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Gun Rights Advocate Promotes Background Check Bill

Just how extreme are Republicans in Congress who voted to reject the Manchin-Toomey bill to extend background checks to private gun sellers? So extreme that even the guy who brought the lawsuit in Washington, DC that overturned the ban on handguns there thinks they’ve gone too far. Robert Levy, chairman of the board of the Cato Institute and the guy who brought the Heller v DC lawsuit, has an op-ed in the New York Times urging Congress to try to pass the bill again.

I’m a libertarian who played a role in reducing handgun restrictions in the nation’s capital. In 2008, in a landmark case I helped initiate, Heller v. District of Columbia, the Supreme Court declared for the first time that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to bear arms.

But the stonewalling of the background check proposal was a mistake, both politically and substantively…

The focus on background checks should not distract gun owners from the positive provisions in the Manchin-Toomey proposal.

It would allow Americans to buy handguns from out-of-state sellers, which is not allowed currently.

It would explicitly prohibit the creation of a national gun registry, and make it a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, to misuse records from the national database used for background checks.

It would affirm that unloaded guns with a lock mechanism in place can be transported across state lines.

It would immunize private gun sellers from lawsuits if a gun they have sold is used unlawfully, unless the seller knows or should have known that the buyer provided false information or was otherwise ineligible to buy a gun. Extending background checks to unlicensed sellers shouldn’t be cause for alarm. Background checks are already required for purchases from federally licensed dealers, whether at stores or gun shows, over the Internet or by mail. Moreover, gun buyers would be exempt from background checks if they had a carry permit issued within the last five years.

But instead of reasoned analysis of the bill, we get nutballs like Rep. Jeff Duncan claiming that extending these background checks would lead to a gun registry (the bill actually bans such a registry quite explicitly and even carries criminal penalties for trying to create one), which will lead to genocide just like in Rwanda because the government will then know where we live. I wish I was making that up, but Duncan actually said that.

Comments

  1. says

    Manchin-Toomey is a “Thank you for fucking me up the ass, may I have another” amendment offered after the GOPNRA had thrown their usual tantrum about jackbooted nannythugs comin’ for TEH GUNZ!!

  2. says

    I read that too quickly and thought it was the Minchin-Toomey bill. That would have been a funnier bill, I bet. (Much funnier than the Manchin-Larry the Cable Guy bill!!)

  3. says

    Well, can you imagine the horror if all our names and addresses were published in an easily accessible format that anyone could access?

    Like the phone book.

    Or Google Earth?

  4. dickspringer says

    I think a gun registry is a great idea, particularly if it is accompanied with a sample round fired by each gun. It would facilitate solving gun crimes as well as keeping guns from those who cannot legally have them. Only the paranoids who think it would enable the feds to seize the 300 million guns out there would be expected to oppose it. plus the criminals who would thereby be deprived of their guns.

    These constituencies seem to have a lock on the Republican Party, formerly the party of Abraham Lincoln.

  5. kyoseki says

    I think a gun registry is a great idea, particularly if it is accompanied with a sample round fired by each gun. It would facilitate solving gun crimes as well as keeping guns from those who cannot legally have them. Only the paranoids who think it would enable the feds to seize the 300 million guns out there would be expected to oppose it. plus the criminals who would thereby be deprived of their guns.

    Ballistic fingerprinting doesn’t work on a large scale:
    1: It’s not nearly as accurate as regular fingerprinting or DNA matching, so it really only works to isolate guns from a small sample pool.
    2: The barrel characteristics change as the firearm continues to be shot (or if someone takes a cleaning kit and some grinding paste to the barrel), so the sample round likely won’t match any round recovered from a crime scene.

    Regarding the original bill, I would like each and every senator to justify their vote on it in detail, the only justification I’ve seen so far is “it would place an undue burden on firearms dealers” which is a monumentally bullshit reason to oppose it.

  6. slavdude says

    @D C Wilson #6:

    Or a gummint organization that already knows where you live?

    It’s called the United States Postal Service.

  7. says

    Levy is right in that Manchin-Toomey was a really crappy bill that barely would have done more good than harm. I hope the people who voted against it got scared enough by their plummeting poll numbers to approve some real gun reform, but I’m not holding my breath.

  8. says

    One of the things that always gives me the chuckles is that the gunzloonz screech about people like ME taking their gunz away. Right, I’m gonna pull into your “redoubt”, get outta my shitbox Ranger and use a bullhorn to demand that you surrender alla yer gunz.

    I’m not the guy you need to worry about fellers. It’s the jackthugged nannybooters who MONITOR allayer transmissions on teh intertoobz. Y’know the forums, y’all like to brag about your gunz on? Yeah, those public, easily identified websites and blogs that y’all congregate at and brag on your weppins? When the hammer falls it’ll be based on information that you all provided.

    BTW, if it ever got to that point, the gummint wouldn’t be askin’ you to turn over your guns, they’d be taking them away, either before or after they burn down your house.

    The last two paragraphs are not intended to be rational.

  9. marcus says

    kyoseki @ 8 But ,,,but, CSI!! You know where they take a minute fragment of a bullet and match it to a gun that has been in a storm-drain for 25 years.

  10. iarnuocon says

    To be fair, Levy wants the bill “reintroduced” only after it is altered to fix the things which caused it to be filibustered in the first place. For instance, the “outlawing” of a gun registry doesn’t really make a gun registry illegal, it merely prevents the Attorney General from creating one– the fix would be to ACTUALLY make gun registration illegal. He also rightly notes that there needs to be provision for the additional staffing necessary to ensure that ll background checks are performed on time. There were other problems that should also probably be fixed before trying again.

    Which is a way of saying that Levy supports a bill LIKE Toomey-Manchin, but not necessarily a reintroduction of the bill which was filibustered.

  11. kyoseki says

    marcus

    kyoseki @ 8 But ,,,but, CSI!! You know where they take a minute fragment of a bullet and match it to a gun that has been in a storm-drain for 25 years.

    Indeed, unfortunately we’re seeing a few ill-thought out bills coming up in state legislatures primarily from guys who really don’t understand what they’re trying to legislate.

    There’s one bill in the California legislature that wants to make it illegal to sell any firearm that doesn’t recognize it’s owner, regardless of the fact that such technology doesn’t really exist yet and even if it did, it could probably be bypassed in 5 minutes with a screwdriver and soldering iron by anyone who had access to the firearm (namely anyone who has managed to steal it from the original owner).

    California already tried this with microstamping, another technology that doesn’t exist, consequently the entire thing was put on hold.

    I can’t wait for them to pass a bill that explicitly protects everyone’s right to own firearms, but only as long as they’re plasma rifles in the 40 watt range.

  12. says

    I see a lot of people here seem to think that the problem of figuring out how to guarantee that nobody’s 2nd Amendment RIGHT TO HAVE ANY FUCKING GUNZ THEY WANT gets trampled on is best addressed by simply not having ANY REGULATION at all. Please correct me if I’m wrong on that.

    Why is it that the 2nd Amendment is the only one that speaks to a right that is immutable and unlimited (at least in the minds of those who argue that firearms regulation is an evil.

    “There’s one bill in the California legislature that wants to make it illegal to sell any firearm that doesn’t recognize it’s owner, regardless of the fact that such technology doesn’t really exist yet and even if it did, it could probably be bypassed in 5 minutes with a screwdriver and soldering iron by anyone who had access to the firearm (namely anyone who has managed to steal it from the original owner)”

    Please provide the link to that bill.

    It seems that you’re saying that it’s pretty easy to steal firearms. Why is that? Is it because thieves are better at stealing firearms than they are at stealing other things or because otherwise responsible custodians of property just don’t give a rat’s ass about properly securing weapons?

  13. kyoseki says

    democommie

    Please provide the link to that bill.

    Here you go;
    http://www.legtrack.com/bill.html?bill=201320140SB293

    It seems that you’re saying that it’s pretty easy to steal firearms. Why is that? Is it because thieves are better at stealing firearms than they are at stealing other things or because otherwise responsible custodians of property just don’t give a rat’s ass about properly securing weapons?

    Depending on your state, it actually can be easy to steal firearms (California is rather strict about that, but others aren’t) and I agree that they should be properly secured, but I am saying that firearms do change hands (legally or illegally) and when someone has unfettered access to a firearm, the lifespan of any RFID system or fingerprint reader can be measured in minutes, particularly when the same firearm is going to be sold in other states without such technology.

    The only real usage is on the part of the owner, as a defense against being shot with your own gun (certainly, if I carried a firearm for self defense, I would be interested in a reliable system), which is not a terrible idea, but it’s more a case of assessing your own personal risk at that point, it’s not something you can mandate at the state level and expect to have any significant impact.

  14. says

    Thanks:

    This:

    “This bill would provide that commencing 18 months following the Attorney General’s reporting that owner-authorized handguns are available for retail sale, as specified, a handgun would be unsafe if it was not owner-authorized, as defined, and would provide an exception to these provisions for the sale, loan, or transfer of handguns manufactured in or imported into this state prior to that date, as specified. The bill would specify requirements that owner-authorized handguns would be required to meet in order for the Attorney General to determine that owner-authorized handguns are available for retail sale, and in order to comply with certain safety standards, as specified.

    By expanding the application of provisions of law that define a criminal offense, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

    The bill would require the Attorney General, commencing July 1, 2014, and every July 1 thereafter through July 1, 2019, to report to the Governor and the Legislature regarding the progress made on the availability for retail sale of owner-authorized handguns, as specified.”

    makes it very clear that whoever proposed the bill was well aware that there is no current technology enabling such legislation to be effective.

    As to whether it is easy to steal a gun. I know of very few people who would leave an expensive laptop, jewelry, professional grade digital camera or other valuable, easily fenced property in an unlocked car or who would leave their homes unlocked when they leave for a vacation or some other activity.

    The neighborhood I live in is, according to long time residents and local cops, safe. There have been burglaries, sometimes in clusters in recent years. Most if not all of those burglaries were not B&E’s. They were simply cases of people entering unlocked homes while the residents were out shopping or for an evening. My house is not left unlocked, except for a few minutes when I walk my roommate up and down the street (about two-three minutes, tops) before bedtime. I realize that all of this sounds a bit TMI but I have been told OFTEN by gunzloonz that they ALL of them are responsible, more responsible than the rest of the population, about securing their weapons. Oddly, all of the people who are accidentally shot or mistook for an intruder and wounded or killed ARE shot by gunz. I almost never hear of someone ACCIDENTALLY stabbing themselves or someone else (yes, I’m sure that it does happen, just not terribly often). I’m just now listening to a news story about a guy in Syracuse threatening to kill a woman’s baby with a rifle–surprise, he committed two felonies, criminal menacing and unlawful possession of a firearm. I LIKE having some laws regulating firearms. What’s really needed is a set of federal statutes–which will never happen, imho.

  15. kyoseki says

    democommie

    makes it very clear that whoever proposed the bill was well aware that there is no current technology enabling such legislation to be effective.

    Perhaps, but depending on how you interpret the law it could include the half assed biometric systems that are being shopped about (the fingerprint systems are awful, I have a fingerprint safe and it’s positively useless, additionally, the fingerprint firearms systems are based entirely within the grip of the firearm and can be removed with a screwdriver in minutes).

    Additionally, if you read the wording of the bill, as soon as ANYONE invents ANY system that enables an owner authorized handgun, even if it costs tens of thousands per gun, then 18 months later, ALL handguns must require such a system – so let’s consider how this system may actually play out.

    It’s not going to impact mass shootings since most mass shooters use their own legally acquired firearms

    It’s not going to impact deaths where the shooter is the legal owner of the firearm (which includes pretty much all suicides and a large number of common firearms murders)

    So all we’re left with is the firearms deaths where the firearm is shot by someone who isn’t the registered owner of the firearm – now as far as I’m aware the two primary avenues of firearms acquisition in this instance are straw purchases and stolen firearms that have been resold on the street – in both cases the purchaser and seller of the firearm have unfettered access to it, so removing any RFID or fingerprint system is going to be trivial.

    Yes, it’s illegal, but then so is shooting someone, so I’m having a hard time believing that anyone who is willing to commit murder is going to have a hard time modifying it to do so.

    So we really need to consider the entire motivation behind this bill – apparently this guy has introduced the same bill every year since 2008 – which suggests to me that he’s either woefully misguided OR he happens to be a part owner in a company developing such technology.

    It isn’t going to save any lives, it’s only actual purpose may be to make owning a gun so annoying that fewer people actually do it, in which case why not attempt to just slap a $300 tax on the damned things and stop pretending that your goal is anything else?

    Other than the fact that it won’t stand up in court, of course.

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