Monthly Archives: May 2011

Senate Rejects Efforts to Protect Gun Records from ATF

Friday, 27 May 2011 17:23

The Senate, by an overwhelming 85-10 vote, tabled an amendment by Senator Rand Paul which would have protected 4473’s and other gun records from blanket searches by the ATF under the PATRIOT Act.

A mere 24 hours earlier, Democratic Leader Harry Reid went through parliamentary convolutions in order to prevent a vote on the Paul 4473 amendment, fearing that a vote on his language would have devastating implications for his Democrats running for reelection.

But Reid had some important allies in the Republican leadership. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his second-in-command, retiring Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), used their “Republican whip” apparatus to mischaracterize the Paul amendment and try to force Republicans to vote against it by spreading misinformation and lies.

For instance, they claimed that had the FBI been investigating the 2009 Fort Hood shooter, and the Paul amendment had been in effect, authorities would not have had the necessary tools under the Patriot Act to conduct an investigation.

But the terrorism legislation was fully in force at the time of the Fort Hood shooting, and did nothing to prevent it! The answer to every government inadequacy is not simply to grant it more power.

Republican leaders also claimed that there was no evidence that the PATRIOT Act has been abused on a “widespread” basis, either in general or with respect to the Second Amendment.

But given that all investigations are SECRET and it is a crime to disclose them, it is hypocritical to argue that we don’t know all the abuses.

Here’s what we do know: First, we know of thousands of illegal phone records which were procured by the FBI.

Second, the Obama administration is pushing to illegally seize 4473-type information through its illegal regulations on multiple semi-auto sales in the Southwest –- a demand which is being made under the rubric of “national security.” This effort to register gun sales along the border just underscores how easily the ATF could use the excuse of “terrorism” to register gun sales across the entire country.

Opponents of the Paul amendment claimed that gun owners are protected under the PATRIOT Act, because a request for gun records must be relevant to a terrorism investigation and must first be approved by the Director of the FBI or a select few high-ranking officials.

But this argument does not address the fact that the standard of “relevance” is a low standard ripe for abuse, and it is not much of an assurance at all when you have an administration (like Obama’s) that is hostile to the Second Amendment.

Reid had one additional ally: the National Rifle Association. In the end, the NRA helped both Democrat and Republican leaders by not taking an “official position” on the bill.


Sen. Rand Paul Seeks Gun Exemption in so-called Patriot Act Legislation

Monday, 23 May 2011 18:54

The House and Senate Republican and Democratic leadership have reached a “deal” on extending three expiring provisions of post-9/11 legislation for four years. Following a procedural vote on Monday night, the real battle begins on the bill.

Gun Owners of America worked with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on legislation to exempt 4473’s (the form all buyers fill out when a gun is purchased from a licensed dealer) from that statute’s broad provisions. Sen. Paul will offer that amendment this week, assuming Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is not able to block the amendment from being offered.

Here’s a major concern: Assume the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) goes to the “secret court” (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or “FISA” court) and argues, without anyone else in the room, that ALL 4473’s should be seized as “business records” because they are relevant to a terrorism investigation.

Can it do that? It’s certainly a big enough danger to warrant our concern and that of Sen. Paul.

In 1986, Congress enacted the McClure-Volkmer Firearms Owners Protection Act to limit BATFE access to 4473’s and other gun records. Such records can only be viewed as part of a “bona fide criminal investigation,” in connection with a trace, or pursuant to an annual inspection.

But under McClure-Volkmer, the BATFE clearly could not seize every 4473 in the country because of a generalized terrorism investigation.

The Paul amendment would make it clear that McClure-Volkmer is still applicable law and was not overturned by 9/11 legislation.

ACTION: Contact your two Senators. Ask them to support the Paul amendment and to oppose any effort to invoke cloture (shut off debate) on the bill in order to make the Paul amendment out of order.


Vote Coming on Radical Left-Wing Ideologue to Federal Bench

Vote May Come as Early as Wednesday

Any doubt that President Obama is more anti-Second Amendment than perhaps any president in history can be laid to rest in the light of the characters he has nominated to the federal judiciary.

Obama’s latest nominee for a U.S. District Court post is John McConnell, a Providence, Rhode Island, trial lawyer. In terms of being an activist for the far left, McConnell is right in line with Obama’s Supreme Court picks—Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

It comes as no surprise that leading gun control proponents in the Senate support McConnell: he has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to liberal, anti-gun candidates over the years, including Obama and Rhode Island’s two senators.

In fact, it appears that McConnell’s chief qualifications for this post are his generous contributions to liberal candidates and his long relationship with former Rhode Island attorney general and current Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse.

However, even in a world where political backers are often selected to fill openings for judgeships and other federal jobs, the size of McConnell’s contributions sets him apart from other nominees. In 2008 alone, for example, McConnell gave over $120,000 to Democrat candidates.

He also served as treasurer of the Rhode Island Democratic State Committee, which raises the question of whether he could serve impartially on the federal bench.

McConnell’s views on the Constitution are also extremely troubling. In written questions that were part of McConnell’s confirmation hearings, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) asked the nominee if he believed the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights protected fundamental rights. McConnell responded evasively and refused to declare what he considered to be fundamental, individual liberties.

Of course, McConnell repeatedly insisted that he would be “bound by applicable Supreme Court and First Circuit precedent” on Second Amendment issues. But nothing in the Heller and McDonald decisions necessarily preclude an anti-gun ideologue from ruling that almost any gun law short of a total ban on firearms—including gun owner registration, purchasing limits, waiting periods, private sale background checks, and more—is consistent with the Constitution.

ACTION: Click here to read the rest of the article and send a prewritten email to urge your Senators to vote “NO” on any votes related to John McConnell’s nomination.