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This is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal and legislative news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights. 

New Research on Red Flag Laws

It can be hard to keep track of what’s what in the gun debate. With so many old, new, and varied “solutions” being proposed, it’s hard to stay in the loop. That’s why Firearms Policy Coalition has started putting out publications on all the major issues in the debate today. The first two, a bulletin on “red flag laws,” and a memo on the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, dropped in the last week.

If you’re looking for more information on the facts, history, and reality of these proposals, definitely check them out. Keep an eye on their policy page, as more are being released constantly.

Trump suppressor silencer atf
(Evan Vucci/AP)

More Noise Around the White House

We’ve seen a lot of headlines revolving around the White House, and it’s… weird. There was a big rumble, with little information, as it was reported the DOJ sent a list of recommendations to the President on “gun legislation.” The President then came out, voicing support for the death penalty for those convicted of mass shootings, cracking down on “straw purchases,” and expanding the number of records the background check system can access.

The death penalty fixation is the most curious thing here. For one, it’s not typically a federal issue. Each state has its own definition of murder, and while they are generally getting at the same things, it is the state’s purview to protect and police its residents, hence why there is no federal common law.

It’s also kind of pointless. People who commit a mass murder are not likely to be swayed by additional punishments. It’s not like someone gearing up to murder as many people as possible thinks they are going to get off with a slap on the wrist. They accept death as a likely outcome.

If someone is corrupt enough to murder innocent people, there just isn’t much likelihood tacking the possibility of the death penalty on to 20 consecutive life sentences is going to make any difference.

As for “cracking down” on “straw purchases,” I give that proposal a distinct “meh.” An illegal “straw purchase” is when someone buys a firearm for someone else, who the buyer knows is not legally eligible to own a firearm. The penalty here is already huge–carrying the threat of many years in prison for the original buyer.

It’s just hard to imagine a mechanism to “crack down” on straw purchases that doesn’t create more problems than it solves. This type of activity is necessarily secretive, and thus hard to detect. What would it take for enforcement of these purchases to be effective? Probably wholesale domestic surveillance.

That seems like a bad tool to hand a government that’s proven itself less than competent with the equipment it already has. “No-knock” raids and militarized police claim too many innocent people as it is. Let’s not let loose the dogs of war in search of text messages about firearm sales.

Think my concerns are ill-founded? That’s fine. Just remember that the administration already floated the idea of linking databases to electronic assistants like Amazon Echo, and others, with the intent of finding people to deem ineligible to own a firearm.

As for expanding the reach of NICS, the system is horrendously prone to false positives as it is. The focus should be on fixing the system, and the first focus should be on helping those Americans whose rights were erroneously denied, rather than expanding the system for some cheap political capital.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez AOC
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Crenshaw v. AOC On Loaning Guns

A Twitter feud broke out this week and showed us two things: 1) gun control advocates have literally no grasp on how their beloved policies actually work, and 2) twitter is still the worst thing on the internet. In response to universal background checks, Dan Crenshaw rightly tweeted that the law would make simple commonplace loans of a firearm to friends illegal. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez snapped back, asking why Dan Crenshaw was “loaning guns to people who couldn’t pass a background check.”

AOC obviously here thought that Crenshaw was talking about transferring firearms to prohibited persons. Despite her backpedaling, the fact that her original reply to Crenshaw included “The people you’re giving a gun to have likely abused their spouse or have a violent criminal record” shows that she could not conceive of a person privately transferring a gun to a law-abiding person.

What’s lost on AOC here is the effects a universal background check would have on regular people. Her thought process was probably that, clearly, if the other person could pass a background check, why not just get one done?

Well, the fact that the circumstances leading to you having to lend someone a gun can arise at night, weekends, or in the midst of a catastrophe are one thing. When, as Crenshaw pointed out, a loved one’s ex makes a credible threat in the dead of the night, should the right answer be to wait until normal business hours, drive to a gun shop, and pay a transfer fee (both ways) before helping that person?

If there’s one thing all this debate says about our society, it’s how far we’ve come. Truly, the fact that so many people cannot conceive of a situation where their life might be in danger means we live in a profoundly comfortable world. The only issue, though, is that the comfort AOC and other elites feel is not the reality for many Americans, who face a credible threat of unlawful force every day.

Big Brother technology eye

The Feds Ask Apple and Google to Hand Over Your Info, Because Someone Didn’t Pay Them

The feds are asking major tech companies to hand over data on anyone who downloaded a certain scope app, in search of people who exported the scopes without registering under ITAR. This is a preposterous, insane overreach on the part of the government. ITAR is a cold war era law that tightly controls the export of “significant military equipment,” which is defined to include just about anything and everything. It’s one of the most onerous export frameworks in the world, which is more than a little ironic.

If the order is granted, let’s hope Apple and Google stand up to big brother, as demanding the information of “everyone” who downloaded an app is far from “particularized” to prosecuting an ITAR case.

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  1. “The feds are asking major tech companies to hand over data on anyone who downloaded a certain scope app, in search of people who exported the scopes without registering under ITAR.”

    I have five bucks that says Apple coughs that data up right quick now.

    Because, (of course!), *guns*…

  2. Looks like Pelosi found her replacement in AOC. Look forward to many years of entertainment from her. Hope she and “the squad” stay in the democratic party for +20 years.

  3. An illegal “straw purchase” is when someone buys a firearm for someone else, who the buyer knows is not legally eligible to own a firearm.

    INCORRECT!!! Our federal government considers you a straw purchaser if you purchase a firearm on behalf of someone else who will reimburse you for the purchase. Whether or not that “someone else” is able to purchase and possess firearms legally is irrelevant.

    Your only two legal options (as far as our federal government is concerned) when you purchase a firearm are:
    (1) you purchase a firearm for yourself
    — or —
    (2) you purchase a firearm as a GIFT for someone else
    … and that “someone else” must not be a “prohibited person” with a criminal record which prohibits him/her from legally purchasing or possessing firearms.

    Yes, you read that correctly. Fedzilla prosecuted former police officer Bruce Abrmaski Jr. for purchasing a handgun for his uncle who was/is legally able to purchase and possess firearms. Mr. Abramski purchased the handgun from a federal firearms licensee and then transferred the firearm to his uncle in another state through a federal firearms licensee in his uncle’s state. The whole thing would have been legal if Mr. Abramski had purchased and transferred the handgun as a gift. But, because his uncle paid Mr. Abramski for the handgun, fedzilla said it was a “straw purchase” and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

    Note: you can legally purchase a firearm and then sell it to someone some time later if you decide that you no longer want that firearm. Whether or not fedzilla would consider that a “straw purchase” probably depends on how much time elapses between the time that you purchase it and sell it, as well as the exact purchase price and sale price. If you purchase a firearm for $425 and then sell it to someone one week later for $425, fedzilla will probably view that as a straw purchase. If you purchase a firearm for $425 and then sell it to someone a year later for $397, fedzilla will probably not view that as a straw purchase.

    Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and the above is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney to clarify any questions or concerns you have about firearm laws.

    • No, the stated definition is correct. The Abramski case is a disgusting example of judicial overreach that has established case law as saying your definition is now correct, even though it is not codified. We are now at a point where someone can be prosecuted for following the law as written and intended.

  4. And yet the feds rarely prosecute staw purchasers unless it serves some propaganda purpose.

    I have read that more than 15000 purchases every year are denied because the buyer is a prohibited person and yet…….prosecutions are almost ZERO……..but you and I are the problem.

    It’s almost like .gov wants to keep the issue available to use against the law abiding.

  5. How is it “pointless” to have a federal death penalty for mass murderers?!? More than one killer meekly surrendered after doing the deed(Joker in Colorado,recent pos in El Paso, Cruz in Floriduh,black church murderer). Swift and sure justice should prevail-a painful terrifying death is appropriate. Not a cozy cell…

    • I think it’s rational to harbor doubts about the effectiveness of deterrence of laws in various contexts. Those of us who are relatively scrupulous about abiding by the law are relatively easy to deter. But, then again, we don’t have a high propensity to commit common-law crimes. Ann Coulter once illustrated this with the example (I paraphrase): ‘The death penalty deters homicide. If it didn’t I’d strangle Michel Moore to death.’ (Forgive me if I don’t have this quote correct.)

      Conversely, deterrence doesn’t work very well on those who have a high propensity to commit common-law crimes. Nor is it effective with persons suffering from certain severe mental disorders.

      A context in which to evaluate deterrence is the NFA’34. How well has deterrence worked with unregistered: machine guns; SBSs; SBRs; silencers; AOWs; or Destructive Devices?

      Conventional wisdom is that there are relatively few unregistered machine guns. Probably plenty of SBSs (that cause no one any trouble); few SBRs; few silencers (that cause no trouble). Anyone heard of an AOW prosecution? Destructive Devices?

      Do we really think the 10 year prison sentence deters makers of DDs for the purpose of committing a common law crime? What is the operating mental process? How about a machine gun? Why should a criminal risk a 10 year sentence on top of the sentence for robbing an armored car? Can’t he overcome the drivers with any other weapon types? Are these cases all the same? Or, are there differences?

      Someone crazy enough – committed enough – enraged enough – to perpetrate a mass killing strikes me as immune to deterrence effects irrespective of his plan to die at the scene or survive.

      • probably a lot of illegally converted semi’s out there…in the past it was very easy to do…the trick is staying out of trouble and doing nothing to draw attention to yourself

  6. Everyone seems to fundamentally misunderstand the point of laws. There is nothing on this earth that can prevent harm–whether physical, mental, or financial–from being perpetrated by purveyors of evil. The law is there to remove those who do so from society, in order to prevent them from doing it again. There should be no reason anyone is ever released from jail. This bears re-evaluating why jails even exist. There are other ways to remove someone from society. To qualify, there is no reason a person who is not a danger to society should ever be placed in jail. A penalty, in the form of financial compensation or forced labor (if unable to pay) in benefit of the victim, should be used instead. The criminal mind does not consider consequences, or does not believe they will be subject to them. The whole idea of deterrence is ludicrous. The only “deterrence” is your using your ability to deter them with lethal force.

  7. Come on! Its all about “Authoritarianism!”
    Can’t anyone see that…! Stop pander to people who DON’T care! Who AREN’T interested whether of NOT THEY trampled upon YOUR freedoms or liberties! Can’t anyone see where this is going!? This used to be America! Geting very close to become the old Soviet Union! Fight the Future! Stop whining and capitulating!

  8. quote——————-Well, the fact that the circumstances leading to you having to lend someone a gun can arise at night, weekends, or in the midst of a catastrophe are one thing. When, as Crenshaw pointed out, a loved one’s ex makes a credible threat in the dead of the night, should the right answer be to wait until normal business hours, drive to a gun shop, and pay a transfer fee (both ways) before helping that person?————-quote

    The statement is illogical on several points. First, people who want a weapon to defend themselves will already have one and not have to borrow a gun and those that do not have a weapon would in many, many cases not be experienced enough with weapons enough to be competent enough for you to lend them a gun because they would not know the laws of when and when you cannot shoot. It would also be highly unlikely they would be familiar with safe gun handling either.

    If there is a threat then the police should be called and informed that the person threatening should be picked up by the police and charged with a crime.

    And lastly you will become libel in a law suit if the person you lent the gun to commits a crime with the gun or even uses it in self defense because even if he or she is not charged with a crime you will probably still be sued by the survivors because it was you that lent the gun to the person who did the killing, again whether it was legal or not.

    AOC’s statement about lending a gun to people in a violent relationship is logical and correct because it is like pouring gasoline on a fire, often the gun is the last thing you want either party to have at the moment. Crenshaw is promoting the idea that a violent murder is inevitable and imminent when the real facts are that most spouses Do Not end up killing each other unless of course a gun is present which then makes it all to easy to kill in the heat of passion. Many women have done so to husbands in the heat of an argument when the husband was not threatening bodily harm to the spouse. A fact often over looked by Crenshaw and even the news media in general. The woman is not always the victim in a domestic dispute.

    In conclusion Crenshaw is using a very weak argument and is basically grasping at straws as well as ignoring the tremendous societal benefits of universal back ground checks. When one looks at the statistics for just one year in regards to the Brady Bill the denials of the sale of new guns run in the thousands and would run in the tens of thousands if there were back ground checks on all sales of all guns. To date the Brady Bill has blocked the sale of 3 million guns to prohibited persons. The benefits are irrefutable. All civilized Nations have them and the horrific mass gun violence in the U.S. is again proof universal background checks are long , long overdue.

    I might add more and more gun owners want universal background checks because they realize the more mass murders there are the more there is a call for draconian gun bans. It is only the Fanatics on the Far Right, who are their own worst enemies, that fail to see the forest for the trees. The Brady Bill was never designed or implemented to confiscate anyone’s guns and has not in decades and decades of operation despite NRA lies and propaganda when Congress was first attempting to pass the bill.

    • This is NOT true. There are many people that abhor even the idea of shooting someone. They feel they are safe as they are. Have a marriage ending squabble with your life partner and then see the violence he/she could turn against you, maybe you already got a taste. So you ask a friend for some type of protection for you and your child.
      Believe me, my wife would not want me sleeping in a woman friend’s(even if it were here friend) home to watch over her safety. That would also make the ex mad at me and I would also be a target. The police will not guard her all night – so you offer her a gun for protection, planning to go have her buy one tomorrow.
      sorry, this is illegal, tell the woman that she has to go on the lam, with children……

    • I agree with myself 69 per cent. If gun-owners really want to pertect there rights all they have to do is agree to let us wrap red tape arund there necks and shove some more down there throats. We will compormise by letting them continue to breathe for a while.

      • I agree with the other 31%.

        Or is that disagree with the…or unagree…or,…oh, whatever. There’s too much talking going on in this small head.

    • yes lets call LEO, because they will go pick the person up…ok yeah, uh huh, yep right. Lending a gun to someone could be as simple as someone having their only one in the shop, or had to sell it or them. Your long drawn out big word explanations are not complimenting at all. Also, you should do in text citation references and APA style writing if you are going to keep trying to impress us common folk. Do not get a hard on for Crenshaw, he is laughable at best, another shit talker, not backing his original promises like all of them. You are not devils advocate on here, you seem like a highly educated(probably a BS in Critical Thinking), but lack any common sense in any matter. I am trying to be insulting, but you are not going to change anyone’s mind on here I do not believe.

    • P.S.

      No, there are no gun owners that want more background checks; none that I know if at least. The ones that are in place are being used correctly. Criminals are getting guns, and people with mental issues already have them legally it may be. however, the defense for that is, be a responsible gun owner, train for the fight and the injuries as well.

    • many “denials’ are later reversed upon appeal…in fact many sellers will offer you the proper form if that happens…so the stats are somewhat skewed in that regard….

  9. I am not a fan of Islam but I think the US should adopt one of their procedures, public executions. In the old days in America people were hung in public.

    Hanging, firing squad, stoning, draw and quarter, turning the perp over to the relatives of his victims. Come up with some innovative ideas. And, I am not talking about 25 years later. Expedite the process, say six months from sentencing to action.

  10. Straw-buying enforcement; NICS.

    The law against straw-buying is a sieve. As long as there is no shortage of people willing to “lie for the other guy” there will be straw-buying. As long as law enforcement treats straw-buying as a low priority and judges slap convicts on the wrist, why should a prospective straw-buyer resist the incentives to engage in the practice.

    I don’t see straw-buying enforcement as ultimately proving successful. It’s rather like the laws that forbid the straw-buying of alcohol or tobacco. We have the latter two; so, I can’t say that I have a principled objection to the former: Thou shalt NOT straw-buy Alcohol, Tobacco or Firearms.

    We PotG are missing the opportunity to hold government’s – and the controllers’ – feet to the fire and insist that they enforce the straw-buying laws. I’m not talking about the cases such as the cop who used his police discount to buy a gun for his uncle. ATF was silly to pursue such a case. I’m talking about the cases where the straw-buyer knows (has strong reason to believe) that her principle is a prohibited person or a trafficker. If you won’t pursue such cases then why should you imagine that gun traffickers won’t continue the practice with as many eager candidate straw-buyers as they can find? Do you really think that judges will imprison these people – often single mothers – because they didn’t do a background check on their known felon/trafficker boyfriend(s)? Lying on the 4473 form and failing to do a UBC are both the same ‘mere paperwork’ negligence.

    As respects NICS, I agree that our (PotG) goal is to reduce False POSITIVES to a level that we could sense is good-faith. We can’t hope to get it to 0.000000%. We need to approach 1%; and, then, get a process that clears-up the false-positives at government expense. If such a serious undertaking breaks the back of NICS; well, we can say we tried to live with NICS.

    I hasten to add that the false-positive is NOT the FIRST card to play. It’s the last. We PotG should be in the forefront to iron the bugs out of NICS processes to search for False NEGATIVES. It is this objective that the controllers and general public ought to share with us. Don’t they WANT to stop people like the Charleston shooter? See p. 9 et sec of . Such incidents don’t do the cause of gun-rights any good.

    Until the failures to detect False NEGATIVES in NICS are cleaned-up there is no point in talking about UBC. Again, if such a serious undertaking breaks the back of NICS; well, we can say we tried to live with NICS.

    We ought to offer our cooperation in making the NICS system effective in the FFL sales-floor context; but, ONLY in exchange for fixing the False POSITIVES problem.

    I’m not naive. The controllers will try to force Congress to make NICS produce more Positives (DENIALs) without doing anything to fix either False NEGATIVES or False POSITIVES. But, will they succeed in pushing their plan after we have played our first card – airing NICS’ dirty laundry of False NEGATIVES. Will Congresscritters be willing to answer their constituents question: ‘Why are you expanding this farce called NICS?’

    • cutting down on straw purchases is relatively easy…just have a LE officer stop by a few months to a year later to see if the firearm is still in your possession…if it isn’t then questions need to be asked…they won’t do this, of course…because they don’t want to make the effort…as long as it remains a low-priority expect the practice to continue….

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