Heller Affirmed!

From the opinion:

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
The Amendment?s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause?s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Woot. This is Big News(tm). Big enough, in fact, for CNN to run a front-page story on their website. The BBC has the story front-page on their international news page.
The Brady Campaign site is amusing yet sad…the decision is reached, and they immediately start begging for money. The NRA, on the other hand, is business as usual, and has a one-line mention of the ruling in the “NRA Top News Stories” category on their home page.
I’m still reading the opinion, so I’ll post more later when I’ve read it. Other blogs I read (see the blogroll on the right) have a considerable amount of material on the subject, so check them out!
I’d have a celebratory day at the range, but I’m in San Francisco after a multi-week vacation to Europe so all my guns are in the safe in Arizona. I may have to talk to some of my California friends to see about celebrating.

Guns and the Internet

One of the comments on this article stood out at me, and necessitated a reply.
The comment was:

Nut in Green Bay
He sold the guns used in two recent massares, over the net. He wants to make up for it by selling guns at cost so everyone can protect themselves.
Believe it or not, they featured him on the local news here with no comment, stating his case. As if he were a hero.
Mind boggling. There is no limit to the insanity of humans or the gullibility of mass media.
Did the bushies make it legal to sell guns over the net? How is this possible?

With very few exceptions (e.g. antique firearms), a non-FFL-holding individual cannot directly buy guns from the internet and have them shipped directly to them. This has been the case since 1968, and has not changed since then. Bush and his supporters have changed nothing.
One may purchase a gun from an online vendor like TGSCOM or a private seller on an auction site like GunBroker and have it shipped to their local Federal Firearms License holder (i.e. a gun shop). Next, the purchaser must go through the normal procedure of buying the gun from the dealer: filling out an ATF Form 4473 and undergoing a NICS background check. All state and local laws must also be obeyed.
There are several advantages to buying guns online:

  • Oftentimes online vendors have better pricing than a local shop.
  • Online vendors can often stock a larger variety of guns, often including unusual or uncommon guns, than a local shop.
  • Interstate purchases do not incur the cost of state sales tax.

Even taking into account the cost of shipping and the local dealer’s transfer fees, the lack of sales tax and better online pricing often results in a net savings of money for the purchaser.
In practice, this is absolutely no different than having the local gun shop special order a gun from a distributor, except that the buyer (rather than the dealer) initiates the transaction and has a greater choice of vendors than does the local gun shop.
Eric Thompson (proprietor of TGSCOM, who runs GunsAtCost.com and other online gun shops) did not sell the guns used in two recent massacres. Rather, he sold a single gun to one of the shooters, and some non-regulated parts (magazines) to another. He complied with all applicable laws: once paid, he shipped the gun to the buyer’s local FFL. The dealer complied with the law, ensured the appropriate forms and background check were completed, and sold the gun to the buyer. Everything was conducted in accordance with the law. The fact that the buyer later used the gun to commit a heinous crime is not the fault of Mr. Thompson or the local dealer. The fault lies solely with the murderer.
Mr. Thompson’s offer to sell guns at cost so that law-abiding citizens can afford to protect themselves is an honorable act, and I applaud him for doing so.

Brady Campaign Newsletter

I got an email from the Brady Campaign containing the following bit of news:

Representative Mike Castle (R-DE) has introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 96) that will require Brady background checks at gun shows, and stop criminals and other dangerous people from exploiting these events to buy and sell guns.

Guess who they consider “other dangerous people” to be? Probably folks like you and me — ordinary people who own guns.
FFL holders (e.g. gun dealers) need to conduct the NICS check and have purchasers fill out a Form 4473 regardless of where the transaction takes place. The rules for dealers are no different at gun shows than they are at their own property — this law would only affect private citizens wishing to buy or sell guns at gun shows by requiring that they transfer their guns through an FFL holder.
The law would even effect private sales not occurring at gun shows — it would require that any private sale occur at the seller’s private residence, rather than at the buyer’s residence or any other location.
Also, the bill would make it illegal to hold gun shows (“special firearms events”) without notifying the US Attorney General, in writing, at least 30 days ahead of time “of the date, time, duration, and location of the special firearms event, and the special firearms event vendors planning to participate”.
Like the Brady Campaign, I urge you to contact your legislators…except that I urge you to oppose this bill.
See GovTrack or THOMAS for more details on the bill.

AZ Gov. Vetoes “Petty Offense” bill

From the AZCDL:

HB 2630, an AzCDL requested bill that reduces the penalty for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit to a petty offense, was vetoed by the Governor on April 29, 2008. You can read her veto letter here: http://www.azleg.gov/govlettr/48leg/2R/HB2630.pdf .
HB 2630 would have reclassified carrying a concealed weapon without a permit as a petty offense, unless the violation occurred in the commission of, or attempted commission of, a “serious offense or violent crime”, in which case the CCW offense would have been a class 6 felony, or any other felony offense, in which case it would have remained a class 1 misdemeanor. In a nutshell, if you’re a bad guy carrying a concealed weapon, penalties would have been stiffened. If you’re a law-abiding citizen, it would have become a petty offense.

For those who don’t know, Arizona is an “open carry” state and no permit is required for openly carrying. However, if one’s shirt accidentally covers the gun, one is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. Similarly, if the openly-carried gun is concealed from view in a car (I’m left-handed — if I’m stopped by a police officer, the gun is not readily visible from either side of the vehicle as it’s blocked by the door on the left and my body on the right), that’s a crime.
Heaven forbid that good guys who make an honest mistake be differentiated from criminals committing violent crime.
Oh well. Maybe it’ll pass the next time around.
Frankly, I don’t even see why permits should be necessary to carry. Vermont and Alaska don’t have permits (AK issues them for reciprocity with other states) and they don’t have any trouble. If people can open carry in AZ without any issues, why should carrying concealed be any different? The mere carriage of a firearm harms nobody.

Why Preemption Exists

Most states have laws that reserve the power to regulate firearms to the state legislature, but not to any political subdivision (cities, counties, etc.).
Why? So this can’t happen.
If individual cities and counties were to enact their own firearm regulations, states would have a huge mess of patchwork laws leading to honest citizens getting in trouble with the law for some unposted, otherwise-unknown law.
Does Lower Chichester really expect that having new (not existing) homeowners
provide a list of all the firearms they own will have any effect whatsoever on firearm-related crimes and accidents?
Go on, pull the other one.

Philadelphia goes a bit Nutty

As Snowflakes in Hell reports, the city of Philadelphia passed five new gun control laws today:

The five bills limit handgun purchases to one a month; require lost or stolen firearms to be reported to police within 24 hours; forbid individuals under protection from abuse orders from possessing guns if ordered by the court; allow removal of firearms from ?persons posing a risk of imminent personal injury? to themselves or others, as determined by a judge; and outlaw the possession and sale certain assault weapons.

Just one problem: PA state law preempts any city, country, or other entity from enacting gun control laws. The state legislature reserves that power to itself. There’s been a great deal of conflict between crime-ridden, urban Philadelphia (which is very anti-gun) and the rest of the state (which is very pro-gun) in regards to such laws. Rather than obey the state law, the Philadelphia city council enacted these laws and Mayor Nutter has signed them. He’s also ordered Police Chief Charles Ramsey – and by extension, all city police – to enforce these laws.
Snowflakes continues:

Because of preemption, and the Ortiz precedent upholding preemption, these laws passed by city council are essentially not law, so anyone enforcing them will be acting under color of law, and could possibly lose their qualified immunity.

In short: If the police do enforce these illegal laws (“illegal laws” seems contradictory, but oh well), they could stand to be held personally responsible.
This could get exciting. I suspect that the state legislature will slap Philadelphia, and that lawsuits may be filed. All of this paid for by taxpayer dollars.
This reminds me of a similar situation in San Francisco: California has a similar preemption law, and prohibits cities and counties from enacting their own gun control laws. San Francisco ignored this prohibition, enacted a ban on all handguns, got sued, lost in court, appealed, lost again, appealed to the State Supreme Court, and lost again. Lots of taxpayer money wasted for a stupid law that wouldn’t have any effect on crime. Philadelphia really needs to learn from the mistakes of others.

San Francisco handgun ban well and truly dead

From the NRA:

The California State Supreme Court has ruled that Proposition H, the draconian gun ban proposed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors violates California law. This exhausts all possible avenues for appeal by the Board of Supervisors. Proposition H would ban the manufacture, distribution, sale and transfer of firearms and ammunition within San Francisco.

I was concerned about the courts decision in my former state — having pro-gun decisions come from California courts are, sadly, not very common. If the State Supreme Court were to uphold the ban, it would set a very dangerous precedent, both in California and in the rest of the country. Fortunately, the ban was overturned, and all levels of the state courts ruled that Proposition H was a violation of the California law that preempted local gun laws; only the state legislature could regulate guns within the state.
It’s nice to hear good news.

SB 1214 Update

I’ve received an email from Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson indicating that it’s unlikely that SB 1214, a bill allowing CCW permit holders to carry on college campuses, is going to be heard in the Senate due to scheduling issues.
As such, it appears that this bill is dead. She indicated she’ll put out a notice later today regarding the status of the bill, but it doesn’t look promising at this juncture.