Mission statement:

Armed and Safe is a gun rights advocacy blog, with the mission of debunking the "logic" of the enemies of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

I can be reached at 45superman@gmail.com.You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45superman.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

About H.R. 2640, Senator Coburn, and . . . stuff

There's lots of discussion (some of it a bit heated) these days in the gun rights community about H.R. 2640, the NICS "Improvement" Act. This bill is championed by longtime enemies of gun rights, including Representative Carolyn "I don't know what a barrel shroud is, but let's ban them anyway" McCarthy, Senator Chuck Schumer (couldn't think of a catchy middle name for him), Paul "Have I mentioned that I was mayor of Ft. Wayne, IN?" Helmke . . . and it is also championed by the NRA.

On the other side stands Gun Owners of America, supported by the American Legion and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Ted Nugent, interestingly enough (I don't remember him fighting the NRA on anything before), is also opposed. The Liberty Zone has voiced some pretty compelling arguments against it (most recently here). I've made no secret of my own opposition (here, for example), although not so much for the reasons most emphasized by the GOA.

My comprehension of legalese is quite shaky, at best, but after slogging through the text of the bill, and reading the points made at Snowflakes in Hell and at Of Arms and the Law, I am inclined to believe that the threat to veterans' gun rights is being significantly exaggerated by the GOA. The previous two links argue pretty effectively for the point that the bill includes fairly robust protections against the kinds of horror stories warned of in recent GOA alerts.

Then again, "robust protections" seemingly tend to end up being a whole lot less robust than one would expect. Take, for example, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms--how could that law fail to be enough to get Gary, Indiana's lawsuit against gun manufacturers thrown out? All it takes is a few judges whose personal dislike of certain provisions of the Bill of Rights outweighs their respect for the law, it would seem. How could Ohio's straightforward law banning municipal gun laws more strict than the state's be ruled insufficient to get Clyde, Ohio's ban of guns in city parks tossed out like the garbage it is? A State Supreme Court that has more respect for gun bans than for the laws that prohibit them, apparently. Therefore, although it would seem that veterans are protected by the way the bill was written, people can perhaps be forgiven for a lack of faith in those protections.

Still, for me, the much larger concern with the bill is that it constitutes a major (and quite expensive) expansion of the NICS program--a program that I simply cannot reconcile with "shall not be infringed." The idea of "keeping guns out of the hands" of felons, domestic batterers, and insane people certainly sounds good, but if these people are so dangerous (either to themselves or to others) that we cannot take the risk of allowing them to buy guns legally, then they would seem to be too dangerous to be trusted not to obtain guns illegally, or to simply commit their crimes with something other than a firearm. Such people should not be running loose in society.

As to Senator Coburn's "hold" on the bill, I applaud him, and believe that even supporters of the bill should lay off with the criticism. The hold is not an insurmountable obstacle--it only prevents the bill from being passed without floor debate (or with only perfunctory floor debate), and without a recorded vote. As pointed out at War on Guns, the requirement for discussion and vote for the passage of a new law is hardly an attack on our form of government. If Senators are unwilling to debate the merits of a bill they want passed, what does that say about the bill? If they do not want their constituents to know how they voted on the bill, what does that say about it?

Frankly, anything that makes laws more difficult to pass sounds good to me (and I realize that laws that I would like to have seen passed have been stopped in this manner--that's a price I'm willing to pay). It's unfortunate that a legislator's job is to . . . legislate--in other words, to pass more laws. In still other words, to make our bloated legal code even more grotesquely vast than it already is. In yet other words, to place more restrictions on what we can do. If Senator Coburn wants to introduce a speed bump into the process, I say more power to him.

Senators, if H.R. 2640 is so good for America, so necessary, then stand up on the Senate floor and defend it. If passing it is in the best interests of your constituents, put your name on your "Yes" vote, and proudly let them know of your support for it. If not, then I guess NICS doesn't need to be "improved," after all.


Anonymous said...

I part with others on Coburn's hold on the bill. Coburn is insisting on a simple thing; that Congress figure out how to pay for this bill before passing it. I think that's a reasonable request.

The real danger in what Coburn is doing is that it will give opportunity for very bad amendments to be added to the bill, quite possibly at the last minute, without time to debate. That's how we got stuck with the Hughes Amendment that banned machine guns in 1986.

NRA has insisted they'll scuttle the bill if it gets anything added onto it, but they might not have the power to stop it once it's put in motion. The leadership in the House and Senate is very hostile. Chucky Schumer has not suddenly become our best buddy.

A lot of people were professing opposition to the fact that the bill was moving through so quickly on voice votes, but this actually makes it hard to get anti-gun amendments tacked on. The more this bill is debated, the more chance it will turn into a real monster, that's far worse than GOA's current nightmarish fantasies about what HR2640 is doing now.

I have to wonder if ILA knew what they know now, whether they'd think this was all worth it.

Anonymous said...

I just cannot believe the depth of your faith in the words of politicians, Sebastian. I just can't reconcile that with the intelligent man I know you to be.

I am just so tired of well-meaning but harmful willingness to accept ever more restrictions on "that which shall not be infringed". There is no way this is not expansion of those infringements. If it were not, they would not be trying so desperately to pass it.

How can you not see that?

Nicki said...

In the end this thing is just going to prove to be another taxpayer money drain that will not prevent crime.

My fear of the bill's danger to the taxpayer is not based on what someone like Ron Paul would do with it if he had the power, but what would someone like Hillary Clinton use it for?

Kurt '45superman' Hofmann said...

Sebastian, your point (if I'm following you correctly) that ramming the bill through without debate is a good thing, in that it pretty much prevents the addition of amendments that make it worse is one I hadn't thought of. That point is not without merit, I suppose, but I still cannot see my way clear to supporting the idea of passing more laws without putting them under heavy scrutiny.

Nicki, as usual, I can't disagree with you on those points.

Anonymous said...

No sane person wants to see see some wacko injure, maim, or kill anyone, whether its with a firearm, a bomb, or a Lincoln Continental.
That being said the question is who and how is someone declared incompetent or a threat to others.

Before anyone supports this bill you better look real hard at how your state makes these decisions. Up until very recently in my state, all it took to get a person committted was for a reasonably close relative to fill out an affidavit delaring you to be a threat to yourself or others or incompetent to handle your affairs and present it to a sympathetic judge. If the judge decided in favor of committing (HINT: you have just been ADJUDICATED)you were toast. No automatic right to a hearing. You could apply for one IF you could find an attorney willing to risk not getting paid, since getting committed pretty much lost you access to your assets. Now there is a mandatory hearing .... afterwards, but until and if the previous ruling is overturned you have still been adjudicated a mental case.

Think about that REAL HARD!!!

Then think about HR 2640 getting passed....and going through a messy divorce or child custody fight. If you haven't noticed there are a lot of places where divorce attorneys file a TPO with the divorce filing just as a matter of course. In most place having a TPO filed means you lose your guns or the right to buy a gun at least until the order is lifted.
Now any reasonable, competent, ethical, non-politically driven judge isnt going to go along with this. What are the chances you are going to get one????