Toomey-Manchin amendments to Reid’s gun control bill are simply making the bill worse

The Reid anti-gun legislation (his words, not mine) is just a bunch of the same old retread liberal/leftish gun-banning attempts at making it as insanely difficult to exercise your rights to keep and bear arms as is humanly possible. This time, they tried to masquerade it out as “common sense” restrictions on your rights by invoking the dead children in the Newton, CT shooting. These so-called “common sense” restrictions are supposed to make it nearly impossible that such an event would ever happen again, but even the supporters of this bill, when cornered into finally being honest about it, will admit that nothing in this bill would have altered the events in Newtown by a single degree.

In an effort to… well, in Sen. Manchin’s case, to avoid getting his political caboose sawed off and handed to him by his constituents, Senator Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) put forth a “pro-gun” amendment designed to address some of the public’s very justified concerns over the Administration’s intentions. (Why’s Toomey doing this? Beats me. I can’t see anyone outside of downtown Philadelphia feeling happy with him involving himself in one of the biggest attempts to curtail American’s 2nd Amendment protections in a long time.) The problem with the Toomey-Manchin amendment is that it just makes matters worse. From Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy:

The Toomey-Manchin Amendment which may be offered as soon as Tuesday to Senator Reid’s gun control bill are billed as a “compromise” which contain a variety of provisions for gun control, and other provisions to enhance gun rights. Some of the latter, however, are not what they seem. They are badly miswritten, and are in fact major advancements for gun control. In particular:

1. The provision which claims to outlaw national gun registration in fact authorizes a national gun registry.

2. The provision which is supposed to strengthen existing federal law protecting the interstate transportation of personal firearms in fact cripples that protection.

The first item deals with creation of a gun registry, a move that has, in virtually every instance it’s been implemented, resulted in a large-scale confiscation of arms from the citizenry. The actual text of that section, detailed at the post’s link, above, makes it clear that the Attorney General may not implement a gun registry. The problem with that is the fact that only the Attorney General (and any agency under his command) is so prohibited. There is nothing to keep Health and Human Services from doing so, under the auspices of tracking “potential health issues.” There’s nothing to keep the Veterans’ Administration from doing so with all retired military. The Defense Department could do the same for active military. And, hey, how about the IRS? Sure, they don’t look like they have anything to do with firearms legislation, but they’re not health industry, either, and look how pivotal they are with Obamacare.

The second one is just a doozy:

Now for transportation. The 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act immunizes from state law prosecution the transportation of an unloaded and inaccessible (e.g., in the trunk of your car) firearm through a state. 18 USC 926A. So if you are driving from Pennsylvania to Vermont to go hunting there, you can travel through New York State without needing to acquire a NY pistol permit. (Which NY won’t issue anyway, since NY only issues to residents.) Toomey-Manchin includes some explicit language to make clear what was already implicit in FOPA, that such travel can include situations in which, while traveling, you stop to eat, refuel, or rest:

(a) In General.-Section 926A of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
“926A. Interstate transportation of firearms or ammunition
“(a) Definition.-In this section, the term ‘transport’-
“(1) includes staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, and any other activity incidental to the transport; and
“(2) does not include transportation-
“(A) with the intent to commit a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year that involves a firearm; or
“(B) with knowledge, or reasonable cause to believe, that a crime described in subparagraph (A) is to be committed in the course of, or arising from, the transportation.

But notice part (2) of the new definition: a new exclusion for any firearms crime punishable by more than year of imprisonment. In some states, such a crime includes merely not having a state-issued gun permit. So now let’s suppose that the Pennsylvanian is going to Maine. On the way, he travels through Massachusetts. Under current law, FOPA protects him. Under Manchin-Toomey, Massachusetts can arrest and imprison him, and he will have no federal defense. In Massachusetts, possession of a firearm without a state permit is punishable by imprisonment up to to 2 years. Possession outside one’s home or business is a sentence of 2.5 to 5 years, with a mandatory minimum of 18 months. New Jersey and New York City also have penalties of over one year for simple possession without a local permit.

Maybe the Pennsylvanian might qualify for some exemption under the laws of Mass., NYC, or NJ. Or perhaps not. What we know for sure is that today the Pennsylvanian is protected by FOPA, and if Manchin-Toomey passes, he will not be.

In other words, the horrible wording and definition scope in this amendment cuts the supposed protection this amendment offers off at the knees.

This is a bad bill. It should never have been allowed to the floor and there’s no way any Republican worthy of the name should be voting for it.


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