Saturday, February 8, 2014

Where Things Will Likely Be in 10 Years - My Prediction

Disclaimer: I am not a professional in the field of law or politics. I'm just some dude from West Virginia living in Maryland. These are just my hypothesis'. Enjoy.


To say that I'm interested in firearms is an understatement and that I am resistive toward new restrictive gun laws is a truth. Sometimes I stop to consider what I see in this country, such as the people on both sides of the gun debate and look at where we are now in terms of gun laws and culture, and I have a few ideas of how things might go that won't surprise me if they do. However, things can always change but I believe many of the gun laws that we have are most likely here to stay. The reason I think they'll end up staying is mostly due to Supreme Court rulings and how the SCOTUS will continue to balance what restrictions the nanny-state crybabies want vs the freedoms protected under the Constitution. However, there is always a chance that you'll get some odd-ball situation that will result in more restrictive federal legislation or maybe a continuation of American's improving view on gun ownership that will result in a quantum shift of the gun laws in our favor. Regardless, as gun owners we have to keep fighting to maintain our rights because there ARE plenty of people willing to add more and more restrictions.

Concealed Carry

If there is one thing I'm interested in making changes to or improving for the gun owner it is concealed carry. I feel that people have a right to defend themselves. You absolutely have a right to defend yourself in your own home and on your property, I also feel that self-defense applies outside the home as well. What many people forget about when they discuss gun rights is the right to carry. The Second Amendment does say to keep and bear Arms. Basically you have 4 types of laws: No Issue, May Issue, Shall Issue and Constitutional Carry.  Constitutional carry means that a state doesn't require you to have a permit to carry a handgun concealed (or open) but the only stipulation is that you must not be prohibited from having a firearm; if you can buy it from a gun store with a background check then you can carry the gun legally. Issued permits usually have some requirements that must be met before the permit is issued; on paper this doesn't seem unreasonable. States usually have some level of training that is required; a fee, fingerprints, passport photos and a criminal background check that you must pass. However, the thing that separates Shall Issue from May Issue is that May Issue typically puts a requirement to show necessity or a need for the permit; even if you have an "over whelming" demonstrable need for a permit they can still deny the applicant. Shall Issue states typically don't require or place emphases on the "necessity" part but they do usually have a requirement placed on the issuing party that forces the issuing party to issue the permit if the applicant meets all requirements and passes the background check. Some of the May Issue states are what is referred to as permissive in that some of the counties will issue permits similar to a Shall Issue method but usually the closer you get to the major crime centers the less likely you are to receive a permit. That said, those states rely on the Sheriffs to be the issuing party and not a centralized group like the state police in Maryland and Virginia. In Maryland some permits have been issued but they are hard to get and may come with significant restrictions on when you can carry. Hawaii is currently in federal court, because the Honolulu police chief must personally approve permits; it is rumored that 1 permit has been issued to a civilian effectively making Hawaii No Issue. The case is important because it could result in a ruling that May Issue in unconstitutional. In a somewhat similar Maryland case, Woolard v. Sheridan, a federal District Court ruled that the requirement to show necessity was unconstitutional because one cannot place a requirement on a right. However, the Appeals Court overturned the ruling after Maryland appealed; the Supreme Court rejected to hear the case likely due to the Hawaii case making it's way through. One of the major strides made in favor of gun rights is in regards to the No Issue and general prohibition of carrying a handgun concealed. Illinois was the last state to adopt a concealed carry permit after a federal court in 2011 ruled their prohibition on concealed carry was unconstitutional.

Out of 50 states, 8 states have May Issue legislation; the rest of the 42 states are Shall Issue or Constitutional Carry. Delaware, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island are the only states that are May Issue. It should be noted that Washington D.C. has a ban on both concealed and open carry; it does not issue permits at all. States that are May Issue are typically the same states that can't be bothered to recognize gun rights at all. Those same states make a very big effort in trying reduce including find ways to restrict, the carry of a firearm. Shall Issue concealed carry is easily the one thing I'm hoping for as a nation wide thing. There is a good chance that it could happen too. On the other hand, I won't be surprised the hear that May Issue is constitutional.

Background Checks

Generically speaking, background checks are here to stay. I'd say there is a 40-ish% chance that some form of minor modification to the background check laws will get through. Most likely this will be specifically toward adding prohibitions on individuals with mental health issues, even though there are already prohibitions on people with certain mental health problems. It will be interesting to see how that would turn out. I've heard of people putting forth replacements for the FBI's NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) but I doubt people on the federal level would be terribly interested in such a change. I'd be okay with it if it works better. All in all, I have no problem with filling out Form 4473 or completing an instant background check. I think Congress needs to force the ATF to be more consistent in the enforcement of already existing regulations or even remove some parts where the ATF could be overreaching its bounds. Note that some states like New Jersey and Maryland also conduct their own state-level background checks before completing the federal check, otherwise, most states just use NICS.

Out of State Sales

If you don't like guns read this whole paragraph before freaking out. A big thing that should end should be the federal prohibition on interstate sales of handguns. I understand that some States are concerned with stopping sales of regulated or banned firearms like "assault weapons" and handguns to their residents who go out-of-state. Those states interested in the prohibition can work with the other states via ATF just like they do with banned or regulated long guns like the AR-15. This is a significant inconsistency in the laws because you can go out of state and buy a long gun but not a handgun. Lets say you live in a state that doesn't ban, prohibit or regulate guns like the AR-15 or have any regulations on what handguns you can buy or have requirements like needing a license. As of now, if you go to visit another state who has the exact same laws then you would be able to buy the same rifles or shotguns (long guns) in your home state but not the handgun. You still have to go to an FFL dealer when out of state and you'll still have to do the background check same as you would back in your state. ATF Form 4473 and the FBI NICS checks are the same regardless of what states you are in. Now, if you're living in a state that bans AR-15's then you would not be able to buy an AR-15 from another state (look into the "contiguous states" regulation) so I can understand not being able to buy a handgun if your state regulates handguns. To me this generally doesn't make sense that I can buy a long gun but not a handgun. However, if I had to take a guess, it probably goes back to when people thought that bans on handguns were constitutional; as of 2008 generic bans on handguns are unconstitutional. In summary, generally speaking, the ATF's prohibition of interstate sales of a handgun to non-prohibited persons is stupid and inconsistent when the laws of both states involved are equal in terms of which guns are allowed and which aren't. Those states who require things like handgun licenses may continue to prohibit out-of-state sales through whatever mechanism allows for the contiguous states clause.

Magazine Bans

As of now, the federal government doesn't regulate or have a limit on magazine capacity. I know that some people have been trying for years to get one but I think that it should be left to the States to make that decision. In my opinion magazine capacity limits are ridiculous; I don't like them. To me 300 rounds is 300 rounds whether it is in ten 30 round mags or in thirty 10 round mags. The only way they could have ANY effect would be to couple it with a prohibition on detachable magazines. This isn't California so good luck getting a detachable mag ban through on the federal level. I'd say there's abound 40% to 50% chance of that happening in the next 5 years. With 2014 and 2016 elections coming those chances could be higher like around 60%. So gun owners, we need to keep fighting back and fight hard. Remember that many politicians will try to dupe you. There have been numerous attempts at sneaking in 10 round mag limits by hiding it into bits of legislation making it difficult to spot. The thing I don't like about a 10 round mag limit is that it could wind up being constitutional. That said, the 7 round mag limit imposed on New York state by Cuomo and cronies was ruled as unconstitutional by a federal court in 2013. It appears then that 10 rounds is most likely the lowest they can force onto us. Remember, standard capacity is 30 rounds.

Semi-Automatic firearms / Assault Weapons

If it hadn't been for the Governor's vote, the Demo super-majority that is California would have been the first State (and could still be in the future) to classify and ban semi-automatic rifles, under the guise of "assault weapons" simply by being semi-automatic with a detachable magazine. Some of the anti-gun people would very much like to see ALL semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns banned. Unless the country found itself in a completely crazy situation following some major tragedy and had a Democratic majority, I don't see a semi-automatic gun ban ever making it off the ground. Ever. A general ban on semi-automatic firearms (rifles, handguns and shotguns) on the federal level or even state level would immediately be ruled as unconstitutional as it bans far too many of the "commonly owned firearms of the time." Even just a ban on semi-automatic rifles on the federal level would be too much of an over-reach, however, it could go either way on the state level. It is possible that rifles labeled as "assault rifles" such as the AR-15 could wind up being banned on the federal level if gun owners don't keep fighting; I could see it end up being constitutional unfortunately so please keep fighting. Bans on such "assault rifles" on the state-level will most likely end up being ruled as constitutional, and appears to have been as of 2013. As much as I hate that idea, the states may be able to use States' rights when it comes to "assault weapons."

Registration

Mandatory registration on the state level is something that is likely to stay. Federal registration is illegal based on the Firearm Owners Protection act of 1986. It is non-negotiable; no general federal registration will be constitutional. It will continue in regards to NFA items like machine guns and SBR/SBS, AOWs, etc. but I think there we can work on removing some items from that such as suppressors/silencers.

Suppressors/Silencers

Removing suppressors from the NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934) items list should be considered. Currently, to buy a suppressor you have send in paperwork to the ATF that requires the chief local law enforcement officer to sign-off on and you pay a $200 tax to the IRS. The feds do a very thorough background check on you and the process takes about 6 to 12 months to complete. I suggest removing them from the list because suppressors are just common courtesy. If your going to shoot, do your neighbors the courtesy and reduce the noise. This would be fantastic for hunting season in places with heavy hunting tradition like West Virginia and Ohio where gunshots during the hunting season are very common. Understand that suppressors don't make the gun so quiet that you could shoot in a crowed room and no one would hear it, they only reduce the overall decibels but is still very loud. What you see in the movies is just the movies. As of now, supporessors are actually treated as a separate firearm so people who are worried could feel better knowing a NICS based background check could be completed as if it was just another gun.


Again, I'm not saying I like these laws or agree with them in anyway. I just won't be surprised, but very disappointed, if certain restrictions would be found constitutional. Just remember keep fighting back.

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