This Week in Gun Rights is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal, legislative and other news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights.
The truth behind ATF’s pistol brace letters
If you have been following the dumpster fire that is the ATF this year, you’re probably well aware of their sporadic weirdness with pistol braces. In response to a FOIA request, the ATF released a letter from 2018, complaining about SB Tactical’s marketing. This caused a bit of a mess, with many online claiming ATF was “reclassifying” braces (something they don’t quite get to do). I addressed this on my new youtube series targeted at gun law myths and misinformation. (Spoiler: your brace is probably fine, at least for right now).
Basically, the 2018 letter was demanding that SB Tactical stop advertising nearly two dozen of its braces as “ATF approved.” Nonetheless, the ATF has also approved multiple other types of pistol braces over the last decade, so there’s no real justification, legal or otherwise for preventing people from using these pistol braces until there is a rule change or legislation. The reason people are raising this issue now is that the ATF has the apparent backing of the incoming Biden Administration and seems ready to pull out all the stops. Fortunately some politicians are fighting back. On Tuesday, sixteen senators wrote Attorney General Bill Barr and the ATF to demand the ATF articulate its position on pistol braces.
The important thing to remember here is that lack of specific approval doesn’t make a weapon an NFA firearm, and companies aren’t required to have gun “approved” regardless. It’s simply a prudent step businesses with lots of money tied up in products take to feel safe in their investment, or make changes ahead when skirting close to the line. Remember many bump stocks were “approved,” and the agency changed their minds regardless.
Apple tried to bribe officials for concealed carry permits
Think Different. That’s Apple’s slogan (or it used to be), but I’m pretty sure it isn’t supposed to include bribing public officials. On Monday, the Santa Clara, California Sheriff’s Department issued a press release announcing that its undersheriff, a sheriff’s captain, and Apple Chief Security Officer Thomas Moyer had been charged for soliciting and offering bribes in exchange for granting concealed carry permits to Apple security employees.
Some of the items offered included $70,000 worth of iPads and luxury box seats for the San Jose Sharks. It seems the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office should have looked to the NYPD Licensing Division for what not to do.
Justice Department wants government to be able to kill Americans over state secrets
In a case being heard by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice argued that the federal government has the power to “unilaterally decide to kill U.S. citizens,” according to presiding Judge Patricia Millett. The basis for the attorney’s argument is that if the courts were to permit litigation following drone strikes, the discovery process might expose state secrets. The case, Kareem v. Haspel, was brought by a reporter who was placed on a kill list by the government and who narrowly missed five drone strikes.
Extrajudicial killings violate the right to Due Process, and although this case doesn’t address the Second Amendment, if the government wins here the government could theoretically use targeting lists against gun owners with impunity under the guise of national security and the protection of state secrets. By making this argument, this government attorney reminds us of the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms: to protect ourselves and our families from the abuses of tyrannical government.
Proposed rule would end anti-gun discrimination by banks
The Comptroller of the Currency, a federal office, has released a proposed rule change that would prevent banking services from being denied to businesses in the firearms industry. As explained in the OCC’s notice, the purpose of the rule is to ensure consistency with the Dodd-Frank Act, which allows banks to assess business risk, but is intended to prevent banks from discriminating against businesses based on the goods and services they provide.
Under the Obama/Biden Administration, the DOJ and FDIC collaborated on a plan called “Operation Choke Point”, which was intended to bleed out the gun industry by encouraging banking institutions to refrain from providing services. This kind of discrimination has been especially insidious, and has also adversely affected non-profit organizations and vital social services like animal shelters and fire departments, who frequently engage in fundraising activities like gun raffles.
While I typically abhor government regulation, this assault on business owners is being brought by major banking institutions like Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, and some are encouraging anti-gun discrimination on the state level as well. America was founded on muskets and lead, not anti-capitalist constraint and discrimination.
At least one more federal legislator is packing heat
After winning this year’s race for House of Representatives, Representative-Elect Lauren Boebert made an unofficial inquiry into her right to bear arms while serving her Colorado constituents at the Capitol. According to a congressional regulation passed in 1967, no federal or District of Columbia laws may be applied to prevent legislators from transporting firearms to and from, and from keeping firearms in the offices on The Hill.
According to Congressman Thomas Massie, the Second Amendment Caucus has no Democrats, but some Democrats are rumoured to concealed carry. Surely that couldn’t have anything to do with reelection concerns. While it is great that legislators are able to carry, it is remarkably ironic considering the hoops that an ordinary D.C. resident has to jump through in order to exercise their rights, like applying for licenses and firearms transfers through the Metro Police Department, which is the only FFL in town.
Yet another reminder of the ruling class mantra: rules for thee, not for me.
Democrat strategist opposes party’s renewed push for gun control
In an impressively self-aware article published on Thursday, Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias candidly discussed the lack of political enthusiasm for gun control over the last sixteen years of American political history. What’s interesting about the article is that he concedes a great number of the points we in the gun community have been making for years.
The majority of gun deaths are self-inflicted, homicides are overwhelmingly committed using handguns (in comparison with other types of firearms), and that a minute amount (7%) of criminals purchased their firearms from licensed dealers, with 43% of criminals reporting that they purchased their firearms on the black market. In terms of gun restrictions, Yglesias noted that in 2004 (the same year that the federal assault weapons ban expired), Dem operatives recognized that gun regulation proposals failed to motivate supporting voters, but energized opposition voters – the reason being that voters cared about other issues, like health care, the environment, and immigration.
This of course changed after certain high-profile shootings, but Yglesias closes out the article by providing a very simple explanation for where the DNC is going wrong: by supporting gun control initiatives, Democrats are unable to win over the working-class voters that they’ve been courting since the Obama Administration. In short, the Democratic Party should consider abandoning gun control as a party platform if it wants to start winning over rural and working-class Americans.