Category Archives: Gun Rights

D.C. Appeals Court Strikes Down ‘Good Reason’ Licensing Scheme

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“Unconstitutional” is what a federal appeals court has ruled on the D.C. gun law that says people must show “good reason” to have concealed handgun permits.

The Second Amendment is sufficient reason itself to issue permits, according to the 2-1 ruling released Tuesday July 25, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“In fact, the Amendment’s core at a minimum shields the typically situated citizen’s ability to carry common arms generally,” wrote Judge Thomas B. Griffith in the ruling on the case Wrenn v. District of Columbia.

Subsequently, the appeals court instructed lower courts to block the D.C. law with permanent injunctions. City officials indicated they’re exploring an appeal, while gun-control groups claim the ruling shrinks public safety in the nation’s capital.

D.C. gun laws are among the strictest in the U.S., but they’ve also faced several legal challenges in the last few years, said Kirk Evans, President of U.S. & Texas LawShield.

Evans noted that one landmark pro-gun victory was District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 in which the U.S. Supreme Court—voting 5 to 4—struck down D.C.’s ban on handguns. Then, in 2014, another federal court prevented a proposed ban on carrying guns in public.

The D.C. Council—the enclave’s municipal government—responded by creating the “good reason” rule, which only issued permits to citizens who could prove they faced legitimate threats, Evans said.

“Simply residing in one of the District’s high-crime neighborhoods was not considered ‘good reason,’” Evans said. “This was not unnoticed by at least one member of Congress who complained colleagues were unarmed when a gunman shot up their ball practice in June.”

But, according to the appeals court’s decision, the “good reason” rule negated what the Supreme Court decided in Heller.

“The District’s good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on exercises of that constitutional right for most D.C. residents,” Judge Griffith wrote. “That’s enough to sink this law under (Heller).

Second Amendment advocates praised the latest ruling, including Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF).

He said the ruling “contains some powerful language that affirms what we’ve argued for many years, that requiring a so-called ‘good-cause’ to exercise a constitutionally-protected right does not pass the legal smell test.”

Gottlieb added, “We are particularly pleased that the opinion makes it clear that the Second Amendment’s core generally covers carrying in public for self-defense.”

In the days after the ruling it was too early to tell how far the case would rise through the appeals process. The Supreme Court in June declined to consider another Second Amendment case, Peruta v. California, in which the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a San Diego County law requiring gun owners to prove they have “good cause” to apply for concealed carry permits.

But Gottlieb said the latest victory in D.C. spurs confidence among Second Amendment advocates.

“To say we are delighted with the ruling would be an understatement,” Gottlieb said. “We are simply more encouraged to keep fighting, winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.” — Bill Miller, Contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog

 

 

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield and click here to become a member:

 

The “purple paint law” became official in Texas on September 1, 1997. The law doesn’t appear to be common knowledge for every hunter in the Lone Star State, even though Texas hunting regulations describe it.
Can your employer restrict your ability to carry firearms at the workplace? Click to watch Emily Taylor, Independent Program Attorney with Walker & Byington, explain that in Texas, employers call the shots regarding workplace self-defense.
In this excerpt from a U.S. Law Shield News live report, watch Emily Taylor, independent program attorney with Walker & Byington, discuss the ground rules for carrying firearms into restaurants and bars. Click the video below to find out the significant differences between blue signs and red signs in Texas establishments, and how getting those colors crossed up could lead to some orange jumpsuit time.   If you would like to see these reports live on Facebook, click here to join the Texas Law Shield Facebook page and sign up for live notifications.

Campus Carry Part II Kicks Off at Texas Community and Junior Colleges

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The application of the state’s Campus Carry Law at community and junior colleges across Texas kicked off with a whimper—not a bang—on Tuesday (Aug. 1), to no surprise of TSRA Legislative Director Alice Tripp.

Texas LawShield Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker visited with TSRA Legislative Director Alice Tripp in Austin earlier this year. 

“This effort started in 2007 and we’ve gone through four sessions of the Legislature and 10 public hearings,” said Tripp, who works closely with legislators as a representative of the Texas State Rifle Association.

“It has required a lot of work and effort.

“Now we will focus on making sure the state colleges follow the letter of the law,” she added, noting that every regular session of the Legislature colleges must send a report about their specific rules and regulations pertaining to the law and why they created them.

She said dire predictions of problems by the anti-gun crowd have proven to be groundless, just as when the law took effect at four-year public colleges on Aug. 1, 2016.

 

History

“There have been firearms on campuses since 1996—in the parking lots, on the grounds, in the dorms—this just opens up carrying firearms into buildings and classrooms.

“I am sure that students have been sitting next to someone carrying a handgun into a classroom all along. They were just doing it without permission—now they have permission,” she said.

Tripp pointed out that the negative attention on the issue has been focused mainly on students carrying firearms, while the driving force behind the effort to allow licensed carry on campus has come from faculty and staff members at the institutions of higher learning.

“What the faculty and staff members have told us is that they wanted to feel safe walking to their car in the parking lot after dark or in other areas where they might face a threat,” she said.

With the backing and support of the TSRA, state Senator Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, filled SB 11, also known as the Campus Carry Law. It passed during the 2015 Legislative session.

 

Incidents

Tripp noted that incidents related to the implementation of the law last year at four-year public colleges have been limited to one accidental discharge where no one was injured and a couple of cases where licensed concealed-carry holders inadvertently entered restricted areas.

 

Campus Carry Legal Issues

On the legal side of the issue, three University of Texas at Austin professors sued the state and the university after enactment of the Campus Carry Law, claiming that the potential presence of guns in classrooms has a chilling effect on class discussion.

A federal judge rejected their claims, ruling that the professors failed to present any “concrete evidence to substantiate their fears.”

Colleges may ban or restrict firearms from certain areas of the campuses. The Legislature must review these restrictions every other year.

There was at least one demonstration opposing the implementation of the state law at community and junior colleges on Tuesday. It was a one-man protest by a San Antonio College geography instructor.

 

Minor Pushback

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the 60-year-old instructor conducted classes on Tuesday while wearing a Kevlar helmet and a flak jacket in his protest of the law.

Reaction on the comments page of the paper was mostly negative. One reader wrote that the instructor’s action was a “melodramatic and buffoonish spectacle in protest of the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.” —by Ralph Winingham, Contributor, U.S. and Texas LawShield blog

 

 

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield and click here to become a member:

 

The “purple paint law” became official in Texas on September 1, 1997. The law doesn’t appear to be common knowledge for every hunter in the Lone Star State, even though Texas hunting regulations describe it.
Can your employer restrict your ability to carry firearms at the workplace? Click to watch Emily Taylor, Independent Program Attorney with Walker & Byington, explain that in Texas, employers call the shots regarding workplace self-defense.
In this excerpt from a U.S. Law Shield News live report, watch Emily Taylor, independent program attorney with Walker & Byington, discuss the ground rules for carrying firearms into restaurants and bars. Click the video below to find out the significant differences between blue signs and red signs in Texas establishments, and how getting those colors crossed up could lead to some orange jumpsuit time.   If you would like to see these reports live on Facebook, click here to join the Texas Law Shield Facebook page and sign up for live notifications.

NRA Statement on Trump Administration’s Aggressive Enforcement of Federal Firearm Laws

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NRA applauds Trump administration and its loyal Pro-Second-Amendment record to help American citizens take a stand in the face of rising crime. Read more…

trump

Source: NRA-ILA

Fairfax, Va. — Three months after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to crack down on illegal firearm possession, prosecutions of these crimes have risen by 23 percent. Violent criminals are now facing consequences for their illegal actions. At the same time, the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners are being respected under the Trump administration.

“The National Rifle Association applauds President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions for understanding that prosecuting violent criminals and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners are not mutually exclusive ideas,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “The Department of Justice report released today shows the administration’s commitment to getting violent criminals and gang members off our streets. After suffering an all-time low during the Obama administration, federal prosecutions of illegal firearm possession are now being taken seriously.”
The facts:
Charges of unlawful possession of a gun — mostly by convicted felons — are up 23 percent in the second quarter of 2017 from the same time period in 2016.

The number of defendants charged with the crime of using a firearm in a crime of violence or drug trafficking has increased by 10 percent.

The DOJ is on pace to prosecute the highest number of federal firearms cases since 2005.
During the Obama administration, federal prosecutions against individuals attempting to illegally buy a firearm dropped 40 percent.

During the Obama administration, prosecutions of unlawful possession of a firearm by a person subject to a court order dropped a whopping 66 percent.

“This report demonstrates that President Trump and Attorney General Sessions are making America safe again,” Cox concluded. “This is a complete reversal from the eight long years of the Obama administration, which ignored violent criminals while trying to destroy the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services. Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.

As Temperatures Go Up in Texas, So Does Road Rage

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A recent national television report asserted that road-rage incidents are becoming more common and more deadly, with the latest incident taking place in Pennsylvania, in which a man is alleged to have shot and killed a teenage girl during a traffic merge.  Click to watch level-headed advice from your Independent Program Attorney about what to do—and what not to do—in these situations.

Hello, my name is Edwin Walker. I’m an Independent Program Attorney with Texas Law Shield.

I want to talk to you today about an issue that we see on a daily basis. In fact, you will encounter it on a daily basis — the subject of road rage. I am sure that you have all seen road rage. You may have actually been involved in a road rage incident.

Now, if you’re a responsible gun owner, I’m going to give you a few words of advice on how to react when you find yourself in one of these unfortunate road-rage incidents. While on the roadways, we all observe something that makes us upset, whether it’s poor driving, unsafe driving, or just simply somebody being very discourteous.

By all means, you should restrain yourself from engaging that person and telling them how bad their actions were because this can be perceived as an act of road rage. If you’re a lawful gun owner and you have a firearm in your vehicle, you do not want to be viewed as the aggressor in a road-rage situation.

Now, about a situation where an individual has chosen to rage against you, and you are the actual victim of road rage, if you and the other individuals are still in their automobiles, do not use your firearm to respond to any of the rager’s activities. This is because law enforcement views the fact that you’re both still safely in your metal boxes as removing any threat of immediacy that you may be harmed.

So please, if you have a gun, and somebody is raging against you, forget that you have a gun, don’t display it, don’t brandish it, don’t show it, don’t point it, and for God’s sake, don’t fire it. This could result in a lot of trouble for you. Now let’s look at a situation where a road rage incident has escalated to the point where one of the participants has actually gotten out of their vehicle. We recommend that you stay in your vehicle at all times. Do not exit your vehicle because the person who left their vehicle is going to be looked at as the aggressor.

If the other individual has exited his or her vehicle and the person is not in contact with your vehicle, and they do not have a weapon, then do not feel that you can display your weapon in the act of self-defense. People are allowed to just simply stand there and scream at you—scream whatever they want—until they make a demonstrative effort to try to harm you. There is no immediate threat that would justify displaying or shooting or brandishing your firearm.

Now, if the person shows a weapon, in particular, a firearm, the existence of a weapon would give you reasonable belief that there was an immediate threat of harm that would justify an act of force or deadly force.

Even in this situation, I would be very cautious. Now, if this situation escalates even further, where the person has actually made physical contact with your vehicle, whether they are beating on it with an instrument with their fists or they’re attempting to open your door, this would give you the facts that you would need to show that you had a reasonable belief that that individual is unlawfully and forcefully attempting to either enter your vehicle or remove you from your vehicle. This is very very important because this falls under what is commonly known in Texas as the Castle Doctrine.

The Castle Doctrine provides that an individual is given a presumption of reasonableness if they use force or deadly force in a situation where they believe that the person is unlawfully and forcefully either attempting to enter their occupied vehicle or remove somebody from their occupied vehicle. This legal presumption can be very very important because this legal presumption then says that you are allowed to use force or deadly force in response to this other individual’s actions.

We want to keep you safe out on the roadway, so keep these words of advice in mind and try to have a little less road rage out there. If we have a little less road rage, maybe we’ll have a safer world.

 

 

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield and click here to become a member:

 

The “purple paint law” became official in Texas on September 1, 1997. The law doesn’t appear to be common knowledge for every hunter in the Lone Star State, even though Texas hunting regulations describe it.
Can your employer restrict your ability to carry firearms at the workplace? Click to watch Emily Taylor, Independent Program Attorney with Walker & Byington, explain that in Texas, employers call the shots regarding workplace self-defense.
In this excerpt from a U.S. Law Shield News live report, watch Emily Taylor, independent program attorney with Walker & Byington, discuss the ground rules for carrying firearms into restaurants and bars. Click the video below to find out the significant differences between blue signs and red signs in Texas establishments, and how getting those colors crossed up could lead to some orange jumpsuit time.   If you would like to see these reports live on Facebook, click here to join the Texas Law Shield Facebook page and sign up for live notifications.

California Court Blocks Enforcement of Recently-Enacted Magazine Ban

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Second Amendment advocates are cheering a federal court’s opinion blocking enforcement of California’s draconian magazine ban. Read more…

judge in California

Source: NRA ILA

The battle to secure Second Amendment rights is ever-evolving. Last Monday, gun owners were dealt a disappointing blow with the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the legal scheme that empowers California counties to effectively ban the bearing of arms. Yet by Thursday, Second Amendment advocates were cheering a federal court’s opinion blocking enforcement of California’s draconian magazine ban. That opinion, in Duncan v. Becerra, shows what’s possible when a federal judge treats the right to keep and bear arms with the respect deserved by all provisions within the Bill of Rights.

The case is challenging the ban enacted last fall by Proposition 63 on so-called “large capacity magazines” (i.e., most ammunition feeding devices “with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds”). California’s law went beyond similar laws in other antigun states by prohibiting not only the manufacturing, sale, or importation of such magazines but also their possession, including by those who had lawfully obtained them before the ban’s effective date of July 1. As Judge Roger T. Benitez put it in his order, “On July 1, 2017, any previously law-abiding person in California who still possesses a firearm magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds will begin their new life of crime.”

Thanks to the injunction issued by Judge Benitez, that is no longer the case. His order prevents enforcement of the ban on possession and the requirement that those in possession rid themselves of their magazines, pending further proceedings in the case. The order left intact, however, the bans on manufacturing, sale, or import.

Judge Benitez held that standard capacity magazines like those affected by the ban are “arms” within the meaning of the Second Amendment. He further ruled that the law burdens the “core” Second Amendment right of possessing an arm commonly held by law-abiding citizens for defense of home, self, and state. The burden, he wrote, was “more than slight” and the ban was neither presumptively legal nor of long-standing pedigree. And even if the ban were subject to the more forgiving brand of “intermediate scrutiny” under which many gun control laws have been upheld, he found it would not be a reasonable fit with the state’s asserted purpose of public safety because it is squarely aimed at law-abiding persons.

Judge Benitez had some unusually sharp characterizations of California’s gun control laws. “The language used, the internally referenced provisions, the interplay among them, and the plethora of other gun regulations, have made the State’s magazine laws difficult to understand for all but the most learned experts,” he stated. “Too much complexity fails to give fair notice and violates due process,” he continued, noting that even the attorney for the State of California could not describe all of the magazine ban’s intricacies during the hearing. “Who could blame her?” he asked rhetorically. “The California matrix of gun control laws is among the harshest in the nation and are filled with criminal law traps for people of common intelligence who desire to obey the law.”

Judge Benitez also assailed the creeping incrementalism that retroactively seeks to punish facially harmless behavior by upstanding people who are acting in good faith.

“Constitutional rights would become meaningless if states could obliterate them by enacting incrementally more burdensome restrictions while arguing that a reviewing court must evaluate each restriction by itself when determining constitutionality,” he wrote. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was exactly the complaint that the NRA and others had raised with the Ninth Circuit’s opinion the Supreme Court had earlier in the week declined to review. By focusing narrowly on the question of whether the Second Amendment was specifically meant to protect concealed carry, the Ninth Circuit had ignored the fact that California has foreclosed every option to lawfully bear arms for self-defense in public.
Judge Benitez framed the questions in Duncan case as whether a law-abiding, responsible citizen has “a right to defend his home from criminals using whatever common magazine size he or she judges best suits the situation” and “to keep and bear a common magazine useful for service in a militia.” He opined that “a final decision on the merits is likely to answer both questions ‘yes’… .“

Last Thursday’s opinion represents a very encouraging development but unfortunately is not the last word in the case. It remains to be seen if the state will appeal the injunction, and the court must still resolve the underlying claims. Once that happens, further appeals are likely to follow.

Overall, however, the week’s events were a reminder of the critical role that federal judges play in the freedoms that Americans enjoy (or don’t enjoy). And having a president who respects the Constitution when appointing those judges is a safeguard that no liberty-loving American can overestimate.

The Second Amendment Story

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In the wake of the 4th of July, this is a focus for many of us, and here’s the full story of how and why the Second Amendment came to be. Learn more…

second amendment

by Chip Lohman, NRA Publications Staff

Our earliest colonial governments began with charters written for individuals and settlement companies. As colonists sought religious freedom, better land or escape from British rule, charters were authorized by the King as the legal means for the colonies to exist.
As the colonies became more independent, they established their own governments, even drafting state constitutions in some cases. During this same period in our history, complaints began to surface about the perception that traditional rights of English citizens were not being extended to the colonists. Similar unrest was vented in Jonathan Mayhew’s sermon where he coined the phrase “No taxation without representation.” These and other objections to British oversight led to the American Revolution, during which the colonies formed the Continental Congress, declared independence on July 4, 1776 and fought the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).

Eleven years after publishing the Declaration of Independence with the legendary words “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” representatives from the 13 states were invited to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to revise the “Articles of Confederation.” These Articles still recognized states as independent governments. After the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, colonial activists began to compare the viability of independent state governments to a federal government better suited to national affairs. By 1786, it was apparent that the Union would not last unless the Articles of Confederation were revised.

Absent Rhode Island, the Philadelphia meetings began on Friday, May 25, 1787, with 55 prominent citizens attending. The deliberations included alternatives for wartime security, transitioning to a central government and how the states would be represented in that central government. The more populated states preferred proportional representation, while smaller states argued for equal representation. Thanks to the remarkable wisdom for our forefathers, the matter of state representation was resolved by proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives) and equal representation in the upper house (Senate).

As the summer debates of 1787 wore on, emphasis gradually shifted from state rule to a central, federal government. However, with little mention of individual rights guarantees written into the draft, several delegates, including anti-federalist George Mason of Virginia, proposed that a committee be appointed to prepare a bill of rights. Mason concluded in his objection: This government will commence in a moderate aristocracy. It is at present impossible to foresee whether it will, in its operation, produce a monarchy or a corrupt oppressive aristocracy. It will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.
One hundred and sixteen days after convening, 39 delegates signed the carefully crafted system of checks and balances that would become the United States Constitution. As provided for in Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

The following summer, New Hampshire became the requisite ninth state to ratify the document, thus establishing our new form of federal government. Today, our Constitution is the oldest written, operating constitution in the world.

Mason’s objection was delivered five days before the Constitution was signed. Perhaps due to the months already spent in argument and debate, and maybe to some degree because of the summer climate, worsened by the heavy wool coats and wigs of the day, the anti-federalist’s proposal was rejected.

Those who supported the Constitution were known as federalists. Delegates who feared that a centralized government would lead to a dictatorship were called anti-federalists. Recall that our fledgling country had just fought a war over matters such as “taxation without representation,” so there remained a healthy resistance to replacing one autocratic government with another. As a result of the impasse over the proposed amendments, several delegates refused to sign the final document.

Negotiating a common, legislative rule of law for 13 states, in four months (not years) and securing a majority vote was an extraordinary task in itself. Devising a system of checks and balances with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches was brilliant. But in 1787, the completed document contained none of the civil liberties that distinguish our government today. Were it not for the inspired, flexible design of the newly drafted Constitution that allowed a minority group to voice a dissenting opinion, the cornerstone of individual rights on which our democracy is now based may never have been laid.

The early framers recognized the need for flexibility in constitutional law. Consequently, Article V of the Constitution outlines the method for change as a two-step procedure: Proposal of an amendment, followed by ratification. Using state models for individual rights and reaching as far back as the English Magna Carta for inspiration, Mason proposed a Bill containing 10 amendments to the Constitution what became known as the Bill of Rights. Through a lengthy process of House, Senate and State ratifications, the Bill was ultimately signed four years later on December 15, 1791. Over time, more than 5,000 amendments have been proposed in Congress, with far fewer actually ratified.

Established shortly after the American Civil War (1871) as a marksmanship and firearms safety organization that today includes a myriad of related education and support programs, the National Rifle Association’s mission was significantly expanded in the mid-1970s. With an increased concentration of resources devoted to preserving Second Amendment rights, NRA became a more active participant in the legislative and public policy arena in support of protecting and advancing the guarantees of our Constitution. As originally ratified by the founding fathers, the Second Amendment decrees that: 
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.This wasn’t a new concept, with origins dating back to Great Britain’s Bill of Rights written in 1689. The British version created a separation of powers, enhanced democratic elections, bolstered freedom of speech and argued that individuals had the natural right of self-defense.

The old style grammar used when drafting the Second Amendment has since led to multiple dissections and interpretations of the founders’ intent. Were the framers referring merely to the need for a standing militia, or is it clear that their focus was to preserve an individual right, as was the theme for all 10 amendments?

Over the years, the Supreme Court has rendered its own interpretations of the intent of the Second Amendment. In 1875 (United States v. Cruikshank), the Court ruled that “the right to bear arms is not granted [emphasis added] by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendment means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government.”

Fast forward to 2008 (District of Columbia v. Heller), where the Court again ruled that the Second Amendment “…codified a pre-existing right” and that it “…protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” Most recently in 2010, (McDonald v. Chicago), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits state and local governments to the same extent that it limits the federal government.

While it’s interesting to review the twists and turns of history and the awe-inspiring wisdom of the founding fathers, what lies ahead rests squarely on our shoulders. Readers will argue their own reasons why the fervent debate continues over the Second Amendment and, by extension, gun control. I believe that the implementation of Social Security (1935), the shift from an agricultural to urban life, and a dependence on others for food, shelter and safety, and maybe even the advent of 911 calls (1968), have contributed to an attitude, for many, that “someone else” is responsible for our welfare. The opposing side will argue that we are “our own 911.”

With the recent Republican wins in the White House and Congress, and the Supreme Court nominations to follow, one could mistakenly believe we have put this debate to bed for 40-50 years. Whether or not the argument can be reconciled through education, arbitration or compromise, that’s another article — for all of us to write.

Trump sends more feds to fight Chicago gun violence

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As usual: it’s not about new laws, it’s about more effective enforcement… Read on…

chicago crime scene

Source: Chicago Tribune

Twenty federal gun agents have been assigned to Chicago to join a newly formed task force aimed at cutting the flow of illegal guns into the city and cracking down on people repeatedly arrested on gun charges.

Hours after the Chicago police department sent out a news release about the task force, President Donald Trump claimed credit for sending in the agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help,” he tweeted last Friday morning.

Trump said there have been “1714 shootings in Chicago this year!” but the number is actually higher, according to data kept by the Tribune. As of Friday morning, the number of people shot in Chicago was at least 1,760, still lower than this time last year, when violence reached levels not seen in two decades.

In January, Trump tweeted, “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, … I will send in the Feds!”

At a news briefing Friday in Washington, D.C., reporters asked Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether Chicago’s crime problem was related to gun access.

“I think that the problem there is pretty clear that it’s a crime problem. I think crime is probably driven more by morality than anything else,” she said. “So I think that this is a law enforcement issue and our focus is trying to add additional support.”

The roughly 40-person strike force, which consists of Chicago police officers, ATF agents and Illinois State Police, will be working on unsolved shootings and gun-related homicides and combating illegal gun trafficking, officials said Friday.

“It is a battle which can only be fought with all hands on deck, that is, state, federal and local law enforcement,” Joel Levin, Chicago’s acting U.S. Attorney, told reporters at a Friday afternoon news conference at Chicago police headquarters.

This isn’t the first time task forces have been formed to combat gun violence in Chicago.

For example, ATF agents worked in the past with Chicago police officers in the South Chicago District, which borders northwest Indiana, to try to counter the flow of illegal firearms from that state. ATF statistics have shown that most of the guns originating from outside of Cook County that were recovered at Chicago crime scenes in past years came from Indiana.

Tim Jones, who heads the ATF task force, told reporters that 20 new agents will be working on it. That’s in addition to 41 ATF agents who were already working in Chicago.

“We are a small agency, have a small footprint but we like to cast a bigger shadow through our attitude and effort, and we’re here to help, so we’re going to do what we can to work with our partners,” Jones said.

When asked by a reporter if 20 additional agents is enough, given the scope of Chicago’s illegal gun problem, Jones replied, “Me personally, we could probably use 500 more agents. We just don’t have (those resources).”

One of the things the task force will be doing is examining bullet casings recovered from crime scenes in order to perform expedited ballistics testing and determine whether the casings came from the same guns used in other crimes.

These casings will be tested in a mobile van provided by ATF agents who will perform the tests through its National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. This way, Chicago police will be able to determine within hours — instead of days with the department’s in-house lab — whether the casings came from guns used at other crime scenes.

Anthony Riccio, chief of the Chicago police’s Bureau of Organized Crime, said the ATF’s ballistics technology not only could help the department work more quickly, but also could help them link guns to solve more crimes.

“While officers probably will still be working on the arrest report for this individual, we’ll know the history of that gun. We’ll know if it’s been involved in any other shootings. We’ll know where it’s been used,” he said. “And that’s a great lead for detectives because now they’ve got the guy and the gun that have been used in shootings that before would’ve taken us days to find out.”

Chicago police First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro said the department had been working on arrangements to receive more assistance from federal law enforcement since November, during former President Barack Obama’s administration. Those efforts continued under Trump

According to a release from the office of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the task force became operational June 1.

“The Trump Administration will not let the bloodshed go on; we cannot accept these levels of violence,” the release quoted Sessions as saying. “That’s why, under President Trump’s strong leadership, we have created the Chicago Gun Strike Force and are sending 20 more permanent ATF agents to Chicago, reallocating federal prosecutors and prioritizing prosecutions to reduce gun violence, and working with our law enforcement partners to stop the lawlessness.”

Sessions went on to criticize the city of Chicago’s status as a “sanctuary city,” which gives certain legal protections to immigrants without legal status in Chicago, saying the policies “tie the hands of law enforcement.” He then praised Celinez Nunez, the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of ATF, saying the agent “has experienced the tragic consequences of gang violence firsthand,” and would make the city safer.

The task force will work with the Chicago police department’s Organized Crime Bureau and the ATF’s Chicago field office, Chicago police said.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in the CPD news release that the task force “will significantly help our police officers stem the flow of illegal guns and create a culture of accountability for the small subset of individuals and gangs who (disproportionately) drive violence in our city.”

Rotary Turns 180 Degrees on Restrictive Firearm Policies

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UPDATE: Rotary Club International changes policies at request of 2nd Amendment member-supporters.

u-turn sign

Source: NRA-ILA

In March, we reported on a series of restrictive policies governing firearms that had been approved by the governing body of the well-known networking and service club, Rotary International. This week came a welcome turn of events, as the club’s board of directors announced that the rules, which had been set to take effect July 1, have undergone substantial “clarification.”

The policies as originally announced in January had banned any Rotary entity — including clubs and districts — from selling, raffling, or transferring firearms. It also banned these entities from participating in activities where any sort of firearm raffle or other transfer occurs, whether or not Rotary is the owner of the items. Rotary entities were additionally prohibited from sponsoring or conducting gun shows or other exhibitions involving guns and even from “accept[ing] sponsorship from any entity whose primary business is the sale or manufacturer of guns, weapons or other armaments.

Rotary’s board of directors had cited “financial and reputational risk” as justification for the rules.  

A number of Rotary’s American members, however, spoke out in opposition to the new rules. Fortunately, their voices were heard, and Rotary announced changes to the rules this week.

Under the revised guidelines, Rotary entities are expressly authorized to “participate in activities involving the sale, give-away or transfer, including raffles, of guns, weapons or other armaments ….” The entity, however, must not “take ownership of the item(s)” and any transfer of ownership of a firearm must be “handled by a licensed third party in compliance with all applicable laws.” 

Entities engaging in activities that involve firearms, including sport shooting activities, are further required “to consult with legal and/or insurance professionals to ensure that they are adequately protected.”

The ban on sponsorship of Rotary activities by firearm-related companies was also lifted.

An email announcing the changes said they were made “in response to comments from our members….”

The NRA is very pleased that Rotary has reconsidered its position and will continue to allow its entities to conduct these popular events. It speaks well of the club that it was willing to chart a more moderate path in response to member concerns.

BREAKING: US Banned VEPR Due To Sanctions? Looks Like It!

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US Department of Treasury just added the manufacturer of the VEPR AK-variant to its sanction list. Keep reading…Source: TFB

VEPR banned

(TheFirearmsBlog.com) report by Patrick R., and others

Back in 2015 the Obama administration banned US companies from doing business with the Russian company Kalashnikov Concern, one of the popular manufacturers of Russian-made AK-type rifles. That’s why Kalashnikov USA exists now — they’re building rifles here in the US to circumvent the sanctions and continue selling to the American civilian firearms market.

The US Department Of Treasury released an update to the sanction list in connection to the Russian-Ukranian conflict, and it now that the Trump administration is expanding those sanctions to include another company, MOLOT-ORUZHIE, which means their VEPR line of firearms will be affected.

So why has MOLOT-ORUZHIE been placed on the sanctions list? The Department of Treasury cites the reason as due to a connection to Kalashnikov Concern. Some speculate that Kalashnikov Concern is poised to purchase the now-bankrupt MOLOT.

The text from the US Department of Treasury is posted below:

MOLOT-ORUZHIE, OOO (a.k.a. OBSHCHESTVO S OGRANICHENNOI OTVETSTVENNOSTYU ‘MOLOT-ORUZHIE’; f.k.a. OBSHCHESTVO S OGRANICHENNOI OTVETSTVENNOSTYU PROIZVODSTVENNO INSTRUMENT KACHESTVO), 135 ul. Lenina, Vyatskie Polyany, Kirov Obl. 612960, Russia; Registration ID 1094307000633 (Russia); Tax ID No. 4307012765 (Russia); Government Gazette Number 60615883 (Russia) [UKRAINE-EO13661] (Linked To: KALASHNIKOV CONCERN).

What does this mean for US gun owners?

For those who already own a VEPR firearm there’s no problem at all — your gun is 100% legal and will remain so. You can do with it what you want, whether that means selling it or keeping it.

Gun stores with VEPR firearms currently on the shelves should also be okay. Again, as long as no further money flows to MOLOT-ORUZHIE there’s no issue. Guns already in the country will be exempt from any sanctions.

Importers and distributors, however, may have a problem. Firearms “in transit” which have been bought and paid for will probably be okay, but they represent the end of the pipeline; no more new guns would be able to be purchased from MOLOT and imported into the country.

The end result is that we’ll soon see the flow of MOLOT-made VEPRs slow to a trickle and then stop completely. Prices will likely climb as supplies dwindle, but since there are other US-made AK-pattern options on the market, including those from the new Kalashnikov USA, there’s unlikely to be any real shortage of this style firearm. Those who have been eyeing that VEPR might be advised to grab one before supplies dry up, and move fast!

Texas Legislative Wrap-Up: More Great News for Gun Owners

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Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker visited with TSRA Legislative Director Alice Tripp at the Texas House of Representatives Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee hearings in Austin earlier this year. Edwin testified on a number of pending bills.

The 85th Texas Legislature adjourned on May 29, and in the session, legislators passed several bills that enhance gun-owners’ rights in the state. Following are descriptions of several bills that have passed the Legislature and have either been signed or are awaiting Gov. Abbott’s signature:

H.B. 1819

Purpose: Creates Texas Penal Code § 46.05(a)(7) which states that firearm silencers that are curios or relics, or are possessed, manufactured, transported, repaired, or sold in compliance with federal law, are not prohibited weapons. This means that if the federal “Hearing Protection Act of 2017” becomes law and removes firearm silencers from ATF regulation under the NFA, they will no longer be prohibited weapons under TPC §46.05.

Amends Texas Penal Code § 46.05 to state that prohibited weapons does not include those weapons that are not subject to the ATF registration requirement. This means that since the ATF has chosen not to regulate the Mossberg Shockwave as a short-barreled shotgun under the NFA that it is not prohibited under TPC § 46.05(a)(1)(C).

Signed by the Gov.: May 26, 2017

Effective: September 1, 2017

S.B. 16

Purpose: Amends Texas Government Code § 411.174(a) to reduce the fee for an LTC application to $40. Amends TGC § 411.185(a) to reduce the renewal fee for an LTC to $40.

Amends TGC § 411.190(c) to reduce the application fee for LTC instructors to $40.

Amends TGC § 411.194(a) to reduce the fee for a duplicate or modified LTC (currently $25) by half and reduces the renewal fee to $5, for an indigent person.

Amends TGC § 411.190(c) to reduce the application fee for LTC instructors to $40.

Amends TGC § 411.195(a) to reduce the fee for a duplicate or modified LTC (currently $25) by half and reduces the renewal fee to $5, for a person who is 60 or over.

Amends TGC § 411.1991(d) to eliminate LTC fees for peace officers.

Signed by Gov.: May 26, 2017

Effective: September 1, 2017

H.B. 435

Purpose: Creates Texas Penal Code § 46.01(18) which is a Volunteer Emergency Service Personnel (VESP), that includes volunteer firefighters, volunteer emergency medical services, or any individual who provides services for the general public during emergency situations. It specifically does not include peace officers or reserve LEOs, who are performing law enforcement duties.

Creates an exception to TPC §§ 30.06 & 30.07 for VESPs who are LTC holders.

Creates an exception to the prohibited places listed in TPC § 46.035(b)&(c) for VESPs who are LTC holders and engaged in providing emergency services. Creates a new exemption under TPC § 46.15 to the prohibited places under TPC §§ 46.02 & 46.03, for VESPs who are LTC holders and engaged in providing emergency services.

Creates an exemption to the prohibited places under TPC §§ 46.02, 46.03, & 46.035 (except correctional facilities) for LTC holders who are the attorney general, assistant attorney generals, United States Attorney, assistant United States Attorney.

Creates an exemption to Texas Government Code § 411.209 for 10 specifically listed state hospitals that can exclude handguns carried by LTC holders via a posted sign.   Also, creates a civil fine for an LTC holder who violates the sign, in addition to the existing criminal penalty.

This is still awaiting action by Gov. Abbott. If signed, it will become effective on September 1, 2017.

S.B. 263

Purpose: Amends Texas Government Code § 411.188(a) to remove the minimum caliber requirement for the firearm used to qualify during the range portion for an LTC.

This is still awaiting action by Gov. Abbott. If signed, it will become effective on September 1, 2017.

H.B. 913

Purpose: Creates Texas Penal Code § 46.01(18) (the numbering conflicts with H.B. 435) which defines Improvised Explosive Device (IED) to be a completed and operational bomb. It specifically does not include the unassembled components or an exploding target used for firearms practice, i.e. Tannerite.

Creates TPC § 46.05(7) (numbering conflicts with H.B. 1819) to add IEDs to the list of prohibited weapons.

This is still awaiting action by Gov. Abbott. If signed, it will become effective on September 1, 2017.

S.B. 1566

Purpose: Creates Texas Education Code § 37.0815 to prohibit school districts and charter schools from having employment rules that prohibit school employees who are LTC holders from keeping handguns, firearms, or ammunition, that is not in plain view, in a private, locked motor vehicle in a school-owned parking area. This does not allow a school employee to exhibit a firearm to cause alarm or personal injury or to violate TPC §§ 46.03 or 46.035.  It is important to remember that this law applies only to school employees who are LTC holders. School employees who are not LTC holders continue to be subject to school employment rules under Texas Labor Code §52.062(a)(2)(B)&(C).

This is still awaiting action by Gov. Abbott. If signed, it will become effective on September 1, 2017.

H.B. 1935

Purpose: Amends Texas Penal Code § 46.01(6) to remove the term “Illegal” knife and create the term “Location restricted” knife. Knives will no longer be classified as throwing knife, dagger, dirk, stiletto, poniard, bowie knife, sword, or spear. The only requirement to be a “Location restricted” knife is having a blade over 5 ½ inches long, from the guard to the tip.

Creates TPC § 46.02(a-4), which prohibits a person under the age of 18 from carrying a location restricted knife except on their own property, their motor vehicle or watercraft, or under the direct supervision of a parent or legal guardian.

Creates TPC § 46.03(a-1) which adds the following prohibited places for location restricted knives to the list of weapons prohibited places already in TPC § 46.03. These places include 51% businesses, high school, collegiate, professional sporting events or interscholastic events, correctional facilities, hospitals, nursing facilities, mental hospitals, amusement parks, and places of religious worship. The offense for taking a location restricted knife into the premises of a school or educational institution is a 3rd-degree felony. The offense for taking a location restricted knife into any other prohibited place is a Class C misdemeanor. There is no requirement to give notice of the location restricted knife prohibition, i.e. no 30.06 or 30.07 criminal trespass notice, or 51% business establishment notice needed.

This is still awaiting action by Gov. Abbott. If signed, it will become effective on September 1, 2017.

H.B. 3784

Purpose: Amends Texas Government Code § 411.188 to allow for online LTC classroom qualification courses. The range portion of the LTC qualification must be done in person by a qualified instructor who will also provide an additional 1-2 hours of range instruction prior to shooting.

Amends TGC § 411.190 to create qualifications for online instruction certification.

Creates TGC §411.1993 to allow for licensed county jailers to qualify for an LTC without additional training.

Creates TGC § 411.1994 to allow for state correctional officers to qualify for an LTC without additional training.

This is still awaiting action by Gov. Abbott. If signed, it will become effective on September 1, 2017.

H.B. 867

Purpose: Creates Texas Education Code § 37.0813, that extends the school marshal program to private schools.

Amends TEC § 37.0811 to allow for one school marshal per 200 students instead of 400 students or allows for one school marshal per building on a school campus.

This is still awaiting action by Gov. Abbott. If signed, it will become effective on September 1, 2017.

S.B. 2065

Purpose: Created Texas Occupations Code § 1702.333, to allow places of religious worship to have volunteer security teams without being licensed by the TxDPS as a security guard or security company. In order to qualify under this provision, the members need to be unpaid volunteers and not wear a uniform or badge that says “Security” or gives the appearance of being a police officer, personal protection officer, or security officer. There is no restriction on members of the security team who are LTC holders from carrying their handguns.

This is still awaiting action by Gov. Abbott. If signed, it will become effective on September 1, 2017.

—Compiled and written by Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker, a lawyer with the Walker & Byington firm in Houston.

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