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House Republicans Propose Updates to Gun Control Act
House Republicans Introduce Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act
U.S. House Republicans may have lost their numerical advantage in November, but they are not sitting on the sidelines while Congressional Democrats roll out their dog-and-pony gun control agenda with a parade of increasingly extreme gun-control legislation.
On May 1, Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., introduced a bill which supporters say would update antiquated provisions of the Gun Control Act that “reflect a bygone era of criminal record-keeping and remove arbitrary impediments for law-abiding gun buyers and sellers.”
Joining Scalise in filing HR 2246, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, were Reps. Ralph Abraham, R-La., Andy Barr, R-Ky., Clay Higgins, R-La., Mike Johnson, R-La., Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., and David Schweikert, R-Ariz.
Under current law, Federal Firearm Licensees [FFLs] can only operate in the state in which their business premises is located and can only sell or transfer handguns to persons who live in that state.
An FFL can sell a long gun to someone who lives out of state, provided the sale occurs in a face-to-face transaction and complies with the laws of the state of sale and the state of residence of the purchaser.
However, proponents argue, handgun sales are subject to strict in-state only rules that include obsolete provisions of the 1986 “Brady Bill” that required FFLs to transmit information about prospective buyers or transferees to the “chief law enforcement officer [CLEO] of the place of residence of the transferee.”
This process reflects localized criminal justice record-keeping that pre-dates technologies now commonly used.
“Our firearm purchasing process is muddled by outdated laws passed well before Congress put the national background check system in place,” Scalise said in a statement. “Licensed [FFLs] follow the same laws across state lines, yet aren’t allowed to sell certain firearms to law-abiding citizens across state lines; these regulations unnecessarily complicate the lives of citizens, small businesses, and members of the military alike. The modernization and simplification of our federal firearm purchasing law.”
The Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act would: * Permit licensed dealers to transfer firearms [rifles, shotguns, handguns] to out-of-state buyers if the transaction complies with the laws of the state of both the transferor and the transferee. * Allow licensed dealers to sell firearms at out-of-state gun shows provided state laws of transferor and the transferee are complied with. * Provide face-to-face transfer of firearms between licensed dealers. Right now, dealers must ship a firearm, significantly increasing theft risk. * Allow U.S. Armed Forces members and spouses to purchase firearms as legal state residents of the state their duty station is located in, as well as the state they maintain a residence in while serving. Right now, U.S. Armed Forces members may only purchase firearms as residents of the state in which their permanent duty station is located in.
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Court: Online Firearms Sites Not Liable For Third-Party Acts
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 5-1 that the federal Communications Decency Act shields Armslist, LLC, from liability in a 2015 lawsuit filed against the classified firearms sales site that claimed the company should be held liable for a mass shooting.
The lawsuit alleged the Armslist was liable for the acquisition of a semi-automatic pistol and dozens of rounds of ammunition by Radcliffe Haughton in October 2012. Haughton, who was subject to a restraining order at the time, used a gun purchased on the site to murder his wife and two of her co-workers.
Haughton met a seller off Armslist who traded the handgun without conducting a background check. The next day, Haughton killed his wife and two of her co-workers. The lawsuit claimed Armslist implicitly condones criminal transactions by signaling it’s a “safe space” for under-the-table negotiations and sales. The suit contends Armslist allows users to filter out firearms arms dealers to avoid a federal background check.
But according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, under the federal Communications Decency Act, virtual domain administrators, such as Armslist, are shielded from liability claims that stem from third-party posts and content.
Chief Justice Pat Roggensack, writing for the majority, said if the feature can be used legally, the owners can’t be held responsible for third-party abuses. Armslist is taken to be the publisher of third-party content, rather than its origin, it’s granted immunity.
“Regardless of Armslist’s knowledge or intent, the relevant question is whether [the] claim necessarily requires Armslist to be treated as the publisher or speaker of third-party content,” Roggensack wrote. “Because it does, the negligence claim must be dismissed.”
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Gun Rights Group Challenges How Colorado House Passed 'Red Flag' Bill
If you bet Rocky Mountain Gun Owners [RMGO] would be the first to file a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s “red flag” law, you won the wager on May 2 when it filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court claiming its adoption is unconstitutional.
RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown and House Minority Leader Rep. Patrick Neville in a Denver press conference said the state constitution was violated when motions to have the red-flag bill read at length were denied in March.
“Democrats used illegal and unconstitutional tactics and methods,” Brown said.
Civil rights groups are not challenging the bill’s constitutionality, but rather how it passed the House. But future lawsuits will contest the bill itself, gun rights advocates say.
According to the Associated Press, on March 1, Republican Rep. Dave Williams requested on the House floor that the “red flag” bill—House Bill 1177—be read at length. The request was denied by Rep. Jovan Melton, the presiding Democrat.
Rep. Steve Humphrey then asked HB 1177 be read at length. Several clerks read different sections of the bill simultaneously. Humphrey withdrew his motion, calling the reading “a cacophony” and “unintelligible.”
When others asked that the bill be read at length, Melton quashed the motions.
On April 12, Gov. Jared Polis signed HB 1177 into law. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, judges in Colorado can temporarily remove firearms from people believed to be at high risk of harming themselves or others.
RMGO’ s lawsuit comes less than two weeks after the Colorado Supreme Court said it would consider the constitutionality of a high-capacity magazine ban. That case stems from a 2016 lawsuit by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other firearm groups.
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Read Next: Turmoil Among the NRA’s Top Ranks
IN THE COURTS
U.S. Supreme Court To Hear First Second Amendment Case Since 2010 This Week
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider its first Second Amendment case in nine years Tuesday when briefings in NY State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York begin.
On April 29, the Court denied New York City’s request to indefinitely postpone the case, which challenges a provision in its handgun laws that prevents licensed, vetted gun owners from taking handguns outside of their homes or the city.
The Court denied the state’s request to delay briefing until New York resolved its rule-making process, confirming briefs would begin on May 7 with amicus briefs scheduled for May 14.
New York City residents are required to apply for a “premises license” to own a handgun, among many restrictions imposed by the city.
Among the most egregious: License-holders may not transport handguns outside city limits, even to another home owned by the resident or to a licensed shooting range or competition.
NY State Rifle & Pistol filed its lawsuit in 2013. The city maintains it is necessary for “public safety.”
“That is, until the Supreme Court agreed to review the constitutionality of the regulation,” writes Mountain States Legal Foundation attorney Cody J. Wisniewski in National Review.
”Seeing the writing on the wall, New York officials decided to propose a new regulation to delay the case,” Wisniewskii continued. “Unsurprisingly, the proposed changes—and they are merely proposed changes—go directly to the heart of the lawsuit, providing exceptions to handgun owners for transporting their guns to vacation homes, shooting ranges, or shooting competitions outside city limits.”
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