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....... "(

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:


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  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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Who Is Telling The Truth About I-594 - The Actual Text

The Billionaires behind I-594 say that the NRA is lying about I-594.  They say that all it does is impose background checks on private SALES.  

Gun rights groups opposing the measure say that it goes much further, effectively banning many now lawful recreational shooting activities and practices.  They claim that I-594 also criminalizes any "transfer" of a firearm - and defines the term so broadly that many common practices lawful gun owners now engage in would be banned.  They also contend that it is so badly written that many of the things it criminalizes are absurd.

Gun rights groups say that the problem is not primarily with I-594's regulation of SALES, but the fact that I-594 also regulates temporary TRANSFERS no matter how short the duration or the circumstances - with a very few, narrowly defined exceptions. 

Examples include:

1) I can gift my firearm to a family member without a background check, but if we are shooting anywhere except a licensed range, and I let that same family member shoot my firearm under my direct supervision, we have both committed a misdemeanor and a felony.

2) A federally licensed gun collector would have to pay for a background check every time they bought a collectible firearm on the federal list even though, just like a firearms dealer, they hold a Federal Firearms License allowing them to buy and sell firearms without a federal background check.

3) There is no exemption for off duty police officers.  If a police officer's personal, off duty firearm breaks he or she must go through a background check and waiting period in order to replace it - potentially placing them at risk when they are off duty.  There is also no exemption for those holding concealed carry permits - even though many of these people obtained permits due to very real threats to their safety.

4) I can let anyone under 18 shoot my firearms under my direct supervision - but if I let an adult do the very same thing, we both have committed crimes.

5) I-594 would make it illegal to lend my adult son or daughter a firearm to take hunting.  In order for such a loan to be legal, it must take place "while hunting" not "for the purpose of hunting".  That means that I must actually be hunting with my adult son or daughter before I can loan them a firearm without a background check.

6) If my wife's best friend is being stalked, I cannot lend her a firearm - even for a brief period of time while she is buying her own firearm - without the same background check and  waiting period required for a sale. 

7) They did not provide an exemption for gun shops - if I-594 passes, they would have to conduct a background check (and waiting period!) every time they allow a customer to hold and examine a firearm.

8) I-594 would make it illegal for a lawful gun owner to allow another person to hold and examine one of their firearms, under their direct supervision, in the owner's home.

9) Because hunter safety classes and firearms classes require the handling of firearms, I-594 would ban such classes for students 18 years of age or over - unless conducted at a licensed gun range.  This would effective end the vast majority of such classes.


Let's look at the actual text:

Bill text


"Transfer" means the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans.

First, notice that this whole paragraph has one purpose: The extension of background checks to situations other than sales.  Clearly proponents are lying about this being a "simple extension of background checks to private sales".  It is this extension of background checks into a completely new arena - not checks on actual sales - that gun rights advocates find so objectionable.

Second, notice that this section extends the background check requirement to any time a firearm is is handed to another person (delivered) - gifts and loans are mentioned, but note that the term "transfer" is specifically left as broad as possible.

Third, as we look at the limited number of exceptions, and the nature of them, it becomes abundantly clear that I-594 is intended to control the nearly every instance when a gun is handed to another person.

The Exceptions

The biggest problem with I-594 is that instead of specifically naming actions that are criminal - such as giving a firearm to a felon - the measure criminalizes ALL TRANSFERS, literally all handing of a firearm to another person - and then allows a few exceptions.  The problem with exception based systems is they always leave out common practices that lawful gun owners engage in - and I-594 is no exception.

(4) This section does not apply to:

This section contains all of the exceptions they provide - if it isn't exempted here, an I-594 background check is required.  Failure to do so is a gross misdemeanor the first time and a felony the second time.  Handing a gun to someone in a non-exempt situation would be a misdemeanor for both parties.  If the gun is handed back to the owner, that would be a felony for both parties.

(a) A transfer between immediate family members, which for this subsection shall be limited to spouses, domestic partners, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles, that is a bona fide gift;

Exemption (a) allows specified family members to give ownership of a firearm to other relatives.  What this section specifically does not exempt is any other transfer.  I can GIVE my adult daughter a gun for self defense, but I cannot lend her one.  I can give my adult son my .22 rifle - but if we are shooting tin cans in the woods, I cannot let him shoot it under my direct supervision.  How does this make any sense?

(b) The sale or transfer of an antique firearm;

Section (b) exempts transfers of firearms made prior to January 1, 1898.  Sounds great, until you realize what they chose not to exempt: Transfers of collectable firearms more than 50 years old to FEDERALLY LICENSED COLLECTORS.  Even California provides this exemption for long guns - but not I-594. 

(c) A temporary transfer of possession of a firearm if such transfer is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to the person to whom the firearm is transferred if:

(i) The temporary transfer only lasts as long as immediately necessary to prevent such imminent death or great bodily harm; and

(ii) The person to whom the firearm is transferred is not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law;

Section (c) exempts transfers to people in danger RIGHT NOW.  If my friends ex is battering down her door, I can lend her a gun.  If he has made very credible threats, a background check - and a waiting period - is still required. 

(d) Any law enforcement or corrections agency and, to the extent the person is acting within the course and scope of his or her employment or official duties, any law enforcement or corrections officer, United States marshal, member of the armed forces of the United States or the national guard, or federal official;

Section (d) exempts transfers between military and law enforcement ONLY WHILE ON DUTY.  If one police officer wants to sell a gun to another police officer I-594 specifically requires a background check.  That's just plain dumb - but it gets worse.  If a cop's personal, off duty firearm is broken, I-594 would require a background check and waiting period in order for him to borrow one from another cop.  Unbelieveable. 

(e) A federally licensed gunsmith who receives a firearm solely for the purposes of service or repair, or the return of the firearm to its owner by the federally licensed gunsmith;

Section (e) is one of the few sections that makes any sense - you can actually leave your firearm with a gunsmith and get it back without a background check.

(f) The temporary transfer of a firearm 

Section (f) specifically deals with temporary transfers.  The nature of the exemptions make it abundantly clear that I-594 background checks apply to any transfer, even if the owner is present and the gun never leaves their sight. 

(i) between spouses or domestic partners; 

Section (f)(i) allows temporary transfers between spouses.  Your husband or wife can borrow your gun for any lawful purpose.

(ii) if the temporary transfer occurs, and the firearm is kept at all times, at an established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located

Section (f)(ii) sounds great, until you realize that most target shooting doesn't take place at ranges.  If I set up a target range on my farm, I cannot let you shoot my gun.  If my family goes camping and we are legally shooting at a few tin cans, I cannot let my adult son or daughter shoot my guns.  The only exemption is for official ranges. 

(iii) if the temporary transfer occurs and the transferee's possession of the firearm is exclusively at a lawful organized competition involving the use of a firearm, or while participating in or practicing for a performance by an organized group that uses firearms as a part of the performance; 

Section (f)(iii) allows temporary transfers at organized competitions.  Ironically, if a competition is held in the same farm or forest in the above examples, the lending would be legal.

(iv) to a person who is under eighteen years of age for lawful hunting, sporting, or educational purposes while under the direct supervision and control of a responsible adult who is not prohibited from possessing firearms; or 

Section (f)(iv) allows me to allow any person under 18 use my firearms under my direct supervision, for the following purposes:

Lawful hunting

Target shooting
Education - such as hunter safety and gun safety classes

The authors of I-594 could have allowed such an exemption for adults, but they specifically chose not to do so.  One has to wonder why they didn't.  It would have eliminated many objections.  As written, I-594 allows hunter safety courses for minors - but not for adults.  Why not?  

(v) while hunting if the hunting is legal in all places where the person to whom the firearm is transferred possesses the firearm and the person to whom the firearm is transferred has completed all training and holds all licenses or permits required for such hunting, provided that any temporary transfer allowed by this subsection is permitted only if the person to whom the firearm is transferred is not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law; or

Section (f)(v) is the hunting exemption - and it is also quite deceptive.  Notice that it does not begin with "for the purpose of hunting" - instead it says, "while hunting".  This makes it clear that while I can loan a firearm to a member of a hunting party of which I am a member, I cannot loan anyone (except my spouse or domestic partner) a firearm to take on a hunting trip - or even give them a firearm before we are actively hunting.

So, just as gun rights advocates claimed - it would be illegal to lend your adult son or daughter a rifle to go take hunting.

(g) A person who 

(i) acquired a firearm other than a pistol by operation of law upon the death of the former owner of the firearm or 

(ii) acquired a pistol by operation of law upon the death of the former owner of the pistol within the preceding sixty days. At the end of the sixty-day period, the person must either have lawfully transferred the pistol or must have contacted the department of licensing to notify the department that he or she has possession of the pistol and intends to retain possession of the pistol, in compliance with all federal and state laws.

Section (g) deals with matters such as inheritance.

Those are all of the exemptions - any time a firearm is handed to another person, under I-594 a background check is required.  Some of the situations they did not exempt are absolutely absurd.

They did not provide an exemption for gun shops - if I-594 passes, they would have to conduct a background check every time they allow a customer to hold and examine a firearm.  How is that going to work?  Here's the gun, you can look at it, you can even touch it, but you cannot hold it until you buy it and we do the background check?

They did not provide an exception for showing a firearm in the privacy of your home, under your direct supervision.  In other words, if I open my gun safe and hand you a safety checked firearm for you to examine and you hand it back, we have both committed felonies.

So if you have read this, you now know that it is the 1%ers pushing I-594 who are lying - not gun rights advocates.  PLEASE vote no on I-594 it is not what they say it is.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

If You Care About Your Rights - Read This Post!

No Matter Where You Live - This Is Important
If They Win In Washington State, This Law Will Come To Your State Too
They Must Be Stopped NOW

Take Action

I have posted about the dangers of Washington Initiative 594 before, but I think it is so important that I am writing this update.  First, kudos to the NRA for producing this video:

Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates are spending MILLIONS on TV ads that are filled with outright, downright LIES.  In fact, in several cases, they cross the line into slander of specific gun related businesses.

Lie Number One: The ads sell this as a background check bill on SALES - this is an outright lie - the measure requires a background check every time a gun is handed to another person, with a few very narrow exceptions.

Lie Number Two: The ads suggest that the bill simply extends the federal background check system to private sales.  This is false - it creates a completely new state system that in addition to applying in many more situations, imposes a 30 day waiting period nearly identical to a 10 day waiting period in California that a federal court recently found unconstitutional.

Lie Number Three: None of the ads mention that, unlike the federal system, all information regarding the background checks on handguns - including the name of the person and the make, model and serial number of the firearm are retained FOREVER.

Lie Number Four: The commercials state that if a criminal is turned down by a dealer, he can go on the internet (the site is shown) and buy a gun "no questions asked" - the truth is that, unless the buyer has a Federal Firearms License, the gun must be shipped to a licensed dealer in the buyer's area who - under current law - must conduct a background check.  (See this link and note the requirement in the last paragraph.)

Lie Number Five: Both the ads and the official website for I-594 promote the idea that there is widespread law enforcement support for I-594.  The truth is that, while some law enforcement officials support expanded back checks, law enforcement support for I-594 in virtually non-existent.  The truth is that while not one law enforcement organization supports I-594 and the largest law enforcement organization in the state, the Washington Association of Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS) strongly opposes I-594.

Lie Number Six: I-594 is supposed to be about background checks on sales - but it actually criminalizes many common recreational shooting activities.  Here are some examples of what I-594 will 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, the instructor and every student has committed multiple felonies. 

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.   If I-594 passes, 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.  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!

Don't believe me?  No problem - here is what the independent site BallotPedia says I-594 will do "The measure will also criminalize, with few exceptions, all temporary transfers of possession of firearms that do not involve purchases, such as for safekeeping, hunting, loan, recreational sharing, safety training, coaching, transport, etc."

Will These Checks Be Available?  How Much Will They Cost?

This is a very important question.  I live in California - where we have universal background checks.  However there are some important differences.  In addition to only being required on SALES, here in California all licensed gun dealers are required to conduct checks on private sales.  The price is fixed at $35.00.  I also believe that liability protection is provided.  NONE OF THESE PROVISIONS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN I-594!

Let's think about this for a moment.  Are we to believe that the lawyers hired by Bloomberg and Gates did not review laws in others states before drafting 594?  Not likely.  The authors of 594 knew full well that other states requiring background checks inserted these provisions to make sure background checks were available, and that the price was reasonable.  I-594's authors intentionally omitted these provisions - and there can be only one reason: They do not what background checks to be readily available at reasonable cost.

So, what will happen if 594 passes?  Answer: Gun dealers will have little to no incentive to do checks.  After all, private sales of used guns compete with sales by dealers.  Additionally, why should dealers assume the liability risk for a few dollars?  The result will be most dealers refusing to do the checks and those that do charging huge fees.  Don't believe me?  Remember those $35.00 checks here in California?  Well, that limit only applies to "face to face" sales where buyer and seller meet at the gun dealer's place of business to do the transfer.  There is no limit when doing the check on internet sales - and the dealers who are willing to do these checks often charge $100.00 or more for the service.

Even when addressing these issues, I-594 respond with more lies and half truths!


The above graphic contains two outright lies:

1) I-594 requires that a record of all handgun transfers be maintained, including a description of the firearm and the owner.  It's not called a registry - but that is exactly what it is. 

2) I-594 does not simply "expand current background checks to private gun show and online sales" - it requires them on all private sales AND completely redefines what a transfer is - and as the Ballotpedia confirms, it makes many common activities related to firearms illegal.

The above graphic is also extremely deceptive.  While it is true that I-594 doesn't change hunting laws IT DOES CHANGE GUN LAWS!  Remember what the independent organization Ballotpedia found:"The measure will also criminalize, with few exceptions, all temporary transfers of possession of firearms that do not involve purchases, such as for safekeeping, hunting, loan, recreational sharing, safety training, coaching, transport, etc."

While I-594 doesn't ban the lending of firearms, it makes it virtually and practically impossible.  Here's what I-594 requires:

When the gun is lent by the owner to the borrower (even adult family members living in the same household!) the firearm must be transported to the dealer, state and federal background checks must be done and the firearm must be held for 30 days before the borrower can pick it up.  Of course the dealer can charge whatever they want for this service and here in California dealers charge as much as $100.00 when their fees are not controlled by state law, which they are not under I-594.

When the borrower returns the gun to to owner the gun must go back to the dealer, the original owner must complete state and federal background checks, the dealer must hold the gun for 30 days before the owner can pick it up - and that hefty fee must be paid again.

Now, with as much as $200.00 in fees and 60 days of having the gun at the dealer, just how practical will lending someone a gun for a hunting trip be?  Answer: It just won't happen.

Remember The Billionaires Pushing 594 Are Outspending Us Five to One 
So Kick In A Few Bucks!

I-591 Will Nullify I-594 if Both Pass

The Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) - which is based in Washington state - is taking a unique approach. While they are urging a no vote on I-594 they qualified another measure which would nullify most, if not all, of the horrible provisions of I-594.   Basically, I-591 says that if Washington adopts a background check system, it must use the same federal system most other states use.  It does not stop expanded background checks, but it does limit the kind of deceptive and oppressive provisions found in I-594.

The best way for those of us who are outside of Washington to help is to donate to CCRKBA's Washington Gun Rights effort.  REMEMBER THAT IF THEY WIN IN WASHINGTON, BLOOMBERG WILL BE BRINGING THIS LAW TO YOUR STATE.  WE NEED TO STOP HIM NOW.

The NRA Is Leading The No On 594 Campaign

The NRA's No on I-594 site has lots of resources.  If you know anyone in Washington state, point them to this site:

The site has things like an excellent, printable pocket guide, links to news stories, blog posts, and an excellent Myths vs. Facts section.