By Robert M. Hausman
Important Federal Gun Law Reportedly Passed
A major spending bill has reportedly cleared Congress just before Thanksgiving that gives important protections to gun owners and the industry. President Obama has reportedly signed the measure.
“There are 12 critical protections that are included and that is why we are supporting the package,” National Rifle Association chief lobbyist Chris Cox said. “We have communicated our support to the leadership and directly to members.” Cox pointed to three provisions in particular that are to be made law under the Mini-bus language that would prohibit the Justice Department from consolidating firearms sales records, from electronically retrieving the records of former firearms dealers and from disclosing information on people who have passed firearms background checks.
The bill includes a host of one-year gun protections and new language barring the Justice Dept. from requiring imported shotguns to meet a “sporting purposes” test. This measure effectively ends an ATF plan to ban shotguns it deems are not “sporting” as it was planning to do.
The legislation also bars the use of funds to transfer the functions of the Bureau of ATF to other agencies and to promulgate or implement any rule requiring a physical inventory of any licensed firearms business, something ATF has been hoping to do for years.
The measure directs ATF to report to the Appropriations committees on the total number of firearms recovered by the government of Mexico, including those for which an ATF trace is attempted and those determined to be manufactured in the U.S. The provision comes as Republicans have criticized the 2009 Phoenix-based “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation targeting Mexican drug cartels. Officials lost guns used in the sting – some of which were later connected to crimes including the murder of a Border Patrol agent.
The Mini-bus is made up of three individual spending bills, including the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill, the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, and the Agriculture rural development and Food and Drug Administration appropriations bill.
SAF Challenges CA Assault Weapon Ban
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” claiming that the statute is “vague and ambiguous” in its definition of assault weapons, leading to the arrest of a California man on two different occasions.
SAF is joined in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, by the CalGuns Foundation and Brendan John Richards, an honorably-discharged Marine and Iraq war veteran, who was arrested and jailed in May 2010 and August 2011. On both occasions, charges against Richards were dismissed when it was determined that he had not violated the law because firearms in his possession on both occasions were not “assault weapons” as defined by California law. They are represented by attorneys Donald Kilmer of San Jose and Jason A. Davis of Mission Viejo.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the California Department of Justice, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Greg Myers.
“It’s an insult to be arrested once for violating a law that is so vague and ambiguous that law enforcement officers cannot tell the difference between what is and what is not a legal firearm under this statute,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “but to be arrested and jailed twice for the same offense is an outrage. Brendan Richards’ dilemma is a textbook example of why the California statute should be nullified. “On both occasions,” he continued, “Mr. Richards was jailed and had to post non-refundable bail fees. He lost work due to his incarcerations. In both cases, the same Senior Criminalist John Yount issued reports that the firearms in Richards’ possession were not assault weapons under California law. Mr. Richards now has a reasonable fear that his exercise of his fundamental Second Amendment rights will result in more wrongful arrests. We’re delighted to step in, with the CalGuns Foundation, on his behalf.
“This nonsense has to stop,” Gottlieb stated, “and the only way to insure that is to show California’s assault weapon statutes and regulations are unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous. Brendan Richards is not the only citizen faced with this kind of harassment under color of law.”
Postal Gun Ban Challenged
When the Supreme Court in 2008 ruled that the Constitution protected an individual right to bear arms, it allowed reasonable restrictions such as “long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.
Does the court’s definition cover post offices? And even if the answer is yes, does it also cover postal parking lots? Does a parking lot qualify under the court’s standard as a “sensitive place” where guns may be comprehensively banned?
A Colorado couple who regularly carry firearms are challenging the U.S. Postal Service’s ban on guns. The case involves an Avon, Colo. couple, Debbie and Tab Bonidy. The Bonidys possess concealed-carry permits under Colorado law, regularly carry hand guns for self-defense and pick up their mail at a post office 10 miles from home. Under post office rules, however, they can’t even drive into the parking lot with a gun in the car. Nor could a hunter, for that matter, who had no intention of carrying his rifle or shotgun indoors.
Federal statute prohibits private possession of firearms in federal facilities, except those firearms carried ‘incident to hunting or other lawful purposes.’ “The Postal Service’s total ban on firearms possession impairs the right to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment because that right cannot be exercised when individuals are traveling to, from, or through postal property,” the Mountain States Legal Foundation contends. The couple are represented by the Foundation in the action.
Each Individual Firearm to be Examined by Industry
The Bureau of ATF recently noted to industry that it is possible that shipping records, manifests, bills of lading, packing lists, invoices, and other commercial records relating to firearms include incorrect identifying information as to the firearms that are the subject of the record. Failure to obtain this information directly from the firearm could result in errors in required records. Recording information directly from the firearms is the best practice to ensure accurate records and avoidance of citations during annual compliance inspections.
In other words, ATF considers merely scanning firearms into inventory from the labels on cartons is not good enough – you must examine each individual firearm to ensure you are recording the correct serial number.
Entries in the A&D Record
Additionally, both the manufacturer and the importer must be reported in the Acquisitions & Dispositions record by licensed dealers. Per 27 CFR 478.125(e), a licensed dealer is required to enter both the manufacturer and importer (if any) in the A&D record. While the specific format required does not match the exact wording of the regulation, a licensed dealer is still required to record both, because that information is spelled out specifically in the wording of the regulation.
Five NYPD Police Arrested for Gun Smuggling
A sting operation resulted in the arrests of 12 people, including five New York Police Department officers, on charges that they smuggled $1 million worth of firearms, cigarettes and slot machines they thought were stolen, authorities said.
Three retired NYPD officers and a New Jersey correction officer are among the other defendants named in a federal criminal complaint alleging an undercover agent paid them more than $100,000 to moonlight as gun runners while under FBI surveillance the entire time. Three current officers also participated in a brazen theft of cigarettes they were told were worth $500,000, the complaint says.
The men were eager and willing to smuggle the weapons and commit other crimes “so long as the price was right,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
The arrests stem from an FBI-NYPD internal affairs investigation that began in 2009 when a paid FBI informant tipped off authorities that an 18-year NYPD veteran, William Masso, was interested in making money by transporting stolen goods.
Glock Makes Significant Donation to SAF
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has announced that Glock, Inc. has donated and pledged significant financial support to SAF’s on-going litigation efforts in defense of firearms civil rights.
SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb made the announcement, noting that Glock has now become the largest corporate contributor to the Foundation, in recognition of the important legal efforts SAF has mounted and will continue to pursue.
“I want to publicly and personally thank the management and ownership at Glock,” Gottlieb said, “and all Glock employees who have made this possible. Specifically, I want to thank Glock Vice President Josh Dorsey and General Counsel Carlos Guevara for their involvement and for making this happen.
“SAF’s victory in McDonald v. Chicago has made all of this litigation against onerous state laws and municipal ordinances possible,” he continued, “and it is imperative that we continue and expand our legal challenges with the greatest possible speed.
“Glock’s generous support comes at a critical time,” Gottlieb added. “Most of our members and supporters make contributions in the $10 to $25 range, and Glock will be providing significant additional support in our efforts to win back firearms freedoms one lawsuit at a time.”
Wal-Mart Increases Gun Sales Oversight
A decision by retail giant Wal-Mart in July to strengthen its oversight of gun purchases has drawn criticism from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and plaudits from groups such as the Million Mom March against handgun violence.
Wal-Mart has ordered its stores to wait until a Brady Law criminal background check on a purchaser is complete before selling guns to that purchaser, no matter how long the check takes. Currently, under federal law, gun sales can take place if a background check is not completed within seven business days.
ATK to Supply Non-Standard Ammunition
ATK has received delivery orders from the U.S. Army to provide non-standard (non-NATO) ammunition for the Afghan Security Forces.
The $10 million dollar order is part of an existing three-year contract with the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Rock Island, Illinois, originally awarded in 2009. Under the contract, the company provides supply chain management, quality assurance and logistics support in the delivery of non-standard small, medium and large-caliber ammunition.
S&W Wins Belgian Police Pistol Contract
Smith & Wesson Corp. has announced that it has recently received a contract from the Belgium Federal Police calling for 20,000 Smith & Wesson Military & Police (M&P) 9mm polymer pistols over a ten-year period.
The police agency, a force with 12,500 officers, has received an initial shipment of 2,500 pistols as part of the full department conversion to Smith & Wesson duty firearms. It is interesting to note that an FN (Belgium-made) product was not selected.
After an open evaluation process that included numerous competitors, the Smith & Wesson M&P9 was selected for its performance and for the support services provided by the company. A thorough test and evaluation process by the Belgium Federal Police indicated that the firearm’s reliability, interchangeable grips sizes and low perceived recoil were among the key drivers in the decision. In addition to duty pistols, the Belgium Federal Police also placed orders for Simunition and dedicated training firearms based on the M&P platform.
The firearms offered by Smith & Wesson were supported with a full range of services, including armorer’s training. The company also provided the agency with product manuals in multiple languages in order to ease the transition process.
The pistols ordered by the Belgium Federal Police were based upon the established M&P platform. The M&P9 pistols were built to meet the exact specifications set forth by the police agency. Enhanced features included luminescent sights, a manual thumb safety with on/off red dot indicator, and a raised loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide that could be felt by hand. The M&P9 pistols retained the original design features and were supplied with two 17-round magazines along with cleaning materials.
Mario Pasantes, Smith & Wesson’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Global Professional Sales, said, “We are pleased to support the long-term needs of the Belgium Federal Police with our M&P pistols, which have become a sidearm of choice for law enforcement agencies in both the United States and around the globe. Our M&P line is designed to meet the exacting standards and tough test criteria used by professionals, such as the Belgium Federal Police.”
Netherlands to Require Applicants Prove Sanity
A majority of Members of the Netherlands Parliament are supporting a recommendation from the public security council that applicants for a gun ownership license prove they are psychologically healthy before they can obtain a license.
In the Netherlands, gun ownership is not a right but a privilege, with hunting and target shooting the only two legitimate reasons for owning a gun. Self-defense is not considered a legitimate reason for owning a gun and only the police may openly carry a firearm.
More Women Buying Firearms
Experts say at least 40 percent of women in the U.S. either own a gun or have access to one, and the number of women buying guns is on the rise. Research shows an estimated 15 to 20 million women in the United States own firearms, and though the reasons vary, self defense seems to be number one.
Americans Oppose Handgun Ban
A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.
The author publishes two of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V16N1 (March 2012)|
and was posted online on January 22, 2012