Falls Township Rifle and Pistol Association

354 Newbold Road, Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania

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Category: Legislative

August 2015 Legislative Report

Federal

Social Security Administration Proposes Stripping Gun
Rights for 4.5 Million Recipients

In response to President Obama’s executive orders directing agencies to look for ways they could implement “gun safety measures,” the Social Security Administration proposed a plan that would classify approximately 4.5 million recipients as unable to possess or purchase firearms. Under their proposal, any Social Security recipient who received his or her benefit through a “representative payee,” (meaning that someone else was managing their finances) would be classified as “mentally defective” and added to the National Instant Check System. The Veterans Administration has already been running a similar program, which declares veterans who do not manage their own finances as “mentally defective” under the Gun Control Act, and adding them to NICS.

A few days ago, Senator John Cornyn introduced a bill, S.2002 that would essentially rewrite the mental health provisions of the Gun Control Act of 1968 to both prevent the Social Security Administration from implementing this proposal, and also stop the Veterans Administration program. It would force the Attorney General to send all veterans placed in the system a letter informing them of their status, their rights, and their ability to challenge their classification. The Attorney General would be required to remove veterans from the system where it is shown there were insufficient due process considerations.

Going forward, S.2002 would require that before anyone is “adjudicated mentally incompetent,” that they receive actual notice of a hearing where the individual would have a right to participate and have representation by counsel. It would require a finding that the person is dangerous to themselves or others. S.2002 would also end the practice of using observational (in Pennsylvania, a “302” commitment) or voluntary commitments as grounds for declaring someone mentally incompetent for federal purposes.

Please write to Senators Casey and Toomey, or for New Jersey folks, Senators Booker and Menendez, and ask them to co-sponsor S.2002

June 2015 Legislative Report

Federal

State Department Proposes Sweeping Ban on Firearms Speech

The State Department has long promulgated regulations under the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR) which are very familiar to people who work in the defense industry. However, it has generally not applied to ordinary speech about firearms because the law made exception for the publication of technical data that is in the public domain. The State Department published notice 9149 in the Federal Register last Wednesday proposing that the regulation be amended to remove the exception for information in the public domain, and also to consider the posting of any technical information in a public forum to constitute an export under ITAR, requiring State Department pre-clearance, and a $2000 license from the federal government.

This should essentially make it illegal to discuss in a public forum, including on the Internet, any technical data about the manufacture, repair, modification, or other technical data about any firearm, ammunition, or accessory. It believed that the State Department undertook this measure to shut down the 3D printing and CNC milling of firearms and firearms parts by home do-it-yourselfers, but the regulation sweeps even more broadly than that. Even talking about reloading data would be a crime.

In the 1990s, the State Department declared encryption technology “munitions” under ITAR and began to crack down on sharing of encryption information and source code on the Internet. They were taken to court and lost both times on First Amendment grounds, but the Clinton Administration backed down before the Supreme Court managed to hear the case.

Such a rule is almost certainly unconstitutional, but in if implemented, gun owners who exercise their right to free speech could face a 20 year prison sentence and fines reaching upwards to a million dollars for violating ITAR’s regulations until the Federal Courts sorted everything out.

Biggest Reform to the Gun Control Act of 1968 Introduced in House Since the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986

Just today, Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced a bill that would significantly reform the Gun Control Act of 1968. According to the NRA, the major steps this bill would take are:

  • Eliminate ATF’s authority to reclassify popular rifle ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.” The federal law governing armor piercing ammunition was passed by Congress to target handgun projectiles, but BATFE has used the law to ban common and popular rifle ammunition, as it recently attempted with M855/SS109 5.56×45 ammunition.
  • Provide for the lawful importation of any non-NFA firearm or ammunition that may otherwise be lawfully possessed and sold within the United States. BATFE has used the current discretionary “sporting purposes” standard to deny the importation of firearms that would be perfectly legal to manufacture, sell, and possess in the United States.
  • Protect shotguns, shotgun shells, and certain rifles from arbitrary classification as “destructive devices.” Classification as a destructive device subjects a firearm to the registration and taxation provisions of the National Firearms Act (NFA) and creates a ban on possession of such firearms in some states.
  • Broaden the temporary interstate transfer provision to allow temporary transfers for all lawful purposes rather than just for “sporting purposes.”

Please write Rep. Fitzpatrick and ask him to support this bill.

Contact your Legislators!

Legislative Shoot-out Expected in the U.S. Senate

Within the next 72 hours, gun owners should expect votes in the U.S. Senate on:

* Outlawing ATF bullet bans

* Concealed Carry Reciprocity

* Prohibiting Senate anti-gun amendments.

We expect more gun-related showdowns in the next 72 hours than in the next 9 months combined.  At least 5 gun-related amendments are expected on the Budget Resolution — a once-a-year vehicle that gives senators an opportunity to get hundreds of votes on any issue they choose.

And at least five senators have chosen to get votes on guns.

We have already told you about the Crapo amendment to shut down Operation Choke Point — which has been used by Eric Holder to try to financially strangle the gun industry.

But there are other amendments as well:

* An amendment by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and David Vitter (R-LA) to prohibit ATF from banning bullets — in the way it tried to do with AR-15 ammunition;

* Another amendment by Senator Inhofe to block any and all funding for the implementation of the UN Arms Trade Treaty;

* An amendment by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) to prohibit any more anti-gun amendments in the Senate — be they semi-auto bans, magazine bans, universal gun registries, etc. — unless anti-gunners get more Senate votes than they will ever conceivably be able to achieve;

* And there is an amendment to prohibit the ATF from copying 4473’s and using them to compile a national gun registry; and another one to push national concealed carry reciprocity — in a way that allows residents of “constitutional carry” states to carry without asking “May I?” from the government first.

It is critically important that you chime in with respect to all of these amendments.

One final point:  If you read the amendments, they are filled with “budgety” language about “reserve funds,” and so forth.  But the important thing to know is that this is an exercise in freezing in pro-gun votes.  We killed UN Arms Trade Treaty with a budget amendment like these.  And, once we freeze in our headcounts, we can stick these same amendments onto the non-filibusterable reconciliation bill — or on the appropriations bills when they begin to move in a couple of months.

But if you hate bullet bans — or if you like national concealed carry reciprocity — or if you want to permanently preclude anti-gun amendments in the Senate — now is the time to make your voice heard.

ACTIONContact your U.S. Senators. Ask them to support:

* The Inhofe & Vitter amendments outlawing bullet bans and implementation of the UN Arms Trade Treaty;

* The Lee amendment, requiring unattainable supermajorities to ever bring up any gun control in the Senate again;

* The Crapo amendment to shut down Operation Choke Point;

* Plus amendments to push concealed carry reciprocity and prohibit the ATF from copying 4473’s.

March 2015 Legislative Report

Federal

ATF Proposes Ban on M855 Ammunition

In the preceding month, ATF announced a proposal than would remove the “sporting purposes” exemption for M855 “green tip” ammunition, classifying it as armor piercing handgun ammunition, effectively banning the round for civilian use. There was some question as to whether M855 meets the statutory definition of armor piercing ammunition under federal law, as its core contains lead, with a steel penetrator at the tip. Federal law defines armor piercing ammunition as:

  • 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
  • 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.

It should be noted that M855 is considered an “enhanced penetration” round by the military, and is not classified as armor piercing. NRA has argued ATF exceeded its authority in its classification of M855 as an armor piercing round in the first place.

It’s pretty clear that the purpose of the proposed ban is to eliminate a cheap source of surplus target ammunition for AR-15 shooters, and drive ammunition prices even higher. Thanks to pressure from 238 members of Congress, writing in opposition to the proposal, ATF has decided to back down for now. It is worth noting that our representative, Mike Fitzpatrick, was not among the signers of the Congressional letter. He was the only member of the Pennsylvania Republican Congressional Delegation who did not sign.

ATF is still taking public comment on the proposal up through March 16, 2015. I would like to make a motion to send a letter both to ATF, outlining the club’s objection to the proposal, and to Rep. Fitzpatrick, expressing disappointment that his name did not appear on the letter.

National Reciprocity

There are several reciprocity bills working their way thorugh Congress. The bills that look to have the most traction are H.R. 986 and Senate bill, S.498. Both bills would protect the right of individuals with concealed carry permits from their home state, to carry in any other state which does not prohibit concealed carry (which at this point, no state does). There are two other house bills, H.R. 923 and H.R. 402, which would largely do the same thing, but these bills have fewer co-sponsors as of now.

Senator Toomey is a cosponsor of S.498, however Senator Casey is not.

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick has not signed on to any of the House Bills.

Please write Senator Casey and Rep. Fitzpatrick and ask them to support all of these bills.

Pennsylvania

Sunday Hunting

NRA is making a big push to get Sunday Hunting passed in the Pennsylvania Legislature. This has been surprisingly difficult to get passed. It is hoped that this might be a measure that Governor Wolf would sign if it passes out of the legislature. Please write your state legislators to get Sunday hunting approved. Pennsylvania is one of the few states that still restrict Sunday hunting.

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