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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

Meltdown after new pro-gun bill in Pennsylvania

man scream horror fear

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania House Republicans passed H.B. 2440. It’s not even three pages long, but the Pennsylvania House Democrats seem to believe that the sky is falling over the Commonwealth. The contents of the bill are pretty straightforward: in a single paragraph, the House voted to establish shooting ranges, sportsman clubs, hunting facilities, firearms and ammunition manufacturers, retailers, importers, and distributors as life-sustaining businesses. The bill protects these entities and their employees from being put out of business or restricted in operation by the state.

What was the response from the Pennsylvania House Dems? Big bad scary ghost guns and 3-D printed guns will be sold to felons! Illegal gun sales are now okay! And it’s going to “make[] the wild, wild west look like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” How much fun that sounds aside, there’s a few things to talk about.

First of all, you can’t make something that’s illegal “okay” under the law – it’s either illegal or it’s not. Politicians often take this route to make a mountain out of the proverbial molehill of not doing additional banning. Second, if you thought “ghost guns” were going through Cabelas and brick-and-mortar FFLs, what is it you’re so scared of?

Five anti-gun bills pending advance in California

Colorful California Map Collage Of Stars, And Scratched Round Re

The measures included AB2847, a microstamping bill; AB2362, which jacks up fines for gun dealers; AB2617, shoring up gun violence restraining orders; AB2699, setting requirements for handgun storage (because I guess Heller is just a distant memory); and SB914, which imposes still more restrictions on loaning a firearm.

Odd Second Circuit ruling on serial numbers

serial number
Dan Z. for TTAG

In an opinion released by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the court determined that the sentencing enhancement for obliterating or altering a serial number on a firearm applies to any serial number on the firearm. Here’s why that’s wrong, and why this determination is bad for gun owners.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 requires that certain firearms have a serial number. Unfortunately the court overlooked the part where the Act specified the number must be on the frame or receiver. You know, the part that’s legally a gun.

The Court chose to take an aggressive, blanket approach. The law’s clear intention surrounds the serial number on the “firearm” component. However, factories choose to place serial numbers on more parts than are required. Slides, barrels, bolts, and other less regulated components often have serial numbers. The Second Circuit’s interpretation, at least with respect to a sentence enhancement, includes those non-essential serials on things like slides, which aren’t in and of themselves firearms.

By misinterpreting this requirement, the Second Circuit has increased the probability of defendants spending more time in prison for something as immaterial as swapping out a barrel or a slide, even when the issue at trial has nothing to do with something related to ballistics. The Court should at least clarify that the Gun Control Act only affects the frame and receiver so as to prevent this decision from reaching conduct far beyond the intent of the legislature.

New Zealand and New York see a surge in gun crimes, homicides

New Zealand Guns
Acting superintendent Mike McIlraith shows New Zealand lawmakers in Wellington, an AR-15 style rifle similar to one of the weapons a gunman used to slaughter 51 people at two Christchurch mosques. Six months after the gunman killed 51 people, New Zealand’s government is planning further restrictions to gun ownership. A bill introduced to Parliament on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 would create a register to track all the guns in the country and require gun owners to renew their gun licenses every five years instead of every 10. (AP Photo/Nick Perry, File)

After the Christchurch incident in New Zealand, the country’s prime minister did exactly what any progressive with virtually unchecked power would do—she banned guns. A lot of guns. It’s a classic story—whenever there’s a tragedy involving things that you generally don’t like, ban them while the iron is hot and the people upset. The problem is, none of these policies do anything to prevent the acts they respond to. Well, Kiwis are learning a hard lesson this year, with rates of gun crimes and gun-related killings the highest they’ve been in a decade.

What does any crafty politician do in response? They blame something else, of course. Auckland city councillor Alf Filipaina thinks the cause might be gangs, or drugs, or domestic violence. Maybe ghosts? Alf isn’t really sure, so he’s taking the safe route and leaving the door open to more gun control. If the trend keeps up, I’m sure more laws will be just over the horizon.

In yet another example of how gun control doesn’t stop violent crime, reports indicate that New York City, probably the most difficult jurisdiction in which to legally buy a gun, is experiencing a surge in shootings, with incidences increasing 21 percent over the last year. What’s driving the increase? Well, I’m not a statistician, but according to the comptroller, unemployment could reach 22% in June, a record for the city.

Louisiana is advancing new pro-gun bills

Vivian Westerman holds her new .38 revolver at her home in New Orleans, Tuesday, March 13, 2007. Sixty-four-year-old Vivian Westerman rode out Hurricane Katrina in her 19th-century house. So terrible was the experience that she wanted two things before the 2006 season arrived: a backup power source and a gun. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Louisiana politicians are salty this session. Sure, that’s not really news, but this time they’re mad about four bills making their way through the state legislature. The first is House Bill 140, which would prevent local authorities and governments from restricting firearms possession (Pittsburgh, take note). I’m sure they think that passing laws at a local level is practical, but all local restrictions tend to do is inhibit rights, create legal inconsistency within a broader jurisdiction, and cause the prosecution of people who usually don’t deserve it.

The second bill is House Bill 334, which would authorize concealed handgun carry in churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. The law previously required individuals to get advance permission from the place of worship, and that congregants be notified of the grant of permission, as well as imposing additional training and insurance requirements.

The last two bills address states of emergency and natural disasters. House Bill 746 would permit anyone who lawfully possesses a firearm to carry it during a mandatory evacuation in these situations, and House Bill 781 establishes that firearm and ammo manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, suppliers, and retailers are essential businesses that can’t be shut down in a crisis. As a bonus, House Bill 781 also limits restrictions on gun possession under emergency curfews.

ATF 4473 Changes

Form 4473 and GLOCK (courtesy

ATF is rolling out a new 4473 this summer and all FFLs must convert over no later than November 1st of this year. Sure, it’s not exactly the sexy content you usually read this column for, but it’s important. First is relocation of the firearm information on the form. On the new version, the manufacturer/import, model, serial number, type, and caliber are the first thing you see. Some in the industry are happy about this change because it reduces the risk of error and if the transaction is stopped midway through filling out the paperwork, the FFL doesn’t have to recall the identifying details of the firearm. The previous form had the firearm’s information on the second page.

The second noticeable change to the 4473 is the inclusion of “borough” and “parish” next to “county.” Apparently people were mistaking “county” for “country” so often that the ATF decided to place the other terms nearby to reduce the likelihood of buyers writing U.S.A.

The third change is the least visible, but the most significant. The new 4473 will include a non-binary option for specifying sex on the form. Up until now, it was legally difficult for non-binary individuals to obtain a firearm from an FFL when neither option was appropriate for them. The ATF previously made a stir when it opined that transfers ought be denied to individuals who did not select “male” or “female.”

Personally, I wonder why the ATF even cares. As long as enough information is given to identify the purchaser, there is no reason to deny someone who isn’t accurately described by any individual factor. While I’d prefer the “sex” box be eliminated altogether (and race—it’s really none of their business). I hope the addition of this third option eases the strain on those affected and will hopefully lead to more people embracing their right to Keep and Bear Arms.

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    • And why does F-troop need to know the “race” of the buyer? Are they profiling buyers and their purchases? Keeping track of certain groups? Someone needs to tell the good ol’ boys in the ATF segregation was ended over 50 years ago.

      Can you just put “American” into the box, or put something really descriptive such as “Scots-Norwegian”?

      • I agree whole heartedly! What on earth difference does it make what my skin shade, eye color, cultural back ground or ethnicitiy is? I am an American!

        • I would suspect that they anticipate when gun store records will be turned in and there will be permanent files on the buyers so the form can contribute to identification… it’s always good to have a few pieces that didn’t go through the system just for the time when confiscation happens and they use dealer bound books to find you…

  1. As some one that frequently helps people through 4473s I can say they think county is country all the time. I say that’s a good change.

    The third gender option….haven’t run into anyone so confused yet. I may be confused about them, but at least they know what they think they are and that’s all that matters I suppose.

    • Gender identity disorder, unspecified. F64. 9 is a billable/specific ICD-10-CM code that can be used to indicate a diagnosis for reimbursement purposes. The 2020 edition of ICD-10

      This means it is a mental health diagnosis. If the FFL sells to someone who is “non binary”, do they lose the FFL license for selling to someone with mental health issues ?

      (I know there are people that are non binary that don’t meet the “severe” criteria, but is the FFL also to employ a psychiatrist too?)

      • No, because the FFL is not authorized to diagnose mental conditions on the spot based on what someone told them. Unless they were involuntarily committed by a judge over the matter, they are not prohibited.

        People in this country do still have some rights. Even the people you don’t like.

        • “Even the people you don’t like.”
          Sounds like you are doing a lot of assuming. I was wondering if this change would eventually cause an FFL an issue. Also note some states have further restrictions on the mentally ill than court commitment. The ATF is the enemy not me.
          I’m a mental health worker and have gone to Lansing more than once to fight for the rights of people with mental health issues. Just because I posted a question to provoke thought and discussion doesn’t mean I’m anti-lgbtq… I’ll ask you this, how much money have you donated to Pink Pistols?

      • Why would they? You can be a bipolar schizophrenic and you aren’t barred from firearm ownership. The law and the form specifically say if you’ve been held involuntarily or voluntarily beyond a certainly length of time due to mental health issues. Most people with mental health issues are harmless. Obviously some are not. Unless we are going to mandate psychological review of every single person who buys or owns a gun to see if their specific type of mental health issues precludes safe ownership the standard we have is being institutionalized past a certain period of time.

        Face it, most people have some kind of mental health issue. Both because the breadth and depth of what qualifies is so large. But also because most people don’t get through life without picking up something. Maybe its just some mild anxiety that doesn’t need to be medicated or talk therapized. Maybe its situational depression. Or borderline personality disorder. Or they are a narcissist. Or mildly neurotic. Or have a phobia of something. etc ad nauseum.

  2. If you don’t know what sex you are, it’s probably a good idea that you don’t own firearms.

    • Exactly – a perfect example of the principle that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but no one is entitled to his own facts.” Unless one’s sausage-butcher has also mutilated every single chromosome, there’s no ambiguity about that question, and no better example of mental incapacitation than not knowing.

      • There’s a reason the Left talks about Your truth. They have an aversion to The truth when it doesn’t fit the agenda.

        • “Klinefelter syndrome is a genetic condition that results when a BOY is born with an extra copy of the X chromosome. Klinefelter syndrome is a genetic condition affecting MALES . . .” [emphasis added] – see, facts. But hey, it’s only the Mayo Clinic, so what do they know? Official legal documents should be a place to express your “feelings”, right?

  3. PA made sure abortion was available all through this crisis. Liquor stores closed then opened partially when everyone went to DE for booze. The Dems are itching to ban gun sales in PA and use the illegal registry to start collecting what they can. Only the SC can stop them.

  4. Crime is up in NZ and NYC?!? Imagine that😋😋😋😋😋 Meanwhile Chiraq had it’s worst Memorial Day weekend in 5 years. It was HOT & humid. 90° after barely hitting 80° all of 2020. But we need more gun control because the gangbanger’s are sweaty. And Mayor Beetlejuice won’t even open the beach because “science”…

  5. What’s the reasoning behind including manufacturer/import, model, serial number, type, and caliber on the 4473? Would a semi-prohibited possessor get a DENY on some types of firearms, and a PROCEED on others? Does it help uniquely identify or distinguish the applicant, since they know Judy A. Jones would never carry a puny little Ruger Alaskan like Judy B. Jones does?

    • It’s there in case the ban on a registry is ever overturned.

      It’s being moved to the front page to make scanning it into the registry easier.

    • Perhaps because some buyers could legally buy some guns but not others; e.g., a non-resident could buy long guns but not handguns?

  6. Sadly, Wolf (PA Gov), will veto the bill being as how he and his pal lawyer AG are anti-gun and have tried to do some very sneaky end runs around the 2A AND the same thing in the PA constitution. Yes we have it written into our constitution that citizens have a right to possess, carry and use a firearm. It’s not completely free in the state tho. We still have to apply for a Carry Firearms License but it is a shall issue variety. And they’re fairly lax on letting out of staters come into the state with firearms to hunt ( big part of PA’s business something Mr. Wolf should ponder what that means). But every now and then the farmers go wacky or can’t make it to the voting booth and the cities chock full of Democrats choose the Governor as they did this time.

    We’ll have to correct that in 2022 and I think we will as Wolf is making some very bad moves that are getting the attention and ire of the Amish and the Farmers. PA is about 80% rural and Democrat politicians forget that at their peril.

    • Wish you were right, the same voters who stayed home last election will stay home in the next election. The city dwelling dems will vote twice to make up the difference.

  7. let’s settle this once and for all. the question of male or female is for identification purposes only, not what one chooses to do with what they are physically equipped with. therefore the question onlt pertains to what one is physically equipped with.

    do you have a (mark only one):
    [ ] penis
    [ ] vagina

  8. As for the Form 4473 Gender Change issue. Transfolks are Mentally Ill. At the very least, they’re suffering from Cognitive Disassociation, therefore, they shouldn’t e allowed to purchase or own a firearm under the Mental Illness clause of the form. Period, End of lesson.

  9. Gun control has nothing to do with the increased in NYC. Emptying Rikers Island is the more likely cause.

    Chicago? Just random variation.

    • Our Church Security team welcomes ALL CCW’s. We hand them a short handout requesting that they do NOT draw unless directly threatened as we would hate to have a “friendly fire” incident. One such individual glowered at me and said “I always hit what I’m aiming at!!”, to which I replied So do ALL of US, and since you’re new here YOU could be identified as the threat…. Especially if you draw on one of our security team members. Enjoy the Service!! There’s a fine line here…. Be safe!

  10. Possum
    Wrong colours for Japanese flag.
    Guessing it’s meant to be a liberal being made to think. Shock to their “brain”

Comments are closed.