Wednesday, August 8, 2007
It's truly amazing. You wouldn't think that something as controversial as gun control could fly through the House of Representatives, and then through a Senate committee without facing at least one recorded vote.
But on Thursday of last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Senate version of the McCarthy bill by an unrecorded voice vote.
The draft bill -- which is still unnumbered -- is being sponsored by the chairman of the committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Brady expansion provisions in this bill are identical to the ones in the McCarthy bill and would easily deny thousands (if not millions) of law-abiding citizens their right to own firearms.
As mentioned in earlier alerts, the NRA and the Brady Campaign are both in favor of this legislation. In fact, the author of the House bill, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), has stated there is no way this bill could pass without the NRA's support: "The National Rife Association still wields tremendous influence in the halls of Congress," McCarthy said, "and their blessing is required for any bill that enforces or creates gun laws."
The reason why some gun owners support the Leahy-McCarthy measure is they think the bill will make it easier for many Americans to regain their rights -- such as military veterans who have been illegitimately denied a firearm. What they don't realize is that this is a pie-in-the-sky promise.
Veterans will have to find a pro-gun shrink that will certify that said veteran is not a danger to himself or others. (Question: Would you ever certify that someone you don't know could NEVER be a danger to himself or others?) They will then have to hire a good attorney, take the government to court and hope they can force the FBI to delete their names from the NICS system.
It must be stressed that thousands of veterans have already been illegally banned from owning guns without being convicted of anything. Not only that, thousands more will have their names placed on the Brady list of banned buyers if this legislation passes. It is beside the point that they might be able to get their rights restored. They never should have lost them in the first place. Further, they will be forced to spend a lot of money to regain their gun rights -- rights which were unconstitutionally stripped by the Leahy-McCarthy bill.
We've already seen that at the state level, getting your guns back -- after being decreed a supposed danger to society -- is easier said than done. Consider what is ALREADY happening in California. University of San Francisco professor W. Michael Becker -- a licensed psychologist and attorney -- points out how in the Golden State, a gun owner can easily lose his guns if he's deemed to be a danger to himself and others. And while state law allows the gun owner to get his guns back (after he's no longer considered a danger), the retrieval process is by NO MEANS automatic.
It might be argued, that because there is the option of a hearing, the [California] law provides a reasoned avenue for that person to regain possession.... But there is a problem with the hearing itself. In order for the seized weapons to be returned, it is not the government which must show that the person is a danger to himself or others, but rather a judge (yes, only a judge, no jury) must be convinced by a preponderance of the evidence that the person will NOT be a danger to himself or others. What has happened to the "presumed" innocent (or in this case competent) until proven otherwise?... This is a dire reversal of our typical constitutional rights.
The Leahy bill next goes to the entire Senate, but due to the fact that Congress is now in recess, don't expect to see any action on the bill until September.
UPCOMING ACTION: During the month of August, GOA members will be receiving postcards addressed to their two U.S. Senators, and one to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
It is IMPERATIVE that you mail those postcards in. We want to increase the heat on these legislators by deluging them with thousands upon thousands of postcards. If you are not currently receiving GOA's mailings and postcards, you can -- for a nominal donation of only $20/year -- Become A Member and start receiving these useful action items.
So keep up the pressure on your Senators. And please stay tuned.