The house passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms today. As a libertarian and a 2nd Amendment purist (“What part of shall not be infringed don’t you understand?”) I’m opposed to the law. It simply shouldn’t be necessary. These cases should be thrown out of court after the first 30 minutes. As a pragmatist I support it because things are not working as they should and we apparently need to engage in some dirty fighting rather than remain pure. As Joe Waldron (see also his comments in this news release) recently stated in an email to the WA-CCW Yahoo group:
We’re giving up required provision of a $5 locking device (nothing says you have to use them, nor does it say you can’t bring your own device from your previous gun purchase; you give the lock to the dealer, he gives it back to you with the gun) for the most significant tort reform bill in recent history, a bill that will protect gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers from nuisance lawsuits that are killing the industry. These suits are filed with almost no chance of succeeding, but cost the industry millions annually to defend.
The alternative is to hold out for a “pure” bill… and watch it die again this year. And the manufacturers/distributors/dealers will continue to shell out $$$ in legal costs.
It looks like the bill went 90% our way, 10% the other way. Those are pretty good odds/returns to me.
I’m all for winning and getting a little bit dirty rather than losing and staying clean. Yes, it might have some unintended consequences with the trigger lock and armor piercing ammo provisions in it. More on that later. But more important is the favorable impact it has both practically and politically. As reported by Reuters:
Opponents said they would oppose it in the courts, arguing it violated the U.S. Constitution.
But Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association said he believed the bill’s passage would mark a big setback for gun control advocates.
“I think the air is out of the gun control balloon, and I think what popped the balloon is politics and elections,” he said. He predicted that several dozen Democrats would join most Republicans in backing the legislation.
I wouldn’t say “popped”. It’s been leaking out for a couple years now. It’s getting more and more obvious to everyone that the anti-gun crowd is suffering a meltdown. Of course they have mental problems to support anti-freedom legislation to begin with but can be dealt with another day. But because the people at large, many of the politicians, and to some extent the mainstream media are recognizing how really whacked out they are we have made huge gains. Politically we are no longer on the defensive at the Federal level and in most states. We need to build and maintain momentum against these nut cases. I’ve posted on this before:
And just yesterday John Stossel demonstrated they are out of touch with reality quite well in a column on Townhall.com:
What if it were legal in America for adults to carry concealed weapons? I put that question to gun-control advocate Rev. Al Sharpton. His eyes opened wide, and he said, “We’d be living in a state of terror!”
In fact, it was a trick question. Most states now have “right to carry” laws. And their people are not living in a state of terror. Not one of those states reported an upsurge in crime.
But back to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms bill. It will be signed by President Bush and it will become law within a few days or weeks. It will save the firearms industry millions of dollars each year. It might even save your local gun range money in reduced insurance costs. That money will be in your pocket (you do buy guns and ammo and use them, right?).
There are two downsides of the proposed law; 1) The trigger-lock requirement the Gun Owners of America have been harping on and 2) the armor piercing ammo portion of the law. The GOA had this to say in a recent pre-written email they wanted people to send to their representatives:
S. 397 takes us dangerously close to mandatory trigger locks, and mandatory trigger locks kill. Just ask Mary Carpenter, who has had to live with the fact that two of her grandchildren were killed in 2000, because no one in the house could disengage the gun locking device that kept the family from protecting themselves against a pitchfork wielding thug.
Yes. Mandatory trigger locks are a bad thing. I have a t-shirt I wear that says Trigger Locks–Rapist Approved (they are closing this item out and only have a few shirts left so buy one now!) but every new gun I have purchased over the counter, as opposed to special ordered, had a locking device with it anyway. The impact of this law is very nearly zero in cost and behavior for everyone.
The armor piercing ammo portion of the law does not change the definition of the armor piercing ammo which was my big worry. It’s still:
(A) The term “ammunition” means ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, bullets, or propellent powder designed for use in any firearm.
(B) The term “armor piercing ammunition” means—
(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or
(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.
(C) The term “armor piercing ammunition” does not include shotgun shot required by Federal or State environmental or game regulations for hunting purposes, a frangible projectile designed for target shooting, a projectile which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes, or any other projectile or projectile core which the Attorney General finds is intended to be used for industrial purposes, including a charge used in an oil and gas well perforating device.
What it does do is slightly reword some existing law and adds penalties for committing a violent crime with AP ammo. The rewording has no legal impact as near as I can tell (I’m not a lawyer if this your life at stake talk to a lawyer). This:
(7) for any person to manufacture or import armor piercing ammunition, except that this paragraph shall not apply to—
(A) the manufacture or importation of such ammunition for the use of the United States or any department or agency thereof or any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof;
(B) the manufacture of such ammunition for the purpose of exportation; and
(C) any manufacture or importation for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Attorney General;
(8) for any manufacturer or importer to sell or deliver armor piercing ammunition, except that this paragraph shall not apply to—
(A) the sale or delivery by a manufacturer or importer of such ammunition for use of the United States or any department or agency thereof or any State or any department, agency, or political subdivision thereof;
(B) the sale or delivery by a manufacturer or importer of such ammunition for the purpose of exportation;
(C) the sale or delivery by a manufacturer or importer of such ammunition for the purposes of testing or experimenting authorized by the Attorney General;
(7) for any person to manufacture or import armor piercing ammunition, unless–
(A) the manufacture of such ammunition is for the use of the United States, any department or agency of the United States, any State, or any department, agency, or political subdivision of a State;
(B) the manufacture of such ammunition is for the purpose of exportation; or
(C) the manufacture or importation of such ammunition is for the purpose of testing or experimentation and has been authorized by the Attorney General;
(8) for any manufacturer or importer to sell or deliver armor piercing ammunition, unless such sale or delivery–
(A) is for the use of the United States, any department or agency of the United States, any State, or any department, agency, or political subdivision of a State;
(B) is for the purpose of exportation; or
(C) is for the purpose of testing or experimentation and has been authorized by the Attorney General;
So what is happening, in Joe’s model of the political world, is that the good guys are throwing a couple bones to the politicians that need to appease some anti-freedom people “back home”. Those politicians can say, “I voted for the safety of our children by mandating trigger locks and against armor piercing ammo.” It’s just a couple of old dried bones. Let them have their bones until after the next election. We get some real meat out of this law.