Monday, March 11, 2013

Do or Die, Colorado.

Today's the day we find out whether my home State's Senate has any real gravitas, huevos, chutzpah, or balls.

Of the seven anti-gun-culture bills (make no mistake, this is a war over culture, not equipment) being debated in the Senate over the weekend, two have been killed by their sponsors while the five with actual teeth are moving to final reading and recorded vote today:

* HB-1224, a bill which would outlaw all removable magazines over 15 rounds and ban any shotgun made or modified to hold more than 28" of shells.

* SB 195 - a bill banning online CCW training certificates state-wide.

* SB 197 - a bill which would further ban domestic abusers from owning guns.

* HB-1228 - a bill which would establish a background check fee.

* HB-1229 - a bill which would mandate universal background checks for all firearm transfers at any level and redefines the nature of permitted possession as transfer.

And here's my take on why every one of them is fluff, bullshit, or will never save a single life:

With regard to the magazine ban, there is a grandfathering clause permitting those owned prior to July 1, 2013, but it requires the owner to maintain continuous possession. That means no handing a full mag of 9mm ammo for your Glock 17 to a buddy. No giving your friend a PMAG for his birthday, and no handing your "high capacity" shotgun to a trusted hunting or shooting buddy if you cross a fence. This is also the bill which will prevent manufacturers from building "high-capacity" magazines in Colorado - effectively driving off Magpul, a market leader employing (directly and indirectly) some 700-900 Coloradans and generating more than $80M in state tax revenue. And finally, the magazine capacity restrictions set forth in 1994 and remained in effect for a decade did absolutely NOTHING to prevent or deter criminal use of a firearm. It simply turned gun owners into outlaws or gray-market profiteers overnight.

Now, online CCW certification is a fairly new concept, driven by the insane demand for training and the Internet sales model promoted by "deals" websites. Well-meaning national firms have been charging to let folks take online webinar or PowerPoint training then submit their test results and obtain the required certificate of training. In Colorado, CCW licenses are issued by the county and not the state and, as long as the instructor meets statute and the county sheriff accepts it, online training is valid. Many counties have banned or prohibited applicants from using certificates of instruction from online companies. Given my personal stake in a local training company, I don't necessarily oppose the measure because I feel it to be important to have one-on-one time with students. I do oppose it as it strips the county sheriff of the right to administer his program within the terms of the Concealed Carry Act.

The proposed legislation to prevent domestic abusers from committing acts of gun violence is also fraught with pitfalls and legal peril. First, it requires a person under a protection order - NOT convicted of a crime - to relinquish property to the government or to sell or transfer it within 24 or 72 hours upon demand. The last time I checked, the Fourth Amendment protects free citizens (those NOT convicted in a court) from unreasonable search and seizure. And, given the number of domestic violence cases which may be initiated by a spiteful party who is actually committing acts of violence themselves, this is a powder keg bill just begging to blow back into the faces of its sponsors and supporters. Furthermore, I've seen nothing to suggest this will prevent further domestic abuse as a perpetrator will use whatever weapon is at hand to commit acts of violence.

Finally, the background check legislation currently being proposed is one of the sneakiest and most underhanded attempts at criminalizing free and legal behavior to-date, packaged under a tissue of "public safety" and "fiscal responsibility." It will require literally ANY transfer of a firearm between private individuals not currently at a shooting range to process (and pay for if the companion bill goes through) a Form 4473 with a federally-licensed gun dealer. To that end, the bill authorizing the state to charge for background checks is absolutely ludicrous. At the beginning of a previous legislative session, Colorado lawmakers tried to SAVE the state over $1M/yr by eliminating the CBI from the firearm background check process but that bill was killed in committee. Instead, now, a Democrat wants to increase government and charge us for something most other states rely on the ATF to provide. For free.

If these laws go through, not only can you sell your friend a gun you don't want anymore or gift a firearm to someone not your immediate family, you won't be able to do the following:
• handle a gun at a gun store before purchase unless that shop also offers gunsmithing services
• loan a gun to a friend out in the field on private property or land otherwise legal to use for sport shooting or hunting
• hand a firearm to a trusted friend or loved one (unless they live within the same household) to protect another or one's self from deadly force or great bodily injury

...there ain't a single good idea in there.

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