Creating A Gun Rights Activist

Emily Miller just wanted a gun for protection at home. The District of Columbia still wants to delay the process as long as possible and put up as many bureaucratic roadblocks as possible the Heller decision notwithstanding. The end result is that as of today Emily Miller is officially a gun owner as she picked up her Sig P229 pistol and took it home. She is also now a gun rights activist.

Now, this series is far from over. As I’ve found, the hurdles placed before gun owners do not end here. I need to figure out the laws on getting ammunition and transporting the gun to a state that allows practice shooting.

Most of all, I intend to keep pushing the Council of the District of Columbia to rewrite the its laws to make them fair and constitutional for law-abiding Americans.

Emily has already testified before the DC City Council about her experience in obtaining her gun permit and her Sig P229. I fully expect that she will keep pushing the DC City Council to bring their gun laws in line with the rest of America.

There is an old saying that says politicians shouldn’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the ton. This is exactly what DC just did as Emily is a senior editor at the Washington Times and I think that they will rue the day that they made it difficult for her to defend herself.

What If Emily Wasn’t Smart, Articulate, And Connected

In the interview below with Natasha Barrett of Newschannel 8, Emily Miller explains the events that convinced her to want to buy a gun and then her efforts to actually purchase a gun since she is a D.C. resident. If you have been following her series in the Washington Times, you know it has been a long and arduous process.

It has also been expensive. In addition to the price of her new Sig 229, Emily has had to spend $435 in fees and other expenses to meet the District of Columbia’s gun regulations. She is now having to wait 10 days before she can take her new pistol home due to a “cooling off” period.

Emily Miller is an attractive, well-educated (Georgetown), well-spoken young woman with a high profile position as a senior editor with the Washington Times. Before that she was the deputy press secretary for both Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condolezza Rice.  If someone like her with all of her connections has this much trouble exercising her Constitutional right to own a firearm for her own self-defense in her own home, imagine what it is like for everyone else who isn’t as bright, articulate, and connected. If you said, damn near impossible, I think you’d be correct.

I hope she mentions that when she testifies before D.C. City Council on Monday, January 30th.

Government As Gun Dealer? (Updated)

Believe it or not but this is NOT a story about Operation Fast and Furious, Operation Castaway, or any of the other Project Gunwalker variants.

It is, however, about a proposal before the District of Columbia City Council that would make the D.C. government a Federal Firearms Licensee. Currently there are no operating FFLs in the District of Columbia since Charles Sykes lost his lease. As the Washington Post reports:

While Sykes’s business in on hiatus, D.C. residents have been prevented de facto from buying guns, which has opened the city to lawsuits. In late May, Virginia lawyer Alan Gura sued the city in Alexandria’s federal court on behalf of three District residents who have purchased guns legally but are unable to transfer them into the city.

The lawsuit in question is Lane et al v. Holder et al and is being tried in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Alan Gura. The suit goes to the heart of the Gun Control Act of 1968 which forbade interstate transfers of handguns except for FFL to FFL transfers. More on that suit can be found here.

Council Member At-Large Phil Mendelson (D) has proposed three emergency bills that would make the District a FFL. From his notice for the July 12th Council meeting that was sent to all members of the City Council:

  • Firearms Amendment Emergency Declaration Resolution Act of 2011
  • Firearms Amendment Emergency Amendment Act of 2011
  • Firearms Amendment Temporary Amendment Act of 2011

The above measures would permit the District to operate as a Federal Firearms licensee (FFL) for the purpose of individuals’ interstate purchase and transfer of handguns when there is no active FFL operating in the District. The sole FFL that had been operating in the District is not currently operating, meaning that a District resident who wishes to purchase a handgun cannot bring it into the District since an FFL is required to physically receive the firearm and then provide it to the licensed owner. This emergency act will permit the District to operate as the FFL in the limited circumstance where there is not otherwise an FFL in operation in the District, thereby allowing District residents who wish to purchase firearms to do so legally.

Mr. Mendelson has said that gun control opponents are “waiting to pounce” on the District over the lack of a FFL. Actually, as I noted above, they have already pounced and have a very solid case. As to Mr. Sykes and his efforts to find a new location, he has said he has proposed a number of locations to the District but they have all been rejected.

This might be the time for a pro-gun Congressman to introduce a bill forbidding the District from becoming a FFL. I would hate to imagine the fees they would charge for a transfer plus the hoops they would make you jump just to pick up your paid-for firearm.

UPDATE: It looks like the DC City Council will be rejecting this bill.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and council members expressed a variety of concerns about Mendelson’s proposal.

In a letter delivered to council members Tuesday morning, Gray said the proposal would impose an “unnecessary burden on the government, would potentially subject the District government to liability and also undermines the District’s strong public stance in support of gun control.”

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) and Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said they worried the District would be liable for gun deaths if the legislation was approved.

The proponent of this bill, Councilman Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), seems to be the only one who realizes what a tight spot the District of Columbia finds itself with no operating gun shop to act as a transfer agent. You have attorney Alan Gura and his suit, Lane v. Holder, on one side and a pro-gun Congress on the other. Frankly, I’m glad they punted on this proposal as it makes it more likely that Lane v. Holder will succeed in its thrust at the heart of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

HR 645 – A Bipartisan Bill To Bring The 2nd Amendment To DC

Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) along with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on Thursday that would “restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia. The text of the bill, HR 645, has not be released yet by the Government Printing Office. The bill has been sent to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for hearings.

According to a press release on the bill issued by Ross’s office, HR 645 would:

The major provisions of the Second Amendment Enforcement Act include:

Repeal the D.C. Semiautomatic Ban.
The District has restricted or banned the availability of various types of semiautomatic firearms that are widely owned throughout the United States. This repeal would allow District residents to choose for themselves the best firearms to meet their needs. The District’s current ban on fully-automatic machine guns would remain in place.

Restore the Right to Self Defense in the Home. The bill would repeal the District’s current storage law and allow gun owners to store their firearms so that they are readily available for immediate defensive purposes. It would also provide for criminal penalties when a person allows an unattended firearm to fall into the hands of minors who harm themselves or others.

Authorize Purchases of Firearms and Ammunition by D.C. Residents. Because there are not traditional gun shops in D.C. and federal law prohibits a person from purchasing handguns outside the person’s state of residence, this bill would provide more meaningful opportunities for D.C. residents to obtain the right firearms for their needs in Maryland and Virginia. It would also allow licensed dealers in D.C. to sell non-restricted ammunition.

Repeal Overly Restrictive Registration Requirement. Buying a firearm in D.C. can often take weeks and the registration fees can often cost as much as the gun itself. This bill would repeal the burdensome and very costly registration requirement and allows D.C. residents to exercise their right to bear arms without undue hindrance.

Ensure the Firearms May be Transported and Carried for Legitimate Purposes. This bill would allow a person to transport and carry firearms in prescribed manners for lawful purposes, while authorizing the D.C. City Council to implement regulations governing licensed carry and the prohibition of firearms in sensitive public places.

Ross represents the 4th District of Arkansas. He is one of the few Blue Dog Democrats to be re-elected in 2010 and is co-chairman of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus. He notes in his press release that he is a Life Member of the NRA. Both he and Jordan signed the amicus brief submitted by Members of Congress supporting Heller in D.C. v Heller.

Jordan represents the 4th District of Ohio. He is Chairman of the Republican Study Committee for the 112th Congress which is the caucus of Republican conservatives. Jordan serves onthe House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending.

Ross and Jordan were rated A+ for the 2010 election cycle by the NRA Political Victory Fund and both received the NRA endorsement.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports on the bill introduced by Ross and Jordan. They think that some sort of bill will pass that will reduce the constraints imposed by the DC City Council. However, they are unsure whether a standalone bill will get through Congress and Obama.

House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) is positively apoplectic in her response to this bill. From a release that her office issue:

“House Republicans revealed themselves to be hypocrites on day one of the new Congress when they stripped our residents of the federal court-approved Committee of the Whole vote,” Norton said. “They won control of the House on the slogans of job creation and reducing the power of the federal government, but they have spent the first month in the majority introducing bills to usurp the local autonomy of the District of Columbia. They underestimate our residents if they think this city will tolerate autocratic rule from Congress any more than the Jordan and Ross districts would tolerate dictatorship from Congress on local matters.”

UPDATE II: The full text of HR 645 is now available. It is a long bill so here is the link to the PDF of the bill.

Time For DC To Pay Up

Not only did Alan Gura have to fight the District of Columbia over the Second Amendment, now he is having to fight them in an effort to get paid for his efforts in the Heller case. The Legal Times Blog is reporting that the District of Columbia is balking over the bill submitted to the District Court by Gura. Basing his bill for fees on the prevailing market rates for complex Federal litigation, he submitted a request for $3.13 million to Judge Emmet Sullivan. This was for over 3,000 hours of billable time for six attorneys including himself.

The District has countered that they should only have to pay $722,000.

Samuel Kaplan of the District’s Office of the Attorney General argued the plaintiffs’ team had failed to prove why they should receive compensation on par with major law firms in the District. Kaplan called the gun litigation complicated but not complex, a term he reserved for class actions.

Kaplan said Gura’s team did not build the case from scratch, relying instead on what he called decades of scholarly literature on the Second Amendment.

It takes a lot of gall to say the premier case establishing the Second Amendment as an individual right is merely complicated but not complex which is a designation that the District’s attorneys reserve for the cases brought by the bottom-dwelling plaintiff’s attorneys for stuff like cigarette smoking and exposure to asbestos.

Judge Sullivan, according to this account, questioned whether he should take the District’s finances into account when considering Gura’s bill and how much he should be paid from the taxpayer’s money. Gura countered,

telling Sullivan he (Gura) should not be (in) a position that requires him to assess the city’s budget priorities. Sullivan should base his fee ruling on an objective analysis of market rates and performance, Gura said.

My humble suggestion to Judge Sullivan is that if he doesn’t want to use taxpayer money to pay Mr. Gura he should take it out of the assets and retirements of the so-called public officials who passed the handgun ban in the first place as well as those like former Mayor Adrian Fenty who kept enforcing the unconstitutional ban.

The bottom line is that it is well past time for the District of Columbia to stop being cheap bastards. You lost and we won. Now pay up.

UPDATE:  After Mark C. made the comment below, I looked up Alan Gura’s motion for fees. You can find it here. It is brought under 42 USC 1988 as he surmised. If you want to know about the history of the Heller case, it is worth reading the few first pages.

Cry Me A River

Colbert King, in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, laments that the expected increase in the number of conservatives and Republicans in Congress after mid-term elections doesn’t bode well for the District of Columbia’s autonomy. Pardon me if I am not sympathetic especially when he writes:

What’s more, a new Congress, under Republican influence, is likely to give the District more of what it doesn’t want.

Expect, for example, a renewed effort to weaken D.C. gun laws and restrict the D.C. Council’s regulation of firearms. Gun-rights forces tried to do that this year when they attached pro-gun language that ultimately derailed voting rights legislation. The Nov. 2 elections, if all goes as predicted, will only strengthen their hands.

I guess we should be happy that the District has been run by foolish politicians or we never would have gotten the Heller decision. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s intransigence led to DC’s appeal of the Court of Appeals win for Dick Heller. This, in turn, led to the Supreme Court acknowledging, finally and concretely, that the Second Amendment is an individual right.

So to assuage Mr. King’s sorrow, I send him this nice rendition of “Cry Me A River” sung by Susan Boyle.