Thursday, April 8, 2021 :: By Alexandra Jaffe, Aamer Madhani and Michael Balsamo, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden, in his first gun control measures since taking office, announced a half-dozen executive actions Thursday aimed at addressing a proliferation of gun violence across the nation that he called an “epidemic and an international embarrassment.”
“It is actually a public health crisis,” Biden said during remarks at the White House.
Greeting the families of gun violence victims and activists, he assured them: “We’re absolutely determined to make change.”
His Thursday announcement delivers on a pledge Biden made last month to take what he termed immediate “common-sense steps” to address gun violence, after a series of mass shootings drew renewed attention to the issue. His announcement came the same day as yet another shooting, this one in South Carolina, where five people were killed.
But Thursday’s announcement underscores the limitations of Biden’s executive power to act on guns. They include moves to tighten regulations on homemade guns and provide more resources for gun-violence prevention, but fall far short of the sweeping gun-control agenda Biden laid out on the campaign trail.
Indeed, the White House has repeatedly emphasized the need for legislative action to tackle the issue. But while the House passed a background-check bill last month, gun control measures face slim prospects in an evenly divided Senate, where Republicans remain near-unified against most proposals.
Biden is tightening regulations of buyers of “ghost guns” – homemade firearms that usually are assembled from parts and milled with a metal-cutting machine and often lack serial numbers used to trace them. It’s legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop and there is no federal requirement for a background check. The goal is to “help stop the proliferation of these firearms,” according to the White House.
The Justice Department will issue a proposed rule aimed at reining in ghost guns within 30 days, though details of the rule weren’t immediately issued.
A second proposed rule, expected within 60 days, will tighten regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces, like the one used by the Boulder, Colorado, shooter in a rampage last month that left 10 dead. The rule will designate pistols used with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles, which require a federal license to own and are subject to a more thorough application process and a $200 tax.
The department also is publishing model legislation within 60 days that is intended to make it easier for states to adopt their own “red flag” laws. Such laws allow for individuals to petition a court to allow the police to confiscate weapons from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
The department also will begin to provide more data on firearms trafficking, starting with a new comprehensive report on the issue. The administration says that hasn’t been done in more than two decades.
Biden is also nominating David Chipman, a former federal agent and adviser at the gun control group Giffords, to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The Biden administration will also make investments in community violence intervention programs, which are aimed at reducing gun violence in urban communities, across five federal agencies.
Officials said the executive actions were “initial steps” completed during Garland’s first weeks on the job and more may be coming.
The ATF is currently run by an acting director, Regina Lombardo. Gun-control advocates have emphasized the significance of this position in enforcing gun laws, and Chipman is certain to win praise from this group. During his time as a senior policy adviser with Giffords, he spent considerable effort pushing for greater regulation and enforcement on ghost guns, changes to the background check system and measures to reduce the trafficking of illegal firearms.
Chipman spent 25 years as an agent at the ATF, where he worked on stopping a trafficking ring that sent illegal firearms from Virginia to New York, and served on the ATF’s SWAT team. Chipman is a gun owner.
He is an explosives expert and was among the team involved in investigating the Oklahoma City bombing and the first World Trade Center bombing. He also was involved in investigating a series of church bombings in Alabama in the 1990s. He retired from the ATF in 2012.
During his campaign, Biden promised to prioritize new gun control measures as president, including enacting universal background check legislation, banning online sales of firearms and the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But gun-control advocates have said that while they were heartened by signs from the White House that they took the issue seriously, they’ve been disappointed by the lack of early action.
With the announcement of the new measures, however, advocates lauded Biden’s first moves to combat gun violence.
“Each of these executive actions will start to address the epidemic of gun violence that has raged throughout the pandemic, and begin to make good on President Biden’s promise to be the strongest gun safety president in history,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.
Anti-gun Senators and Mayors Push Biden on Executive Gun Controls
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd speaks on Joe Biden’s gun control proposal.
Anti-gun Senators and Mayors Push Biden on Executive Gun Controls
NRA-ILA :: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2021
Following a year filled with the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread civil unrest, Americans are in no rush to enact further gun controls. According to data from a January Gallup poll, 42 percent of Americans are satisfied with the current gun control laws. The poll also found that 9 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with current firearms laws, but want them to be made less strict. Therefore, according to the survey, a majority of Americans (51 percent) either want gun control laws to remain the same or to be made less restrictive.
Sensing a dearth of popular support for their gun control schemes, anti-gun politicians are urging President Joe Biden to act unilaterally to restrict firearms. This week, a group of 12 Senate Democrats led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Biden that urged the president to nominate a permanent director to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and empower them to enact a raft of executive gun control measures. In a similar vein, a group of big-city mayors that included Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot penned a CNN opinion piece that called on the president to attack gun rights through executive action.
According to the Senators’ letter, “the next Director of the ATF must be committed to enacting policies that will allow the agency to fulfill its mission to protect communities and combat gun violence.” According to the group, in order to do this the next director must adopt the following priorities:
1. Implement regulations to stop the proliferation of ghost guns.
2. Issue a new regulation clarifying which gun sellers must get dealer licenses and run
3. Modernize, strengthen, and prioritize oversight of the gun industry.
4. Ensure public transparency by disseminating robust statistical data.
5. Update critical reports and develop new ways to affirmatively share information about
gun trafficking and the source of crime guns.
6. Require FFLs to notify the Department of Justice every time they complete a gun sale
where a background check has been initiated but not completed to ensure the
prioritization of completing background checks where a sale has been made.
Some of the items are vague, but others directly correspond to policies that have repeatedly been rejected by the American public through their elected representatives.
The first item on the anti-gun senators’ wish list would restrict Americans’ right to make their own firearms for personal use by further regulating unfinished frames and receivers.
Concerning these items, the current federal statute and regulations are clear. Federal law defines a “firearm” to include “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive” and “the frame or receiver of any such weapon.” In the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), “firearm frame or receiver” is further defined as “That part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel.”
In order to target unfinished frames and receivers, ATF would likely attempt to broaden the definition of “firearm frame or receiver” in the CFR. Such a change is inadvisable and would at the very least require a formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act.
By targeting the materials Americans use to make their own firearms, ATF would be striking at the core of the Second Amendment right in a manner that has no basis in the text, history, and tradition of the right. Since long before the founding, Americans have enjoyed the right to make their own firearms for personal use without government interference.
(A) except a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer, to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or in the course of such business to ship, transport, or receive any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce; or
Therefore, a person may not “engage in the business” of dealing firearms without a Federal Firearms License. Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), of course, are required to consult the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before transferring a firearm to a non-dealer.
The term “engaged in the business,” as it pertains to firearms dealers, is defined by statute (18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(21)) as,
a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms;
Notice that the language does not contain a specific number of firearm sales or transfers that triggers the definition of “engaged in the business.” The language in the definition was carefully crafted to exempt individuals selling and trading firearms in and out of their private collections, no matter the frequency or volume. Rather, it is when a person sells firearms “as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit” that a person must obtain Federal Firearms License.
Enacting this statutory definition of “engaged in the business” was a key component of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986. Prior to FOPA, ATF had targeted private individuals at gun shows who sold a few firearms out of their private collections on multiple occasions.
In the end, the Obama administration correctly determined that they did not have the authority to limit the private transfer of firearms by executive fiat. Instead, the administration issued a 15-page guidance document that summarized existing law concerning firearms dealing.
Though vague, wish list items four and five appear targeted at the Tiahrt Amendment. This important piece of legislation restricts the dissemination of certain law enforcement data on firearms traces. Prior to the Tiahrt Amendment, the often-misleading data had been abused by gun control advocates to push gun control measures and attack the firearms industry.
Further, the release of this sensitive data had the potential to imperial law enforcement officers. Writing in support of the Tiahrt Amendment, the National President of the Fraternal Order of Police explained “releasing sensitive information about pending cases can jeopardize the integrity of an investigation or even place the lives of undercover officers in danger.” Though the amendment restricts the dissemination of trace data, it does ensure law enforcement can access this information for legitimate investigative purposes.
Item six is an attempt to undermine the NICS’s three-day safety-valve provision by intimidating FFLs into not transferring a firearm even when they are permitted by law to do so.
Under federal law, if a NICS check is delayed for further research and the FBI’s NICS section is unable to determine that the prospective firearm transferee is prohibited from possessing firearms under federal or state law three business days after the check was initiated by a firearms dealer, the firearms transfer may proceed at the dealer’s option. This provision encourages the FBI to conduct NICS checks in an efficient manner and prevents the government from arbitrarily denying an individual their Second Amendment rights through an indefinite delay. According to the 2019 NICS Operations Report only 70 percent of NICS checks that year resulted in an “instant determination,” with the remaining 30 percent requiring some analysis or additional research.
The proposed requirement that FFLs report lawful firearm transfers to the Department of Justice, who through ATF has control over their license, is an obvious attempt to bully gun dealers into cutting off this vital safety-valve. Moreover, there is no statutory language supporting such a scheme.
In addition to Mayor Lightfoot, the CNN column was authored by United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) President and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. In the piece, the mayors offered a vaguer call for executive action than their more sophisticated federal allies, but explicitly demanded action on “ghost guns” and “strengthening the background check system.”
As the piece pointed out, the mayors are all members of finance tycoon Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Moreover, the group contended that their anti-gun initiative was the result of the winter meeting of the USCM.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the United States Conference of Mayors takes a position of leadership and urges national legislation against the manufacture, importation, sale, and private possession of handguns, except for use by law enforcement personnel, military and sportsmen clubs;
In 2008, USCM joined with Legal Community Against Gun Violence (now Giffords) in a friend of the court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court Case District of Columbia v. Heller that argued in favor of upholding Washington, D.C.’s unconstitutional handgun ban.
It is unsurprising that members of a group that believes the Second Amendment does not constrain their power to enact gun control would believe that the U.S. Constitution and federal law should not constrain President Biden’s.
In late 2015, Obama tasked his White House with doing everything within their lawful authority to pursue gun control through executive action. Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said of Obama’s administrative gun control efforts, “he has asked his team to scrub existing legal authorities to see if there’s any additional action we can take administratively…The President has made clear he’s not satisfied with where we are, and expects that work to be completed soon.” In remarks announcing the new actions, Obama stated “we’re going to do everything we can to ensure the smart and effective enforcement of gun safety laws that are already on the books…”Further, a press release that accompanied the announcement of these measures, stated, “The President and Vice President are committed to using every tool at the Administration’s disposal to reduce gun violence.”
The executive branch has not been granted further power to regulate firearms since the Obama administration “scrub[bed]” the law for avenues to attack gun owners by presidential fiat. The measures advanced by this anti-gun cadre of U.S. Senators and mayors are willful perversions of federal law that NRA stands ready to oppose.
January 2021 now holds the record for most NICS checks conducted by the FBI in any single month.
Shooting Illustrated – Guy J. Sagi : Thursday, February 4, 2021
More than 2.2 million firearms were sold in the United States in January, according to an estimate from Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF). The number, which represents a 79-percent increase when compared to the same period last year, is based on the volume of records processed through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Purchases made by people with a valid carry permit in regions that do not require the duplicative check, and some private transactions, are not reflected in the federal figures.
The news comes on the heels of 2020 shattering all previous high-water marks for gun purchases in the nation. SAAF estimates that of the 39,695,315 NICS checks conducted last year, roughly 23 million were firearm-sale related. Administrative use of the system, which includes concealed-carry permit application and renewal, account for the rest of the volume.
January 2021 now holds the record for most NICS checks conducted by the FBI in any single month. A total of 4,317,804 were processed. The system began operation in 1998, but until last month failed to reach the 4 million mark, despite December and June of 2020 coming in at 3,937,066 and 3,931,607, respectively.
Most experts agree last year’s upswing was fueled largely by home- and self-defense concerns due to the ongoing pandemic and periods of civil unrest, although politics contributed significantly to January’s spike, according to SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer.
“January 2021 certainly started off with a sales ‘bang’ due to the turmoil surrounding the confirmation and inauguration of Mr. Biden as the new U.S. President,” he said. “The 79-percent year-over-year increase, however, was not unprecedented—an even higher increase, of just over 100 percent, was experienced in January 2013, the month Mr. Obama’s second presidential term began.”
By comparison, the total number of NICS checks performed in January 2013 came in at only 2,495,440, roughly 1.8 million fewer than last month.
NRA Shooting Illustrated by Caleb Giddings – Friday, February 5, 2021
Everyone is aware of the ammunition crisis. Major media outlets have covered it, it’s all over what little of your social media feed hasn’t been censored, and I’ve been covering in detail since July. The ammo crisis has been constantly evolving, starting as a mere shortage in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns, and progressing to a full-blown crisis as I write this 321 days after March 13th.
What caused it?
The simple explanation is that demand exceeded the supply, then continued to exceed the supply. But to understand how that happened you have to go a little deeper. According to Jason Vanderbrink, President of Federal, CCI, Speer and Remington, before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was considerable excess capacity in the ammunition market.
Manufacturers could make more than they could sell, so supply was abundant and prices were low. You could order a case of 9 mm off the Internet for $200. Manufacturers were prepared for an uptick in sales that normally accompanies a presidential election, but the excess capacity would have been enough to cover that.
2020 had other ideas. The first was the COVID-19 pandemic. Then a summer of civil unrest that sometimes turned violent. A hotly contested presidential election, and then the party of gun control having control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency.
Any single one of those would have spiked demand, but all these factors happening in rapid succession was more than the market could bear. Partly because the NSSF estimates that 7 million new gun owners entered the market in 2020. As Vanderbrink pointed out, if those 7 million new gun owners each bought 100 rounds of ammo, that’s 700 million rounds that the market needs to produce.
To put that in context, the entire commercial market in 2018 made approximately 8 billion rounds. An 8.75 increase in demand wouldn’t shut everything down, but when it’s added on top of the demand created by all the other factors, it becomes too much.
How high is demand?
During a media presentation at Virtual SHOT Show 2021, Winchester said that if they stopped taking orders for .22 LR right now, it would take 2 years to fill all the back-orders. In December, the Vista family of companies, which comprises Federal, CCI, Speer, and Remington, announced they had a $1 billion backlog in orders. In the first 3 months of the COVID-19 lockdown, Winchester experienced a 17-percent surge in orders, which hasn’t tapered off.
Why can’t they build more factories?
The first question on people’s minds is “Why don’t these companies expand capacity?” That’s much easier said than done. Vista, for example, is already running three shifts a day, and operating 24/7. The same is true for Magtech in Brazil. For one of these companies to add capacity, they’d have to build a new space, and buy new machines, and train and staff the new machines.
All that while hoping that the bottom doesn’t fall out of the ammo market like it did in 2017. That investment in extra space costs millions of dollars and takes years to pay off, and if you look at past trends in the ammo market, not even this surge will last forever.
Why are prices so high at the consumer level?
Vista, Winchester, and Magtech/S&B announced a 15-percent price increase to distributors. Distributors have already raised prices, and of course at the retail level prices are coming up. Prices have to come up to create equilibrium. Eventually the cost to the consumer will be high enough that people won’t panic buy 9 mm FMJ. Retailers will start to have more stock than they can sell and prices will start to come down.
The manufacturer price increase helps as well. In a letter to distributors, Vista announced that all back orders would ship with the higher price. If this causes people to cancel their back order, that frees up theoretical capacity to go into the market. Using AmmoSeek to track historical 9 mm prices, the online price for 9 mm seems to have plateaued at between $0.80 and $0.90 per round for quality new manufactured 9 mm, which is actually a good sign.
Why can’t I get primers?
Only two domestic companies make primers, Vista and Winchester. All their primers are going into their production ammo for retail. Normally, the primer market is fed by companies being able to make more primers than they’d ever need to make loaded ammo. In 2020 and now 2021, that’s not been the case, so every primer that rolls off the line is going into a loaded piece of ammunition so the consumers can have something to immediately shoot. It’s a tough situation for reloaders, but the priority will always be the commercial shooting market.
What about the government?
To answer the question right off the bat, no, the government is not buying ammo and stockpiling it in a warehouse somewhere to keep it off the market. The largest government consumer of ammunition is the Department of Defense, and the majority of their ammo comes from the Lake City plant, which is currently administered by Winchester. Lake City is owned entirely by the government—all the machines, all the land, etc. The government then contracts its operation to private companies, with Winchester taking over for Northrop Grumman in 2020.
Other federal agencies and local LE agencies do source from private manufacturers, but they’re getting squeezed too. Federal contracts are public record, and there has been no unusual ammo related purchasing activity since the shortage began in March. Local LE agencies don’t have the purchasing power to cause a shortage like this, unless there was some secret meeting of all the police chiefs in the country to secretly buy all the ammo (there wasn’t). While it might feel good to believe there’s some sinister force behind the ammo crisis, the answer is a slightly more complicated version of “supply and demand.”
What are the companies doing about it?
As noted above, everything they can. Mike Fisher, the VP of Sales and Marketing at Magtech, said in a phone call, “We’re doing everything we can to get product to our loyal customers. We’ve worked hard to build these relationships and getting them ammo, so they can get it to the consumer, is our first priority.”
In a video statement, Jason Hornady said that they have made a third more ammo this year than they did in the previous year, and also pointed out that there is no government conspiracy to make ammo scarce. As noted above, the price increases across the board will eventually have a stabilizing effect on the supply of ammo, as it will eventually reach a point where most people won’t feel the need to buy.
You can help as well. The most important thing you can do as a consumer is don’t panic. Ammo is available. AmmoSeek shows a daily inventory of what its bots find in stock. There’s ammo for sale on GunBroker and ArmsList. It’s more expensive than any of us would want, but it’s better to have it available than to have empty shelves. The second most important thing you can do is “don’t be that guy.”
You know that guy—the one who finds 55-grain .223 at a great price and cleans the whole place out. That guy sucks. Buy what you need and maybe a little more, but don’t buy 10,000 rounds of ammo you’re going to end up trying to flip to make a car payment in 6 months.
Last, stop repeating conspiracy theories. Contrary to what your favorite YouTube entertainer told you, there’s no government or industry conspiracy to drive up the price of ammo.
When will it get better?
In my first article about this, I optimistically thought that if Republicans retained control of the Senate, we’d be back to normal supply levels with slightly increased pricing by July. Given the state of the back orders, I don’t think we’ll see a return to regular levels of supply now until early 2022.
As far as pricing? Sometime after supply gets back to normal level, and that’s assuming that nothing weird happens in 2021 (everyone knock on wood right now). Right now the best thing to do is stay calm, don’t panic buy, and let the ammo industry do everything they can to get caught up.
West Hartford, CT, February 12, 2021 – Colt Holding Company LLC (“Colt”) hereby announces that on February 11, 2021, it executed a definitive agreement to be acquired by CZG Group SE (“CZG” or “the Group”) Colt is the parent company of U.S. firearms manufacturer, Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC as well as its Canadian subsidiary, Colt Canada Corporation.
Subject to the terms and conditions of the definitive agreement, CZG shall acquire a 100% stake in Colt for upfront cash consideration of $220 million and the issuance of 1,098,620 shares of newly issued CZG common stock. The agreement also provides for potential earnout consideration of up to 1,098,620 shares of newly issued CZG common stock if defined EBITDA thresholds are achieved in years 2021 – 2023.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Lubomír Kovaík, President and Chairman of CZG, said:
“This merger is a strategic step for both companies. The acquisition of Colt, an iconic brand and a benchmark for the military, law enforcement and commercial markets globally, fits perfectly in our strategy to become the leader in the firearms manufacturing industry and a key partner for the armed forces. We are proud to include Colt, which has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. Army for over 175 years, in our portfolio. We believe in the successful connection of our corporate cultures, the proven track record of the current management team and the complementary nature of the CZ and Colt brands. The combined group will have revenues in excess of USD 500 million and presents a real small arms powerhouse. The experience of CZ and Colt management will further strengthen both brands and ensure CZ and Colt continue to deliver top quality products and solutions to all our customers.”
Dennis Veilleux, President and CEO of Colt, agreed: “We are very pleased with the prospect of such a strategic combination. Having completed a historic turn-around of the operations and financial performance at Colt over the past five years, this important next step with CZG positions the company to take advantage of significant growth opportunities. We are excited to join forces with CZG which will be a powerful combination for both brands and for our customers.”
The acquisition is to be financed from CZG’s existing cash resources, including recent IPO proceeds, and from a contemplated bond issuance by CZG.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval but is anticipated to close in the second quarter of 2021.
With this strategic move, CZG will acquire significant production capacity in the United States and Canada and substantially expand its global customer base. Colt is a traditional supplier to global military and law enforcement customers. Among others, Colt is a long-term supplier to the U.S. Army (which relationship dates back over 175 years) and, through its Canadian subsidiary, Colt is a designated exclusive supplier of small arms to the Canadian military.
August 2020 saw more gun sales than any other August on record as Americans continue to rush to gun stores at a record pace.
The Washington Free Beacon
Stephen Gutowski – SEPTEMBER 1, 2020
August 2020 saw more gun sales than any other August on record as Americans continue to rush to gun stores at a record pace.
A Washington Free Beacon analysis of FBI data released on Tuesday found a 57 percent increase in sales compared to August 2019. There were at least 1.6 million sales in August 2020. Only two previous Augusts had broken a million sales, though limitations in FBI reporting means that not every gun sale is captured in the data. August represents the sixth month in a row to set a new sales record with March seeing the most gun sales of any month in the history of the FBI background check system.
Sales thus far in 2020 have soared past previous years. Sales through the first eight months of the year are up 43 percent over the previous record.
“In 15 years of teaching firearm safety, I have never seen a higher level of interest in guns,” Rick Ector, a Detroit-based firearms instructor, told the Washington Free Beacon. “I do not need to advertise, and my phone is constantly ringing.”
A June report from the gun industry’s trade group indicated dealers believed 40 percent of buyers since March have been first-time owners. The group pegged the total number of new owners at just under five million. If the estimated percentage of new owners holds for August, that would mean at least 640,000 Americans bought a gun for the first time in August. The surge in firearm owners could have a significant impact on gun politics and American elections for years to come.
Ector said the sales are driven by concerns over the pandemic, the economic downturn, and recent rioting in places like Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon. He expects the record sales to keep up through the end of the year, pointing to Democrat nominee Joe Biden’s strict new gun-control policies and his lead in national polling.
“Any single issue by itself would lead to an increase of people buying guns,” he said. “We have all four factors ‘in play’ and the run on guns is no surprise to me.”
The number of checks run through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System is not a one-to-one representation of total gun sales, but is widely considered the best gauge because the checks are required on all sales done through licensed dealers. The Free Beacon removed checks from the count that were coded for gun-carry permits or other non-gun sales to reach the final sales numbers.
The Polk County Commission on Tuesday reversed
course from its Friday meeting and approved a resolution affirming its support
for gun rights, including language declaring the county a sanctuary.
BARTOW — Polk County is a Second Amendment sanctuary.
The Polk County Commission on Tuesday reversed course
from its Friday meeting and approved a resolution affirming its support for gun
rights, including language declaring the county a sanctuary.
The vote came after 12 people spoke out in favor of the
sanctuary measure. Several commissioners also indicated they received phone
calls and emails from gun-rights supporters over the weekend.
Although the commission could not take an official vote
during its Friday workshop, four commissioners clearly indicated they had
trouble with the sanctuary language while maintaining they supported Second
Amendment rights. Only Commissioner John Hall supported the entire resolution,
including the language declaring Polk a Second Amendment sanctuary.
That changed Tuesday as the commission initially voted
4-1 to approve the sanctuary resolution with Commissioner George Lindsey
opposing it. Later, Lindsey asked for a reconsideration of the resolution and
switched his vote to affirm the commission was unanimous in supporting the
Second Amendment, he said.
“I don’t want this to be a divisive issue,” Lindsey said.
Commission Chairman Bill Braswell said he changed his
mind because he hadn’t realized the word “sanctuary” was the label adopted by a
Second Amendment movement.
“The word ‘sanctuary’ to some of us wouldn’t be our first
choice,” he said. “When I hear ‘sanctuary,’ I think of ‘sanctuary city,’ and
Braswell was referring to the sanctuary city movement
asking local officials not to support some of President Donald Trump’s harsh
immigration and deportation policies.
Commissioner Rick Wilson agreed he reacted against the
word because of its association with immigration policies.
“I don’t like the word. I wish we could change it,” he
Yet Wilson and the other three commissioners declined to
support Lindsey’s proposal to substitute “pro-Second-Amendment county” for
“Second Amendment sanctuary.”
Before the first vote on the resolution, Lindsey said he
opposed including the sanctuary language because one historical definition of
the word is “immunity from the law.”
“That’s the part that bothers me,” he said. “I can’t do
that if there’s an implied immunity from the law.”
Lindsey pointed out he supports the Second Amendment as a
life member of the National Rifle Association, a handgun owner and holder of a
state concealed weapons permit. But immunity from the law “is not what we stand
for,” he said.
Several of the resolution supporters appeared motivated
by the so-called “red flag” law passed by the Florida Legislature following the
Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
That law allows local law enforcement to seek a temporary
court order, called a “risk protection order,” to seize firearms from persons
it believes might use them against themselves or the community. Law enforcement
can get an emergency order to seize weapons immediately followed by a final
order at a court hearing within 14 days.
The law was passed because the Parkland shooter and many
other perpetrators of mass shootings had shown behavioral signs of violence
before the incidents.
“Polk County has a Second Amendment problem,” said Royal
Brown III of Winter Haven, president of Winter Haven 912 Project, a gun rights
group. “We lead the state in the use of the unconstitutional risk protection
order, or RPO, which allows an ex parte seizure of firearms and ammunition
without prior notification, without the right to be represented by a public
defender and without due process based on a judge’s fear of what might happen
in the future. This also violates the legal precedent of being innocent until
Brown cited information from the Polk County Clerk of
Courts office, which The Ledger also obtained.
The statistics show Polk did lead the state in seeking
risk protection orders between March 2018 and October.
Polk sought 501 orders during that time followed by
Pinellas County with 429 cases and Broward County with 393 orders sought. Only
five other counties had more than 100 risk protection order cases during that
time, and the state total was 2,933 cases.
The Clerk of Courts also reported a total of 525 risk
protection cases filed in Polk from March 2018 through Nov. 20 with no
additional state data.
Among those Polk cases, 15 petitions were denied an
emergency order, or 3%. Among the 510 emergency protection orders granted, the
court denied a final order in 49 cases, or 10%.
“We ask you to declare Polk County a Second Amendment
sanctuary county and to be aware of the problems with the risk protection
order, including conducting oversight of the RPO process until such time as it
is challenged in the courts and declared unconstitutional or changed or deleted
from law by the Florida Legislature,” Brown said.
Other speakers made more general arguments that the
sanctuary language was needed to “send a message” to the Legislature and
Congress on passing further gun restrictions. Several speakers warned of a
looming socialist or communist threat to take away Second Amendment rights
“Florida came within 1% of becoming a socialist state,”
said Glynda White, a Winter Haven 912 member, referring to Republican Gov. Ron
DeSantis’ narrow victory margin over Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum.
“The gun grabbers are coming,” said Danny Krueger of Lake
Bob Grimes of Lakeland compared the gradual diminution of
gun rights to livestock being herded into a corral.
“What happens to sheep or cattle when they’re herded into
a corral? They’re headed to slaughter,” he said.
After the meeting, Braswell told The Ledger the
resolution was a symbolic affirmation of the Second Amendment because state law
prohibits local government from passing any legislation dealing with firearms.
For that reason, he doesn’t anticipate the commission acting on any gun-related legislation, Braswell said. “I don’t think we have any authority there,” he said. “This today was a symbolic proclamation.”
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Polk County Commissioner John Hall wants to make the county a Second Amendment sanctuary, part of a nationwide movement against proposed restrictive gun laws.
BARTOW – The Polk County Commission will consider becoming a sanctuary county for gun rights under the Second Amendment.
The commission on Tuesday instructed County Attorney Michael Craig to research the relevant law and to present his findings at a future meeting. Craig told The Ledger after the meeting he expects to complete his research and present his findings to the commission at its Jan. 3 or Jan. 17 agenda review meeting.
Commissioner John Hall requested Craig look into a sanctuary measure because he feels Second Amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution are threatened by recent efforts for tighter restrictions on gun possession and ownership. Those efforts appear to be gaining momentum recently after well publicized mass shootings in recent years.
“Every time a deranged person picks up a gun and kills people, those of us who are legal gun owners come under attack,” Hall told The Ledger after the meeting. “We should defend the rights of our citizens on all constitutional rights.”
Other commissioners agreed to have Craig research this issue with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
Chairman Bill Braswell said he didn’t know whether such a sanctuary measure is necessary but agreed to have the commission look at Craig’s findings. Commissioners Martha Santiago and Rick Wilson agreed.
“I think of this as political theater,” Commissioner George Lindsey said. “This seems to be a solution looking for a problem.”
The Second Amendment sanctuary movement appears to have gained momentum as a backlash against the movement for more restrictive gun laws.
In Virginia, for example, more than 40 local governments passed such measures after control of its legislature passed from Republicans to Democrats last month, according to a Dec. 11 story in USA Today. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has said he would support measures such as universal background checks for gun purchases, limits on the sale of certain types of firearms and a so-called “red flag” law allowing authorities to take guns from persons posing a danger to themselves or others, as determined by a court.
The various sanctuary measures adopted so far vary widely in scope and impact, according to internet research by The Ledger.
Some measures, such as a resolution passed by the Lake County Commission on Nov. 5, go no further than declaring the county a Second Amendment sanctuary and its support for those rights. The Ledger obtained a copy of that resolution.
Other measures go a step further and declare county officials will not cooperate with federal or state law enforcement authorities carrying out gun restrictions they consider unconstitutional.
That’s similar to the stance taken by some local governments over cooperating with federal officials enforcing immigration laws considered too harsh or illegal. That gave rise to the term “sanctuary city” or county.
Most Second Amendment sanctuary measures fall along these lines.
But a few, including some Virginia localities, declare their right to nullify any state or federal gun laws they consider unconstitutional, according to a Dec. 11 article on the news site Slate.com.
Hall told The Ledger he favored a nullification measure if the Legislature or Congress passed a gun law he considered unconstitutional.
He would not advocate nullifying a law found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, Hall said.
“The Supreme Court will be the ultimate decider of the Constitution,” he said.
Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said he was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and advocates that citizens carry concealed weapons through the state’s licensing process.”
But he said he could not support a local law that instructed him to ignore state and federal gun laws.
“State and federal laws always supersede a county ordinance,” Judd told The Ledger. “What I would do as a law enforcement officer is enforce the laws of the state of Florida and the United States of America.”
Judd said he has reviewed dozens of Second Amendment sanctuary laws across the country and agreed they fall along the three categories outlined above.
Hall distinguished between Second Amendment and immigration sanctuary measures because the latter involved people breaking the law to enter and reside in the U.S., he said.