Most of the chat on Speak Up gets deleted after a period of time, but there was a particularly spirited debate regarding gun laws, that I thought was worth archiving. It began with a comment and link posted by Jeff Z:

“The gun bill *mentioned above BARELY failed. Eph [Mark] Udall (Colorado) one of 20 dems to vote yes. Uggghhh.”

And the rest follows below the fold.

*(article referred to at beginning of thread now linked here)

1.PTC says:

JeffZ- Do you have a better article on the gun bill? The one you posted is full of slant… and no doubt legal inaccuracies.

Criminals cannot legally purchase or carry firearms in the US. That is a federal law. The article you cited stated that this bill would allow a criminal to walk the street with guns and get a permit. Complete nonsense.

You’ll have to excuse me if I do not trust “Politico” to give me honest spin on a gun law. Personally, I think people should be allowed to carry state to state. As it stands right now, I can legally carry a concealed pistol in Pownal, walk two feet into Williamstown, and get arrested for a felony. Makes no sense at all.

Who is this republican congressman writing the article.. and why is he a communist?

2. jeffz says:

PTC, that is not nonsense. Misdemeanor violent offenders in Alaska, at least, can purchase firearms. Those same people, under the proposed legislation, could legally carry anywhere. Wonderful.

The article I posted is an opinion piece, but by a former GOP congressman, so hardly biased. Tom Davis is hardly a communist. Respecting states rights does not make someone a communist — on the contrary, it used to make one a Republican. What ever happened to respecting states’ rights? I guess that only matters to the GOP when you are trying to prevent gay people from getting married, right? Common sense gun regulations do not make one a communist: opposing them just makes one an NRA shill. The balance now is SO far tilted towards the rights of gun owners and so far tilted away from public safety at this point as to be beyond reason.

The NRA has more influence than any single lobbying organization in this country. It is an utter joke the kinds of laws that are being passed around the country: allowing guns in bars just passed in several states, makes a LOT of sense. The NRA is determined to strike down any gun regulation, no matter how common sense — if it gets its way, anyone will be able to buy any amount of any sort of gun (including assault weapons) with essentially no safety measures, with minimal to no background checks, and carry those guns virtually anywhere in any state, including bars and schools. It is an utter and complete travesty that so many cowards in Congress are captive to the NRA’s deep pockets …

3. jeffz says:

And if you think it makes “no sense at all” that certain conduct is a felony in one state, but not a felony in another, you might want to consider moving to a country that does not have 50 states, each of whom establishes its own criminal laws. Last time I checked, states were primarily responsible for criminalizing conduct, not the federal gov’t (other than conduct with an interstate nexus).

4. Whitney Wilson ’90 says:

Jeff and PTC do a nice job representing the different sides of the gun debate in this country. One man’s “sensible gun regulation” is another’s overbearing government regulation. From my perspective, some of the recent Congressional action on guns makes sense (such as letter the laws of each state govern the rules on gun possession in national parks), while other proposals were wisely – if barely – rejected (requiring reciprocal recognition of carry permits across all state lines). What is interesting about gun issues from a political perspective is how much party cross-over there is on many votes. Let’s hear it for bi-partisanship!

5. JeffZ says:

The problem, Whitney, is that all the political power (at least in terms of financial incentives and lobbyists, which is a huge part of political power) is with the anti-regulation forces. With tort reform, for example, you have business interests on the one side, trial lawyers on the other. When it comes to guns, there is no moneyed counter-weight to the enormous incentives gun manufacturers have to support politicians who oppose any and all regulation of firearms, no matter how reasonable or sensible. (Obviously, the NRA gets much of its support from average gun owners as well, but financially speaking, no industry group is going to support those citizens who favor stricter gun laws). As a result, you will basically NEVER see federal legislation passed at this point that is an “overbearing regulation.” Just the way it is …

6. Whitney Wilson ’90 says:

You are right about future regulation at the federal level, but certainly there is plenty of restrictive legislation at the state/local level. (e.g. DC’s rules).

7. PTC says:

JeffZ- I guess you did not get some of the humor in my post…

To hell with those gun grabbing commie Republicans!

and yes, I am against gun laws.

8. JeffZ says:

Ahh, I missed it PTC, gotcha.

9. PTC says:

jeffz says:

And if you think it makes “no sense at all” that certain conduct is a felony in one state, but not a felony in another, you might want to consider moving to a country that does not have 50 states, each of whom establishes its own criminal laws. Last time I checked, states were primarily responsible for criminalizing conduct, not the federal gov’t (other than conduct with an interstate nexus).

True, if you disregard the constitutional issue of gun rights in this case. We are talking about the right of a person to carry a firearm for self defense. A federal issue.

Courts have restricted the ability of States to pass laws prohibiting concealed carry because of constitutional issue. Ohio has had concealed carry laws stricken in federal court… Washington DC just recently had a gun law stuck down by the SCOTUS… I do not think it is a clear cut as you are suggesting. Perhaps technically you are “legally right”, for now, but that does not mean that the subject of gun rights is not an issue on which many of us, including the courts, have different opinions on.

10. PTC says:

and of course.. as you mention, I can drive legally through mass with a wide variety of “illegal” (according to MA) guns in my trunk, as long as I am traveling from a state where the guns are legal, to another state where the guns are legal. That is established law. I could load my entire gun collection into the back of my care in a locked case and drive right to Vermont from here in Virginia… passing through NJ, NY, NYC, MA… perfectly legal. Heck I can fly into Boston, rent a car and drive to ME with a wide variety of guns “banned” in MA.

Why not legally allow a person the ability to protect himself/ herself and his/her family on the highway?

11. JeffZ says:

PTC, two points, first it is a very murky area whether the Second Amendment applies to the states (conservative jurists Posner and Easterbrook recently opined “no” for example), I don’t know much about that area of law so I really don’t have any substantive comment there. But what I will say is that, to the extent any Federal regulation goes too far (like the regulation struck down in Heller, which I agree did), the Second Amendment will indeed come into play. However, there is, inarguably, certain firearms related conduct that the Second Amendment does NOT protect (few would assert, for example, that it gives you an example to own a surface to air missile or a bazooka). The type of common-sense regulations that the NRA invariably opposes, well in almost every case — preventing people with serious mental health issues or violent histories from owning firearms, requiring safety devices so kids can’t access and shoot themselves by accident, preventing firearms in high schools, airports, and bars, preventing dissemination of cop-killer bullets and high-powered automatic assault weapons — have never, and, I pray, never will, be considered protected conduct under the Second Amendment. I am not talking about someone keeping a gun in their house for self-protection, or even, in states that choose to allow it, carrying it concealed on your person with a permit. I’d also say that what makes sense in Texas does not always make sense in, say, New York City, and different jurisdictions should have the right to set their own standards for gun ownership and use, so long as those standard do not infringe on the Second Amendment. I don’t see anything terribly controversial in that position; rather it is in accord with the vast majority of every other time of criminal prohibition in this country.

12. JeffZ says:

I also don’t see the big deal about requiring background checks and closing the gun show exceptions. While it is really not a big deal to make someone wait a month to purchase a gun, it is a VERY big deal if people like, say, the Virginia Tech shooter have easy access to firearms whenever they decide on a whim to gun a whole bunch of random people down.

13. PTC says:

Here is the NRA member email on the bill I believe you are blogging about?

“On Wednesday, July 22, by a margin of 58-39, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate voted in favor of an amendment offered by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and David Vitter (R-LA) to provide interstate recognition of Right-to-Carry permits. The amendment to S.1390 — the National Defense Authorization Act — would acknowledge that the right to self-defense extends across state lines. Under this provision, individuals with carry permits from their home state, or who are otherwise allowed to carry a firearm in their home state, could carry in any other state that issues permits.

Despite the bipartisan majority of votes, the Thune-Vitter amendment did not pass because it fell just two votes short of the required 60 votes for approval. This 60-vote approval threshold was decided upon by a procedural agreement between Senate leaders. The agreement was, in part, used to avoid a filibuster and any hostile amendments to the Thune-Vitter amendment.”

14. PTC says:

There is also a bill on the table to help federalize BATFE policy for gun owners…

From the NRA-

“As we reported in May, Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) have introduced S. 941, the “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Reform and Firearms Modernization Act of 2009″ in the U.S. Senate. Representatives Steve King (R-Iowa) and Zack Space (D-Ohio) have introduced a companion bill-H.R. 2296-in the U.S. House. The bills would roll back unnecessary restrictions, correct errors, and codify longstanding congressional policies in the firearms arena. These bipartisan bills are a vital step to modernize and improve BATFE operations.”

15. PTC says:

Clearly, the majority of Americans and their representatives disagree with the current restrictions on the right to bear arms in self defense.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

16. JG says:

I’m curious why it is the GOP is all for states’ rights when it comes to education and abortion but all for federal authority when it comes to gay marriage and gun rights. Seems just a wee bit like BULLSHIT if you ask me.



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