New Bill Gives the Attorney General the Power to Block Gun Sales to ‘Suspected’ Terrorists

More than two dozen Democrats in the House and Senate — and one Republican — want to give the U.S. attorney general the power to block the sale of guns and explosives to known terrorists, and also to anyone who is “appropriately suspected” of being a terrorist.

The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act was introduced this week by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). They say it makes no sense that people on the terrorist watch list are prohibited from boarding airplanes in the United States, but are still free to buy guns and explosives.

“Federal law already prohibits nine categories of dangerous persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, including the mentally ill and criminals,” said King. “Yet, after almost 14 years, we still allow suspected terrorists the ability to purchase firearms. It’s time for common sense to prevail before it’s too late.”

Feinstein and King noted that according to GAO, people on the terrorist watch list who tried to buy a weapon in 2013 and 2014 were successful about 93 percent of the time.

But it seems unlikely that a GOP-led House and Senate will agree to give the attorney general the power to stop gun sales, especially with President Barack Obama still in office for the next two years.

Under the bill, the attorney general would be able to stop the transfer of a gun or explosive to a “known or suspected” terrorist if it’s possible the person might use the firearm in connection with terrorism. The bill language says the attorney general can stop the transfer if he or she “has a reasonable belief that the prospective transferee may use a firearm in connection with terrorism.”

Sales could be blocked to anyone known to be involved in terrorist activities, or anyone who is “appropriately suspected.” That term is used throughout the bill but is never defined, and would likely be a cause for alarm by defenders of the Second Amendment who might worry about giving the attorney general too much discretion in deciding who is “appropriately suspected” of terrorism.

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It’s Time For The Firearms Freedom Act Of 2015

The on-going attacks to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding American citizens by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has been relentless under the current administration.

ATF agents in Phoenix supplied firearms to the Sinaloa drug cartel, apparently in hopes of causing enough bloodshed along both sides of the border with firearms originating from the ATF plot to justify a ban on the semi-automatic firearms they were delivering to narco-terrorists. To this day, not a single ATF agent involved in the plot has been fired, and none have been criminally charged. Instead of complying with congressional investigations into the plot, the ATF and the Department of Justice under Eric Holder have stonewalled investigators, resulting in Holder being held in criminal contempt of Congress.

The same agency has recently attacked companies for selling so-called “80-percent receivers,” (an unfinished gun part), and has attempted to claim that shouldering an arm-brace equipped pistol illegal “manufactures” a short-barreled rifle, making people a felon for how they chose to hold an otherwise legal weapon. They’re still battling with Sig Sauer over what Sig called a muzzle brake, but what the ATF insists is a suppressor.

Time and again, the ATF has shown themselves to be capricious exploiters of poorly written laws, using crafty lawyers to pervert legislation to be used as legislators never intended against gun owners, manufacturing felons out of good citizens for victimless crimes.

While others would like to defund or disband ATF—and idea that has been debated for decades—a much more practical approach would be to simply remove from their control a number of archaic and nonsensical gun laws that have been crafted since the mid-1930s that should no longer apply in 2015. By narrowing their scope, perhaps the ATF could aspire to become competent within a narrower range or responsibilities.

A so-called “Firearms Freedom Act” could remove some of these obsolete and uniquely American restrictions on firearms, curtailing the manner in which the ATF could get into trouble, freeing them to focus on more pressing matters than the suppression of the basic human right to armed self-defense.

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Federal district judge Reed O’Connor rules that the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 violates the Second Amendment.

Defendants argue that the federal interstate handgun transfer ban imposes only minimal burdens, so heightened scrutiny is not warranted…. Defendants rely on the Second Circuit’s opinion in United States v. Decastro, 682 F.3d 160, 166-67 (2d Cir. 2012), which held that heightened scrutiny is reserved for regulations that “substantially” burden the Second Amendment right…. Under this standard, a plaintiff may rebut the presumption that a longstanding regulation is presumptively lawful by showing that the regulation has more than a de minimis effect upon his right; “[a] requirement of newer vintage is not, however, presumed to be valid.” [Heller v. District of Columbia, 670 F.3d 1244, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2011)]. As discussed above, the federal interstate handgun transfer ban is not longstanding, making the de minimis standard inappplicable….

At its core, the Second Amendment protectslaw-abiding, responsible citizens. Instead of limiting the federal interstate handgun transfer ban to a discrete class of people, it prevents all legally responsible and qualified individuals from directly acquiring handguns from FFLs [federal firearms licensees] in every state other than their state of residency and the District of Columbia…. To obtain a handgun from an out-of-state [ retailer, the federal interstate handgun transfer ban imposes substantial additional time and expense to those who desire to purchase one. Restricting the distribution channels of legal goods protected by the Constitution to a small fraction of the total number of possible retail outlets requires a compelling interest that is narrowly tailored. See Carey [ v. Population Servs. Int’l, 431 U.S. 678, 689 (1977)], [United States v.] Marzzarella, 614 F.3d [85,  94] (“[I]nfringements on protected rights can be, depending on the facts, as constitutionally suspect as outright bans.”). The Court, therefore, applies strict scrutiny—that is, the law must be narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive means of achieving a compelling government interest. Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 558 U.S. 310, 340 (2010).