For once, the Supreme Court actually got a gun decision right…
Lying about your gun purchase is never okay, the U.S. Supreme Court held Monday in a divided 5-4 ruling that upheld a robust interpretation of federal gun law. The ruling preserves the ability of federal prosecutors to crack down on what are known as “straw purchases,” one of the most common ways of illegally trafficking a gun.(Think Progress)
In essence, what the Court said is that you can’t lie about a gun purchase, putting a crimp (albeit small) into what are known as ‘straw purchasers’. And what is a straw purchase, you might ask? Put simply, a straw purchase – in regards to firearms – is when one person buys a firearm for a second person who may – or may not – be eligible to possess said firearm. In the case at hand – Abramski v. United States (12-1493) – the plaintiff, Bruce Abramski, had legally purchased a Glock pistol at a firearms dealership in Virginia; when asked, as required by law, whether he was the intended user, Abramski answered yes. However, later on – and this is where his answer became a false answer – he gave the pistol, a Glock 19 handgun, to his uncle, Angel Alvarez. Now, both individuals were legal in regards to possessing firearms; neither of them were prohibited. What the question was before the Court, however, was whether Abramski, had broken federal firearms laws in regards to the false answer he’d given to the firearms dealer – namely that he had been the end-user of that Glock 19 handgun.
In a 5-4 decision, written by Justice Elena Kagan, the Court agreed with prosecutors…
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected that distinction, in a majority opinion by Justice Elena Kagan that recognized the centrality of identifying gun buyers to federal gun law.
“We hold that such a misrepresentation is punishable under the statute, whether or not the true buyer could have purchased the gun without the straw. The overarching reason,” she explained, “is that Abramski’s reading would undermine—indeed, for all important purposes, would virtually repeal—the gun law’s core provisions,” which establish “an elaborate system to verify a would-be gun purchaser’s identity and check on his background.”(Think Progress)
The Court’s reasoning was two-fold: (1)to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and those who are not legally allowed to possess firearms – felons, those w/mental illnesses, etc., and (2)laws such as the one Abramski was prosecuted under serve the purpose of allowing federal authorities to track firearms purchases for purposes of investigating crime. The rationale for (2) is where this case hung upon; in the Court’s eyes, what Abramski did was illegal because it hid the ultimate destination of the handgun in question, irrespective of whether the end-person or the initial purchaser were legally capable of possessing and/or purchasing said firearm. The decision, in this regard, continues a vital tool in the prosecutorial bag in regards to firearms tracking – the ability to track a firearm’s movement from one person to another in the hope of tracing said firearm in the event of a crime.
Naturally, the gun-rights community weren’t so thrilled, as evidenced in the dissent…
Scalia’s dissent for the court’s conservatives — not including Justice Anthony Kennedy, who provided the swing vote — was scathing. “The court makes it a federal crime for one lawful gun owner to buy a gun for another lawful gun owner,” he said. “Whether or not that is a sensible result, the statutes Congress enacted do not support it.”(USA Today)
Maybe its’ just me, but someone needs to remind Justice Scalia that one of the problems plaguing law-enforcement in regards to firearms tracking is figuring out whether the initial purchaser was the end-purchaser, as specified in the law. Then again, if we were like the rest of the world, we wouldn’t have a 2nd Amendment…and that might not be such a bad thing, now would it?
Remember Adam Kokesh? You know, that libertarian fellow who thought it’d be a great idea to go marching around Washington, D.C., with a bevy of loaded weapons? Well…he’s back, unfortunately:
A libertarian gun activist — who was convicted on weapons charges after he carried a loaded shotgun in downtown Washington, D.C. — this week defended two people who recently went on a shooting rampage in Las Vegas, killing two police officers and another person.
On his Wednesday Internet show, Adam Kokesh blasted the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for noting that Jerad and Amanda Miller had been inspired by his gun activism.
“You’re not going to get away with it this time USA Today and SPLC,” Kokesh insisted, arguing that the shooters had acted because “authority has become a homicidal institution against freedom.”(Crooks & Liars)
Yeah…he actually thinks the two people who killed the pair of cops in Vegas were heroes…what…the…..fuck?!? What’s even worse is that he actually rationalizes what they did:
Kokesh asserted that the slaying of the two officers was not “murder” because police are likely to kill people.
“Let’s say someone is going around stabbing people, like just stabbing people,” he opined. “It’s not murder to kill someone in that situation. And has been pointed out about the Vegas shooting, when you have police officers that are going around and doing violent things all day long, and then they take a break for lunch, well, it doesn’t mean all of the sudden they’re innocent or they’re being peaceful because they’re taking a break from all of their other anti-freedom, rights-violating violence.”
“Think of how many lives might have been saved by this incident. How many people would these cops have killed had they not been killed?” he asked. “We can only hope that some of the officers in America are listening — if you care about your own safety — to understand that you are hurting people, and you can only push them so far before they hit a breaking point.”
Kokesh argued that blaming Jerad and Amanda Miller was “kind of like blaming the victim,” adding that they could have been thinking about the time his home was raided after he posted the video of himself loading a shotgun in downtown D.C.
After a 15 minute rant about the SPLC, Kokesh concluded that the civil rights group may have confused his time as a “violent psychopath” working for the U.S. Marines with his current anti-government beliefs.(Crooks & Liars)
You know, maybe its’ just me….but it is high damn time that we begin calling people like Adam Kokesh exactly what they are: domestic terrorists.
*checks calendar to make sure its’ still 2014* Even a broken clock is right on occasion…
The NRA writes, “Texas, independent-minded and liberty-loving place that it is, doesn’t ban the carrying of loaded long guns in public, nor does it require a permit for this activity. Yet some so-called firearm advocates seem determined to change this.”
The organization continues, “Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.”
It’s actually intimidating.(Freak Out Nation via. Crooks & Liars)
I don’t know what’s weirder: the fact that I actually find myself in agreement with the NRA on something…or that I can’t help but laugh at the schadenfreude they’re now facing from those weird open carry groups…bring the popcorn!
Never mind the fact that this violates both the Missouri Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, it also goes to show what utter hypocrites conservatives have increasingly become in modern times, to wit: to show our appreciation for the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, let’s violate the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and prohibit legislators from proposing gun-safety laws by threatening them with jail time….
Yesterday, Missouri state Rep. Mike Leara (R) proposed legislation making it a felony for lawmakers to so much as propose many bills regulating guns. Leara’s bill provides that “[a]ny member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.”(Think Progress)
Someone should remind Rep. Leara that under a 1966 Supreme Court decision(United States vs. Johnson), legislators are protected under the Constitution’s Speech & Debate Clause from undue pressure applied against them by members of the executive branch; the same clause also protects legislators’ right to propose any and all legislative acts during a session of the legislature, irrespective of one’s political views since those actions are being conducted during a legislative session. In other words, if a member of the Missouri Legislature wants to introduce any gun-safety or gun-control measure, there ain’t a damn thing Mr. Leara(or any 2nd Amendment nut for that matter) can do about it, period…end of story.
I agree with Booman Tribune on this one…if people could see the crime scene photographs or panoramic forensic video from inside those classrooms, we wouldn’t be having a debate over President Obama’s gun violence prevention proposals….those proposals would quickly become law, period. Now, obviously, those images will never see the light of day but if they did…yes, Americans would be repulsed and revolted by the horror of what happened; yes, countless Americans would likely seek mental health counseling…but Americans would also see what happens when you allow gun politics and the rampant gun culture in this country to ride roughshod over common sense and public safety.
To paraphrase Booman’s quote from the end of his article, “The NRA, the Republican Party and their syncophants can go take a flying leap for all I care.”
As stated just before, President Obama announced earlier today the largest, most comprehensive set of gun violence prevention measures ever proposed in the past 40-50 years…below is a link to the set of executive orders issued today as part of the president’s gun violence prevention package.
Now Is The Time: Gun Violence Reduction Measures
They say sometimes its’ better to go big or go home…in the case of comprehensive gun regulations, it appears President Obama has indeed gone big, as evidenced by his press conference earlier today in which he announced what likely is the most comprehensive package of gun violence prevention measures ever proposed in the past 40-50 years. The package, which included both legislative proposals and 23 executive orders, cover everything from mental health to gun safety to universal background checks to bans on military-style assault weapons. Examples from his proposals include:
- Universal background checks. Included are provisions which would require all potential gun owners to undergo background checks and provisions to close the “gun-show loophole”, which allows individuals at gun shows and at private sales to forego background checks.
- Improved reporting of criminals & the mentally ill. Although states currently are required to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System(NICBCS) all persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms, there are numerous holes in that reporting system. Legislative proposals would provide grant monies to states to strengthen background check systems to fill in said holes; executive orders would require regular reviews to ensure that states are following background check provisions.
- Reinstates the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Likely the toughest fight of any Obama is likely to face, this legislative provision would reinstate the 1994 ban on military-style assaults weapons, such as the ones used in both the Aurora and Sandy Hook mass shootings; unlike the 1994 ban, however, this go-round would close some of the grandfather provisions in the 1994 law.
- Bans on high-capacity magazine clips. Part of Obama’s comprehensive gun violence prevention package includes capping the size of magazine clips at 10 rounds and banning the sale & distribution of extended-capacity clips. As with the assault-weapons ban, this was part of the 1994 law and current provisions would also close grandfather provisions from the prior law.
- Banning armor-piercing bullets. Although it is currently illegal to sell armor-piercing bullets, it is legal to possess said rounds; Obama’s proposals would ban both the ownership & transfer of armor-piercing bullets.
- Funds for additional police officers. Part of Obama’s list of proposals calls on Congress to appropriate up to $4 billion in funding to local & state governments for additional police officers.
- Strengthening gun tracking rules. By executive order, one of Obama’s proposals would require all agencies to comprehensively track all firearms that are used in the commission of crimes; it would also require agencies to track the ownership of said firearms back to their initial owners. In addition, it would also require states to assist in tracking said firearms via. comprehensive gun databases.
- Restoring funding for gun violence research. Long opposed by gun-rights organizations, this provision of Obama’s would restore funding to state & federal agencies entrusted with tracking gun violence for public health reasons. Another proposal would restart research on how violence in video games correlates with gun violence, something also opposed by the gun lobby.
- Strengthening mental health provisions. Part of Obama’s proposals dovetail with provisions recently passed in New York state which would obligate mental health providers in reporting to authorities those persons who possess firearms who may either be suicidal or are fostering thoughts of harming others.
- Promoting safe gun ownership. Part of the administration’s proposals calls on starting a conversation with gun owners across the country on ways to responsibly own firearms, calling on them to lock firearms up if there are children or the mentally ill living nearby for instance, along with calling on federal agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure that gun safes and locks work as advertised.
- Funding school counseling. Along with provisions to fund additional law enforcement, another provision would allocate funding to states to hire additional school counselors; funding would come through both existing and future grants with legislative provisions for matching state funds to go along with them.
- Fostering safe, anti-bullying, school environments. Another provision would provide funding for up to $5 billion to support safer school environments; this would likely dovetail with the previous reason stated above.
- Expanded Medicaid services for the low-income mentally ill. Finally, one provision of Obama’s proposals would expand Medicaid services for those who are mentally-ill who fall under Medicaid coverage.(point of disclosure: at present, I currently receive mental health counseling which is partially covered under NC Medicaid) In addition, grant monies would be provided on a matching basis to state mental health programs to assist them in covering those within this provision.
Like I said, sometimes you gotta’ go big….and judging by these proposals and the others mentioned in Obama’s press conference today, it appears he went big indeed.