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.
Murphy Wants to Raise Permit Costs
New Jersey governor Phil Murphy is continuing his push to increase the cost of owning a firearm by raising a number of gun fees. So what does he have in mind?
Murphy wants to increase firearm owner identification fees from $5 to $100, purchase application fees from $2 to $50, and even worse, to add a 2.5% (9.125% total) tax on firearm purchases and a 10% (16.625%) tax on ammunition.
To give this some perspective, let’s do some quick math. Before tax, a New Jersey-compliant GLOCK 19 sells for slightly over $500 on average. So suppose a first time purchaser wants to acquire one. They’re paying about $46 more in taxes, $48 more for the purchase application, and $100 upfront for the owner identification card.
That’s $194 in additional fees, which is about 39% the cost of the firearm itself. The cost of living in New Jersey is already remarkably high, and one in ten residents live below the federal poverty line.
After looking at the numbers, it becomes clear that Governor Murphy wants to keep poor people from exercising their rights. Whether Murphy is tone deaf to the fact that his policy is inherently classist is uncertain, but what is certain is that by raising these costs, Murphy is ensuring that disadvantaged people in dangerous places like Paterson, Newark, Trenton, and Camden will be less likely to have sufficient means to protect themselves.
Biden Chooses Lame Furry to Push His Anti-Gun Agenda
Presidential hopeful Joe Biden has chosen America’s least favorite furry to “take care of” our gun “problem.” When accepting Beto’s endorsement, Biden seemingly declared his intention to appoint O’Rourke as his Gun Control Czar, which is confusing.
Why does he think that the executive branch can pass laws? Wasn’t Biden a constitutional law professor at one point? (He was.)
Local Police Arrest New Jersey Security Guard Who Didn’t Break the Law
One of the most troubling issues with the police is that, despite the fact that they are “law enforcement officers”, they frequently don’t know the law.
Last month, an armored car driver was stopped by local police in Roselle, New Jersey because they thought his window tint was excessive. Despite being in full compliance with all of the state’s firearms licensing requirements, he was charged with possession of “hollow nose” bullets.
Only one problem: he didn’t have hollow nose bullets. He had Hornady Critical Duty rounds, which are by definition, not hollow. Further, he was also improperly charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.
Illinois GOP Pushes to Change FOID Law Due to Massive Backlog
You know that massive delay in the Illinois’ Firearms Owner ID card process that was presumptively caused by a $30 million fund diversion by state politicians? Well, a group of Illinois Republicans have a plan for that.
They’ve sponsored House Bill 4447, which extends the validity of FOIDs for six months past their point of expiration to cover the state’s delay in renewal, and alternatively, House Bill 4448, which would require the state police to automatically renew FOIDs for individuals in good standing with the state.
Illinois Republicans have also sponsored House Bill 4450, which sets regulatory and compliance requirements to afford due process to applicants. It’s a shame they can’t do the right thing and simply eliminate the FOID requirement altogether.
Georgia Lawmakers Considering Bill Modifying Brandishing Restrictions
On Monday a state senate panel approved a bill which would modify the Peach State’s criminal law on brandishing, making it lawful to display a firearm during an altercation so long as the barrel isn’t pointed “offensively” at the other person. This bill would also permit individuals to carry in church unless specifically prohibited as well as in courthouses unless a hearing is underway.
These two provisions are beneficial for obvious reasons: 1) thieves love to break into cars and steal firearms; and 2) you can’t use a gun if you don’t have one. The bill also would eliminate a five-year suspension of ownership for misdemeanor drug possession.
The bill isn’t a sure thing. SB 244 passed the panel along party lines, but the completely rational drug possession provision might cause friction with hard-core social conservatives.
California Trying to Get the Lead Out
California Assemblyman Kevin Mullin is advancing AB 3071, which would make it unlawful to sell or use ammunition which isn’t “lead-free certified.” Assemblyman Mullin really wants the people of California to believe that he cares about their health and the environment, but this seems more like an attempt to backdoor-ban the most common, affordable types of ammunition.
Mullin has little to no experience with firearms, he also doesn’t understand how well-ventilated indoor training facilities are, so there’s minimal exposure for shooters.
The most common types of projectiles are lead and steel-core. Indoor ranges tend not to allow steel core ammunition, as it’s a bit sparky and can ignite unburned powder. This means people seeking to practice shooting at indoor ranges will be driven to much more expensive alternatives, making it even harder to become a safe, skilled, gun owner.
Moms Demand Action “Volunteers” Visit South Carolina Statehouse
Bloomberg-backed political action volunteers visited the South Carolina statehouse and were greeted with open arms and favorable press coverage.
The visitors were there to oppose legislation which would make it lawful to open carry in public. Current law only allows for permit-based concealed carry.
The arguments made by these advocates are unsurprisingly weak. For example, there seems to be a prevailing idea that by permitting law-abiding people to carry firearms in the open people will, for some reason or another, begin having shootouts in the streets.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s Anti-Gun Initiatives
Tom Wolf is back to his old hoplophobic tricks again. This time he’s lobbying the Pennsylvania Legislature, pushing for them to approve a $6 million investment in “Community Gun Violence Prevention and Reduction” grants. Sounds a bit loaded, doesn’t it?
The plan is to fund “community programs that focus on evidence-based strategies or promising practices.” This includes studying things which have only been shown to have a negative impact on normal Americans, like red flag and storage laws, both of which violate constitutionally protected rights while jeopardizing the safety of gun owners.
Minnesota Proposes Law Disincentivizing Gun-Free Zones
Rep. Jim Munson has sponsored a bill in the Minnesota Legislature which would allow shooting victims to sue business owners who declare their establishments gun-free zones. This is interesting, as business owners have to take responsibility for hazards they expose the public to.
Gun-free zones create opportunities for deliberate targeting of people when they’re least aware of a threat. They also imply, on a base level, that the customers using the property are safe, and thus the business is claiming some kind of responsibility for the safety of visitors.
It makes some sense to make relying on that order, and that implied promise of safety, actionable. There are still some legal concepts, like proximate cause, that give me pause here.
ED: This post has been updated to remove a segment on an apparently false report regarding Nancy Pelosi’s security team pointing a rifle at protestors. See here.