by Donald Trump, the Republican President.
And last but not least, Levine makes the hilarious claim that the AR-15 is a descendent of Nazi technology, despite the rifle having been invented by Eugene Stoner, who I feel pretty confident was not a Nazi.
Maybe Delegate Levine’s time would be better spent requesting a refund from the Yale Law School and then perusing a history book while he waits for the next legislative session.
European Gun Laws Fail to Prevent Shooting in Germany
Gun regulation in Germany is extensive. For example, to obtain a firearms ownership license (a non-carry license), applicants must be 18 and demonstrate trustworthiness, personal adequacy, expert knowledge, and necessity. Self-defense doesn’t satisfy the necessity criteria.
Germany is also compliant with the European Firearms Directive, which limits access to a variety of firearms and firearms components. Still, despite a blanket disregard for the rights of German people, Wednesday night eight people were regrettably killed and five were injured in two shootings in Hanau.
This event is one of many pieces of evidence that demonstrate, once again, for all of us here in the US that laws cannot stop violent people. Luckily, violent crime is at an all time low here. We should be happy with that and treat people with respect and dignity. That means not criminalizing nonviolent conduct.
How Bloomberg School Researchers Manipulated Data to Impact Gun Laws
Last Wednesday, the Bloomberg School of Public Health issued a press release summarizing the results of its study on gun laws in relation to reducing the incidence of mass shootings. First, I would like to say that mass shootings are black swan events; the annual chance of being murdered in a mass shooting has been about 1 in 11.6 million from 1966 through 2019.
Because they are so rare, it is unsurprising that researchers working for a center funded by Mike Bloomberg realized they didn’t have enough data to conduct proper research. So instead of making inquiries with state police agencies to supplement the data they obtained from the FBI’s universal crime report, they resorted to using partisan research organizations like the Gun Violence Archive.
Interestingly, the researchers also noted that “assault weapon” proscriptions, when separated from “high capacity” magazine bans, have no impact on mass shootings. While all of the concerns above apply with the same force in the other direction, I’m at least somewhat pleasantly surprised they were willing to admit that lack of relationship.