H.R. 8 won’t stop school shootings

Richard Hudson represents North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District

We all share the same goal to end gun violence in this country. But in the course of this debate, House Democrats say they want to “do something” to end gun violence and anyone who disagrees with their policies doesn’t care. That’s simply not true.

I know that in my heart that folks on both sides of the aisle care about the victims of gun violence and the children in this country.

It’s a shame that in their rush to “do something”– anything – Democrats have made this critical debate a partisan show. Last week, my Democrat colleagues rushed to pass two partisan pieces of legislation that would have done nothing to stop some of the most prominent mass shootings in recent memory.

H.R. 8 would not have stopped Newtown.
H.R. 8 would not have stopped Parkland.
It would not have stopped Las Vegas, or Sutherland Springs, or San Bernardino or many other tragedies.
But the proponents of gun control don’t want you to judge them based on outcomes; they want you to judge them based on intentions.

Instead of working together to do something and pass common sense solutions that can actually help prevent tragedies—like supporting local law enforcement, ensuring laws and protocols are followed, improving mental health and implementing my concealed carry reciprocity—gun control proponents are targeting law-abiding citizens.

In their efforts to pass the so-called “universal background checks” bill last week, House Democrats failed to mention every single commercial gun sale in the United States already has a background check. This bill, H.R. 8, would mean you have to do a background check every time you lend a shotgun to a buddy when you go dove hunting, take a friend shooting and let them handle your weapon, or if you were to lend a handgun to a neighbor who had an abusive ex and they wanted to borrow it for self-protection.

If this legislation became law, any of these acts would be a criminal offense. Meanwhile, criminals are going to continue to get their firearms – whether it’s through theft, or the black market, or on the street.

We owe it to the American people to look past the intention and the emotion and focus like a laser on outcomes. What can we do to actually end gun violence once and for all? This problem is too severe, too far reaching, and too dangerous for us to sit idly by and have votes just for show on legislation that’s not going to accomplish anything.

That’s why House Republicans have passed meaningful reforms over the past four years such as strengthening the background check system – which would have prevented Sutherland Springs; improving mental health care – which could have prevented many of these shootings such as Newtown, and Charleston, and Parkland; and giving schools the tools they need to protect students. All these bills received bipartisan support in the last Congress.

Like you, I pray for the day when we will no longer see headlines of mass shootings. Congress needs to work together to solve this problem and not just “do something,” but do something that will actually make a difference. I will continue to work with anyone to end gun violence while also protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens – and I reject the false dilemma that we can’t do both.

Responsible gun owners shouldn’t be penalized

In a few weeks, Pittsburgh’s City Council will vote on a series of controversial gun control bills.

The bills would, among several other reforms, make it illegal to own assault weapons within the city limits.
The bill with the specific focus on assault weapons expands upon its previous definition to include certain types of pistols and shotguns, among many other guns listed (because we all know how big of a problem assault pistols are).

These bills and their collective content come as a surprise for Pittsburgh, a city where gun violence decreased by 55 percent from 2017 to 2018 and consequently hit a 12-year low, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Next, Pittsburgh further explains the surprising nature of these bills in an article, writing that they “do not address the sale of traditional handguns, which are responsible for 81 percent of gun homicides in Pennsylvania.”

Nonetheless, both the mayor and the governor have given their support for this set of bills to combat crime and domestic terrorism.

However, these bills aimed at wrongdoers have one major flaw that the Democrats backing it either do not understand or do not care about: They unjustifiably target responsible gun owners.

When wrongdoers are the ones acting wrongly, hence the name “wrongdoers,” why would responsible gun owners who simply wish to protect themselves or their families be punished?

All arguments for gun control dwell on those who commit crimes, yet the common law-abiding citizen never receives an ounce of care from the Democrats on this issue.

For gun reform, which many brand as “common sense,” this adverse effect seems entirely nonsensical. But the idea of unjustifiably making the whole team run is a staple of the Democrats’ current stance on gun ownership.

A great example is the AR-15. They are remarkably more accurate than any handgun and generally easy to operate, making them excellent in a situation where someone is directly threatening your family and/or property.

However, because there are evil persons out there who abuse this rifle, Washington’s best and brightest currently wish to punish responsible owners rather than focus their full attention on preventing evil persons from getting their hands on such weapons.

Again, “common sense” gun reform appears to be increasingly nonsensical and intellectually lazy in reality.

Policies that limit the rights of responsible gun owners because of abuse by a select few can only be explained through a lack of trust in freedom itself.

Bryce Dunio

Gun buybacks don’t work, Baltimore

When the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) announced its December gun buyback program, some Baltimore residents surely cheered with great enthusiasm at the opportunity to exchange their firearms and high-capacity magazines for cash. Others, however, likely saw an opportunity to lawfully game the system at the taxpayer’s expense.

Here’s how.

According to the BPD, any Baltimore City resident in possession of a firearm or high-capacity magazine was eligible to participate in December’s buyback program. But the program’s buyback offerings were ripe for abuse — and indeed, it is likely that some will be again if the city fails to learn from its obvious mistake.

At issue is the BPD’s offer to pay out $25 to any city resident who brings in a high-capacity magazine. For believers in gun buyback programs, that exchange rate probably sounded reasonable, if not encouraging. Regardless, a quick search shows that many high-capacity magazines can be purchased for just $9 to $15 online. See what is wrong here? Anyone looking for a quick payday need not look any further; the City of Baltimore was apparently ready and eager to double their money at the taxpayer’s expense. Just show up, drop off your goods, collect your cash and be on your way. It was that easy.

Supporters of the buyback program might argue that BPD limited payouts to just two high-capacity magazines per person. But someone interested in leveraging loopholes within the system — of which there were many — would have been quick to offer any kid on the street a quick buck to take their high-capacity magazine and exchange it on their behalf. Many in the pro-gun control movement have practically raised arms themselves over straw purchases in which criminals barred from buying firearms pay others to buy them on their behalf. Well, in this case, BPD was unknowingly incentivizing “straw returns” that may have helped line the pockets of anyone conniving enough to take advantage of the city’s oversight. The math was simple. This policy just did not add up.

While we are at it, before the buyback was over, there were already reports of at least one Baltimore City resident publicly boasting that she intended to take the money BPD offered for her 9mm handgun to buy what one shocked reporter described as “a bigger weapon!” Surely, if BPD’s objective was to get more guns off the streets of Baltimore, offering $200 for what is practically the down payment on someone’s next firearm is hardly the way to go at it. And yet, here we are.

Stricter gun laws did not prevent California shooting

By Alan Gottlieb

Another mass shooting that cost the lives of a dozen people, including a heroic sheriff’s sergeant, has immediately brought demands for stricter gun control laws, but since the Thousand Oaks outrage happened in California—a state with some of the strictest laws already—just what more does anyone think should be done?

California has incrementally enacted increasingly restrictive gun laws over the past several years. How many of those laws were violated by the murderer? Even the ones he obeyed did not prevent the tragedy. He reportedly purchased the .45-caliber Glock pistol legally in Ventura County. To do that, he had to pass California’s restrictive background check and endure the state’s waiting period.

Bars are gun-free zones. The pistol reportedly had an extended magazine banned for sale. Unless the suspect had a carry permit, he was illegally armed. It’s against the law to shoot people.

If anyone seriously believes one more restrictive law would have prevented this tragedy, they may be delusional. But already, Congressional Democrats now looking ahead to controlling the House of Representatives are promising a new raft of restrictions that will only have a chilling effect on honest people who want to exercise their rights.

It’s time for the proponents of so-called “common sense gun laws” to drop the charade and admit that what they really want is to ban privately-owned firearms. But that troublesome Second Amendment—incorporated to the states via the 14th Amendment by the Second Amendment Foundation’s successful Supreme Court McDonald decision—won’t allow that.

Instead, gun prohibitionists including those writing newspaper editorials simply want to nullify the Second Amendment by regulation. They want to punish people who didn’t commit a crime since the actual perpetrator, who took his own life, proved that all of their previously passed restrictions have been abject failures, a fact they don’t care to admit.

Instead of criminalizing a constitutional right, focus on punishing criminals.

I-1639 is a bad law that attacks our rights

It’s not just a ‘bad’ law, it’s completely antithetical to the founder’s deep concerns about a ‘tyranny of the majority’ that could override fundamental rights on a whim. The right to keep and bear arms was considered so essential that it was included in a Bill of Rights that were considered sacrosanct from the vicissitudes of the mob.

If you value your civil rights, then please vote no on I-1639.

I-1639 is an attack on every person who values their constitutionally guaranteed rights – it taxes the right to own common firearms and illegally seizes rifles already owned by 18-to-20-year-old adults, who are responsible enough to serve in foreign wars and defend America with government issued weapons.

It is the worst kind of law aimed at our most law-abiding citizens, who have already undergone background checks. And it targets the victims of burglary with criminal charges if the thief uses a stolen firearm in a crime.

I-1639 is only on the ballot because its supporters have misled the public by stating that it is about “assault rifles.” It does not regulate assault rifles, instead it names every semi-auto rifle made since 1900, including small .22-caliber plinking rifles and regulates these common recreational, hunting and self-defense firearms.

Law enforcement opposes it because it is a bad law. The Washington State Sheriffs’ Association, the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs and the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association have all taken positions against I-1639.

I-1639 does nothing to improve school safety, does not deal with criminals who use firearms and has no public safety value. This is not assault weapon regulation, it is an assault on the good citizens of Washington. This really is nothing less than another attack on the Second Amendment.

If we allow them to destroy the Second Amendment, which constitutional right will be next to go? Please, vote no on I-1639.

– Brent Benson

 

Gun initiative: Big flaws buried in small print

The front of petitions for Initiative 1639 headlined raising age limits and increasing background checks for purchases of semiautomatic assault rifles, which have merit

Intentionally hidden in small print on the back (ignored by signature gatherers) and included in the voters pamphlet are many open-ended requirements (i.e. senseless training and warning requirements, prosecution for unauthorized use and access to your guns, purchase fees for initiative implementation), resulting in the initiative containing multiple subjects, compromising its legality.

The collateral damage most of these requirements will have on law-abiding citizens will be horrendous while having little effect on the behavior of criminals and persons who are already ineligible to possess firearms (i.e. ex-felons illegally possessing firearms after multiple convictions.)

Unincorporated Pierce County residents have sparse police presence and extremely inadequate response times. Their guns tend to be treated like fire extinguishers— loaded,safely stored and easily accessible for emergent use, but never locked up.

I-1639 will criminalize self-defense for these people.

 

Vote no on I-1639: Don’t criminalize self-defense

The Washington State Sheriffs Association, Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs, Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association and the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association are all opposed to Initiative 1639.

Don’t underestimate the importance of having all these law-enforcement groups that serve and protect actively working against this initiative disguised as “gun safety.” It won’t make schools or communities safer, but it will treat more than a million gun owners like criminals.

Law-enforcement professionals recognize the extreme nature of I-1639. Not only does the initiative discriminate against gun owners, it classifies common recreational firearms as semiautomatic assault rifles and requires gun buyers to surrender their medical privacy in order to exercise a constitutionally-protected right.
I-1639 is not about so-called “assault weapons.” I-1639 targets all semi-automatic rifles, including commonly owned rifles used for self-defense, home protection, hunting and target shooting.

I-1639 places Washingtonians at risk by restricting access to firearms for lawful self-defense while doing nothing to increase security in schools or target violent criminals.

The strict mandated requirement of this initiative will force individuals to lock up their firearms and render them useless in a self-defense situation, or face criminal prosecution.

It goes even further to state that if an offender does break into your house, and they steal your unsecured firearm, you may be held liable for the criminal’s actions, victimizing you twice — once by the criminal and again by the state.

This initiative would also prohibit all of Washington’s law-abiding adults aged 18 to 20 from exercising their constitutional right to self-defense. Current law already restricts them from purchasing handguns, and Initiative 1639 would restrict them from rifles as well, even though rifles are very rarely used to commit crimes.

In fact, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2017, Washington state recorded only a single confirmed homicide involving a rifle.

Nationally, rifles of any kind are involved in 2 to 3 percent of all murders, and Washington state experiences fewer homicides than single cities like Chicago, Baltimore or Washington, D.C., which have harsher restrictions on the constitutional and civil rights of individuals to keep and bear arms.

Washington’s law-abiding adults aged 18-20 are legally responsible enough to vote, get married, purchase a home, sign a contract and serve in our military. Yet I-1639’s proponents want you to believe these same adults cannot be trusted to defend themselves or their families and are attempting to use the crimes of a few as a justification to curtail the rights of many.

Washington deserves real solutions to keep our communities safe, solutions that will rightly target criminals, not you, your family and your law-abiding neighbors.

 

Permission to exercise rights?

I read with interest David Snow’s letter wherein he expressed support for citizens having to justify to government their need for a firearm, and then obtain permission, prior to exercising their Second Amendment rights. Would Mr. Snow similarly support a requirement that he justify a need, and obtain government permission prior to exercising his First Amendment rights, by writing a letter to your paper? Somehow I doubt it.

Glen Koontz

Berryville

Chris Wagoner: Self-defense law is misunderstood

Just me, but I would say purposefully because that those opposed to self-defense want to make it misunderstood.

In response to The Sun’s July 25 editorial, “Florida law encourages shootings,” some education and clarification are needed on the history and use of Florida’s misnamed “stand your ground” law and the term “castle doctrine.”

How did Florida’s “Justifiable Use of Force” law, Chapter 776 in state statutes, become known as the “stand your ground” law? Why if those words do not appear in the statute do we keep hearing it referred to as that?

You must go back to when the law was being debated on the floor of the Legislature prior to being passed. Prior to 2005, Florida residents already had the right to use deadly force to defend themselves, but they had to prove they could not have escaped the threat.

Basically, they were required to try and run away, or be cornered and not able to, before they could use deadly force to defend their own lives. It was terrible way to live, putting people at the mercy of violent criminals.

In a 2005 Washington Post article, Rep. Dan Gelber said “It’s almost like a duel clause” and “People ought to have to walk away if they can” — meaning that if you did not retreat from a threat, you cannot use force to defend your life.

The press needed something to call the law that had negative connotations and figured that something uttered by an opponent to the law at the time was a good choice. It makes the law sound like as a “dueling” law, when it is nothing of the sort.

In a 2005 article, CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen said, “It says to people: You can stand your ground and if you feel reasonably threatened that harm is going to come to you, you can fire away.”

This is the first reference to “stand your ground” that can be found in the media. The term caught on and the bill and law were forever after referred to by those who are anti-self-defense rights as the Florida “stand your ground law,” even though the words in the bill’s text are “stand his or her ground” and only a small part of the statute.

The term “stand your ground” is a huge disservice to a statute that allows a person to defend themselves, wherever they have a legal right to be, without having to flee first or try to flee. There are several parts to the law and the ability to defend yourself is not bound by location and should not be.

The term “castle doctrine” describes the ability to defend your home (and, in Florida, your vehicle or other places you are residing or occupying). Several studies try and show that the original reference to “castle” refers to English common law rules protecting a person’s home and the phrase “one’s home is one’s castle.”

It is also reported the actual coining of the phrase “castle doctrine” to refer to Florida’s and now other states’ similar laws came from none other than our very own Second Amendment rights supporter, Marion Hammer! The Washington Post article I used above for some quotes also states that the Florida bill was given the name the “castle doctrine” by Hammer, a lobbyist and former National Rifle Association president.

But in researching the actual 2005 bill that was submitted we find that the drafters of the bill wrote the following in the preamble of the bill: “WHEREAS, the castle doctrine is a common-law doctrine of ancient origins which declares that a person’s home is his or her castle, and …” so in reality the first reference to it being called the “castle doctrine” law was written in the preamble of the law itself.

What has happened is that the law repeatedly being called these terms has diluted the true meaning and understanding of the law by the public. They have no clue what the law really says or actually means. They now believe the media’s portrayal of the law and have never even bothered to read the law.

Maybe now people might want to understand where those terms come from and learn more about the law that allows them to defend themselves and not have to flee criminals. This is a basic human right that should not even have to be written into law, but as humans we have a tendency to do just that — to write down common sense to make sure those without it can read it.

Chris Wagoner is a law enforcement trainer and firearms instructor who lives in Gainesville.

Johnston: Second Amendment protections make us safer

Last Thursday, Kansas lawmakers passed a bill that would allow 18 year olds to carry a concealed weapon….

It has been over a year since concealed carry was implemented on KU’s campus and it’s safe to say the hysteria surrounding the change in policy was significantly overblown. There have been no incidents of brandishing, accidental discharge, or shootings like many concerned students had feared. In fact, there has been a 13 percent decrease in total crimes at the University, and zero weapons violations since campus carry became law in July 2017.

While these effects aren’t necessarily a consequence of the new firearm policy, it is important to note that crime hasn’t increased in frequency since after the implementation of the policy. It’s time to admit that the vast majority of legal gun owners, especially those who choose to carry a firearm during their daily lives, are safe, responsible citizens. This, combined with Tuesday’s decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the right to openly carry a firearm, shows that gun rights are expanding in the U.S., and this is arguably a net benefit to those in society who may otherwise be easier targets for criminals.

The decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was in response to the state of Hawaii denying an open carry permit to a man who otherwise had nothing legally prohibiting him from owning and carrying a firearm. The 2-1 decision was made based on the clear reading interpretation of the Second Amendment that it protects a “right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.” This combined with past court decisions such as the U.S. Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, which outlined a clear right to own a gun for non-militia purposes, provide a solid judicial footing for the solidification of gun rights in America.

In other words, the Second Amendment doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

While this may seem scary to many, this is actually a great thing for the expansion of freedom, and the increase of safety in our nation. This is because firearms are one of the greatest equalizers of power disparities in the world. Groups that can often be at a physical disadvantage when confronted by violent criminals including women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, can all benefit from firearm ownership.

Let’s face it, if a violent male criminal tries to attack a female college student on their way back from the library, an old man waiting for the bus, or someone in a wheelchair just minding their own business, they are more than likely going to have the upper hand as a matter of physical strength. It is in these circumstances that access to firearms becomes a beneficial freedom to have. When it is brawn vs. brawn, there will always be someone who is larger, stronger, and meaner, who is willing to do harm to get what they want. Firearms have the ability to give the victim the edge they need, or to at least level the playing field.

It would be nice if nobody in the U.S. needed to own a weapon; if we lived in such a peaceful and crime-free world that we could leave our doors unlocked at night and not worry. Unfortunately, with more than 300 million guns in circulation in the U.S., and the fact that a crime-free society is wishful thinking, it is important that people have the option to own and carry firearms for protection if they so choose.

The policy in Kansas as well as recent court decisions, are affirming those options. If we truly want a society that is safer, we shouldn’t be focusing on the impossible routes of getting rid of all guns or putting barriers to access in place. Instead, we should focus on gun safety and training, so we can reduce gun accidents while retaining the freedom of millions of Americans to make their own choice regarding their personal safety.

NWA Letters to the Editor

Liberal left show they are intolerant ones

The left shows their true colors again. This time the hatred and bigotry is poured out upon Sarah Sanders.

For those who may not know, she is the president’s press secretary. Ms. Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant due to her affiliation with President Trump. Restaurant staffers felt it went against their beliefs and convictions to serve Ms. Sanders. They asked her to leave. All accounts indicate she politely got up and left. Many on the left have applauded the restaurant for standing up for their convictions.

But wait a minute. Something is wrong with this picture. A baker in Colorado refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The baker felt that making such a cake was against his religious convictions. Those on the left thought this was an atrocity at the highest level. The Colorado baker was not entitled to his convictions because they went against those of the left and he was labeled a “hater” and “bigot” for his beliefs. In comes the legal arm of the left, the ACLU. A discrimination suit is filed. The case goes all the way to the Supreme Court, where thankfully, the baker was not deemed to be at fault.

I have always said those on the left encourage and welcome free speech with one caveat. That being, the speech and actions must be in line with their left-leaning political bent. I’m guessing Sarah Sanders will not sue the restaurant. I’m pretty sure the ACLU will not come riding in with both barrels blazing. Oh, that’s right they’re not too crazy about the Second Amendment, either.

This country is truly at a crossroads. We stand the risk of the liberals and their misguided ideas of acceptance for any and all deviant behavior, their total disregard for social norms, and their lack of belief in any higher power than themselves, to “win the day” and head this country in the wrong direction.

Change happens at the ballot box. Think carefully before you place your “x.”

Bill Wyer

Bella Vista

 

BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD GUY WITH A GUN

The best defense is a good guy with a gun

Recently there have been a number of local news articles about preparedness for a potential shooter attack. A letter to the editor in the Newport Miner in February demanded that something be done about mass shootings, and complained about Congresswoman McMorris-Rodgers auctioning off an AR-15. School boards are questioning whether, with our current media climate, we should have gun shows at our schools. During Havoc on Campus Day in Newport, emergency management teams were given a training for different school shooting scenarios, specifically one with a disgruntled student shooting a shotgun and other weapons at students and staff in the cafeteria. And 10 agencies came together in Sandpoint to train for an active shooter scenario.

But no one mentions the elephant in the room. Mass shootings only happen in “gun free zones.” The media never reports on the mass shootings that were averted because one armed resource officer or responsible passer-by took out the shooter before he/she could do any damage, as happened recently in Maryland and Illinois. How long did it take for the various responders in the Newport exercise to make it to the scene of the crime? How many fewer beds would Newport Hospital have had to utilize if a few, anonymous, qualified teachers or staff had been armed? Was that even a scenario that was considered in the preparedness exercises?

Idaho, at least, has passed a bill allowing certain qualified people to carry concealed at its schools. Why have we not put that into effect to protect our students? Are we afraid of being politically incorrect, at the expense of our kids? Our Second Amendment rights are in place to protect us from mass shooters, and businesses that claim to be “gun free” might as well have a sign on the door that says, “Come in here, shoot us! We’re unprotected.” A CDC study reported that defensive gun usage prevents crimes 2.2 million times per year. Statistics repeatedly prove that in cities like Chicago and Washington DC, which restrict Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, and countries like Australia and the EU where guns have been outlawed, crime goes up. As the saying goes, “The best defense against a bad man with a gun, is a good man with a gun.” Let’s try that scenario in our nation’s schools, and see how it works.

ANNE WILDER CHAMBERLAIN

Priest River