Category Archives: Law

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367 to remove suppressors from the National Firearms Act control and treat them the same as long guns, replacing the outdated federal transfer process with an instantaneous NICS background check.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.”

Missoula Gun Background Check Ordinance Illegal

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Montana’s Attorney General says Missoula’s gun background check ordinance violates Montana state law.


Originally reported January 26 by Taylor Winkel, NBC Montana


“Missoula’s ordinance is outside of its authority,” Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said. Fox issued an opinion saying state law does not allow cities to exercise any power that affects the right to bear arms.

Tim Fox
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox

The ordinance in question was passed in September 2016. It requires private sellers to complete a background check before selling a gun. That means if you’re a gun owner and want to sell your firearm to a friend or colleague, you’re required to run a background check on the buyer, which means the paperwork must be handled by a federally-licensed firearms dealer.

“If there’s going to be one more extra step for somebody to get a gun that can harm somebody, either on purpose or on accident, I think ‘why not’ and create a safer environment for everyone if possible,” Jack Dawson, a Missoula resident told NBC Montana. Missoula City Council member Bryan Von Lossberg sponsored the legislation. He said that he is not surprised by the Attorney General’s decision but does not see a “clear path of appeal.” Von Lossberg says he believes the ordinance is effective and necessary but expected the ruling as the Attorney General had made his position “clear” long before the AG’s ruling was issued.

Von Lossberg also said the council was advised the ordinance was within the law by the city attorney, Jim Nugent. “He absolutely was consulted and issued an opinion making it clear the city was absolutely in its rights to pass this,” explained Von Lossberg.

The attorney general didn’t directly comment on what the city of Missoula needs to do with the ordinance, but did say common sense would be to stop enforcing the ordinance. Right now, Von Lossberg says there’s no immediate plan to appeal the Attorney General’s opinion.

Fox noted Missoula does have certain powers as a charter city, saying it does have the authority to regulate the use and carrying of firearms under state law. However, Fox says state law doesn’t allow Missoula to have an ordinance “enforcing a local regulation or ordinance requiring background checks on firearm sales or transfers within its borders.”

Montana passed a state preemption law thirty years ago to prevent a patchwork of contradictory firearms laws from being enacted across the state. The state previously allowed cities to make their own laws regarding firearms sales, Fox wrote in his opinion, but a 1985 House bill repealed that section of the MCA and replaced it with new language that still is in place. “The purpose of HB 643 was clear — only the state should decide how firearm purchases, sales, and transfers should be regulated, if at all.”


Click here to read the full legal opinion from Attorney General Tim Fox.

U.S. Law Shield: Should You Protect Thy Neighbor?

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Every Member has to make the decision to intervene in a fight — or not — based on a host of tactical and safety issues. Member Ambassador Sherry Hale interviews Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington to learn how Good Samaritans can stay out of legal trouble if faced with these dangerous situations.

Make sure to check your states laws on protecting yourself, and those around you. Every state is different. Some have clear-cut laws defining the shooters rights, some are vague, and some states have no laws on the books at all, but rather court cases by which to stand behind. Ohio is a rare case, where the shooter (person using deadly force to protect him/herself) must prove their justification for defending themselves.

Post in the comments what the law says in your state!

What’s NOT New at 2017 SHOT Show!

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Shot Show LogoThis year’s NSSF SHOT Show was gargantuan. This is nothing new.  We’re talking about some major real estate being taken up at the Sands Expo Center. Thousands of square feet filled to the brim with booths, climbing 4 levels, not to mention the side rooms full of more booths. Each booth consists of an array of delights spanning everything from our favorite past-time (reloading,) to the uber hip suppressor, to AR builds, coolers, jerky, pistols, rifles, safes, ammo, anything “tacticool”, optics, knives, and more goodies than a guy can see in 3 days.

Again, this is nothing new…

Droves of People at SHOT ShowThere were a ton of people in attendance (second most attended SHOT Show ever) with people from over 100 countries mingling in an environment of mutual respect, passion for the industry, and common interest. Everyone in attendance may or may not have walked as far as we did. According to our fancy watches what tell us to move (or else!) we walked an average of 11 miles per day just at the show. Not new.

Some of the booths at this thing are multiple stories high. Not the Show itself, but the actual booths within the show. Not anything new, yet still mind boggling!

The Booths at SHOT Show

The overall message at the show was one of guarded optimism. This, somehow, wasn’t new either. At the State of the Industry Dinner we were told now was the time to work hard, and continue our efforts to ensure our freedoms were never trampled upon, and to be innovators, and to reach new enthusiasts. New? Thankfully, no.

The outdoor/shooting industry is still a leading jobs creator, as well as an economic center of excellence. Want to see the research for yourself? Check out the research center of the NSSF website right here! The numbers are new, but the sentiment is not.

Now, I know what you’re about to say, and the answer is yes, there were a ton of new products at the show. Over 500 brand new innovations for the consumer to adopt as early as this month. Am I going to write about them? No way. I don’t know them well enough to be of any service to you. You’ll find the press releases in the next segment, where we’ll look at what’s new. This is strictly the “What’s NOT New at SHOT Show 2017”

Row of new Pistols at SHOT ShowFinally, the best thing which wasn’t new at 2017 SHOT Show was the continuous thread of a shared philosophy. Call us enthusiasts, call us ammosexuals, call us deplorables, call us red necks, call us whatever you want. Just remember, there were about 70,000 of us gathered in the desert for no other reason than to look at the new guns and gear in our industry.

So, if/when a friend undoubtedly asks you what was new at this years SHOT Show, you can unflinchingly say, “Nothing! Aren’t you glad?”

lady with bald eagle

Want to see some other really cool stats on SHOT Show? Click Here for a great infographic from NSSF! The numbers are slightly dated, but you’ll get the idea.

Sen. Sessions Stands Strong on Guns During Confirmation Hearing

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) took a firm position on Capitol Hill during two days of confirmation testimony for his nomination to be the next attorney general of the United States. Read more.


Fr. January 13, 2017
Source: nssfnews


sen. sessionsThe National Shooting Sports Foundation urged Sessions’ confirmation due to his commitment to gun ownership rights, respect for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and vow to enforce the gun laws already on the books.

A letter of support from NSSF’s Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel, was entered into the Senate record.

Sessions testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on a wide range of topics. The former Attorney General for Alabama and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama was clear on his stance with regard to guns. Sessions made it clear to his fellow senators that the Second Amendment would be respected as an individual right by the Trump administration.

“Well, I do believe the Second Amendment is a personal right,” Sessions said in response to questions. “It’s an historic right of the American people, and the Constitution protects that and explicitly states that. It’s just as much a part of the Constitution as any of the other great rights and liberties that we value. So my record is pretty clear on that.”

Sessions also took a stand against universal background checks, telling the committee that laws already on the books need to be effectively enforced. The idea of applying universal background checks to every gun transfer is not only unfeasible, but intrusive.

“Well, I believe in background check laws and many of them are appropriate,” Sessions explained. “But, in every instance –- there’s some instances when it’s not practical, let’s say. For example somebody inherited a gun from their grandfather. Those transactions I’m not sure should require that kind of universal background check.”

Sessions also testified that obstructive practices against the firearms industry would become a thing of the past. He was questioned by fellow senators on Operations Fast and Furious and Choke Point as examples of overreach by the attorney general’s office saying, “… I do believe it has a corrosive effect on public confidence in the constitutional republic of which we are sworn to uphold.”

Sessions responded to concerns from Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) that Congress is still unable to determine if Operation Choke Point, an effort by the Department of Justice to lean on financial institutions to discriminate against businesses in the gun industry, has actually stopped. NSSF has worked with members in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to end the practice and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a letter to banking and finance institutions to stop denying banking services based on broad categories versus financial risk.

Sessions told Crapo, “… a lawful business should not be attacked by having other lawful businesses pressured not to do business with the first business. That’s, to me -– it would be hard to justify.”

Sessions vowed to the Senate committee that scapegoating the firearms industry and lawful gun owners for the use of guns in crimes committed by individuals would come to an end. Sessions pointed to his own record as attorney general and the successes in Operations Trigger Lock and Project Exile where the might of the federal government should be wielded to vigorously prosecute those who commit crimes with guns.

“The first and foremost goal I think of law enforcement would be to identify persons who are dangerous, who have a tendency or have been proven to be law breakers and been convicted and those who are caught carrying guns during the commission of a crime,” he explained.

“If I am confirmed, we will systematically prosecute criminals who use guns in committing crimes,” Sessions added. “As United States attorney, my office was a national leader in gun prosecutions nearly every year. We were partners with state and local law enforcement to take down these major drug trafficking cartels and dismantle criminal gangs.”

Gun store employees trade gunfire with fleeing men. Was it legal?

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James Hillin, owner of Full Armor Firearms, knows it is “my responsibility to make sure we are doing the right thing” when it comes to selling guns. Photo: Jon Shapley, Houston Chronicle Staff

Perhaps you heard what recently happened to our friends at Full Armor Firearms in Houston.

After 13 burglaries in five years, including one earlier this month, owner James Hillin asked two of his employees to stay overnight in the store.

During the night, two cars pulled into the parking lot. According to the Houston Chronicle, when the Full Armor workers stepped outside with their weapons, one of the five men, who were standing near the employees’ cars, shot at them. The employees were not injured, and gunfire was exchanged as the men drove away.

You can read the whole story, including an interview with owner James Hillin, the criminal backgrounds of the men who were detained, and the likelihood of the case being presented to a grand jury here:

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Gun-store-employees-trade-gunfire-with-fleeing-

We asked Michele Byington, an attorney at the law firm of Walker & Byington, PLLC, and independent program attorney for Texas Law Shield, for her opinion on the situation and she says the employees were acting legally.

“Here in Texas, both burglary and theft during the night time are considered crimes against which a person may use deadly force. In fact, displaying a firearm to cause apprehension that you will use it if necessary, is considered force, rather than deadly force. So the employees, even though they potentially could have used deadly force, were just using force to stop this situation when they displayed their AR-15s.”

She went on to explain that, while there are very few circumstances where you can shoot a person who is fleeing (and even then, she added, it will be an uphill battle with a jury), the fact that the criminals shot at the employees while running away, justified the return fire by the employees.

“Any time a person has a reasonable belief they are in immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury, they may use deadly force to defend themselves. And someone shooting at you definitely qualifies for that!”

Ultimately, Michele stated, the gun store employees acted well within the confines of the law.

Czech Gov’t: Placing Weapons in the Hands of Citizens is Best Defense Against Terror

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A new proposal in Czech Republic seeks to liberate restrictions on gun ownership in an effort to deter terrorism. Read more…


Source: CNSNews.com, CTK


Skorpion Evo 3The Czech Republic has resisted calls by the European Union’s Executive Commission to tighten gun controls in response to terror attacks, forcing the E.C. to alter its proposals to allow for the private ownership of semi-automatic firearms.

According to the Czech news agency CTK, the Czech interior ministry wants to loosen its gun laws another step by proposing a constitutional amendment on Monday that would allow its citizens to bear legally-held firearms against the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, such as those in Nice, France or Berlin, Germany.

The government says that putting weapons into the hands of citizens is the best defense against terror.

The move comes despite the European Commission’s ongoing advocacy for stricter gun control laws in Europe.

The Czech parliament blocked the E.C.’s earlier attempt to introduce tighter European gun laws, after the attack in Nice.

While the E.U. Firearms Directive and Czech laws already prohibited private ownership of fully-automatic weapons, the commission’s initial campaign aimed to further narrow E.U. regulations to ban semi-automatic weapons and limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds. Semi-autos currently make up about half the firearm ownership in Czech Republic.

The Czech parliament rejected the E.U. proposal, arguing that such tougher gun laws would not be the solution as terror attackers only use illegally-held weapons. The government denounced the E.C.’s plans as “legally ambiguous and in some cases excessive.”

Only last month the E.C. was finally able to reach agreement by all member states, including Czech Republic, after conceding exceptions for hunters and gun collectors and only banning a select few semi-automatics.

“Mass shootings and terrorist attacks in Europe have highlighted the dangers posed by certain firearms circulating across the E.U.,” it said in a statement, but also expressed regret at the concessions it had to make, such as not banning all semi-automatic weapons or limiting magazines to 10 rounds.

In a statement last Monday, Czech Republic Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said that amending the constitution would reduce the chances of attacks by enabling “active and rapid defense.” Citizens should be given the right to use firearms to defend their “life, health, and property” and contribute to “ensuring the internal order, security, and territorial integrity” of the country, he said. As December’s truck attack in Berlin demonstrated, security forces have not been able to prevent attacks.

Gun ownership is currently legal in the Czech Republic. As per E.U. regulations, firearms are required to be registered, and Czech law also requires a license and a “genuine reason” to possess a firearm, such as for hunting or personal protection.

The proposal is scheduled to be considered in March. To pass, it must be agreed upon by at least three-fifths of all deputies and three-fifths of all senators present. The exact details of the interior ministry’s proposal are still to be worked out, and for now simply indicates that it is subject to “terms and details prescribed by law.” However, it appears likely to expand the range of “genuine reasons” for possession of a firearm to include those of “national security,” and thus, in theory, allow anyone to own a gun.

Gun holders are also required to pass a background check which considers factors such as mental health and criminal history.

Unlike gun ownership, there are no laws explicitly covering civilian use of a firearm in self-defense, nor in regards to terror attacks specifically. Such an incident would fall under general criminal provisions regarding self-defense, which may allow the use of a gun, but only in cases of absolute necessity (including the threat of “imminent” attack). Self-defense case law in the Czech Republic has applied only to violent assaults such as rape and robberies, and not to terrorism. It is not clear yet how the constitutional amendment would, if at all, build on or deviate from this established law.

According to data collated by Gunpolicy.org, a firearm injury prevention NGO, an estimated 7.6 percent of Czech’s 10 million residents legally hold weapons, with 810,046 registered privately-owned firearms in the country.


Folks, we’re not alone in this wide world.

Law Shield’s Top 10 Stories from 2016

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Before we get too far into 2017, let’s take a quick look back at the 10 most popular Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog entries from 2016. Gun-law attorneys get into the stickiest issues — restrictions about owning body armor in some states, when you can shoot attacking dogs, how to navigate the carry rules at your church — and pass along legal insights to keep you from having trouble with the legal system. Click each item’s headline to open the story and see what you missed.

1: The Legality of Body Armor (August 17)

2: Traffic Stop! (August 8)

3: Levi’s CEO: ‘You don’t need a gun to try on a pair of jeans’ (December 4)

4: The Fast and the Furious: the Law on Road Rage in Texas (September 19)

5: Bark, But Don’t Bite! Defending your Animals from Human Threats (April 12)

6: Trapped in a Demonstration? What Are Your Self-Defense Options? (November 21)

7: Warning Shot: Ticket to Prison? (March 2)

8: Want to Carry Your Gun to Christmas Service at Church? Know the Law First! (December 19)

9: Check Out This ‘Active Shooter’ Video Package (July 20)

10: Weapons in Texas Polling Places: What Is The Law? (November 2)

And if that’s not enough, here are a few more favorites to get  you rolling into 2017: Carrying Past a 30.06/30.07 Sign? Beware! (August 8, 2016); What Is The Law On Storing Firearms In Texas? (January 12); For or Against Constitutional Carry? Let Us Hear from You (December 19); and Don’t Jump the Gun! (December 5). — Texas & U.S. Law Shield Staff