Category Archives: Law

Fired for Your Firearm: Do You Have any Options?

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A recent incident in which a Waffle House waitress was fired after defending herself against an attempted robbery shows that even when people exercise their legal right to self-defense, they can still be terminated by their employers.

According to WSBTV in Georgia, “Deputies said robbers gave a note to a waitress that threatened to shoot everyone unless she gave them money.” Heather Stanley, another waitress at the Newnan, Georgia eatery, went out to her car, retrieved her handgun, and “fired one shot into the air” as the would-be robbers ran to their cars.

Stanley was fired by Waffle House after the incident.

Stanley told WSBTV, “I didn’t know if they had guns. I didn’t know if they were going to their vehicle to get another one and could come back and try to get to the safe, so my instinct was to go to my car and get the gun.” Stanley added, “For trying to protect their Waffle House and trying to protect their money and to get their money back, they let me go.”

In Texas, employers can fire employees for similar policy violations. Independent Program Attorney Emily Taylor of Walker & Byington discusses the limited options fired employees in the Lone Star State have if they violate an employer’s firearms policy:

What happens if you do get fired for violating a firearms policy? Well, unfortunately, Texas is an “employment at will” state so your employer can fire you for virtually any reason, or no reason at all at any time.

So if you’re fired for violating a firearms policy, you don’t really have recourse. Firearms owners in Texas are not a protected class of persons, so you can’t come back then and sue your employer and say you were discriminated against for being a firearms owner. We reserve this protected-class status for things like race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and things of this nature.

There’s one more quirk in Texas firearms law that pertains to employers and employees, and this is having your firearm in your vehicle at work. We have a bill here in Texas that says that the general rule is employers must allow you to do this.

However, that bill doesn’t have a punishment for employers who violate this law, so at the end of the day, if you have your firearm in the car, your employer tells you that you cannot do this, and then they fire you for having your firearm in the car, unfortunately, even though, they are in violation of the statute, you have again no legal recourse because Texas is employment at will.

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

The just-released video above is from the Florida State Attorney’s Office, supporting a judge’s ruling that a citizen who opened fire on a man attacking a Lee County deputy last year was justified in using deadly force.
Taking the family to a state or national park this summer? Then you need to know the rules about firearms carry at your destinations, in-state or out of state. Click to watch Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington explain various park rules controlling where you can — and definitely cannot — take your gun. And please take the poll at the bottom to tell us if you take firearms with you on vacation. All poll responses are completely confidential.

Seattle Gun Tax Fails to Generate Projected Revenue, Succeeds in Burdening Rights

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Seattle gun and ammo tax a huge failure! Read on…

Source NRA-ILA

tax burdenOn March 16, 2017, the Seattle Times reported that Seattle city officials were reluctant to release data on the revenue generated by the city’s firearms and ammunition tax, citing taxpayer confidentiality concerns. Less than a week later, we now know the more likely reason that Seattle failed to disclose this tax revenue: because the money raised fell woefully short of the figure projected by supporters of the tax.

In July 2015, Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess proposed legislation he dubbed a “Gun Violence Tax,” contending that “It’s time for the gun industry to help defray” the cost of criminal violence perpetrated with guns. Burgess’s proposal was unanimously passed by the city council on August 10, 2015. The legislation imposed a $25 tax on firearm sales, a $.02 per round tax on .22 and smaller-caliber ammunition, and a $.05 per round tax on ammunition greater than .22 caliber. The revenue was intended to be used to fund anti-gun research at the Harborview Medical Center.

On August 24, 2015, NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation filed suit in King County Superior Court to prevent the city from enforcing the new tax. NRA’s complaint pointed out that the tax violates the Second Amendment and is also impermissible under Washington state law.

The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that governments are not permitted to attack constitutionally-protected conduct through taxation. In the First Amendment context, the Court struck down a Minnesota use tax on ink and paper used in publishing. In that case — Minneapolis Star Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue — the Court warned that, “A power to tax differentially, as opposed to a power to tax generally, gives a government a powerful weapon against the taxpayer selected.”

Washington’s firearms preemption statute also bars Seattle’s tax. Section 9.41.290 of the Revised Code of Washington states,

The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloading components.

And, local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

Washington law does provide a small number of specific exemptions to the state firearm preemption statute, but these concern local zoning in relating to firearms dealers, carry in certain municipal buildings, and the discharge of firearms.

Despite the plain language of Washington’s preemption statute, in December 2015 King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson upheld Seattle’s tax. NRA and our allies have appealed the court’s decision, and the case now sits with the Washington State Supreme Court.

In advocating for the tax, Burgess and other supporters of the legislation repeatedly cited figures from the City Budget Office that claimed the tax would raise between $300,000 and $500,000 a year. In an email to the Times this week, Burgess confessed, “During its first year, the firearms and ammunition tax payments received by the City were less than $200,000.” It is not clear how much less than $200,000 the city collected.

According to the Times, to come up with the outlandish $300,000-$500,000 figure, the City Budget Office “obtained the annual number of background checks for gun sales in Washington. Then they looked up what percentage of Washington’s licensed gun dealers were in Seattle and used that to guess the number of firearms sales in the city.” In addition to the fact that its analysis was too rudimentary to offer an accurate estimate of gun sales in Seattle, the budget office appears to have made no attempt to predict the impact the significant tax would have on the behavior of gun dealers and buyers.

Making this projection appear even more ridiculous is that the 2016 tax shortfall occurred in a year that witnessed record gun sales nationally and in the Evergreen State. In 2016, there were 713,996 NICS background checks conducted in Washington, whereas the 2015 total was 502,280. Washingtonians were buying plenty of guns in 2016, but as many predicted when the tax was proposed, not in Seattle.

The inaccuracy of City Budget Office’s projections was readily apparent to gun dealers at the time the tax was enacted. Shortly after Burgess proposed the tax, Seattle gun store owner Sergey Solyanik told the Times that he didn’t think the city’s projected revenue was realistic. Solyanik explained that should the tax pass, “I would have almost no margins, so I would pass the tax on to my customers and most people would simply not buy from me… They would go to any of the stores around Seattle — there are a large number — and I would have to close.” Another gun dealer told the Times, “The public won’t buy ammunition in Seattle anymore… When a $10 or $15 box of ammunition costs an extra five bucks, it won’t be worth it.”

In addition to speaking to the press, Solyanik took his concerns about the tax and the foolish revenue projection directly to the city council. On July 15, 2015, Solyanik told the council, “I was horrified when I see the numbers behind this proposal. Seattle is a city that has a vibrant engineering community. We would think that we would be making decisions such as this based on data. And the data that has been submitted by the proponents is completely fake.” Speaking to the council again on the day that it passed the tax, Solyanik warned, “The revenue numbers in this proposal are not real. The city is not going to get any money from this tax. The city instead will lose tax revenue on existing sales.” Solyanik went on to add, “The only real purpose of this legislation is to run gun stores out of the city. I know it, you know it, and the courts will know it.”

In that effort, the city succeeded. Solyanik moved his store outside the city to avoid the tax. According to the Times, the only other dedicated gun store in Seattle has also left. Any honest accounting of the revenue collected from the tax should account for the lost revenue from these stores, and the others whose business has been curtailed by Seattle’s restriction.

Seattle’s high-profile failure has put every other anti-gun locality on notice that this type of taxation scheme is ineffective for raising revenue. Seattle’s embarrassment should make it harder for other localities to hide behind the false claim that these sorts of tax regimes are intended to raise revenue, rather than burden Second Amendment rights.

New Video Shows Good Samaritan Stopping Attack on Deputy

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The just-released video above is from the Florida State Attorney’s Office, supporting a judge’s ruling that a citizen who opened fire on a man attacking a Lee County deputy last year was justified in using deadly force.

On Nov. 14, 2016, passerby Ashad Russell saw Edward Strother, 53, of Ocala, pin Deputy First Class Dean Bardes to the ground during a struggle on Exit 123 just off I-75 near Fort Myers. In the new video clips, Russell, who has a concealed weapons permit, can be seen walking up to the two with his pistol. He ordered Strother to stop.

The new video shows that Russell approached the fight, drew his firearm, which he legally possessed, and he ordered the suspect to stop what he was doing multiple times. When the suspect didn’t, the good samaritan shot three times, resulting in Strother’s death.

U.S. Law Shield of Florida Independent Program Attorney James Phillips analyzed the shooting after the event, saying, Florida Statute 790.012 allows a person to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes such force is needed to either prevent death or great bodily harm that is imminent to either himself or to another person, in this situation the officer.”

Click below to read our initial coverage of the confrontation.
Florida Good Samaritan Analysis: Licensed Carrier Saves Deputy

We also reported that a U.S. Law Shield range affiliate in Florida donated a replacement handgun to Mr. Russell, whose carry gun was taken into evidence. Click the link below to read about Shoot Straight’s generous donation.
Affiliate Update: Shoot Straight Donates Handgun to Florida Man Who Saved Deputy

Do you face legal liability if you try to help someone? Click the headlines below to learn more about what the law allows.
Texas Good Samaritans: What Can You Legally Do?
Should You Protect Thy Neighbor?

A Promise Kept: SOCIAL SECURITY GUN BAN ENDED!

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Trump Signs Repeal of Obama-Era Social Security Gun Prohibition Rule. Read more…

Source: NRA-ILA

TRUMP

On Tuesday, Feb 28, President Donald J. Trump signed the repeal of an Obama-era Social Security Administration (SSA) rule that would have resulted in some 75,000 law-abiding beneficiaries losing their Second Amendment rights each year.

The SSA rulemaking was issued in the waning weeks of Obama’s presidency and targeted those receiving disability insurance or Supplementary Security Income based on SSA’s listed mental disorders and who were appointed a “representative payee” to help them manage their benefits. The agency — for the first time in its history — sought to portray these individuals as “mental defectives” who were prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms under federal law. It had planned to notify them of their prohibited status and to report them to NICS.

Making matters worse, the beneficiaries would have had no ability to argue about their suitability to possess firearms before their rights were lost. Instead, they would have been reduced to filing a petition for “restoration” of their rights, an expensive and bureaucratic process that would have required them to pay for a mental health evaluation and to prove they were not dangerous, a premise the government never established in the first place.

The plan drew fire not just from the NRA, but also from the ACLU and a wide range of mental health advocacy and treatment groups from across the political spectrum. Also opposing the plan was the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities. The NCD issued a statement explaining:

Since the action was first proposed in 2013, NCD has consistently taken the position that equating the need for assistance in managing one’s finances with a false presumption of incapacity in other areas of life, including possession of a firearm, unnecessarily and unreasonably deprives individuals with disabilities of a constitutional right and increases the stigma that [affects] those who may need a representative payee. The overly broad classification of “mental disorder,” includes a wide range of limitations and a shifting set of criteria relevant to whether or not one can engage in substantial gainful activity. NCD remains steadfast in our position that this classification remains irrelevant to the question of whether one can be a responsible gun owner.

The SSA received tens of thousands of comments in opposition to the rule. The NRA-ILA’s submission explained in detail how the rule was contrary to the underlying statute, to the U.S. Constitution and would function mainly to stigmatize the SSA beneficiaries and discourage others from seeking treatment and benefits to which they were entitled. It also argued that there was no empirical support for the notion that the rule would promote public safety.

The SSA, however, ignored the comments and issued the rule essentially as proposed.

It also brazenly brushed aside proffered evidence that the targeted beneficiaries were not at any increased risk for committing violence with firearms. “We are not attempting to imply a connection between mental illness and a propensity for violence, particularly gun violence,” the SSA wrote. “Rather, we are complying with our obligations under the NIAA, which require us to provide information from our records when an individual falls within one of the categories identified in 18 U.S.C. 922(g).”

Fortunately, pro-gun majorities in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate acted quickly to disapprove the rule under the Congressional Review Act, a federal statute that allows Congress to use an expedited legislative process to overrule administrative actions passed in the waning days of an outgoing administration.

The efforts to roll back this unjustified and legally unauthorized rule were predictably met with a withering barrage of negative and fake reporting from the anti-gun media, with supposed “news” outlets issuing such ludicrous headlines as “Senate, House hand guns to seriously mentally ill.” All these reports completely ignored the fact that existing restrictions on persons who had been involuntarily committed or adjudicated mentally incompetent remained fully intact. By acting to block the rule, Congress simply disapproved the Obama administration’s attempt to create a new class of prohibited persons by “reinterpreting” a federal gun control statute passed in 1968.

President Trump’s signing of the measure not only served to help repair the damage to the Second Amendment wrought by the Obama administration, it ushered in what many hope will be a new era of respect for the right to keep and bear arms. Just over a month into his presidency, Trump signed a free-standing pro-gun bill into law.

The NRA, of course, was among the earliest and staunchest supporters of Trump’s presidential bid. We thank him for his quick action on this measure and look forward to working with him and the pro-gun majorities in Congress to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

Last to Call — First to Jail

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When a Colorado member was confronted by two angry men in a grocery store parking lot, he tried to defuse the situation by showing his firearm. Watch Member Ambassador Sherry Hale explain why our Member got arrested — and learn the simple step you can take to avoid a similar fate.

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield:

Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Gordon Cooper says that words alone are not enough to justify use of force or deadly force in an escalating situation. But couple them with a threatening action, and it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame. Click to watch the video:
Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Gordon Cooper says that words alone are not enough to justify use of force or deadly force in an escalating situation. But couple them with a threatening action, and it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame. Click to watch the video:
Springfield-Armory-Saint-right-x1200
You might have read some articles or seen headlines about a court upholding a ban on “assault rifles,” including the AR-15. Independent Program Attorneys at the law firm of Walker & Byington, PLLC have received many questions from Members concerned that this ruling has made the AR-15 (and similar semi-automatic firearms) illegal “assault weapons” everywhere in the country. Is this the truth of the matter, or a case of media misinformation?

Texas: Can Your Town Outlaw Your Guns?

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In the Lone Star State, cities and counties generally may not regulate the ownership or carry of firearms, ammunition, and knives — with a couple of pretty important exceptions. Click the video link below to watch Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker of Walker & Byington in Houston tell you how to stay legal in the great state of Texas.

Texas is our second largest market in the U.S. so it’s important for us to impart as much info as we can. It also raises the question to many of our other larger markets (lookin at you CA!) What are your state’s regulations, and how well are you familiar with them?

Help you fellow shooters out in the comments section. Feel free to post valid links to state regulation in the comments section as a reference.

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield:

 When a Colorado member was confronted by two angry men in a grocery store parking lot, he tried to defuse the situation by showing his firearm. Watch Member Ambassador Sherry Hale explain why our Member got arrested — and learn the simple step you can take to avoid a similar fate.
Springfield-Armory-Saint-right-x1200
You might have read some articles or seen headlines about a court upholding a ban on “assault rifles,” including the AR-15. Independent Program Attorneys at the law firm of Walker & Byington, PLLC have received many questions from Members concerned that this ruling has made the AR-15 (and similar semi-automatic firearms) illegal “assault weapons” everywhere in the country. Is this the truth of the matter, or a case of media misinformation?

U.S. Law Shield News Update: Homeowners’ Rights and the Use of Deadly Force

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Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Emily Taylor discusses the intricacies of the law of self defense in Texas when people are doing bad things at night. Does darkness expand your ability to protect yourself and your property?

U.S. Law Shield News Update: Gun-Deregulation Ideas Offered by BATFE

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The news of the leaked white paper for the proposal to deregulate some rules from the ATF has been making it’s way around the web this week.

In an 11-page white paper labeled “not for public distribution,” but which has been obtained by Texas & U.S. Law Shield, Ronald B. Turk, associate deputy director and chief operating officer of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, outlines several steps the agency could take to remove many restrictions on gun regulations, including suppressors and stabilizing braces, in the United States. Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington walks U.S. Law Shield News Host Sam Malone through the proposals.

What are your thoughts on the deregulation of these accessories?

U.S. Law Shield News Update: Judge Gorsuch Nomination

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Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington talks about the pros and cons of Judge Neal Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Will he likely be a friend of the 2nd Amendment, or not? Click to watch the more-in-depth interview to find out.

What are your thoughts on President Trump’s Supreme Court pick?

Trump Touts Suppressors as ‘Safety Equipment’ for Gun Owners

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As Texas & U.S. Law Shield have previously reported, advocates of hearing protection want to pursue new legislation to make suppressors easier to buy, and a key backer is Donald Trump, Jr.

“It’s about safety,” Trump Jr. explains in the video interview above recorded last September with the founder of SilencerCo Joshua Waldron. “It’s a health issue, frankly.”

“Anyone who has ever worried about hearing loss from shooting might want to lend their ears to this cause!” said  Emily Taylor, an attorney at the Houston law firm of Walker & Byington.

Now the issue is advancing on several fronts.

On January 9, 2017, Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC), co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), introduced H.R. 367 to remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act control and treat them the same as long guns, replacing the outdated federal transfer process with an instantaneous NICS background check.

The measure picked up 42 Republican co-sponsors, including fellow CSC member Congressman John Carter (R-TX), and one Democrat co-sponsor, CSC Co-Chair Gene Green (D-TX). The measure was immediately referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill, whose official title is “To provide that silencers be treated the same as long guns,” takes a public-health angle to safeguard the hearing of the nation’s 55 million gun owners.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introducted the similar Hearing Protection Act of 2017 (S. 59) in the Senate.

“This legislation will enable gun owners to have better access to hearing protection products and improve safety for the shooting sports by removing extensive wait times for burdensome paperwork processing that does not advance public safety,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “NSSF is appreciative of Sen. Crapo’s leadership on this firearms safety issue and his willingness to stand alongside lawful American gun owners, hunters, and shooting sports enthusiasts.”

An earlier measure with the same goal is H.R. 3799, known more widely as the Hearing Protection Act of 2015.

About all the bills, Taylor explained, “Currently, the manufacture, purchase, and possession of firearm silencers are regulated by the ATF and must comply with the requirements laid out in the National Firearms Act. Similar to a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, anyone who wants a firearm suppressor must first get approval from the ATF and pay the required tax. An extended waiting period comes along with the time it takes the ATF to process these requests.”

“The Hearing Protection Act seeks to amend the law so that firearm silencers are treated the same way as long guns,” Taylor added. “The bill would make it so that there is no longer a tax associated with the transfer of a firearm silencer, and anyone who pays a tax on a silencer after October 22, 2015 could receive a refund of such tax.

“Additionally, anyone who possessed a firearm silencer would be treated as meeting any registration and licensing requirements of the NFA. Lastly, the bill would preempt certain state laws that tried to impose taxes or registration requirements on firearm silencers.”