Tag Archives: concealed carry

Romney On Guns: Like Father, Like Son

Mitt Romney says he “supports the Second Amendment”. And, based on a casual glance at his record, you could almost believe him. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed some laws to protect hunters and clarified some language in the state’s gun laws.

On the other hand, he signed an “assault weapons” ban. As Mitt has said, he was a Republican governor in “a tough state”, and he had to make some compromises on these issues.

Naturally, there is some back-and-forth about Romney’s gun views- were his actions a “net positive” for gun owners in Massachusetts, as he claims, or were his efforts cleverly-disguised gun grabs?

Let me ask you, the reader, a question: Who was the most influential in forming your political views? I’m willing to bet most of you answered “my parents”.

Mitt Romney’s father, George, was governor of Michigan from 1963-1969; Mitt has often said that his father was his greatest inspiration. And if we compare the gun laws each Romney passed while governor of their respective states, we find some telling parallels.

Handgun Ownership: In order to understand Mitt Romney’s actions here, it is necessary to give a little background information about Massachusetts gun control laws: In 1998, Massachusetts established a list of “safety” criteria for handguns sold in the state. The criteria were designed to disqualify most handguns. The Roster is the list of those few makes and models which have passed the testing requirements.

Mitt Romney created two exemptions: One for handguns already licensed in the state prior to October 21, 1998, and one for “match-grade” pistols (high-dollar handguns purpose-built for shooting competitions).

The 1998 exemption is significant when one understand the “preban effect”: Some gun laws are written with an effective date, where firearms sold after the date are subject to the law, while those sold before the date are “grandfathered”. Since there is a limited supply of grandfathered items, the sale price of those items skyrockets.

The net effect of Mitt Romney’s exemptions was this: In Massachusetts, a person now has three options for legally owning a handgun: 1) an expensive pre-1998 handgun; 2) an expensive “safety-approved” handgun; 3) an expensive match-grade handgun.

Compare this to George Romney’s “safety” law- Public Acts 215 and 216 of 1964- which required all handguns to be submitted, within ten days of purchase, for inspection by a law enforcement officer in order to obtain a “safety certificate”. “Safety”, however, was undefined, and determining that a handgun was “safe” was left entirely to the discretion of the officer conducting the inspection. In effect, law enforcement could determine any handgun to be “unsafe”, and confiscate the handgun on the spot, without compensating the buyer for his loss. This provided a disincentive for unpopular persons and minorities to attempt to lawfully buy handguns, knowing their handguns would be confiscated. Likewise, a lower-income person would not want to take the risk of saving money to buy a handgun, only to have their investment confiscated in this manner.

Like father, like son: Both Romneys used the guise of “safety” to deny the right to own a handgun to lower-income persons and “undesireables“.

Carrying Handguns: Before George Romney became governor, Michigan had created a very restrictive licensing law for carrying a concealed handgun: License applicants had to prove an immediate physical risk to a county license board consisting of representatives of the county prosecuting attorney, county sheriff, and the commissioner of state police. Needless to say, many applications for a carry license were rejected (and this state of affairs led to concealed carry reforms decades later). A concealed carry license was also required if a person wanted to transport a loaded handgun in an automobile, whether or not the handgun was concealed. Open (visible) carry of a handgun was technically legal (outside of an automobile), but in practice, doing it would usually lead to arrest for a “disturbing the peace” type of charge.

So, what was one to do if they wanted to carry a handgun, but weren’t politically connected enough to get a concealed carry license? Answer: Get a private security guard license. Said license authorized a person to carry a handgun openly without fear of arrest, carry a loaded handgun in an automobile, and was issued to virtually anyone who applied.

George Romney, however, made that practice illegal. Public Act 100 of 1966 made it a misdemeanor for a licensed security guard to carry a handgun except during work; Public Act 49 of 1967 made it a felony.

Romney did, however, extend concealed carry privileges in Michigan to licensees from other states- understanding that, in the 1960s, almost all states had similarly-restrictive processes for issuing a license to carry concealed. Romney did little more than extend a privilege given to an “elite few” in his state, to the similar “elite few” of other states.

By comparison, Mitt Romney had little work to do in this regard: By the time he took office, Massachusetts already had a two-tiered carry law: Persons with a “Class B” license could “carry” (transport in a box) an unloaded firearm to and from hunting areas and target ranges; the “elite few” granted a “Class A” license (issued to those who could prove a “need” to local law enforcement, as in Michigan in the 1960s) were entitled to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense.

While running for Governor in 2002, Mitt Romney infamously said: “I won’t chip away at them; I believe they protect us and provide for our safety.” And he didn’t.

Like father, like son: Both Romneys supported restricting the carrying of handguns for self-defense to an “elite few” of police and politically-connected businessmen.

Assault Weapons: The firearms we nowadays call “assault weapons”- certain types of semi-automatic rifles which cosmetically resemble military rifles- were extremely uncommon in the early 1960s (indeed, most modern “assault rifles” had not yet been invented). On this point we can’t compare the record of the two Romneys, as this is a modern gun rights issue. Mitt Romney signed Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban- and has frequently cited that he did so because such weapons as “especially lethal” and “not sporting” (see below). As I have stated before, this type of weapon is uniquely suited to the growing problem of home-invasion crimes; denying them to the public places a limit on the practical application of an individual’s right of self-defense.

Sporting Purposes: George Romney signed only one hunting regulation as governor- Public Act 159 of 1967, which created a regulatory board for hunting and mandated certain hunting safety practices. Mitt Romney, as governor, signed laws to protect shooting clubs, institute youth hunter safety courses, and restored funding to the Massachusetts Inland Fish and Game Fund. Both Romneys used their “pro-sporting” message as part of their election campaigns.

Like father, like son: Both Romneys used “sporting” rhetoric to conceal their gun control agendas.

In sum: It’s not fair to say Mitt Romney is “anti-gun”. Likewise, it’s not reasonable to believe Mitt was merely bending to the political will of the people of Massachusetts (I doubt the will of the people was to rehash 40-year-old gun control ideas from another state). As proved here, the more natural conclusion is that Mitt was emulating his father’s beliefs and ideals.

It is fair to say that Mitt is an elitist on the subject of firearms. His record demonstrates a WASP-y, 1950’s view of gun ownership: “Decent” people own guns for hunting and sporting, and protecting their homes. “Decent” people don’t “need” to carry guns for self-defense. Preventing people who aren’t “decent” from owning guns is a good idea.

His dad felt the same way.

Lessons Learned From LEOSA

The National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 passed in the House of Representatives last week. Although it’s safe to say the bill won’t pass through the Democrat-controlled Senate or be signed by President Obama, the bill is good law and, if all goes well for Republicans next year, the GOP will certainly make another attempt to pass it after January 2013.

I was one of those people who applauded the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act of 2004- the national reciprocity act for active, retired, and disabled police officers- because I believed it would eventually create momentum for a national CCW reciprocity law. Some of my fellows believed LEOSA would be a giveaway for cops, and national concealed carry for “the rest of us” would never happen.

However, seven years of national experience with LEOSA have revealed some problems with the language of that law- language which I’m thankful hasn’t been replicated in the NRTC Act.

The biggest concern was carry rules. I’m glad House Republicans didn’t attempt to create a set of federal carry rules for interstate concealed carry, as were created for interstate peace officer carry. LEOSA’s intent was to relieve peace officers from the need to memorize 50 states’ distinct and often-contradictory regulations on when and where an individual may carry weapons. As expected with any federal compromise measure, the interstate carry regulations are less-restrictive than some states’ rules, and more restrictive than others, leading many retired police officers to keep (and pay for) both a LEOSA qualification and a state CCW permit, and often an out-of-state non-resident permit as well, in order to maximize the places and times where they may carry when they travel.

In other words, a provision offering a single set of carry rules- which was intended to alleviate compliance concerns- actually became an additional layer of expense for some retired police officers.

It also goes without saying that federal carry rules, if instituted for private persons, could (and probably would) be amended by future Congresses to create headaches for us.

NRTCRA’s “clean bill” approach- granting simple reciprocity between states which issue carry licenses- eliminates this added layer of complexity. This means responsible gun owners will have some homework to do before traveling with a handgun- but then, this is nothing new to us.

There is a pitfall to this approach: Those of us who are actively involved with self-defense rights know the legal burden placed on ‘packers’ to comply with state and local laws. The concept of “substantial compliance”- the idea that a person’s ‘reasonable attempt’ to comply with the law is satisfactory- is foreign to gun laws. We’re already accustomed to “perfect compliance”.

If NRTC eventually becomes law, I anticipate some problems with casual concealed carriers who unintentionally violate carry rules in another state. This is a message we will need to push to keep our compatriots out of trouble: The “close enough” principle which allows us to drive 32 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone doesn’t apply to firearms laws, especially in states like California and New Jersey, where law enforcement agencies already look for petty excuses to harass law-abiding gun owners.

Stated differently: If NRTC becomes law, this greater freedom will mean greater responsibility, both for gun owners and for those of us who educate them and advocate on their behalf. Luckily, this greater freedom/greater responsibility concept is also nothing new to us.

Also, please visit this link for my thoughts on the “states’ rights” argument against national reciprocity.

National Right To Carry: An Individual Right, Not A State Right

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on National Right To Carry on November 16th.

An unusual argument against gun rights has been presented by the small-government crowd, of which I consider myself a member. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air best describes this issue:

For permit holders like myself, the ability to travel with my pistol into other states without having to worry about reciprocity issues would be helpful indeed.  But that doesn’t address other fundamental issues involved, such as the ability of states to set their own rules for permit issuance and carrying.  Some states, like Minnesota, require a certain amount of training to get a permit, while others do not.  Should Minnesotans be forced by the federal government to have non-residents carrying in the state under less-restrictive conditions than their own citizens have to address?  For that matter, should Minnesotans have the right to carry in Illinois while the state forbids its own residents to do so, even apart from the question of whether Illinois’ policy is intelligent?  (Let’s just stipulate that it’s idiotic, but also that Illinois voters don’t seem to be in a rush to correct it, either.)

To put this argument in context, I ask the reader to consider the following (intentionally absurd) “news story”:

A debate is brewing in Congress over the National Right-To-Not-Be-Murdered (NRTNBM) Act. This act, if passed, will allow bearers of state-issued No-Murder permits to resist murder in other states.

But some small-government thinkers challenge the validity of a federal no-murder mandate.

“We must respect the right of states to determine who may lawfully resist murder” says Bob Walters of the State’s Rights Institute. “There are legitimate public safety concerns here. If State A issues a No-Murder permit to anyone, but State B only issues No-Murder permits to persons who can prove a need to not be murdered, should State B be forced by the Federal government to recognize State A’s lower standards? I respect the right of people to be murder-free, but states should be free to decide who may be murdered and who may not.”

Rob Parker of the National Anti-Murder Association disagrees. “Every American has the right to not be murdered, whether they happen to be standing in New York City or in Tulsa, Oklahoma.”

Legal analyst Bobby Jones gives us insights into the legal framework of the bill: “To date, the Federal courts haven’t ruled that the ‘Partial Faith & Credit’ clause of the Constitution extends to the right to not be murdered. However, the Eleventeenth Amendment explicity states that the right to not be murdered ‘shall be infringed in a manner prescribed by Congress’, so the courts will likely rule that this law, if passed, would meet Constitutional muster.”

48 of the 50 states have procedures for issuing no-murder permits. Vermont allows any person over age 16 to resist murder without a permit. Only Illinois requires that all residents submit to murder. If the NRTNBM Act passes, Illinois would not be required to recognize other states’ no-murder permits.

Murderer-rights advocate Robert Brady strongly disagrees with the intent of the bill: “In a civilized society, only police and military should be murder-free. We’re all safer when the government exercises a total monopoly on murder. Allowing just any common citizen to decide whether or not to be murdered will mean blood in the streets. Besides, studies say that a person with a no-murder permit is 347.9 times more likely to kill their own children than to resist murder, and I promise we didn’t fund that study.”

I use this farce to make a point: Each of us has an inalienable, natural right of self-defense. We have a right to go about our lives unmolested, and a right to use whatever means are necessary to assure that condition. We have a right to keep and bear arms for that purpose, which- despite the absolute phrase “shall not be infringed“- has been infringed upon to an intolerable degree by the federal government and by states and municipalities.

For those who mistakenly invoke “states’ rights” and resist a “federal mandate” recognizing individual rights, let’s take a trip back through history. At the end of the Civil War, southern states began writing laws to disarm newly-freed blacks (freed, incidentally, by a “federal mandate”). These states claimed a “states’ right” to deny gun rights to blacks. The federal government created another “federal mandate”- the Fourteenth Amendment- to combat this tyranny. As Justice Clarence Thomas explained in the McDonald decision (incorporating the Second Amendment on the states), the Fourteenth Amendment was created specifically with the First and Second Amendments in mind, and it is historical and legal irony that the Second Amendment was among the last of the Bill of Rights amendments to be “incorporated”.

Incidentally, I have twice criticized Herman Cain for holding to this absurd “states’ rights” view (here and here).

Why were these “federal mandates” legitimate? Because one of the legitimate powers of our government is to guarantee and protect the rights of the individual. The fact that our government frequently fails to exercise this power, does not mean that it should be prevented from exercising it. Without the power to “mandate” the recognition of both natural and Constitutional rights, our country would cease to be the republic our Founding Fathers created, and would become a majority-ruled democracy, where individual rights are subject to popular will.

Let’s also be clear about something else: Governments don’t have rights! In our form of government, people have rights. Governments have powers, which are limited in scope.

Stated differently, we already have a series of “federal mandates” on the subject:

The Second Amendment, which provides that the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed”;

The Ninth Amendment, which extends protection to all rights (including the right to self-defense), not merely those rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights;

The Fourteenth Amendment, which imposes the Bill of Rights on the states;

The ‘peaceable journey’ provision of the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act, signed by President Reagan in 1986, which requires states to allow persons to transport firearms during travel;

The ‘Full Faith & Credit’ clause of the Constitution, which requires states to recognize the comparable acts of other states.

In sum: If we assume the Second Amendment’s “well-regulated militia” provision doesn’t reference Congressional authority (Article I, Section 8) to train and discipline (in other words, to “regulate”) the militia, but rather authorizes Congress to “regulate” individual behavior;

And if we assume the Ninth Amendment is an “inkblot” which doesn’t actually guarantee the exercise of unspecified natural rights;

And if we assume that government, rather than our Creator, grants us our rights;

And if we assume that the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is limited by the violent acts of others;

And if we assume that the Fourteenth Amendment was only intended to guarantee “certain” rights;

And if we assume the word “Full” in “Full Faith & Credit” is actually a synonym for the word “Partial”;

And if we assume that states have “rights”, rather than “powers”, and among those “rights” is the right to decide who may exercise civil liberties and who may not;

And if we assume that our Founding Fathers didn’t intend us to have “a republic, if you can keep it”, but instead intended us to suffer the “tyranny of the majority” of a popular democracy, and intended for government to enforce popular whims rather than protect individual rights;

Then perhaps there is a valid argument against a “federal mandate” recognizing greater freedom of personal protection.

Or we can ‘mandate’ that people learn how to read before interpreting the Constitution.

Texas Allows Students to Defend Themselves

Texas FlagThe Guardian.uk reported a story on Texas’ allowing students to defend themselves from thugs, rapists and psychos like the one that killed 32 students at Virginia Tech. Imagine if just one of those students had a self-defense weapon.

University administrators strongly opposed the measure that the Texas State House passed. It is likely that they fought against it not out of concern for the safety of their students, but instead to defend the liberal stance that no one needs weapons – except criminals – an important voting block of the democratic party.

In an ironic turn, the Republican Senate is expected to pass the measure as part of the funding bill for colleges and universities. Once it passes, holders of concealed handgun licences will be allowed to carry weapons into public building on college campuses and  in the rest of the state of Texas.

According to the Guadrian.uk article, “The senate’s 12 Democrats had mostly worked together to block the measure but were powerless to stop it on Monday when a majority in the 31-member chamber got it added to the spending bill as an amendment.”

Although supporters rightly point out that this is a self-defense and guns rights issue, elitists such as the UT System chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa, wrote to politicians and Governor Rick Perry voicing concerns that the measure will lead to more campus crime and suicides – a blatant attempt to continue using scare tactics that are entirely based in mis-truths.

If someone is going to commit a crime or contemplate suicide, a gun is not the enabler. Someone considering committing a crime among a population of possibly armed victims – will consider finding some lesser-defended targets. That’s the beauty of defending oneself combined with concealed carry – the criminals have no idea who might just pull out a gun and end their illustrious career.

If you grew up in Texas, as I did, guns aren’t scary. We’ve known for a good long time that the only hands that gun laws keep guns out of .. are victims. Criminals will go wherever and do whatever to get them or will use other methods. Gun control is just that – yet another control mechanism.

To accentuation the validity of the arguments being made against gun ownership, the Guadian.uk had this nugget of wisdom to share:

Concealed handgun licence holders in Texas are allowed to skip metal detectors in the state capitol. Perry made headlines for shooting a coyote on a morning jog last year.

I didn’t even have to edit that together. Those two sentences were butt-to-butt in the same paragraph. Is going through a metal detector with a concealed handgun getting coyote’s killed or enabling Perry in some way?  Who knows?

Texas’ Governor Perry has said he supports the campus guns measure and is expected to sign it into law if it reaches his desk.

 

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