The Hearing Protection Act has been attached to the SHARE Act, a sportsman’s omnibus bill with a lot of pro-gun features. Among those features, the SHARE Act (Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act) would do the following:
Moves silencers/suppressors from Title II to Title I status.
Enhances the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) language to include travel by means other than vehicles.
Creates remedies against states that violate the safe travel provisions, including a cause of action and attorneys fees.
Eliminates the sporting-purposes language from the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the law on armor-piercing ammunition.
Creates a blanket exception for shotguns to prevent arbitrary reclassification as destructive devices.
“The Hearing Protection Act has been one of the most important bills for sportsmen and women this Congress, which is why it’s common sense for it to be included in this year’s sportsman’s legislative package,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) Duncan, the bill’s sponsor, told POLITICO. “By changing the outdated regulation of suppressors to an instant background check, just like the requirements to purchase a typical firearm, I hope the sportsmen and women in the United States will have greater access to noise reduction technology as they carry the hunting and recreational shooting tradition to future generations.”
“If this bill passes,” said Texas & U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington, “it will make suppressors Title I items like firearms—that is, not National Firearms Act devices—which means they will become more common and more widely transported. However, at least 10 states will likely ban suppressors even if this becomes law. About the same number of states have some kind of restriction on ammunition-feeding devices, also known as magazines. FOPA safe travel won’t do us much good if gun owners can still be arrested for magazines and accessories.”
“Attaching the HPA to a bill that should be easier to pass suggests that Congressional Republicans may have become serious about actually passing this,” she said. “Passing this bill would be a big win.” —Texas & U.S. Law Shield Staff
My recent op-ed in The Hill newspaper points out that while professors seem to be very concerned about allowing permitted concealed handguns on college campuses, their actions don’t match their rhetoric. While a professor’s resignation at the University of Kansas gets national news attention, for example, only one out of 2,600 faculty members has left his or her post at the school.
In my column, I point out that permit holders across the country have an astoundingly low rate of criminality — even lower than police officers. Permits have been revoked for firearms-related violations at rates of thousandths of one percentage point. Civilian permit holders are less likely than police officers to be convicted of a firearms violation. So, many academics’ worries about the potential for shoot-outs on campuses are overblown, if you just consider the data.
For instance, a Crime Prevention Research Center study shows that from January 1, 2005, through December 31, 2007, the yearly rate of misdemeanors and felonies by full-time police officers was .102 percent. The annual rate for Texas’ concealed-carry permit holders in the year 2015, the year campus carry was signed into law in that state, was .0102 percent, or one-tenth the rate of LE violations.
Also, from January 1, 2005, through December 31, 2007, the yearly rate for firearms violations was .017 percent. The annual rate for Texas’ concealed-carry permit holders in 2015 was .0024 percent.
In the column, I argue the purported danger in campus carry has not materialized, even though campus carry has been in effect in some states for 14 years—it became law in Colorado in 2003 and in Utah in 2004, and has become law in numerous other states since then, including Arkansas and Georgia this year. That’s enough time and enough data to have at least noticed a spike in campus criminality by concealed-carry license holders if it had happened. —Texas & U.S. Law Shield Contributor Dr. John Lott, Jr.
A Texas House committee has approved legislation that would allow handguns to be carried—concealed or in a holster—without a state-issued license. Also, the Texas Senate has passed SB 1408, a bill to allow first responders to conceal carry.
The just-passed version of HB 1911’s permitless carry provisions approved by the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee contained several substantial changes from previous versions.
• To carry without a permit, gun owners would have to meet existing LTC standards: be 21 years of age or older, have no criminal convictions, and be eligible to purchase a weapon under federal and state laws. The previous version would have allowed guns to be carried by those 18 and older.
• Churches and places of worship would no longer be prohibited places to carry a gun, unless they posted 30.06 and/or 30.07 signs.
• Handguns carried in the open would still be required to be kept in a holster, but the restrictions on them being in a belt or shoulder holsters would be loosened.
“This bill simply creates an unlicensed option to carrying a handgun,” said Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford., chairman of the committee.
A competing bill, House Bill 375 by Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, wasn’t considered for a vote. Stickland’s legislation would allow anybody who legally owns a firearm to carry it without a license—a much broader franchise than what’s being considered in HB 1911.
“We understand that for the most part, Texans are satisfied with the current carry laws we have now. However, there is still a significant number of Texans who believe that if you’re a law-abiding citizen, you shouldn’t necessarily have to buy your way to a right to bear arms through a license,” Rep. James White (R-Hillister) told the Austin American-Statesman.
Over in the state Senate, SB 1408, brought by Senator Don Huffines (R-Dallas), would allow first responders to carry a handgun on duty if they have Licenses to Carry (LTC) and have completed a special on-duty first responder training course that will be approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Senator Huffines said, “As first responders answer our cries for help, we cannot leave them exposed to attack. First responders do dangerous work and sometimes come under fire. In a time in which our police are targeted just because of their uniform and badge, we must not leave first responders disarmed and exposed to danger, either.”
If you feel that either piece of legislation should continue, please contact your representative and voice your support for these measures.
Judicial Watch, the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) seeking records of communications inside the agency when it was considering reclassifying certain types of AR-15 ammunition as armor-piercing—and effectively banning it from civilian use.
Members who want to understand the precise statutory definition of ‘armor-piercing ammunition’ can find it in 18 U.S.C §921(a)(17).
In March 2015, more than 200 members of Congress wrote to former ATF director Todd Jones expressing their “serious concern” that the proposal might violate the Second Amendment by restricting ammunition that had been primarily used for “sporting purposes.” The letter asserted the ATF’s move “does not comport with the letter or spirit of the law and will interfere with Second Amendment rights by disrupting the market for ammunition that law-abiding Americans use for sporting and other legitimate purposes.”
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the agency failed to respond to a March 9, 2015, FOIA request seeking information on the ammo ban effort:
All records of communications, including emails, to or from employees or officials of the ATF related to the decision to revise the ATF 2014 Regulation Guide to no longer exempt 5.56 mm. SS109 and M855 (i.e., “green tip” AR-15) ammunition from the definition of “armor-piercing” ammunition.
“This is yet another example of how Obama’s wanton use of the ‘pen and the phone’ attempted to undermine the constitutional rights of all Americans, as opposed to upholding the rule of law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Obama ATF simply ignored our request on their ammo ban. Let’s hope the Trump administration finally brings transparency to this out-of-control agency.”
The Second Amendment Foundation, joined by several other groups and individuals, has filed a lawsuit in federal district court in California, challenging that state’s law prohibiting the possession, use, or acquisition of so-called “large-capacity magazines,” calling the ban “hopelessly vague and ambiguous.” This case could have repercussions on a similar magazine ban in Colorado.
Joining SAF are the Calguns Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation and six individuals, including one retired California peace officer. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
The complaint is a constitutional challenge to California Penal Code § 32310, as recently amended by Senate Bill 1446 and Proposition 63, and Penal Code § 32390 (the “Large-Capacity Magazine Ban”). The lawsuit alleges that if these measures are enforced as applied, they would “individually and collectively prohibit law-abiding citizens from continuing to possess, use, or acquire lawfully-owned firearms, in common use for lawful purposes such as self-defense (inside and outside the home), competition, sport, and hunting.”
“What we see in the enactment of such laws,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “is continued erosion by the state of its citizens’ constitutional rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment. When the U.S. Supreme Court incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the 4th Amendment under the 2010 McDonald ruling, it automatically should have stopped this kind of prohibition.
“As we state in our lawsuit,” he continued, “this magazine ban fails to provide fair or even adequate notice to law-abiding gun owners of what they may do with their personal property without being subject to criminal sanctions. In effect, this ban amounts to a backdoor form of confiscation, in part, of bearable arms that are protected by the Constitution.
“Enforcement of this ban,” Gottlieb concluded, “would immediately place thousands of law-abiding California gun owners in jeopardy of criminal liability and subjects their personal property to forfeiture, seizure and permanent confiscation, which is government taking, without due process or compensation. We cannot allow that to go unchallenged.”
The Second Amendment Foundation is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.
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.”
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.
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.
Gun enthusiasts and hobbyists have long been building their own firearms by purchasing lower receivers or kits and other parts needed to assemble a firearm.
The lower receiver is a small block of metal about the size of a deck of cards where the trigger mechanism is housed and where bullets pass through. A gun cannot function without it. A finished lower receiver is the piece of the firearm regulated by federal law and must contain a serial number stamped into it.
Technology today and the hundreds or even thousands of websites selling lower receivers, kits, and parts over the internet makes it even easier. There are no background checks required to purchase these lower receivers or kits.
There are no federal restrictions on an individual making a firearm for personal use, so long as it does not violate the National Firearms Act (NFA), according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
The ATF has long held that items such as receiver blanks, “castings” or “machined bodies” in which the fire-control cavity area is completely solid and un-machined have not reached the “stage of manufacture” which would result in the classification of a firearm per the Gun Control Act of 1934 (GCA). That stage is “80 percent complete.” ATF regulations hold that receiver blanks that do not meet the definition of a “firearm” are not subject to regulation under the GCA.
Furthermore, under federal law, no serial numbers are needed on firearms that are built for personal use, making them untraceable by law enforcement.
By leaving the lower receiver unfinished— meaning only partially drilled — it fails to meet the ATF’s requirement of being more than 80 percent complete and is therefore not considered a “firearm” subject to regulations. Buyers can finish the receivers at home by finishing the drilling.
The ATF refers to such guns as unfinished receivers, though they’re also called 80 percent receivers, home built firearms, or “ghost guns.”
And it’s all perfectly legal.
These self-assembled and untraceable “ghost guns” are becoming increasingly more popular amongst gun enthusiasts across the country and is becoming big business for parts manufacturers and for dealers selling kits.
Elite Custom Railing in Holly Hill, Florida, for example, specializes in unfinished lower receivers for a do-it-yourself AR-15. A company spokesperson said they sell between 100 and 150 lower receivers each day.
It is just one of six companies in Volusia County alone engaged in manufacturing and/or selling kits or unfinished receivers that allow buyers to assemble military-style, semi-automatic rifles at home.
Another Volusia County company, Stone Mountain Gold ‘n Guns in DeLand, will sell the “80% receivers” to a customer only in person and not over the internet as others in the county do. A manager said he will complete the sale only if he feels comfortable with the person buying the receiver. Stone Mountain sells about 20 a month, according to the manager.
The ATF and some law enforcement agencies have expressed a concern about these homemade firearms, believing that the availability of the untraceable receivers will encourage criminals and terrorists to start building their own weapons.
Port Orange Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi said in an interview in the Daytona Beach News-Journal,“We’re making it easy for the criminals. I have a concern — a huge concern over that.”
Mary Salter, ATF Tampa Field Division public information officer, believes some criminals are purchasing non-serialized and therefore untraceable firearms because their intent is to commit crimes.
“ATF, and law enforcement, in general is seeing homemade firearms without serial numbers at crime scenes,” Salter said. “Tracing firearms found at crime scenes to the original purchaser is a valuable tool in law enforcement,” Salter added. “When a homemade firearm is found at a crime scene, investigators are left with a dead end, where a trace of a firearm may generate valuable investigative leads.”
“With advancements in technology in regards to 3D printers,” Salter said, “CNC milling machines, and the availability of receiver blanks, it has become much easier for a person to build a firearm. “When a “homemade firearm is found at a crime scene, it means investigators are virtually left with a dead end,” said Salter.
And in California, Graham Barlowe, resident agent in charge at the ATF’s Sacramento Field Office, said he started seeing crimes involving untraceable guns about two years ago. In November of this year, Barlowe’s undercover agents arrested eight men for manufacturing and selling illegal firearms, seizing about 90 un-serialized firearms out of the more than 230 illegal firearms found. His agents have also found electronic mills that carve a complete receiver in 12 minutes.
“It is one of the biggest problems in Northern California for our office, if not the biggest problem,” Barlowe says. He estimates that his office has seized about 500 un-serialized receivers since 2013.
The Santa Monica shooter, John Zawahri, used a rifle made from parts he purchased online to kill himself and five others on June 7, 2013.
And in neighboring Arizona, between 2009 to 2011, ATF reported that it seized 191 of the 80 percent receivers in Tucson that were headed to Mexico to be assembled, possibly by cartels.
In Florida, law enforcement officials claim the unregistered guns can make it easy for criminals to arm themselves with untraceable weapons.
However, others disagree with that assessment, claiming the skill and equipment necessary to build the firearms is anything but easy and, therefore, makes this approach more costly and time-consuming than simply acquiring an already completed firearm. A milling machine (or at least a milling guide kit), for example, can cost around $1,500, and it could take weeks to complete an AR-15 kit.
And to complete an unfinished lower receiver, a person must carefully mill or drill out a portion of the inside of the receiver, which can take many painstaking hours. Without a properly milled lower received, a functioning firearm would be impossible to produce.
Many believe manufacturing a homemade weapon is generally too costly, too troublesome, and too expensive for criminals.
Furthermore, FBI statistics indicate semi-automatic weapons are used in less than one percent of crimes in the U.S. Most criminals use handguns, and most guns used in crimes are stolen. Criminals looking to buy a weapon can get them from private sales without a background check and do not have to go through the trouble and expense of building their own rifle.
Rob Dunaway, President of American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale, Arizona, says most of the customers who buy the incomplete receivers are people who like to personalize their semi-automatic rifle and or more worried about changes to the gun laws.
“Some people buy them to store them for potential future use,” Dunaway said.
Previous attempts to regulate “ghost guns” in California failed, when a bill that would have allowed the manufacture or assembly of homemade weapons but required the makers to first apply to the state Department of Justice for a serial number that would be given only after the applicants underwent a background check, was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014.
However, earlier this year, Gov. Brown did sign a bill requiring people who build guns from these 80% receivers to register them and get a serial number. That law takes full effect in 2019. — by Michael Wisdom, Senior Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog
Do you believe “ghost guns” or the 80 percent receivers pose a serious problem? Should you have to undergo a background check to even buy an 80 percent receiver or kit before you are allowed to build your own firearm for your own personal use? Should you have to register a firearm you build yourself and obtain a serial number? Let us know what you think.