Democrat State Party Platforms – Kansas To Maryland

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Now that we have to wait on the FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, it is time to continue my series on party platforms. This post will look at the Democrat Party platforms for Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, and Maryland. When I finish this series on the Democrats, I plan to do a similar one on Republican state party platforms.

Kansas

Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) signed permitless concealed-carry into law in 2015. Last year, campus carry was legalized as of July 1st. Bear this in mind when reading what Democratic Party of Kansas has to say on firearms.

From the addendum to their platform adopted in 2018.

Kansas Democrats believe guns have no place in public schools, in our colleges, universities, public libraries, or other public buildings.

We insist that firearms be carried only by those who have been properly trained and certified in their use, have passed a thorough background check, and have been licensed by the state.

In other words, they object to all the progress on gun rights passed in Kansas over the past few years.

Kentucky

The Democrat Party of Kentucky does not publish a platform on its webpage. According to Ballotpedia, they merely adopt the national Democrat Party’s platform. Some Kentucky Democrats have suggested a platform but I can’t find any evidence of one being adopted. The national platform has this to say about “gun violence” (sic).

With 33,000 Americans dying every year, Democrats believe that we must finally take sensible action to address gun violence. While responsible gun ownership is part of the fabric of many communities, too many families in America have suffered from gun violence. We can respect the rights of responsible gun owners while keeping our communities safe. To build on the success of the lifesaving Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, we will expand and strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws; repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to revoke the dangerous legal immunity protections gun makers and sellers now enjoy; and keep weapons of war—such as assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (LCAM’s)—off our streets. We will fight back against attempts to make it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to revoke federal licenses from law breaking gun dealers, and ensure guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists, intimate partner abusers, other violent criminals, and those with severe mental health issues. There is insufficient research on effective gun prevention policies, which is why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must have the resources it needs to study gun violence as a public health issue.

Louisiana

Like Kentucky, the Democrat Party of Louisiana does not publish a platform on its webpage. Again, like Kentucky, it merely adopts the national Democrat Party’s platform. A search of their website for “platform” turns up only elections to the platform committee of the national convention. I’m sure most in Louisiana do not agree with the national party’s platform regarding firearms. That might explain why there is only one Democrat congressman from Louisiana and Gov. John Bel Edwards ran for election on a pro-2A platform.

Maine

Maine used to be a state where the Democrats were pro-gun and most of the state outside of southern Maine is still relatively pro-gun. Voters in Maine did turn down a Bloomberg sponsored and financed referendum calling for universal background checks. Moreover, the state joined New Hampshire and Vermont in approving permitless or constitutional concealed carry. However, the platform of the Democratic Party of Maine does contain calls for more gun control even if they call it gun safety (sic).

Firearms are explicitly mentioned in two sections of the platform. First, under “Health Care”:

d. Support for programs that increase gun safety

And then under “Freedom, Safety, and National Security”:

5. Ensures responsible gun ownership in accordance with the 2nd Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution and works to strengthen background checks for every firearm sale within the
State of Maine and promotes the restoration of gun safety research..

As Democratic state party platforms go, that is relatively weak stuff.

Maryland

Given that Maryland has a plethora of gun control laws including requiring a class in order to purchase a handgun, a mag ban, and a ban on modern sporting rifles, it should be surprising that the Maryland Democrats have come up with even more things they want in the name of “gun safety” (sic). Sadly, it isn’t. The Maryland Democratic Party devotes a full webpage in their Issues section to gun control.

Gun Safety

Democrats support Americans’ Second Amendment guaranteed rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.

We also believe the government should pass sensible laws that stem gun crimes, violence that too often destroys families and communities. A staggering 89 percent of unintentional, fatal shootings of children occur in the home.

Guns and domestic abusers are a deadly combination.

Of women killed by men, more than 90 percent are killed by a man they knew personally.

At least 62 percent are killed by an intimate partner. Over the past 25 years, more intimate partner homicides have been carried out with guns than with all other weapons combined.

No law will prevent all gun crimes, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t implement sensible gun regulations that strike a balance between liberty and safety.

Currently the law prohibits a convicted domestic abuser from purchasing or possessing a gun, but the law does not provide a timeline for forfeiture or a requirement of proof of forfeiture.

General Assembly Democrats are leading the fight to require abusers to forfeit guns within 48 hours and to give notice of forfeiture within 5 days.

I searched their webpage for any mention of the murder rate in Baltimore, gang violence, or even crime (other than “gun crimes”) and I couldn’t find anything. I guess it is easier to go after domestic abusers who are already banned under Federal law (Lautenberg Amendment) from possessing a firearm than it is to attack criminal gangs and drug-related crime in Baltimore.

Chicken Boxing?

When you read a story about “chicken boxing”, you immediately check the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. At least, that is what I did. Turns out it was a legitimate story about a bill going through the Louisiana State Senate that would ban possession of cockfighting paraphernalia such as razor spurs and leather spur covers. Louisiana was the last state in the union to ban cockfighting which it did in 2008.

Opponents of the bill such as State Sen. Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas) said the bill would shut down the sport of chicken boxing, a non-fatal version of cockfighting minus the razor spurs. Guillory’s opposition to the bill at a hearing before the Senate Committee for Judiciary C took its chairman State Sen. J. P. Morrell (D-New Orleans) by surprise as he was as ignorant of chicken boxing as the rest of us.

“Wait, wait, wait … chicken boxing?” Morrell said.

“Yes, chicken boxing,” Guillory replied.

At that point, it took Morrell a few stops and starts before he could articulate his point. A moment later, he was able to muster: “I appreciate your passion for your constituents, (but) I have no knowledge whatsoever on chicken boxing, so I cannot speak to that.”

Morrell continued, “If chicken boxing … I can’t even speak on chicken boxing. Honestly, I have never heard of that. It sounds like something to circumvent cockfighting.”

It was at that point that Guillory explained chicken boxing.

“No, no. Let me explain to you, senator,” Guillory said. “Just as dueling is a blood sport, two men fighting each other with swords is a blood sport that is illegal. Similarly, two men with boxing gloves on can box each other as a sport that is legal. This is the same distinction between chicken boxing and cockfighting.”

Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, was perplexed over the mechanics of chicken boxing.

“I would be very interested to find out how some chicken stands on two legs while it boxes,” Adley said. “I understand how humans do it, but I’m trying to figure out how it happens with a chicken. That would be interesting to determine.”

Chicken boxing notwithstanding the bill advanced to the full Senate on a 4-2 vote. I guess the majority just didn’t have an appreciation for the intricacies of chicken boxing.

A Man’s Gotta Eat

Louisiana repealed a 22 year old ban on hunting in portions of Orleans Parish, Louisiana yesterday. Orleans Parish is home to New Orleans as well as the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. While special youth-only waterfowl hunts have been allowed in the refuge for the last two years, this was only by special exemption.

On Tuesday the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) voted to repeal a ban on all hunting for portions of the Orleans Parrish. The ban was originally instated in 1991 by the LWFC to assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in establishing the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. More than 20 years later, the refuge is now currently the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country and plays host to an increasing amount of young waterfowlers.

Bayou Sauvage is entirely within the city limits of New Orleans and is the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country.

It will be up to the City of New Orleans as to what other hunting will be allowed within their city limits outside of the National Wildlife Refuges. They currently allow limited deer hunting in certain swamps within the city limits. The latest figures from the LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries shows 15 deer taken in the 2011-12 season in Orleans Parish.

Keith Westlake, a wildlife specialist with the refuge noted that they were starting to have problems with feral hogs.

Striking down the ban could potentially allow hunters to pursue feral hogs, which are causing problems outside the refuge. Westlake said that beginning in 2011 wildlife officials have culled 575 pigs from the area to reduce the damage the animals can cause. Feral hogs are an increasingly critical problem for conservationists and hunting regulations for these animals are generally lax.

For now the area’s alligators seem to be enjoying the lack of competition, as well as the carcasses left behind by management hunts.

I imagine some of the more imaginative chefs in New Orleans might find a better use for wild hogs than as food for alligators. I certainly hope so.

In Gun Rights Litigation News

It has been a busy day for gun rights litigation. On the down side, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision in Woollard v. Gallagher which had overturned the State of Maryland’s “good and substantial reason” requirement for the issuance of a carry permit. In brief, that court found that Maryland’s interest in public safety met the standards of intermediate scrutiny.

I have not read the full decision so I will defer to Professor Eugene Volokh and Second Amendment attorney Dave Hardy for their learned commentary on the decision.

First, Prof. Volokh:

The court claims that it’s not deciding whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in self-defense extends to carrying a gun outside the home. Rather, the court concludes that, even if such a right exists, Maryland’s licensing scheme — which requires a “good and substantial” reason for a license to carry and which doesn’t treat a general desire for self-defense as an adequate reason — passes intermediate scrutiny.

But it seems to me that means the court is thereby deciding that the right to keep and bear arms doesn’t extend to carrying outside the home for self-defense. If a court lets the government deny the ability to carry guns outside the home for self-defense to nearly everybody, the court is in essence saying there is no such right to carry.

Next, Dave Hardy:

 I cannot think of any other right considered a fundamental right, whose
exercise can be (1) punished unless the person receives a government
permit and (2) there are no standards for the permit issuance beyond a
government official’s feelings.

I quite agree with Sebastian that this one is destined for the Supreme Court. This combined with Kachalsky and the twin Illinois cases of Shepard v. Madigan and Moore v. Madigan present a split between the circuits. There is no word yet from the Second Amendment Foundation or Alan Gura but I cannot believe they won’t appeal.

In more positive news, word comes from Louisiana that the state’s felon in possession law was struck down as violating strict scrutiny. In November 2012, the voters of Louisiana overwhelmingly adopted a provision to their state constitution that said,  “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms is fundamental and shall
not be infringed. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to
strict scrutiny.”

Finally, the NY State Rifle Association – the NRA’s affiliate in that state – along with a number of other organizational and individual plaintiffs filed suit in US District Court for the Western District of New York challenging the new NY SAFE Act. The defendants include Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneidermann among others.

The suit seeks a declarative judgement and injunctive relief based upon the law violating the right to keep and bear arms under the 2nd and 14th Amendments, the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, the Dormant Commerce Clause, Article I, § 8 of the Constitutions, and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

The lead attorney in the lawsuit is noted Second Amendment attorney Stephen Halbrook. The complaint can be found here.