Project Gunwalker Heats Up

The heat on the ATF just got hotter.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) just released letters sent from his office to Kenneth Melson, Deputy Director of ATF, regarding allegations of misconduct in Operation Gunrunner. The biggest allegation is that ATF facilitated the smuggling of 500 semi-automatic rifles into Mexico without the Mexicans’ knowledge. Further, it is alleged that one of these rifles was used in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Grassley’s second letter, which he copied to Attorney General Eric Holder, concerns retaliation taken by Asst SAC George Gillette of the Phoenix Field Division against one possible whistle blower. Under Federal law, whistle blowers within an agency are protected from retaliation.

I think the last thing ATF wants are Congressional hearings into their agency and their actions. However, I don’t think they are going to get their wish.

Mike Vanderboegh has more on this at Sipsey Street Irregulars.

UPDATE: The political news website Politico has picked up the story. It will be interesting to see where it goes from there.

UPDATE II: Now it is really starting to get interesting. The story has been picked up by the AP and the Miami Herald. It will be hard to keep this bottled up now.

UPDATE III: I was right. Instapundit just linked to it from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Rule No. 1 Violation

The Truth About Guns has a story today that will just curl your hair.

A guy in the Norfolk, VA area wins an auction on for a HK USP Compact. He has his local gunshop send the FFL to the dealer in Arizona who then ships it to Virginia.

Couple days go by and I am just sitting here waiting for a phone call to go and pick it up. When I received the call I was talking to the owner of the receiving FFL.

Supposedly the shop that shipped it, packaged it fully loaded.

When they realized this it was too late. Inadvertently the employee that was inspecting it ended up shooting himself in the hand. So now my USP is sitting in evidence and there is going to be an investigation.

So now the guy’s recently purchased pistol is now impounded as evidence because of one fool shipping a loaded handgun and one fool forgetting that all guns are loaded.

Read the whole story at the link above. It also looks like MSNBC has picked up the story from WAVY-TV in Norfolk.

Remember all guns are loaded even if you don’t think they are.

Bloomberg Back To His Old Tricks

According to a story in the New York Times, Bloomberg sent undercover investigators to the Crossroads of the West gunshow in Phoenix, Arizona the weekend of January 22-23. The story isn’t clear on whether these were private investigators or actual NYPD undercover cops.

The goal of these investigators was to purchase firearms from private sellers without a background check. As you can guess, they succeeded.

In two instances, the New York undercover officers specifically said before buying a gun, “I probably couldn’t pass a background check,” but were still sold guns, city officials said.

In a third case, an investigator bought a Glock pistol and two high-capacity magazines like the ones used in the Tucson shooting. Such purchases were made without any background check but were perfectly legal.

Bloomberg plans to release the results of his “investigation” today. I’m sure he’ll make a big deal out of it. What will be missing from any discussion is that the purchasers broke Federal law in purchasing handguns in another state without going through a FFL.

Now, I think a couple of those sellers were stupid as it sounded like an entrapment situation. Given this was in a border state, I would be surprised if the BATFE didn’t have undercover agents at the show pursuing Operation Gunrunner. Instead of muckraking investigators from New York City trying to make hay for Bloomberg, they could have been dealing with an ATF agent trying to pad his arrest statistics.

UPDATE: The New York Daily News also is covering this story in their typical idiotic way. According to their story, Bloomberg used private investigators to make the purchases. Of course, the Daily News refers to the sellers as “Arizona gun dealers” as opposed to private individuals giving the impression that they are being sold off the books from a FFL.

Bloomberg promises to have video of the transactions at a news conference.

This all leads to an obvious question – does being a billionaire mayor and gun banner absolve you from conspiracy to commit a felony?

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

There have been a number of bills introduced in Congress that impact firearm ownership, ammunition, magazines, concealed carry, and other related issues. Some of the bills are actually good for us. However, the rest are either bad or really bad. While Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s HR 308 has gotten the most press, some of the other bills have the potential to cause real mischief for gun owners.

Below you will find a thumbnail description of each bill, its sponsor, number of co-sponsors, and other information available about the bill.

The Good

HR 58. Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act
Sponsor: Steve Scalise (R-LA)
Cosponsors: 1
This bill would allow interstate purchases and transfers of all firearms including handgun so long as it is legal in the state where the transfer takes place and the state of residence of the recipient. Currently, only rifles and shotguns are eligible to be purchased outside your state of residence. This bill would also allow a member of the Armed Forces define his or her residence as their home state, the state of their permanent duty station, or their place of abode from which they commute daily to their permanent duty station.

HR 126. Fairness in Firearm Testing Act 
Sponsor: Phil Gingrey (R-GA)
Cosponsors: 22
Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to make a video recording of the entire process of its examination and testing of an item for the purpose of determining whether the item is a firearm (and if so, the type of firearm) or ammunition. Bars ATF from editing or erasing any such recording.

Directs ATF to make available a digital video disc that contains a copy of the recording: (1) at the request of a person who claims an ownership interest in such item; and (2) to a defendant in a criminal proceeding involving such item. Provides that an item which ATF has determined is a firearm or ammunition shall not be admissible as evidence unless: (1) ATF has complied with the requirements of this Act to make its digital video disc available; or (2) such compliance has been waived in writing by the person against whom the item is offered as evidence.

A law such as this might have prevented the conviction of David Olofson on charges of illegally transferring a machine gun. The AR-15 in question was made to burst fire through the use of cartridges with soft primers.

HR 420.
Sponsor: Denny Rehrberg (R-MT)
Cosponsors: 1
To provide an amnesty period during which veterans and their family members can register certain firearms in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and for other purposes. (Short title and text is not yet available.)

The Bad

HR 263. Fire Sale Loophole Closing Act
Sponsor: Gary Ackerman (D-NY)
Cosponsors: 26
Amends the federal criminal code to make it unlawful for: (1) anyone whose federal license to import, manufacture, or deal in firearms has been revoked, or whose license renewal application has been denied, to transfer business inventory firearms into a personal collection or to an employee of such person or to receive a firearm that was a business inventory firearm as of the date of a revocation or renewal denial notice; and (2) anyone who has received a license revocation or renewal denial notice to transfer to any other person a firearm that was a business inventory firearm. Imposes a fine and/or prison term of not more than one year (five years for willful violations) for violations of this Act.

In essence, forces a NICS check on all firearms sold by a former FFL in liquidating their business.

HR 347. Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011
Sponsor: Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL)
Cosponsors: 1
Amends the federal criminal code to revise the prohibition against entering restricted federal buildings or grounds to impose criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly enters any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. Defines “restricted buildings or grounds” as a posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of: (1) the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds; (2) a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or (3) a building or grounds so restricted due to an special event of national significance.

The bill would increase the penalty from one year to ten years for violations if the person possessed a deadly weapon or firearm.

HR 367. Freedom to Serve Without Fear Act of 2011
Sponsor: Laura Richardson (D-CA)
Cosponsors: None
Amends the federal criminal code to prohibit any person from knowingly carrying a firearm in, or within 250 feet of an entrance to or exit from, a building or structure, or at, or within 500 feet of, any other place, where a Member of Congress is performing an official and representational duty or engaging in campaign activity as a candidate for federal, state, or local office, if there are visible at such distances signs which clearly and conspicuously state that a Member will be present and the time the Member will be present. Specifies exceptions, including pursuant to the express written permission of the Member or the chief of police of the locality involved.

Requires a 10% reduction in funds a state would receive for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program for a fiscal year if the state fails to have in effect by the specified compliance date laws and policies that similarly prohibit individuals from knowingly possessing firearms near a venue at which an elected or appointed state or local official is performing an official and representational duty or campaigning for public office.

Part of the findings includes “Fear of gun violence at events where elected representatives are performing their official or representational duties has a chilling effect on our democracy.” If you were driving down the street in front of a building where a Congressman was campaigning and you had a loaded firearm in your car, you would be in violation of this law if it were to be passed.

HR 496. No title.
Sponsor: Peter King (R-NY)
Cosponsors: 4
To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the carrying of a firearm near a place where a senior Federal official is holding an official public event or carrying out an official or representational duty, or where any person is campaigning for Federal elective office.

Seems to duplicate HR 367. The text has not been made available yet to the Government Printing Office.

HR 505.
Sponsor: Gerald Nadler (D-NY)
Cosponsors: None
To amend title 18, United States Code, to place limitations on the possession, sale, and other disposition of a firearm by persons convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses against children. The text has not been made available yet to the Government Printing Office.

This is a slippery slope sort of bill akin to the Lautenberg bill which made misdemeanor domestic violence a disqualifying factor in gun ownership. What is a misdemeanor sex offense involving children? Is it a 16 year old have sex with his 15 year old girlfriend?

The Ugly

HR 227. Child Gun Safety and Gun Access Prevention Act of 2011

Sponsor: Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Cosponsors: None
Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to: (1) raise the age of handgun eligibility to 21 (currently, 18); and (2) prohibit persons under age 21 from possessing semiautomatic assault weapons or large capacity ammunition feeding devices, with exceptions.

Increases penalties for: (1) a second or subsequent violation by a juvenile of Brady Act provisions or for a first violation committed after an adjudication of delinquency or after a state or federal conviction for an act that, if committed by an adult, would be a serious violent felony; and (2) transferring a handgun, ammunition, semiautomatic assault weapon, or large capacity ammunition feeding device to a person who is under age 21, knowing or having reasonable cause to know that such person intended to use it in the commission of a crime of violence.

Prohibits any licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer from transferring a firearm to any person (other than a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer) unless the transferee is provided with a secure gun storage or safety device. Authorizes the Attorney General to suspend or revoke any firearms license, or to subject the licensee to a civil penalty of up to $10,000, if the licensee has knowingly violated this prohibition.

Prohibits keeping a loaded firearm or an unloaded firearm and ammunition within any premises knowing or recklessly disregarding the risk that a child: (1) is capable of gaining access to it; and (2) will use the firearm to cause death or serious bodily injury.

Requires the parent or legal guardian of a child to ensure that a child attending a gun show is accompanied by an adult.

HR 308. Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act
Sponsor: Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)
Cosponsors: 65
Bans “a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition”. Sebastian at Snow Flakes In Hell has an excellent analysis of this bill and how it differs from the Clinton era ban.

This is the legislation that has attracted the most attention in both the press and in the gun community. It also has the largest number of co-sponsors.

S 32. Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act
Sponsor: Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Cosponsors: 10
Is the Senate version of Carolyn McCarthy’s HR 308.

S 34. Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2011
Sponsor: Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Cosponsors: 9
A bill to increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.

This is a reintroduction of a bill that Lautenberg proposed in 2009 that went nowhere. It would make a person who was on the Terrorist Watch List or Do Not Fly list ineligible to buy or sell a firearm. As there is no set criteria for inclusion on this list and one does not know he or she is on the list, it is fraught with civil rights violations.

S 35. Gun Show Background Check Act of 2011
Sponsor: Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Cosponsors: 11
A bill to establish background check procedures for gun shows. A gun show is defined as anytime you have 50 or more firearms for sale, 10 or more firearms exhibitors, or at least 20% of the exhibitors are selling firearms. By this definition, a large flea market might fall into the category of “gun show”.

S 176. Common-Sense Concealed Firearms Act of 2011  
Sponsor: Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Cosponsors: None
The text has not been received by the Government Printing Office yet. However, Boxer’s press release on the bill says:

Senator Boxer’s legislation would require all states that allow residents to carry concealed weapons to establish permitting processes that would include meaningful consultation with local law enforcement authorities to determine whether the permit applicant is worthy of the public trust and has shown good cause to carry a concealed firearm.

Currently, two states do not permit residents to carry concealed firearms, while three states, including Arizona, allow residents to carry concealed firearms in public without a permit. The other 45 states require residents to obtain permits to carry concealed firearms, but the majority of these states would not meet the standard set in this bill.

Part II – Not A Sport

According to the study on the importation of shotguns just released by ATF, they don’t consider this event a sport and so many of the shotguns used here would not meet the sporting test of the GCA of 1968.

Compare this with Part I and think about which requires more athleticism. A bonus feature is that the competitor is using a Saiga shotgun. You know, one of those evil, no sporting purpose, shotguns.

NRA On Shotgun Study

The NRA-ILA released this statement on the just released ATF study on shotgun imports and the “sporting test”. I couldn’t agree more that the sporting test needs to be abolished.

Proposed Shotgun Import Ban Shows Need To Change Law

Friday, January 28, 2011

On Thursday, Jan. 27, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released a Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns, which proposes that “military shotguns, or shotguns with common military features that are unsuitable for traditional shotgun sports” be prohibited from importation. This would apply to all shotguns—not just semi-automatics. As in previous “working group” studies on rifles, the study fails to give proper credit to the widespread use of these guns in newer shooting sports, or to their adaptability to hunting.

The study underscores the need for Congress to change the firearm importation law. That law requires the Attorney General to approve the importation of any firearm “generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” This “sporting purposes” test was imposed by the Gun Control Act in 1968, a time when the right to self-defense with a firearm was not as widely respected by the courts as it is today.

Clearly, the main reason to change the law is that the Second Amendment—as the Supreme Court said in District of Columbia v. Heller—protects our right to keep and bear arms for defense, not for sports. In its 2008 Heller decision, the court observed that “the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right” and ruled that the Second Amendment protects “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” particularly within the home, where “the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute.” The court also dismissed the notion that the amendment doesn’t protect modern arms, saying “Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms.”

Another reason to change the law is to end the BATFE’s 22-year history of misinterpreting it. In 1989, the bureau banned the importation of semi-automatic rifles, claiming they were not used for “organized marksmanship competition.” (In fact, the banned guns were of the type most commonly used by competitors in the most popular marksmanship competitions in the United States—the National Matches, and the hundreds of local, state and regional competitions that precede the national events each year.) In 1998, BATFE expanded the ban, absurdly claiming that semi-automatic rifles’ “suitability for this activity [marksmanship competition] is limited.” At the time, a Clinton White House official said “we’re taking the law and bending it as far as we can to capture a whole new class of guns.”

Now, BATFE is bending the law one more time. As this issue develops, the NRA will be looking at every legislative and legal option to bring our firearms import laws back in line with the Constitution.

NRA members and other concerned gun owners can submit comments on the study until May 1, 2011. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to or by fax to (202)648-9601. Faxed comments may not exceed five pages. All comments must include name and mailing address.

Politicizing The Tucson Shooting Even More

From reading this Brady Campaign press release, it looks like they and their fellow traveler friends are pushing the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on the Tucson shooting.

Gun Violence Prevention Groups Applaud Push For Congressional Hearings On Tucson Shootings

Jan 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – National gun violence prevention groups applauded a written request made today by the Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee calling for a hearing to address gun violence in the wake of the shootings in Tucson, AZ that killed six and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

“Congress for too long has ignored the 30,000 Americans killed and another 70,000 injured by gun violence every year,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Now is the time for action. We are grateful that the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are pushing the House leadership to hold hearings on gun violence. It’s the right thing to do for our nation, and for the way too many families and communities that suffer from gun violence.”

The letter requests a hearing that is narrowly tailored to address specific weaknesses with our gun laws that permit shootings like the one in Tucson to take place. “The Arizona shooting is only the latest is a long line of mass killings made possible by easy access to large capacity ammunition magazines,” said Kristen Rand, Legislative Director of the Violence Policy Center. “Congress can help prevent tragedies like Tucson from occurring by adopting simple and reasonable proposals like Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s legislation, H.R. 308.”

The Judiciary Democrats urged Chairman Lamar Smith to convene a hearing sometime within the next month. “Chairman Smith has a real opportunity to make a difference here,” said Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Once Congress realizes that this is not a Left/Right issue but a Right/Wrong issue maybe we can usher some sanity back into the debate about our nation’s broken gun laws.”

Horwitz may be correct that this is a Right/Wrong issue but not in the way he wants you to think. It is wrong to push laws that would have had no impact in Tucson except to further burden the rest of us law-abiding gun owners. It would be right for Congressman Smith to tell them to take hike.

Here is a link to the House Judiciary Committee website with a list of the members. Just a quick look at the Democrat members and I see many who are listed as co-sponsors of HR 308. To expect them to not politicize the hearings is like expecting the sun to set in the East. It ain’t going to happen. I would suggest if your Congressman is on this list to send them an email saying you oppose this effort.

UPDATE: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says no hearings. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, Rep. Smith said:

Smith, in his response, said the committee should review the database, known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System “at the appropriate time.” But hearings now might affect criminal proceedings in which Loughner’s “mental status is likely to be a key issue,” he said.

“Jared Loughner has not been found to be mentally ill,” Smith said. “It is inappropriate for Congress to hold hearings on NICS that presume otherwise while Loughner is facing trial.”

Imagine that – a politician who believes enough in the rule of law and fair trials that he won’t allow grandstanding in the committee he chairs.

As to the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, 10 out of the 16 are co-sponsors of McCarthy’s HR 308.

VPC Blames The Tool

The Violence Policy Center just released a study on homicide rates in the African-American community. The report, Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2008 Homicide Data, examined homicides across the nation where the victim was an African-American using 2008 data from FBI reports.

The study reports that Missouri leads the nation with the highest black homicide victimization rate. This is the number of homicides of African-Americans per 100,000 residents. Missouri is followed by Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, and Tennessee. At the bottom were states like North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and Utah.

The rates can be deceiving. For example, North Dakota is ranked last as it had no African-American homicide victims. Neighboring South Dakota which had only two homicides with black victims ranked 22nd. The low overall population of the state of South Dakota exaggerates the homicide rate.

What is also interesting in this report is that states with high African-American populations such as Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Georgia rank in the middle of the pack. These states also have much less restrictive gun laws than states like California which ranks 7th overall.

The report’s conclusion:

For blacks, like all victims of homicide, guns—usually handguns—are far and away the number one murder tool. Successful efforts to reduce America’s black homicide toll must put a focus on reducing access and exposure to firearms.

For the Violence Policy Center it is much easier to just blame an inanimate object than to look at the underlying causes. Nowhere in the report are actual underlying causes of crime like level of gang membership or poverty rate even considered. The Violence Policy Center had a chance to do some serious research on a serious issue. They didn’t because all they were looking for was another reason to blame the tool and not the criminal.