Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Pants Are On Fire!!!

By Dave Dargo

At least according to President Obama, my pants are on fire because, according to him, I am a liar.

The proposed "background check" that failed to pass in the U.S. Senate yesterday is a perfect example of what is wrong with politics and what is wrong with vesting so much power in the national government.

President Obama claims that 90% of Americans support background checks.  I think that's true and I and the NRA fully support the background check system.  The NRA even helped create the current law regarding background checks.

Unfortunately, the bill that failed to muster enough votes had nothing to do with "common sense" expansion of background checks in order to prevent mentally ill people from obtaining firearms.

I've linked to other stories that gave an analysis of flaws in the proposed legislation, but let's look at one thing in particular: a supposed compromise that gave gun-owners expanded rights and a critical reason why those of us who are pro-gun were so vehemently opposed to this bill.

Under current law, the Firearms Owner's Protection Act (FOPA) passed in 1986, allows gun owners "safe passage" from one jurisdiction to another with their firearms.  Specifically, if a gun owner has a gun in one jurisdiction where the gun is legal and travels to another jurisdiction where that gun is legal the gun owner is permitted passage through jurisdictions where that gun may be illegal as long as certain protocols are followed.

Unfortunately, this important safeguard is often abused by local police and prosecutors in the less gun-friendly jurisdictions.  A court case was heard where a traveler operating under the "safe passage" portion of FOPA was arrested and found not guilty.  The traveler sued claiming that he should never have been arrested.  The appeals court found that FOPA did not protect against arrest but could be used as a positive defense against charges of violating local law.

So even though there is a law protecting gun owners when traveling the fact is that it is of little protection given that gun owners are still subject to arrest and very expensive legal bills when they have committed no crimes.

So, what does this have to do with background checks you ask?

Thanks for asking, in an attempt to "fix" the issues with the "safe passage" provision of FOPA part of the background check legislation added a provision that gun owners could not be subject to arrest when traveling under the "safe passage" provision.  Well, you say, gun owners should have been delighted with that provision.

Unfortunately, the provision went on to provide an exemption to the "safe passage" provision:
(2) does not include transportation -
(A) with the intent to commit a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year that involves a firearm; or
(B) with knowledge, or reasonable cause to believe, that a crime described in subparagraph (A) is to be committed in the course of, or arising from, the transportation.
Well, guess what.  Possessing some of these firearms warrants imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year.  Therefore, the very protection FOPA was designed to deliver to gun owners is gutted in states like New York and New Jersey.  Not only does it not prevent arrest in these jurisdictions it now removes the positive defense against the local laws.  Basically, any jurisdiction that wants to prevent your safe passage merely has to pass a law imposing a prison sentence exceeding 1 year on possession of the firearms they want to ban.

This isn't the only problem with the proposed legislation.  There's been a lot written about it that is easily uncovered.  For example, while the proposed legislation prevents the U.S. Attorney General from compiling a firearms registration database it specifically allows the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create such a registry.

President Obama may want to call me and my friends liars but I'll happily go around with my pants on fire to publicize the outrageous claims those opposed to liberty continue to make.

Next up I'll highlight some reasonable and common sense gun control legislation that would be effective at delivering universal background checks but would never get past any Democratically controlled legislature.

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