Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Heroic Gun Dealer Who Stopped Four Criminals From Stealing Dozens Of Guns Needs Your Help

In recent years, I have had the privilege of getting to know some gun shop owners - both as a customer and when I had my business as a computer tech.  Every one I of them I have met have been great people who took the responsibility of selling deadly weapons quite seriously.

My guess is that most people reading this would think of the need to do background checks to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited persons - and the need to maintain records in accordance with federal law - records that allow guns to be traced should they be used in a crime.  While these are all important, they are not the most important responsibility a gun shop owner must fulfill.

By far, the most critical responsibility is that of securing their inventory against theft.  The average person has no clue how much efforts gun shops put into security.  Bars on the doors and windows are just the beginning.  Every night, just after closing, even though the building has bars on every window, even though the doors are made of heavy steel, even though there is an alarm which - if tripped will result in an immediate police response - in spite of all of these measures - every handgun is locked away in one of several heavy duty safes.


However, thieves do not always come calling when the gun shop is closed.  That is why in every gun shop I have ever been in that sells handguns (the weapons criminals most desire) the staff is armed.  Every employee carries a loaded sidearm.  I had this responsibility driven home one day when I was working on a shops computers.  The shop was closed, but when the only owner who was there left to get us lunch, I was handed a loaded .357 and warned not to open the door for anyone but her.

This week, in Shawnee Kansas, the thing gun shop owners fear most happened.  The owners of "She's a Pistol" gun shop and training center - a husband/wife team - were both working.  That is when four armed robbers burst in.  Police believe that they were responsible for several other armed robberies.  They certainly were not there for money - they were there to take as many guns as they could.  They outnumbered the owners two to one - and they had the element of surprise.  What they did not think of, or did not know, is that both husband and wife were instructors who taught defensive firearm use for a living.

Upon entry, it is reported the one of the four opened fire on the husband - while another struck his wife in the face.  The husband - Jon Bieker - was able to return fire almost immediately.  While details are sketchy it is probable that both he and his wife Becky were able to get shots off.  We likely won't know exactly what happened for some time.   What is certain is that when the smoke cleared, two of the armed robbers lay on the floor, too severely wounded to flee with their fellow criminals.  Another was wounded, but managed to flee a short distance before being tracked down and arrested by police,  Only one of the four escaped injury - and arrest.  Sadly, Becky was significantly injured and Jon lay on the floor mortally wounded.  He died a short time later at the hospital.  He gave his life to defend his wife and to prevent the theft of the firearms in his care.   Not one gun was stolen that day.  Jon and Becky stopped that from happening. The cost of doing so was high - but who knows how many lives they may have saved, lives that would have been lost if those four men had gotten those guns and lives that would have been lost if they had simply been permitted to continue committing armed robberies.  In my book, both Jon and Becky are heroes.  



This experience has not changed Becky's views on guns and self defense:

“Thank you to my friends, family, and community for their love, prayers, and support during this very difficult time. I have lost my husband in this senseless murder. Although tragic, he saved my life because he carried a firearm,” Becky said in a statement.

“Guns are not evil,” she added. “I would not be able to make this statement if private citizens such as Jon and I were banned from owning them. Please respect my husband’s memory by refusing to turn this tragedy into a political statement in support of banning firearms.”

BECKY CAN USE YOUR HELP!

She needs help with her husband's final expenses and help to save her business.  Please follow the link below and give SOMETHING.  It all ads up - but we have to give something, or it adds up to nothing.


PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK AND SEND BECKY A FEW BUCKS.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Washington DC Mayor Vows To Restrict Civil Rights As Much As Possible

Imagine the uproar that would happen if a Southern mayor said in a speech, "I know that the courts have said that Black people are equal to Whites, and I have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution - but I hate integration.  I will do as much as I can within the law to keep Blacks in their place."

Imagine the uproar if a mayor anywhere in the US said, "I know that the Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and I am sworn to uphold it - but I hate Muslims.  I intend to do everything I can to keep them out and if that fails to make life as difficult as possible for them."

Imagine the uproar if a U.S. mayor said in a speech, "I hate being criticized - so I hate the press.  I know that the Constitution provides for freedom of the press - but I am going to restrict the press as much as possible."

Imagine if a New York mayor said, "I know that the 4th Amendment provides protection against unreasonable searches - but I am instructing my police force to search as many "suspicious" people on the street as they possibly can.  If that results in more black men being searched - oh well......"  Oh wait, we don't have to imagine - that is exactly what two NYC mayors did and there was a huge uproar and the policy was reversed.

The press would never tolerate any of the above actions by a mayor - and neither would the Administration - or the Congress.  We hold our civil rights dear - except for one.  Consider these comments by Washington D.C.'s newly minted mayor, Muriel Bowser:

You have a mayor who hates guns,” she said. “If it was up to me, we wouldn’t have any handguns in the District of Columbia. I swear to protect the Constitution and what the courts say, but I will do it in the most restrictive way as possible.(Source)


Notice that there is no wishy-washy language about supporting the 2nd Amendment, but wanting reasonable restrictions.  This woman is quite clear - if she had her way she would eliminate a basic civil right, placed in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers.  But since she can't do that, she will restrict the right as much as possible.  Having this mayor upholding the 2nd Amendment rights of her citizens is like putting the KKK in charge of enforcing civil rights laws.

Of course, the mainstream press won't cover these comments - because it would cause an uproar among the roughly 50% of Americans who own firearms.  True, many of these gun owners do support some reasonable restrictions - like instant background checks - but when you start talking about banning firearms protected by the 2nd Amendment, they tend to get VERY UPSET.   They also tend to get organized and demand solutions.  Thankfully, they also have their own communication system, and they WILL FIND OUT.

Civil rights are not unrelated to each other.  Like pillars in a building, each one works with the others to support the roof - which in this case is is AMERICAN FREEDOM.  If you are opposed to one of our freedoms, you are undermining all of our freedoms.

So, what should be done?  Congress has looked at this issue before and threatened to use a simple solution that is within their rights because Washington D.C. is a federal enclave: A preemption of all of D.C.'s gun laws.

It should be noted that this would in no way eliminate all restrictions on firearms.  Robust federal laws - including background checks - would remain in place.  What would not remain in place would be the D.C. mayor's attack on the basic civil rights of her citizens and visitors.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Did Jesus Order His Disciples To Be Armed?


Luke 22:35-36 (NIV):  Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered.   He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.  It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors' ; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."  The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he replied.

So, what was Christ's purpose in telling his disciples to be armed?  Some have said he gave this command so he could tell them later that they should not use them.  However this makes no sense because Peter and the others were already armed.  Furthermore, Jesus would have known - having traveled with them for years - what kind of weapons they carried.  If Jesus did not want them to carry weapons, why didn't He address the issue in the three years they were together?   Every other explanation I have seen fall just as flat.  

So, I took a careful look at this passage - and this is what I found.

Point One: Christ's reference to their prior missionary journeys indicates that the need to be armed is directly related to their future missionary journeys.

Effectively, Jesus said, "Your last journey was easy (See Luke 10:1ff) - but, in the future you will need to be prepared.  You will not have the support of most people."

Why would Jesus include a sword in the same category as money and camping gear?  The answer is simple: Traveling the roads back then was a very risky endeavor.  Robbers and bandits were very common (Paul mentions this in 2 Cor 11:26) and it was common for travelers to carry arms to protect themselves.  After all, 911 wasn't available for about 1950 years!  Travelers were on their own.

In short, the most logical reason - the one the fits the context best - is that the disciples needed to be able to defend themselves.


Point Two: The original Greek word (machaira) means any edged weapon or tool of any length.

While the context of most NT passages containing this word indicate that an edged weapon is in view, in many cases we cannot, in most cases, know how long the blade was.  Looking at other Greek documents is very instructive.

"Homer mentions the makhaira, but as a domestic knife of no great size.   In period texts, μάχαιρα has a variety of meanings, and can refer to virtually any knife or sword (taking the meaning of today's Greek μαχαίρι), even a surgeon's scalpel....... "(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makhaira)

As is the case today, a knife of - say four to five inches - would be suitable for defense, but also would be absolutely necessary for everyday use while the disciples traveled.  It would likely be used for everything from cleaning fish to cutting cordage to cutting and eating food.  It is certain that each disciple would have carried some kind of knife for daily use.   


Point Three: The best interpretation of the disciples response is that each disciple possessed both a short and a long blade. 

Let's examine the disciples response in Luke 22:38: 'The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he (Jesus) replied.'

So what are the possible interpretations of this verse?

1) Between the eleven disciples then present, there were only two blades of any kind.

2) Between the eleven disciples then present, there were only two blades long enough to be useful for defense.

3) Each of the eleven disciples then present had two blades - one for every day use (a short, likely single edged knife) and a longer blade that would today be considered a long knife or a short sword.

We can rule out the first possibility as being impossible, because, as we have previously mentioned, at a minimum each disciple would need to have some kind of blade while traveling.

Moving on to the second possibility, this also does not fit.  On their first journey, Jesus sent them out in groups of two.  Both tradition and the New Testament (especially the Book of Acts) indicate that the disciples also traveled in groups of two to three.  It therefore makes no sense for Jesus to approve of only two edged weapons, as this number would have many of the disciples defenseless.

The most logical interpretation is that when Jesus gave his command, the disciples each simply opened their garment and displayed both their every day blade and a longer blade - such as a long knife or a short sword.  At the same time, they would have said, "See, I already have two blades."  Seeing this, Jesus said that this was enough.

Conclusion: Jesus did tell his disciples to arm themselves in order to be able to defend themselves on the road in coming years.

Please note that this analysis is limited to this passage.  The Bible has a great deal to say about how and when it is necessary and morally justified to use force, including deadly force.  There are many good articles on the net that address this subject.  I urge you to carefully read some of them.  That said, there is no doubt in my mind that Jesus commanded his disciples to be armed.

What does this mean for Christians today?  

First, it establishes that Christians may carry and use arms defensively - at least in some circumstances.

Second, the weapons Jesus spoke of were particularly suited for personal defense rather than offense.  Jesus certainly was not advocating that the Christian faith be spread at the point of a sword - if this was his goal, spears and bows would have been needed.  Additionally, when persecuted for their faith by governmental authorities, the Biblical record and history make it clear that Christians did not resist - just as Jesus did not resist.

Third, Christians need to be careful about advocating the disarmament of the public.  While Christians can certainly disagree concerning gun laws, calls for total bans on the ownership and even the lawful carrying of firearms clearly violate the principle found here. 

  





Friday, November 21, 2014

Why I Support Immigration Reform AND Impeaching Pres. Obama

dic·ta·tor noun \ˈdik-ˌtā-tər, dik-ˈ\
: a person who rules a country with total authority

First everyone reading this should understand that I am supportive of content of President Obama's executive order.  For decades we have encouraged people to sneak into the US to work here, often in the underground economy.  Both parties have looked the other way while this has happened - Republicans because some businesses want it and Democrats to please their Hispanic constituents.   Expelling people who have been here for years (often decades) would be as unjust as a complete amnesty.  A plan that enables them - after paying a fine, paying back taxes, and becoming functionally fluent in English - to obtain permanent guest worker status is both just and compassionate.

Second, THERE IS ZERO DOUBT THAT WHAT PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS DONE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL - AND HE KNOWS IT.   It is not an exaggeration to say that he has just made himself a dictator - albeit a compassionate one.


If this is tolerated, American democracy is over.  Pres, Obama's reason for issuing this illegal order is simple: Congress refused to do what he wanted them to do - so he decided to assume the power granted to congress and "do it without them".  Think about this for a moment.  Think about what this means in the future.  Quite simply, if tolerated, the House and Senate just became completely powerless and irrelevant,  If a president can simply bypass a coequal branch of government with the stroke of a pen, why should they even bother to meet?  The danger here is not the direct effect of this illegal order - it is the precedent it establishes.  If Obama gets away with this, what is to prevent him - or a future president of either party - from simply ruling by decree?  What is to stop him or her from ignoring Supreme Court rulings?  Perhaps most frightening, what is to prevent this or a future president from declaring an emergency and suspending elections in order to stay in office?  THE ANSWER TO ALL THESE QUESTIONS IS THE SAME: NOTHING!  Sadly, such actions are the norm in much of the world, because the rule of law is ignored.  We are now one huge step closer to joining them.

There is also zero doubt that President Obama knows that what he is doing is illegal and unconstitutional.  He knows full well that this is an impeachable offense.  In fact, he has said such action would be illegal - on video - more than two dozen times.   He is a constitutional lawyer and professor,  He knows that he just became a dictator.  Consider these 22 documented quotes and the following video clips:




Yes, there are many legal things any president may do in regards to those who are here illegally.  He can prioritize those who are deported - ignoring those working to support families and otherwise obeying the law and focusing upon criminals.  He can also pardon anyone - including those here in violation of immigration law (which is not, in and of itself a crime - it is a civil matter) - of any crime they have committed.  These actions are within his authority as president.  He may also, when supported by underlying law, issue executive orders.  However, what our president has just done DOES NOT FALL INTO ANY OF THESE CATEGORIES.

Even MSNBC is questioning the legality of what President Obama is doing:




His order goes far beyond simply ignoring those here illegally who are behaving themselves - it grants them legal status AND THAT REQUIRES PASSAGE OF A NEW LAW.  A new law can only come from Congress.

One might also ask this question: What is the emergency?  None of these people are in danger of being deported because President Obama's lawful prioritizing of deportation.  When one considers this fact it exposes this action for exactly what it is: A RAW POWER GRAB BY A PRESIDENT WHOSE PARTY JUST LOST AN ELECTION BY A LANDSLIDE.

Additionally, the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to this action.  According to this poll, only 20% of voters in the recent elections supported such an order.  Stunningly, 54% of Hispanics opposed such an order!

Dictatorships emerging from democracies (without a coup) seldom begin with harsh and unpopular decrees.  Hitler, after getting lawmakers to vote themselves into irrelevance, did not start with a decree ordering millions to be killed - he began by issuing decrees to put people back to work.  As I have said, the real danger here may not be what this president does - but what a future president may do.

So, what shall be done?

First, it should be understood that it is not just Republicans who are concerned about this issue.  Remember, this order effectively makes all lawmakers irrelevant - not just Republicans.  This, combined with pressure from voters has caused several Democrats to come out against President Obama's action.  Consider this quote from CNN's Jake Tapper:


"Several Senate Democrats are not happy with Obama’s executive amnesty order. Tapper said he’s gotten “expressions of concern about POTUS action from Dems” including Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). Sen. Angus King (I-ME), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, also expressed opposition to Obama’s amnesty order."

"Before the election, Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) all came out against it too. This number of Democrats and independents is enough to overcome the 60-vote threshold for cloture to block Obama’s executive amnesty with funding orders, if the Democrats who said they’re against it are serious."

Doing the math, this means that Republicans are starting with six Democratic Senators who are prepared to go on record TODAY as opposing this illegal order.  Combined with the 54 votes from Republicans, that's enough to use the power of the purse to invalidate the order - and should it come to it, Republicans only need 7 more votes to remove Obama from office.

There are basically two ways Congress can successfully oppose this order:

First, and most likely, the Congress could split funding into several bills each funding an area of government - and then withhold funding from INS, thus preventing them from implementing the order.  This would leave the president with three choices:

1) Admit defeat and withdraw the order
2) Veto all the funding bills and demand funding for his order
3) Issue another unlawful order funding his previous unlawful order

Given that he has already violated the Constitution by issuing the order, I think it likely that he will choose the last option.  Why not?  It is supported by all the same arguments and is no more or less unconstitutional.   That will leave us with one option: IMPEACHMENT.

If impeachment is attempted, it should be remembered that this time it will not be about something "unrelated to his job", it will be about his actions as president.  Additionally, there are several unrelated scandals being investigated right now (think Benghazi and Fast and Furious) that could "blow up" both providing more charges and reducing public support for Pres. Obama.  Contrary to what Democratic pundits supporting the president are saying, I do not think President Obama wants to be impeached.

In addition to this, legal action is possible.  It is even possible that the Supreme Court could expedite hearing such a case.  There is zero doubt that the current court will rule against the president by at least five to four.  It could be unanimous.  However, once again, there is the question: Will the president simply ignore the order?  If he does, we are back to impeachment.

This crisis - and it is a crisis - is the greatest internal threat the nation has faced since the Civil War.  Every American who prays should pray for our nation. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why We Need To Write And Pass Expanded Background Checks - An Open Letter To My Fellow Gun Rights Advocates

Alan Gottlieb is a leader in the gun rights movement.  His Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has won many significant legal victories securing and expanding gun rights.  SAF is also headquartered in Seattle Washington - and because of this he was heavily involved in the battle of I-594.  As such, he foresaw the outcome of that battle and the implications for gun rights nationwide.   At this year's NRA convention, he said this:

Sadly, he has been proved to be right.  In spite of our best efforts I-594 passed.  The gun banners are not stupid - they too have and will learn from this victory.  We were successful in electing many pro-gun rights legislatures, governors and, of course, a pro-gun Senate.  However, none of this matters if Bloomberg and his buddies can bypass those elected legislators as they did with I-594.  Remember, I-594 is much, much more than a simple expansion of NICS checks to private sales.  Hidden in the measure were many horrible provisions having nothing to do with sales.


It is critical that we understand the new reality following this Bloomberg victory:

1) Now that they have been successful, it is certain that these billionaires will employ the same tactic in many more states.  In fact, they have said that they will do so.   In 2016, we can expect to have to fight the same battle we just lost in many more states.  
In states where initiative measures are not possible, we can expect Bloomberg and friends to use the same dirty tactics they used in Colorado.  An excellent analysis of why we lost can be found HERE. 

2) A majority of people - including some gun owners - will vote for a measure labeled as "universal background checks" - especially when a billionaire or two floods the airwaves with advertizing.  They also will not understand that the measure contains many additional anti-gun provisions.  Trying to explain the details when both the billionaire's money AND the media are shouting that it's just about background checks is a fool's errand. 

3) It quite simply does not matter that these background checks are of limited value in stopping criminals and the insane from obtaining firearms.  What does matter is that a majority of the public thinks this is a good idea - in contrast to all other gun control measures which lack majority support. 

4) NICS checks have been in effect for a long time (about a decade) and present few if any problems.   In our own bill we can and should make improvements designed to prevent abuse of this system.

5) Perhaps most significantly WE CAN USE THE SAME TACTICS USED BY BLOOMBERG TO BEAT HIM!!!  We can push our own background check bill through Congress, that expands NICS checks to private sales AND contains a bunch of pro-gun provisions, including federal preemption of state and local background checks, as well as safeguards against creating an underground registry.* We can turn a background check bill into a net win.

The reality is that expanded background checks are going to happen - the only question is will anti-gun rights or pro-gun rights provisions be attached to it.  What we choose to do will determine which of these possibilities we have to live with.



*Pro-gun rights provisions that should be attached to any federal bill expanding background checks:

Safeguards:


1) As is the case now, no firearms specific data shall be required to run a NICS Check.
2) As is the case now, all data on approved NICS checks shall be destroyed in 72 hours or less.
3) As is the case now, 4473 forms and dealers bound books shall be the only place firearms specific data is maintained.
4) Dealers shall be exempt from all civil liability for conducting background checks.
5) The charge for a background check shall be capped by law at no more than $25.00 adjusted for inflation.
6) Records (4473 forms and bound books) of closed FFLs shall no longer be surrendered to ATF - instead, all prior and future records shall be maintained jointly by the NSSF and the NRA,  As is the case with records of open FFLs, they shall be available only for traces involving a criminal investigation.
7) The entire area law governing of firearms purchases, transfers and ownership shall be preempted by the federal government.
8) Since this entire area of regulation is being preempted by federal law, all state and local registration records shall be destroyed.
9) Anyone creating a registry of firearms shall be guilty of a felony punishable by a minimum of 15 years in prison.  In addition to federal authorities, the Attorney General of any state shall be authorized to investigate and prosecute such offenses.

Pro-gun provisions:

Violation of the safe transit provisions of FOPA shall be considered civil rights violations and governments violating the provisions of FOPA shall be subject to both civil and criminal penalties.


National CCW Reciprocity/National Shall Issue CCW system.

Removal of the restriction that you may only purchase firearms in your state of residence.

Anything else that we can get!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Americans And Guns - According To Gallup

As we go into the elections, gun control is once again in the news.  I think that in many races, especially in places like Colorado and Washington state, guns are going to be a huge issue.  What do people actually believe?





So, as reported in the above video:

Only 26% of Americans favor a handgun ban.

63% of Americans believe that having a gun in the home makes the home safer.
(This is in spite of decades of bogus propaganda in the news and entertainment media trying to convince people that having a gun in the home is dangerous.)

44% of Americans report that they have a gun in their home - a figure that is likely under reported.  (Many people simply will lie about having a gun for a variety of reasons.)  The fact that this figure is rising in spite of the average household size decreasing is even more significant.

Additionally, according to industry research, 48% of first time gun buyers are now female.  This fact will have long term implications for gun control support among women.





Today less than half of Americans support any changes to laws governing the purchase of firearms - while 52% want them to remain the same or made less strict.



Looking back 24 years, the trend is clear - support for stricter gun laws is dropping.



When looking at the issue of banning handguns, the trend becomes even clearer.  In 1959, nearly 2 out of 3 Americans were in favor - now nearly 3 out of 4 are opposed.
(Note: In 2008 the Supreme Court ruled that such bans were unconstitutional.)



Breaking the issue down by demographic group, there is not one group in which support has not dropped since 2012.  It is worth noting that support for gun rights among Democrats, Liberals, Non-whites and Women - while a minority view, is still significant.


Views of Mass Shootings


In spite of the media's effort to promote gun laws as the answer to mass shootings, the public believes that the failure of the mental health system as the greatest factor.  This makes a great deal of sense, given that every gun used in high profile a mass shooting was purchased with a background check.  Background checks cannot work without a good mental health system.



Comparing 2011 and 2013 figures on the same question, lack of good mental health screening remains steady - but "easy access to guns" has dropped by 6%.

So, what is the bottom line?  With the possible exception of background checks, gun control is a losing issue outside of California and the Northeast and many politicians will learn this lesson on November 4th.




Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Gun Control Advocates Can Get Expanded Background Checks - An Open Letter To The Center For American Progress

After reading your organization's document "A New Approach to Assault Weapons", I was impressed.  I believe that it deserves a thoughtful and constructive response.  So, although I am an only an individual gun rights advocate, I thought it well worth my time to respond and suggest some ways that you could move forward toward achieving some of your goals.

First, so you can know whom you are talking to, let me tell you a bit about myself and my positions on the issue.  I'm a retired minister who has followed the gun debate closely since 1968.  I'm also a former paramedic and police chaplain.  My views on gun laws are most closely aligned with the Second Amendment Foundation/Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  I am an NRA member and agree with them on most issues, while disagreeing with them on some.  I am not supportive of the GOA because I see them as too extreme.  In other words, within the gun rights community, I am a moderate.

Here are some realities that we face in moving forward:

1) Politically and legally the gun rights movement is stronger than ever before.  As a result, most in the gun rights community see no reason to compromise.  The general attitude is that we can get all we want through the ballot box or the courts.  This may lessen a bit if Washington's I-594 passes, but it's still  going to be a reality for some time to come..

2) The above attitude is reinforced by the history of gun control law in the US. Gun owners tend to take a very long view.  The general attitude is, "We have been giving ground since 1934 while getting little to nothing in return.  We should not give anyone more unless we get something significant."

3) The only way you are going to get anything passed federally is with NRA support.  After Virginia Tech, the NRA stepped up and beat Brady to the punch in advocating a bill requiring states to report mental health commitments to the NICS background check system.  I supported them in this - but GOA and others attacked the NRA with a great deal of misinformation.  They spent millions defending their actions and still lost members who bought the GOA's line that the NRA had "sold out".  Frankly, if the current leadership were to back an expansion of current law without a significant gain for gun rights in return there would be another membership revolt as happened in the 1970s.  This is why getting NRA support for expanded background checks is so difficult - but not impossible.

The net effect of all of the above is that in order to get, say expanded background checks, you are absolutely going to need to give significant concessions. The aftermath of Newtown proves this.  There are measures that you could support that would - if included in a bill with expanded background checks - result in widespread support for the whole package both by individuals like myself and the NRA (CCRKBA already supports expanded background checks).  In fact, there are some that would be impossible for the NRA to resist.  I'll detail them later.  There is also a way to expand background checks that would not encounter nearly as much resistance, while still decreasing illegal transfers and allowing for easier prosecution of both prohibited persons and those who illegally transfer firearms to them.

Here's a brief outline of how you could proceed:

1) Step One: Reach out to gun rights groups and try to work together to get the things most of us already agree upon done.

2) Step Two: Decide which items on your wish list are achievable - which of them are gun rights advocates likely to accept IF they get something in return

3) Step Three: Decide which items on the gun rights wish list you can live with

4) Step Four: Sit down and hammer out a deal between both sides in private

5) Step Five: Jointly make the deal public and ask Congress to act


Step one: Reach out to gun rights groups and try to work together to get the things most of us already agree upon done.

One of the reasons that gun rights advocates are suspicious of gun control groups is that they seem to be opposed to using laws that are already in place.  If gun control groups began by proposing that both sides advocate for these measures, it would not only result in some positive things getting passed, it would serve to build trust between both sides.

The following non-controversial measures are examples of what I am talking about:

1) Fix the Federal Background Check System (NICS). This system is a classic example of "garbage in, garbage out".  In fact, it is so bad that the industry's trade group, the National Shootings Sports Foundation or NSSF, has been trying to get it fixed for years.  (See http://www.fixnics.org/)  At this point a convicted felon or a mentally ill person has about a one in three chance of passing the check.  Without question, this should be priority one for both sides.

2) Aggressively prosecute straw purchasers and require prison time for ALL those convicted. Advertise this widely. Too many straw purchasers are simply not prosecuted - and those that are seldom see the inside of a prison.  By definition, these people are generally law abiding and a creditable threat of prison will deter many.  NSSF and ATF have worked to fight straw purchasing with their "Don't Lie For The Other Guy" program.  More prosecutions with prison time for those convicted would do a great deal to deter straw purchasing.

3) Aggressively prosecute prohibited persons who attempt to buy firearms and fail the NICS check.  At this point someone illegally attempting to buy a firearm at a dealer and failing the NICS check has about a 1 in 300 chance of being prosecuted and a 1 in 1000 chance of being convicted.  The federal system does not even notify state and local authorities who might be able to bring charges under state laws - or in many cases simply violate their parole or probation.   This is in spite of the fact that the paperwork provides nearly all the evidence needed to convict.  With odds like these, prohibited have nothing to loose by trying to buy a gun at a dealer.  (Also, stop claiming that every NICS denial prevents a prohibited person from obtaining a firearm.  A large number are denied in error and over turned on appeal - and without prosecution the remainder are free to buy a firearm through illegal channels.)

The above measures would not only do a lot of good - without the passage any new laws - it would do a great deal to increase the likelihood of passing expanded background checks.  The attitude of many in the gun rights community is, "Why should we buy into new laws when the ones we have are not even being used?"  The lack of prosecution causes many to question if the motive for expanded background checks is really to keep criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining firearms - or is the motive something else, such as the creation of an underground registry.

4) Create an adequate system for screening possibly mentally ill persons by law enforcement in the field - and the temporary commitment of those who show signs of severe mental illness to mental health facilities.  Those who are found to actually be severely or violently mentally ill should be prohibited from buying, owning or possessing firearms and their names and identifying information entered into the NICS database.  The reality is that most of the mentally ill persons involved in high profile shootings passed background checks - even though they often had prior contact with law enforcement for bizarre or threatening behavior.  The best background check system in the world is totally ineffective if we do not identify the dangerously mentally ill.

5) Implement ATF's "Project Exile" nation wide.
While this was somewhat controversial, both in gun rights (NRA supported, GOA opposed) and civil rights circles - but it really worked well.   The system of embedding ATF agents in local police agencies and of threatening criminals carrying firearms with federal time, likely in a prison far from home (hence the name) proved effective at reducing the carrying of firearms by criminals such as drug dealers.

If both sides could work together on these issues, it would do a lot to build trust and set the stage for the next step.


Step Two: Decide which items on your wish list are achievable - which of them are gun rights advocates likely to accept IF they get something in return


Now let's look at your proposals:

"Require background checks for all gun sales"

This should be the easiest measure of all - especially since one of the "big three" gun rights groups, the Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), has and does support expanded background checks - as do I.
  They even helped write the failed Senate bill.  However, since then Michael Bloomberg has "poisoned the well" by pushing highly deceptive laws in both Colorado and Washington.

In both the Colorado law that was rammed through the legislature post Newtown and the Washington initiative (I-594) the term "transfer" is completely redefined. Under federal law and, until recently, every state law, a transfer was defined as a change in ownership.  Only then would a background check be required.  In the Colorado law and the Washington initiative a transfer is defined as any time a gun is handed to another person. 

A parallel that will help non-gun owners understand is that of vehicle registrations.  In every state, a registration change requirement is triggered when the ownership of the vehicle changes.  Imagine the uproar if allowing your friend to drive your car - with you as a passenger - required a trip to DMV, payment of a fee and potentially several days to process a change in registration.  This is exactly the effect of the Colorado law and Washington's I-594.

While it is true that there are specific exceptions, there are still many common and legal practices that would require a background check.  Let's consider what practices I-594, of passed, would criminalize:

a) I take you to the forest to go shooting.  I hand you one of my guns so you can shoot it under my direct supervision.  You hand it back to me so I can show you how to shoot it more accurately.  I demonstrate a better shooting position and hand it back to you so you can try shooting it again.  Under I-594, both of us have committed a felony.

b) A volunteer is conducting a Hunter Safety course - which is governed by international standards.  As required by these standards, he passes several safety checked firearms around the classroom so that the student can become familiar with the different types of firearms used in hunting.  Under I-594, unless the course is taught at a "licensed range" the instructor and every student have committed multiple felonies.   It is not even clear that teaching the class at a classroom on range property would be legal.

c) I take my 18-year-old son hunting with me.  Because he doesn't yet own a firearm, I let him use one of mine.  I decide to stay put, hoping the game will come to me - my son keeps looking.  We meet up later and he gives me my gun back.  Under I-594, both of us have committed a crime.

d) My son has small children.  He asks me if it is OK to keep his guns at my house - something recommended by my home state of California as a safety measure (and something I have done for my son).  He drops them off and later picks them up on the way to the range.  Under I-594, we have both committed felonies.

e) Years ago, I taught my daughter how to shoot and safely handle firearms.  One night a stalker tries to break into her apartment.  She asks to borrow one of my firearms.  I honor her request.  After buying her own gun (and passing a background check and waiting 30 days), she returns my firearm.   Under I-594, we have both committed felonies.  This would be legal even under my native California's restrictive gun laws, as long as the loan did not exceed 30 days. This would be ample time for her to obtain her own firearm.

f) You ask to see one of my guns because you are thinking of buying one and you want to see if it is a good "fit".  I open my gun safe and hand you the gun.  After you check it out you had it back to me.  You guessed it - under I-594, we both committed a felony.

g) My friend - whom I know to be safe and competent with firearms - offers to take our  teenage sons shooting in the woods.  I give permission.  We have both committed crimes.

h) Unbelievably, it would be illegal for one police officer to lend another police officer a firearm for off duty use, without a background check (and waiting period).  So, if a cop's only concealable handgun is in for servicing, he or she has to risk not carrying.  I sure hope they don't run into anyone they have arrested!

In fact, the Colorado law and I-594 law could backfire in a major way.  They invite gun rights groups to go for federal preemption of all gun laws, and provide the best argument for doing so I have ever seen.

These deceptive laws are why support among gun owners for expanded background checks has dropped like a rock - and without at least some support from gun owners (and likely some gun rights groups), nothing is gong to happen. 

Sadly, this massive and deceptive overreach has done a lot to poison the well on this issue. If a federal UBC bill is ever to be passed, other groups advocating them have to distance themselves from deceptive and Draconian measures like I-594 and make it clear that they only advocate background checks on SALES or other transfers of OWNERSHIP


When it comes to background checks, the devil is in the details.  I believe that the way to get "universal" background checks is to make them "optional".  Here's how it could work.

a) Create strict criminal liability for selling a firearm to a prohibited person.
This should be a "wobbler" - meaning that the violator could be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor at the discretion of the prosecutor for the first offense only.  Any additional offenses would be felonies with mandatory prison time.

b) Having a dealer do a NICS background check on the purchaser would exempt the seller from prosecution - even if the NICS check clears the purchaser in error.

c) Industry concerns would be addressed in the law.  Liability protection would be provided to the dealers doing background checks, etc.  The price charged for the background check would be controlled.  All FFLs would be required to do checks on private sales.

d) Open the NICS system to licensed collectors so they can do their own checks when selling to unlicensed persons.

So, how would this work in practice?

First, if I am absolutely sure that the person I am transferring the firearm to is not a prohibited person - I can simply give it to them. This takes care of family, close friends, etc.  It also goes a long way towards easing fears that background checks are just a cover for registration of all firearms.

Second, when selling to a stranger - or even a causal acquaintance - an honest, law abiding seller is going to do a NICS check through a dealer because not doing so risks criminal prosecution.  This takes care of sales where two people connect at a gun show, Armslist, etc.  Those who do these transfers without a NICS check under these circumstances would likely do so no matter what the law is, and could still be prosecuted.

Third, people who intentionally transfer firearms to prohibited persons could be more easily prosecuted because of the strict liability provisions.  Think about this for a moment.  These people are not going to do a check no matter what the law is.  They are already breaking the law now - and they will continue to do so.   The best we can do is to prevent honest people from unintentionally or carelessly selling to prohibited persons.

Such a law would be much easier to pass, and would provide just as much protection as a law requiring a background check on every transfer. 

Finally, I agree with Professor Adam Winkler of UCLA Law School, when he says that background checks are limited in their effectiveness. A failed check does not mean that the person who tried to buy a firearm illegally at a dealer will not succeed in buying one illegally on the "black market".    The most we can accomplish with background checks is to force such people into the underground market - unless we prosecute them for lying on the form, which I certainly advocate.  Even then, we can only discourage them from attempting to buy through legal channels.


"Require dealers to report multiple sales of long guns"

My suggestion here is more modest - but would likely accomplish just as much.  Simply change federal law so that centerfire semiautomatic long guns with removable magazines are treated in the same way as handguns.  Since it is semi-autos that cause the most concern, this would accomplish just as much and face less opposition.  A great deal of the opposition to the reporting now in effect in the Southwest is rooted in the fact that it was established via DOJ order, rather than by law.


"Equalize interstate sales of long guns and handguns (allow purchases in other states)"

While many gun rights advocates would support a change in the law to allow non-resident purchases, this proposal's requirement that ATF be notified on all of these sales is going to cause massive opposition.  When we see such a requirement, we tend to think "underground registry" - because more than one state has been caught using background checks to create them, even when this was illegal.

On the other hand, state notification is understandable - since several states (including mine) have registration requirements.  My suggestion here is to eliminate the ATF notification and only notify states that request it and have a registration requirement. This would allow states that register handguns to ensure that their residents comply with said registration requirements.  With these changes, this proposal would face little opposition.

Of course, the current ATF for notification on all sales of multiple handguns would remain in place, possibly with the additional requirement of notification of multiple sales of semi-auto long guns.


"Require federal firearms licenses for individuals that manufacture guns using 3D printers"

The way to get this passed is simple: License ALL home gun makers and allow owners of home made firearms to "occasionally" sell them.
This would be somewhat similar to the current licensing of collectors, which has worked very well for nearly 30 years.  Right now, while it is legal to make your own long gun - you can never sell or transfer it.  If we require a special license to make your own firearm, then makers should be allowed to sell or transfer them on an infrequent basis (not to exceed 3-6 sales per year).  This would likely be seen as a win-win by gun rights advocates.


"Bar possession and use of machine guns by individuals under the age of 16"

Of course, machine guns are highly regulated and few are in civilian hands.  For this reason, such a bill would not be a huge issue for most gun rights advocates.  However, lowering the age to 14 and adding appropriate height and weight requirements would lower opposition.  Personally, I think liability insurance companies are likely to take care for these problems without any new laws.   Having actually fired a fully auto weapon at a facility that does things correctly, I don't think that such a rule would significantly hurt their business.


"Require a permit for possession of assault weapons"

This is going to be the most difficult of all of your proposals to achieve - for many reasons.

First, most of us are quite confident that such firearms are clearly protected by the 2nd Amendment, for several reasons.  They are the most popular firearms in America - and thus fall under the "common use" provision, as outlined in Heller.  As you know, they are use less often in crimes than handguns - which SCOTUS found to be protected in spite of their high involvement in crime.  Next, the gun control side has constantly pushed the idea that the 2nd Amendment is about the militia.  In his dissenting opinion in Heller, Justice Blackman wrote that if the 2nd Amendment protected any kind of firearm, it protected the M16!  Why?  Simple: It is the lineal descendent of the musket.  It is the basic infantry weapon that most militia members would have brought with them when called into service.  I would not be inclined to support any ban on semiauto rifles - and I am part of the moderate wing of the gun rights movement.

Now, to be completely honest, there is one category of so called "assault weapons" that you might be able to ban: Pistol versions of rifles like the AK47 and AR15 are not in common use.  I do not know how often they are used in crimes - in fact I do not even think anyone keeps data on this.  It might be a good idea to track this.

Before we leave this topic, if you want to build bridges to even the moderate wing of the gun rights movement PLEASE STOP USING THE TERM "ASSAULT WEAPON".  Here's why:

1) It is a meaningless term that can be redefined over and over to include more and more firearms. Want proof?  Here in California Gov. Brown vetoed a bill last year that would have defined any semiautomatic rifle with a removable magazine as an assault weapon. 

2) There is no functional difference between semiautomatic removable magazine rifles classed as assault weapons and those that are not. Anyone who owns or has experience with both - as I do - knows this to be true.

3) The term assault rifle does have a specific definition: A semiauto rifle that fires an intermediate power cartridge, has a high capacity magazine and is selective fire semi and full automatic.  None of the so called "assault weapons" are selective fire - and therefore none are true assault rifles.  The term is used by gun control advocates in an effort to confuse people. Documents obtained from gun control groups indicate that they intentionally take advantage of the fact that many Americans do not understand the difference between a legal, semiauto rifle and a highly controlled machine gun. 

Put yourself in the place of a gun rights advocate.  Are you going to trust a group enough to sit down and hammer out a deal when that group is intentionally using deception against you?

Just be honest - what you want are controls on all semi autorifles.  Just admit it, and at least we will be able to honestly disagree with respect.  That said, I don't think that licensing is ever going to pass with the support of any of the gun rights groups.  However, if we could get on top of who is able to by them - through expanded background checks and increased enforcement - there would be less need for licensing.  Background checks remain your best and easiest target IF you can distance yourself from the deceptive systems in I-594 and the Colorado law.


3) Step Three: Decide which items on the gun rights wish list you can live with

Like gun control advocates, we have a list of things we would like.  Let me preface this by saying that in order to get what you want, you are going to have to offer something big - not something small.  The NRA leadership knows full well that they can and will be thrown out if whatever deal they make is considered a net loss.  It needs to be a win - win deal.

Here, as I see it, are the two things that would be considered "big" concessions by the gun rights community. Granting one of these would be enough to get UBCs passed with significant support from the gun rights side

Federal preemption of most state gun laws.  This would include laws on the sale, possession, and ownership of firearms.  If we set up a comprehensive federal background checks system, many of these laws would become redundant.  Additionally, many of these laws are likely to be lost to constitutional challenges in the next few years anyway - so trading then away makes sense.  Finally, preemption would find it's greatest support from gun owners in states with strict gun laws - where the NRA had many, many members - but would be opposed by NRA members in states with few gun laws.  If you want to cause conflict in the NRA, offering this deal would be a good way to do it.  In the end, they would likely support UBCs in exchange for preemption.


National Carry Permit Reciprocity
- Frankly, I think that this is another concession that has advantages for your side. This is a card that you will likely loose if you do not play it.  43 states are now "shall issue" or better, and although SCOTUS has not taken a carry case yet, circuit court splits will likely force them to do so soon.  The chance of total bans on carry or "may issue" systems surviving review is extremely low - and the states are rapidly working out reciprocity agreements.  Right now, this is a big deal.  A year or two from now it may be a mute point.  Second, by setting standards for permits subject to mandatory reciprocity you have an opportunity to raise training (and perhaps background check) standards in many states.   After 25 years and 43 states worth of experience, if licensed concealed carry were really as dangerous and counter productive as you wish it was, it would not have advanced to this point. It's time to give up on stopping it, and focus on how to improve it through better training standards, background checks, etc.

The following two issues are of a lower priority than the first two, but could be part of a deal:

Suppressor (Silencer) Reform
- Ironically, this is the one area in which US law is much more restrictive than laws in Europe.  In many areas of Europe these devices are required - while here we treat them in the same way as machine guns.  Increasingly suppressors are being seen as what they are: Safety devices.  Many states allow hunter to use them for just this reason.  Suppressors do not "silence" a firearm any more than a muffler silences a car.  Indeed, they are basically the same technology.  Under current law, purchasing a suppressor requires payment of a $200.00 transfer tax, a background check and a local law enforcement "sign off".  This last provision goes back to the 1930s when computerized records checks did not exist.  It is no longer necessary to contact local law enforcement to clear someone - but law enforcement in many communities simply deny all requests for sign offs, effectively allowing them to write their own firearms law.  Gun rights advocates are not arguing for complete deregulation - instead they are looking for the elimination of the local law enforcement "sign off" and a reduction in the transfer tax to $5.00 - the same as the transfer tax on short barreled rifles and shotguns.

Give the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 teeth.  As you probably know, this law allows gun owners a form of "innocent passage" with firearms that may not be legal in the state they are traveling through PROVIDED that they are unloaded and in a locked case.  Gun owners should not be arrested while traveling in compliance with this law - but without any penalties NYC and Chicago routinely arrest travelers who have to claim their checked firearms.  This is in spite of the fact that the firearm is unloaded and in a locked case in full compliance with the law.  These cities bring charges knowing full well that they will end up being dismissed - of course only after the gun owner has paid thousand to tens of thousands in bail and attorneys fees.  In these cases, where the defendant was found to be in compliance, there should be a federally mandated penalty of at least three times the defendant's expenses.  This problem is so bad that the NRA has warned people traveling with firearms - such as competitive shooters and hunters - to avoid even being routed through NYC and Chicago airports.  As you might imagine, this can be both difficult and expensive.  This was part of the 2013 senate bill that did not pass.  Of course, if federal preemption is passed, this becomes a mute point.


4) Step Four: Sit down and hammer out a deal between both sides in private

I would suggest that you not make your first approach to the NRA.  I would approach the CCRKBA.  I would also suggest that you hammer out an initial deal with them and then bring in more groups on the gun control side and let CCRKBA bring in more on the gun rights side.  If the deal includes a huge win for gun rights and Universal Background Checks (UBCs) - it will be hard for the NRA to oppose the deal.


5) Step Five: Jointly make the deal public and ask Congress to act

If both sides in the debate back the proposal, getting it passed will be easy.  Sure, radicals on both sides may oppose, but the opposition of the GOA won't mean much if the rest of the gun rights movement is onboard.

Well, these are my suggestions.  I hope you found them helpful.  I would really like to see a "grand bargain" on gun control - and I think it is possible.  Please feel free to contact me.