A Potential Competing National Reciprocity Bill

The Gun Owners of America sent out an alert yesterday publicizing an alternative reciprocity bill to S. 2188 as introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Mike Crapo (R-ID). This alert is showing up on a number of forums and other gun-related websites.

From the GOA Alert:

Great news!

Pro-gun Senate champions John Thune (R-SD) and David Vitter (R-LA) have decided to stand their ground on their concealed carry reciprocity legislation, despite pressure from gun rights compromisers to weaken the bill.

Specifically, Senators Thune and Vitter are sticking with their version of the bill, which recognizes the right to carry concealed by residents of “Vermont-style” and “Constitutional Carry” states.ThuneVitter

Such states do not require residents to obtain the government’s permission before carrying a firearm for self-protection. There are currently 17 states that have either enacted legislation in the past or have introduced “Constitutional Carry” laws in their legislatures this year.

Current law:


Considering legislation:

New Hampshire
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota (on governor’s desk)

More states are being added to the list all the time. The Thune-Vitter legislation will fully recognize gun owners’ rights in these states.

A competing bill, however, pulls the rug out from under “Constitutional Carry.” Sponsored by Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), the compromise bill still requires a government permit for reciprocity, regardless of state law.

So while the states are moving in the direction of more freedom, the Begich and Manchin bill would keep even the most pro-gun states tied to a permitting system. Why are they doing this? After all, criminals don’t get in line at the police station to get a permit. It’s the law-abiding gun owners who go through the process of proving their innocence before being “allowed” to carry a firearm.

The GOA Alert allows the reader to send a pre-written message to their senators urging them to support the Thune-Vitter bill and to oppose the “compromise” S. 2188.

There is only one problem with this – no Thune-Vitter national reciprocity bill has been introduced yet. When I first read the alert, I checked the Library of Congress’ Thomas website and then I checked the official websites of both Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). None of the above sites had any information of any such bill.

To get to the bottom of this, I sent an email to GOA and was pleased to get a quick response from Erich Pratt. He said in his reply, “There is not a bill number yet.  The Senators are in the process of circulating “Dear Colleague” letters and getting cosponsors. We’ll let you know as soon as we find out.”

Until I see the actual text of any Thune-Vitter national reciprocity bill along with an assigned bill number, I don’t plan to ask my senators to support the bill and to oppose S. 2188. It would only confuse their staff and make me look foolish. While you are free to do what you want, my advice is to take a wait and see attitude. As it is, without some slick maneuvering on the part of our allies in the Senate, no national right-to-carry reciprocity bill will get a on-the-record up-or-down vote.

Only Caitlin Halligan Could Unite The NRA-ILA And The GOA In Opposition

Caitlin Halligan is Obama’s nominee for a seat on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She formerly served as Solicitor General for the State of New York from 2001 until 2007 under then-NY Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. Her nomination is being filibustered in the Senate due to her leftist views on abortion and gun rights. Tomorrow, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling for a cloture (end of debate) vote on Halligan’s confirmation.

Pravda on the Potomac aka the Washington Post has endorsed her. Meanwhile, the Joyce-funded Media Matters for America is trying to say that Halligan’s anti-gun rights actions were in the past and now she supports the Second Amendment. I seem to remember that the “Wise Latina” Justice Sonya Sotomayor made similar comments during her confirmation battle and then dissented on the McDonald case.

Accordingly, the NRA-ILA released this letter that was sent today to every senator.

December 5, 2011

Dear Senator:

I am writing to express the National Rifle Association’s opposition to the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Our opposition is based on Ms. Halligan’s attacks on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. Specifically, she worked to undermine the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support. This legislation was critically important in ending a wave of lawsuits sponsored by anti-gun organizations and governments, which sought to blame firearms manufacturers and dealers for the criminal misuse of their products by third parties. This bill was an essential protection both for the Second Amendment rights of honest Americans and for the continued existence of the domestic firearms industry as a supplier of arms for our nation’s defense.

Among the governments that sued the industry was the state of New York. This case was pending while Ms. Halligan was New York’s solicitor general, and she strongly supported the litigation both inside and outside the courtroom.

Ms. Halligan represented the state in its 2001 lawsuit against numerous gun manufacturers, in which the state argued that the legal sale of handguns created a “public nuisance” under state law. In a 2003 speech while that case was pending, Ms. Halligan claimed that the PLCAA “would likely cut off at the pass any attempt by States to find solutions—through the legal system or their own state legislatures—that might reduce gun crimes or promote greater responsibility among gun dealers.” That statement was simply wrong. The legislation then under debate—like the version that finally passed two years later—only prohibited lawsuits “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse” of firearms or ammunition by third parties. It exempted traditional tort actions against gun makers. The bill most certainly did not restrict the actions of state legislatures, as the introduction of numerous anti-gun bills in the New York legislature proves each year.

Ms. Halligan also claimed the PLCAA “would make the gun industry the only industry in the country to be so broadly shielded from lawsuits.” In fact, Congress had previously passed targeted liability protection for many industries and other enterprises, ranging from aircraft manufacturers to food banks to makers of medical implants.

After passage of the PLCAA, Ms. Halligan participated in the legal attack on the PLCAA. The state filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit supporting New York City’s attack on the law’s constitutionality. The arguments in that brief were ultimately rejected by the Second Circuit, as they have been by every other appellate court (and every federal court at any level) that has considered the issue.

Given Ms. Halligan’s clear opposition to a major federal law that was essential to protecting law-abiding Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, as well as an important industry that equips our military and law enforcement personnel, we must respectfully oppose her confirmation, including the vote on cloture.

We greatly appreciate your attention to our concerns. If you have any questions, please contact NRA Federal Affairs at (202) 651-XXXX.


Chris W. Cox
Executive Director
NRA Institute for Legislative Action

The Gun Owners of American is also standing strong against the confirmation of Halligan and has issued an alert to their members that says in part:

As New York’s solicitor general, Halligan was one of the chief lawyers responsible for New York’s baseless and politically motivated efforts to bankrupt gun manufacturers using frivolous litigation. In so doing, Halligan proved that she places liberal political activism above fealty to the law.

Halligan’s public hatred for firearms was only matched by her zealotry inside the courtroom. In a speech on May 5, 2003, Halligan called for “handgun manufacturers [to be held] liable for criminal acts committed with handguns.”

Certainly, no other manufacturer of another item — whether it be cars, baseball bats, or anything else — would be held liable for the criminal misuse of its product. And, as Halligan well knows, the application of that principle to firearms would surely eliminate the manufacture of firearms in America.

After attempts of legal extortion of the firearms industry were repudiated by a bipartisan vote in Congress, Halligan’s office did not let up on attacking gun rights, signing a brief calling for New York courts to declare the federal Gun Makers’ Protection Act unconstitutional.

Finally, Halligan, in written testimony submitted to the Senate in connection with her nomination, attempted to conceal the extent of her anti-gun animus.

Halligan’s failure to provide information that would clarify her statements, thus keeping her testimony from being misleading, constitutes “fraud” against the Senate. As such, the only role she should play in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is the role of a defendant.

But, of course, none of this matter to Harry Reid. He already did his part getting two strident anti-gun Obama judges onto the Supreme Court, and now he’s doing what he can to pack the Appeals Courts with radical leftists as well.

We have to stop this Reid/Obama court-packing scheme. Please act now, as the vote is scheduled for this Tuesday.

To facilitate contacting your state’s senators, GOA has set up a CapWiz letter generator that will send either an email or printed letter to them. It can be found here and I would urge you to select “by email” as the vote is tomorrow.

In an interesting coincidence, Halligan graduated in the same law school class (Georgetown University Law Center, 1995) as Alan Gura. I would have to say that Gura was more successful in his advocacy for the Second Amendment than Halligan was in her attempt to sue the firearms industry out of business and we can all be thankful for that.

GOA on Traver Nomination

Gun Owners of America has weighed in on the nomination of Andrew Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. I am a bit surprised that they waited so long to issue a statement given that the NRA and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms issued strong statements within a few days of the nomination.

From GOA:

Obama Nominates Rabid Anti-gunner to Head the ATF
— Ask your Senators to Support a Filibuster

Monday, November 29, 2010

It was not a good sign that Barack Obama kept his nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives a secret until after the midterm election –- and then quickly announced that anti-gun zealot Andrew F. Traver would be named to fill the slot.

After being blasted before November 2’s election by the liberal New York Times for failing to beef up the ATF by appointing a director –- for fear of the wrath of the “gun lobby” -– Obama gets right past the election and, presto chango, a nominee appears. How ’bout that?

And not just any nominee.

As special agent in charge of Chicago’s ATF field division, Traver had taken the lead in calling for a ban on semiautomatic firearms.

And Chicago, of course, has been the epicenter of anti-gun government activism. It is not surprising that Traver has also been active in the virulently anti-gun International Association of Chiefs of Police, which has worked to empower Handgun Control-type activists and has commissioned panels to:

* support one-gun-a-month and lock-up-your-safety laws, as well as “ballistic fingerprinting” files on all firearms;

* espouse an “effective” ban on .50-caliber firearms, and a redefinition of “armor-piercing” ammunition that could effectively ban handgun use;

* mandate gun-destruction policies for law enforcement and enhanced funding to go after guns;

* prohibit all private gun sales and make “prohibited persons” out of a much wider variety of persons committing simple misdemeanors;

* back a repeal of the Tiahrt amendment; and,

* allow federal health and safety oversight of the firearms industry (through agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration).

It is disconcerting that ANY organization espousing these views would be taken seriously. That an activist in such an organization would be put in charge of the ATF is truly troubling.

On their website, they have a pre-written letter that you can use to request your state’s Senators oppose the Traver nomination. It can be sent as an email directly from their site.

While good in signaling raw numbers opposed to the nomination, I don’t think that is the most effective means of getting the message across. A personal letter hand delivered to the local office would have much more impact in my opinion. I think if you include with that letter a folder containing the statements of the NRA, CCRKBA, and GOA along with other information on Traver to bolster your argument it would add to the impact.

In the pre-9/11 and pre-anthrax days, a handwritten letter sent to the Senator’s office would have sufficed. With all the mail, email, and faxes that they receive daily, I think even that gets lost in the shuffle. It is much harder to ignore a person standing in front of your staff than it is one letter or email out of thousands received in a day.