Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, foreground, D-Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Another Democrat, one Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell [FL-26], who apparently has no concept of the currently laws regulating firearms in this country, has filed a bill to criminalize dealers selling firearms to straw purchasers, the mentally ill, or drunkards.

Florida congresswoman wants gun dealers held accountable for suspected straw purchases

Brown said that when her organization uses its legal team to challenge gun laws in court, they must provide evidence that a gun dealer engaged in gross negligence while making a sale. She said Mucarsel-Powell’s bill would create a “knowing standard,” meaning that a gun dealer would be held responsible if they knew that a person was violating the law at the time of purchase.

Regular TTAG readers will immediately see the problem. For newcomers — particularly those millions of new gun owners who need to know this for their own protection — let’s brush up on existing law. In this case, 18 U.S. Code § 922. Unlawful acts.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to sell or deliver—

(2) any firearm to any person in any State where the purchase or possession by such person of such firearm would be in violation of any State law or any published ordinance applicable at the place of sale, delivery or other disposition, unless the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the purchase or possession would not be in violation of such State law or such published ordinance;

So gun retailers already can’t knowing make those sales. To continue . . .

(d) It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person—
(1) is under indictment for, or has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
(2) is a fugitive from justice;
(3) is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));
(4) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
(5) who, being an alien—
(A) is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or
(B) except as provided in subsection (y)(2), has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (as that term is defined in section 101(a)(26) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(26)));
(6) who [2] has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
(7) who, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship;
(8) is subject to a court order that restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child, except that this paragraph shall only apply to a court order that—
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had the opportunity to participate; and
(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury; or
(9) has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

The prohibition of unlawful firearm sales isn’t even limited to dealers. It’s alreay unlawful for anyone to knowingly sell a firearm to prohibited persons.

So what is the point of Mucarsel-Powell’s bill? Is she the ignorant idiot she appears to be, or lying through her teeth (not that those are mutually exclusive)?

I’d love to analyze H.R. 7977 and tell you which, but for some strange reason, despite having been filed nearly a month ago (weirdly, her press release claims it was only filed on September 1, 2020), the text isn’t yet available. I attempted to email Mucarsel-Powell, but her contact form is impenetrable.

In the meantime, she has a “summary” of her bill which is enlightening. According to that, it would mandate regular training on identifying unlawful sales, redundantly makes illegal sales unlawful, adds intoxicated people to the prohibited list, and regulate store signage.

Oh, yes. Mucarsel-Powell would also mandate that gun sellers carry more “business” and “liability” insurance. I strongly suspect that the real text — once it’s revealed — would gut the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, enabling violence-enabling victim-disarmers and their allies in the tort bar to sue gun retailers and manufacturers into oblivion.

Why else would they need to carry more liability insurance, unless she’s trying to increase their liability for acts beyond their control?

The devil is always in the details with these bills.

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