By Robert M. Hausman
The National Rifle Association’s Executive Vice President and CEO, Wayne LaPierre, predicts eventual passage of national right-to-carry legislation despite the recent defeat of the legislation in the Senate. By a 58 to 39 majority, the U.S. Senate last summer voted to let concealed handgun permit holders carry handguns across state lines. Yet, it was two votes short of the 60 needed to meet a specially-imposed rule of a 60-vote minimum.
The legislation sponsored by Senator John Thune (R-SD) would have allowed reciprocity in permitting, as long as the permit holder obeyed the laws of the states that they travel in. This is the same way driver’s licenses work.
One interesting aspect of the failed vote was that newly installed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who initially was thought to be pro-gun, showed her true sentiments by joining with NY Sen. Chuck Schumer in calling it a “harmful measure” that would put the public at risk.
Sen. Schumer also displayed his ignorance of state and federal law during the debate stating that if the amendment became law, 16-year-old firearm traffickers would get permits in Vermont (though Vermont has no licensing system), and then go to other states carrying large numbers of handguns in backpacks, to be illegally sold to criminals. How they would get around the federal minimum 21 year age requirement to buy a handgun was not explained.
When permit holders travel across state lines, the validity of their permits depends upon a patchwork of shifting state reciprocity agreements. This is the type of problem the Constitution empowers Congress to solve, giving it authority to have states extend “full faith and credit” to each others’ public acts.
CBP Backing Off on Knife Import Ban
U.S. Customs & Border Protection has backed off on its proposal to ban the importation of assisted opening pocket knives. CBP sent a July 21st dated letter to Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) (Oregon is home to many knife manufacturers) indicating it has halted its attempts to ban the knives for the time being.
CBP attributes its new move to the July 9th offering of an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations Act by Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) to exclude spring-assisted knives from the prohibition on importation of switchblade knives. The amendment if passed into law, CBP says, would render the issue of whether such knives fall under the federal definition of a switchblade knife to be moot.
There are certain exceptions to the prohibitions contained in the federal switchblade knife act and Sen. Cornyn’s amendment adds another as follows: “A knife that contains a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist, or arm to overcome the bias toward closure to assist in opening the knife.”
The language in the amendment, according to KnifeRights.org clearly covers virtually all non-automatic folding knife mechanisms, regardless of whether they have a spring assist or not, or whether they are designed to be opened with one hand or not. These style folders are biased toward closure as compared to a conventional switchblade in which the spring is constantly applying pressure on the blade when the blade is closed and thus it is biased toward opening, requiring only the release of the blade to open automatically.
This amendment unanimously passed the Senate. The Appropriations Act, with the amendment intact, has not yet been signed into law.
Obama’s Three-Prong Attack on Firearms
The U.S. Senate has confirmed President Obama’s choice of Professor Harold Koh to be State Department legal advisor. Koh is a transnationalist and an ardent opponent of gun ownership.
Koh, recently the dean of Yale Law School, was confirmed as State Department Legal Advisor with 35 votes against him. He now becomes the top U.S. authority on international law, and the top advisor to the president and Secretary of State about America’s obligations and treaty commitments.
Koh openly advocates a global gun-control regime, run by the international community and based on foreign law that would ban all handguns and subject all other firearms to draconian restrictions.
Additionally, Obama’s nominee as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control is Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), who was confirmed in late June. Tauscher is also a fierce opponent of gun rights who holds an “F” rating by the National Rifle Association. Tauscher is the Obama administration’s point person on pending United Nations gun ban treaties, advised by Koh.
The third nominee is Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. In addition to Judge Sotomayor’s support of using international law in U.S. courts, her longtime opposition to gun rights became a central issue in her confirmation battle.
Many insiders believe that Koh would be an ideal pick for President Obama to make the first Asian-American nominated to the High Court, where he would then be the most liberal justice in U.S. history and tip the scales to 4-to-3 against freedom.
Thus, Harold Koh’s nomination becomes part of a broader pattern, where adherents of foreign law and gun control intersect both at the U.N. and the Supreme Court, to effectively end U.S. firearms ownership.
Pro-Gun Senator Puts Hold on Obama Nominee
President Obama’s nominee for “regulatory czar” has hit a new snag in his Senate confirmation process - a “hold” by Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who says he’s not convinced that Harvard professor Cass Sunstein won’t push a radical animal rights agenda, including new restrictions on agriculture and even hunting. Senators are permitted “holds” to prevent a vote on a nominee from coming to the floor.
“Sen. Cornyn finds numerous aspects of Mr. Sunstein’s record troubling, specifically the fact that he wants to establish legal ‘rights’ for livestock, wildlife and pets, which would enable animals to file lawsuits in American courts,” the Republican’s spokesman, Kevin McLaughlin, said to FOXNews.com.
Cornyn’s hold on Sunstein comes just as Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, lifted his own hold on the nominee, whom Obama tapped in April to become the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Budget and Management.
Chambliss said he was dropping his hold because Sunstein had convinced him that he “would not take any steps to promote litigation on behalf of animals,” and that he believes the “Second Amendment creates an individual right to possess guns for purposes of both hunting and self defense.”
One of Sunstein’s jobs would be to review and provide guidance for draft federal regulations at different federal agencies.
In a 2007 speech at Harvard, Sunstein also advocated banning hunting and encouraging the general public to eat less meat. The Center for Consumer Freedom’s David Martosko, a Sunstein critic, said those positions make the agricultural industry - major stakeholders in the states represented by both Chambliss and Cornyn - nervous.
Palin Addresses NRA Gun Collector’s Event
One bright spot on the political scene is that former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made one of her first public appearances since she resigned as Alaska governor by addressing a gathering of gun collectors organized by the National Rifle Association.
The former GOP vice presidential candidate gave a speech on Second Amendment rights at a banquet in Anchorage.
The event capped a four-day National Rifle Association seminar hosted by the Alaska Gun Collectors Association.
NRA director Wayne Anthony Ross, president of the gun collectors’ group, says Palin attended the dinner with her husband, Todd. Ross says about 130 people were at the banquet.
Gun collector groups from outside the state presented Palin with lifetime memberships. She also received the NRA’s Gold Medal Award of Merit for the Promotion of Gun Collecting.
Sturm, Ruger Reports 87% 2nd Qtr. Sales Gain
Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. reported sales surged 87.1% in the second quarter to $72.4 million from $38.7 million a year ago. Earnings jumped to $8.7 million, or 46 cents a share, from $1.1 million, or 5 cents, a year ago.
Firearms unit production grew 63% from the second quarter of 2008 and 18% from the first quarter of 2009.
For the six months ended July 4, sales climbed to $135.9 million from $81.2 million a year earlier. Earnings went to $14.5 million, or 76 cents a share, from $2.5 million, or 12 cents, a year ago. The company said its year-to-date sales growth was due to:
- About 50% to new products (LCP, LCR, SR-9, and SR-556),
- Approximately 25% to the industry-wide surge in demand that began in the fourth quarter of 2008, and
- Approximately 25% to increased market share.
Ruger’s Board of Directors declared a dividend of 12.3 cents per share for the second quarter. The company declared its first dividend in over three years at the close of the first quarter.
The company’s backlog dropped to 412,300 units as orders received in the second quarter decreased by 59% from the first quarter of 2009. This decline was attributed to:
- A reduction in the industry-wide surge in demand that began in the fourth quarter of 2008,
- The large backlog at the end of the first quarter that discouraged further orders,
- The prolonged ammunition shortage at retail that hindered retail firearms sales.
Ireland Bans Handguns
On the international scene, Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has signed new gun control legislation into law.
The act bans handguns in Ireland and also introduces a requirement for referees, background medical checks and standards for the safe keeping of guns in the home for all firearms license applicants.
It also makes it an offense to brandish a realistic imitation firearm in public.
Ahern says the legislation is designed to halt the emergence of ‘a gun culture’ in Ireland.
Carson, CA Bans Mail Order Ammo Sales
On July 21, the City of Carson passed an ordinance that requires the registration of all ammunition sales. The ordinance also requires all ammunition vendors to obtain a license from the City, and will additionally require that all ammunition sales transactions be conducted via a face-to-face transaction, effectively banning mail order and Internet purchases of ammunition.
The ordinance is now waiting on the desk of Mayor Jim Dear for his consideration. The ordinance does not require his signature to become law, and as such it went into effect August 20, 2009.
The author publishes two of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. Visit www.FirearmsGroup.com. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.
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