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November 28, 2017

Guns and Government — The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

National concealed carry reciprocity, the Supreme Court’s declination, and a UK gun grab.

Gun owners in America may have good reason to rejoice in the coming weeks with Congress poised to move on legislation allowing national concealed carry reciprocity. However, all is not well in the court system as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a critical case involving a renewed ban on so called “assault weapons.” But it could be worse, as over in the UK, the government is pushing another mandatory gun turn-in program for those who have guns but supposedly don’t want them or need them anymore.

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary is scheduled to consider the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. Most concealed carry permit holders have long awaited Congress to make a move on this legislation because each state currently has its own standards for issuing conceal carry permits. Some states have much stricter standards than others, and the result has been confusion and misinterpretation of each state’s existing law. Not to mention there have been numerous cases of people traveling through a state while carrying concealed only to be pulled over for routine traffic stops resulting in trouble over the gun.

The current House Bill would allow travelers to cross state lines with valid conceal carry permits, even if it meant traveling from a state with lax standards to one with strict standards. It would also allow individuals who reside in “permitless carry” states to carry a firearm throughout the country with no permit at all and it would require states to allow their own residents to carry guns with “non-resident permits” that they obtained from another state.

There are some who would argue that the federal government is overreaching if it passes this legislation, as it would basically make existing state laws on who can carry a concealed firearm null and void. But the counterargument to this is that the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified and agreed to by the states, already protects the individual right to keep and bear arms. So a state law should not supersede what the Constitution protects. In some sense, if a citizen has the right to keep and bear arms, then why is a “permit” or “permission” from the government lawful or necessary in the first place?

Now for some bad news.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to hear two separate cases from firearms advocates, choosing instead to stay out of the intensifying gun debate. The Justices didn’t even comment on the two separate appeals cases, Kolbe v. Hogan in Maryland and Norman v. Florida.

In Florida, a lower court ruled that no citizen has the right to openly carry a firearm outside their home unless it is concealed. In 2012, Dale Lee Norman was arrested for walking on a sidewalk with a handgun openly in his holster. In Florida, as in South Carolina and Illinois, in order to legally carry a firearm outside of one’s home, it is supposed to be concealed.

In the Maryland case, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” such as the popular AR-15, ruling that these particular guns are not protected by the Second Amendment. The court’s ruling also upheld the ban on detachable ammunition magazines that exceed 10 rounds, a ridiculously low number that includes standard-capacity magazines on numerous firearms.

It was widely speculated that the court would take on the Fourth Circuit’s decision because the Second, Seventh and DC Circuits have issued similar rulings upholding bans on semi-automatic rifles with certain cosmetic features. But to the dismay of many, the High Court wanted no part of another gun case, leaving in place the lower court rulings. For whatever reason, even Justice Clarence Thomas, who has been very vocal in supporting the Second Amendment, had nothing to say.

As bad as the Supreme Court’s inaction on the Fourth Circuit decision is, at least we’re not facing what British subjects are — at least not yet.

In the United Kingdom, the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) recently conducted a new gun surrender program. The reason for this was that NABIS, after reviewing its crime data, saw a 27% increase in “gun crimes” the past year.

The program is designed to give people the opportunity who have guns and ammunition that they don’t want any more or who happen to possess illegal firearms the ability to turn them over to the UK government with no repercussions. David Jamieson, police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands area, urged citizens to turn over their guns and their family members’ guns. In a statement, he said, “I would urge people to hand in their guns. Any firearm in the wrong hands can have a devastating impact. It is no exaggeration to say that each gun we retrieve has the potential to save a life. If you or a family member possess an illegal or unwanted firearm please hand it in to the police. It might just be the best decision you ever make. Destroying these firearms will make us all safer.”

Well, at least criminals will be safer.

If this program was so effective and produced so many positive results, then why was the same program tried three years earlier followed by an increase in “gun crimes”? It should be noted that Great Britain already has some of the strictest gun laws on the planet, but for gun control freaks, it’s never enough. Yet leftists in our own country tell us that gun confiscation is not something we the people need to worry about when they try to pass more control laws? Tell that to the citizens in the UK.

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