URGENT ACTION ALERT: VERMONT
This is the last chance for the pubic to speak in opposition to the gun control ballot issues before the March 4, Town Meeting Day vote. *Please visit the following links to read the proposed Charter Changes and their accompanying City...
COLORADO ALERT: 2013 Anti-Gun Bills at the State Capitol
Updated information on anti-Second Amendment bills in the 2013 Colorado Legislature: We can expect 14 to 20 anti-gun bills. The current Democrat package includes: â— A ban on an undetermined number of semi-automatic firearms (No grandfather...
The Republicans have retained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, albeit by a slim margin. Control of the Senate control is evenly split, with deciding votes being made by the Vice President of the United States, in his role as President...
The election is over. Our course into the 21st Century is charted. A new Congress soon will be seated and state legislatures across the country are gearing up for their 2001 sessions. This is your opportunity to (re) introduce yourself to your new...
This is it. This is the last Point Blank you will receive before the November election. And this is your last chance to influence the outcome of that election. How can I do that? How can I act to protect my right to keep and bear arms? What can I...
October 2015 Gun Rights Defender – California Assemblyman Brian Jones
September 2015 Gun Rights Defender – Sheriff Daryl Wheeler and Police Chief Drew McLain
When word spread that a U.S. Navy veterans’ gun rights were in jeopardy because of a decision by the Veteran’s Administration, scores of protesters showed up at the man’s home in Priest River, Idaho, but the most prominent of them all were Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler and Priest River Police Chief Drew McLain.
The Bonner County Daily Bee reported that both lawmen “were present as firm supporters of the Second Amendment and defenders of Idaho Statute 18-3315B, which prohibits local law enforcement agencies from aiding a federal agency from seizing firearms without an order of the court.”
The protest was prompted by a letter sent to Vietnam-era Navy veteran John Arnold following a stroke he suffered nearly a year before. The VA reportedly determined that because Arnold assistance managing his financial affairs, he was “incompetent” and therefore he could not purchase or possess firearms.”
But Arnold told the newspaper that while his stroke “screwed me up pretty bad” it “didn’t screw up my mind.” He retained his faculties and was eager to chat with reporters who showed up to cover the controversy.
News of Arnold’s plight set off a chain reaction that brought other veterans and gun rights advocates from all over the landscape, including Idaho State Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) and Washington State Rep. Matt Shea, a Spokane-area Republican, to Arnold’s defense, and his front yard.
But it was Wheeler and McLain whose presence added an official touch to the somewhat spontaneous gathering of friends, neighbors and supporters who were not about to let the federal government disarm the aging veteran. By one count, more than 100 supporters showed up.
David Cooper with the American Legion was one of those who supported Arnold, telling the crowd that the Navy veteran “pays his own bills and does everything else other than drive and to declare him incompetent is a joke,” the newspaper reported.
According to the Boise Weekly, “The Bonner County Sheriff ’s Office and the Priest River Police Department said they would support any effort to resist the seizure of the firearms.”
Among those citizens who showed up at Arnold’s residence were several who were openly carrying sidearms. The protest gained lots of media notoriety, and in the end, nobody showed up to confiscate firearms belonging to Arnold.
Sheriffs and police chiefs rarely show up in support of a gun rights issue. This time they stood out in a crowd that prevented the seizure of Arnold’s firearms and infringement of his rights.
By no small surprise, the VA later rescinded its initial decision and declared Arnold to be competent after all.
For their willingness to step forward and prevent an injustice, Sheriff Wheeler and Chief McLain both earn recognition as Defenders of the Month.
August 2015 Gun Rights Defender – Maine Governor Paul LePage, Sen. Eric Brakey
When Maine Governor Paul LePage signed legislation that will allow “constitutional carry” of firearms without a permit, the gun prohibition lobby was infuriated, accusing him of going against the wishes of a majority of Pine Tree State voters.
But rights aren’t up to a popular vote or an opinion poll, so the Republican governor was sticking up for the right to keep and bear arms.
The legislation, dubbed “An Act To Authorize the Carrying of Concealed Handguns without a Permit,” was sponsored by freshman Republican Sen. Eric Brakey, elected last year and at age 26, the youngest serving member of the Maine State Senate. More about this rising star in a minute.
The 66-year-old Gov. LePage formerly served as a member of the Waterville City Council and then as that community’s mayor. A former businessman and consultant, his first run for governor was in 2010, and he was re-elected in 2014, becoming the first Republican to take the office in two decades, and hold onto it. He is the 74th governor of the state, and a Maine native, born in Lewiston.
According to a biography on-line, Gov. LePage grew up under tough conditions and spoke French as his primary language. When he applied to Husson University, he had to take a written SAT exam in French after having been rejected on a poor verbal score. Intervening on his behalf was the first husband of former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, Peter Snowe. LePage went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, and he earned a Master ’s in Business Administration from the University of Maine.
The often-sharp-spoken LePage is no stranger to ruffling feathers, and he certainly did not break character when he signed the new law, making Maine the fifth state in the nation to adopt permitless carry. In so doing, he went against police chiefs in the state, who had argued that the background checks required for a carry permit kept guns out of the hands of felons. The new law is slated to take effect in mid-October.
A target of criticism by the media, LePage has sometimes criticized the press as well.
Maine is among states that allow open carry without a permit, but concealed carry has required a background check. Critics of the measure essentially brought their talking points from the anti-gun playbook, arguing that it would allow criminals to carry guns, as if they didn’t already.
But the new law had what one newspaper called “broad bipartisan support,” pretty much clinching the deal and allowing Maine to join ranks with Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Kansas. Laws that expand the carry rights of law-abiding citizens grate on anti-gunners, who have fought similar efforts including nearby New Hampshire, where that state’s governor vetoed “constitutional carry” legislation about the same time that LePage was inking the Maine measure in Augusta.
That signature will likely put Sen. Brakey’s name “on the map” for Maine Second Amendment activists. Right out of the gate earlier this year, Brakey introduced the legislation that has now become law. What is clearly important here is that Brakey put forth the effort with bipartisan support; the kind of accomplishment that typically comes with a few years of seniority.
According to an on-line biography, Brakey got a majority of votes in all five of the municipalities in the district he represents; a feat that hasn’t been seen since former U.S. Sen. Snowe ran in 1976 for the state Senate.
But Brakey has obviously hit the ground running, being named chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, and serving on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
A resident of Auburn, he represents District 20, which includes his hometown, plus the communities of Mechanic Falls, Minot, New Gloucester and Poland.
He’s no newcomer, since his family has been in Maine for eighth generations.
Perhaps the best news for Pine Tree State gun owners is that he’s not term limited until 2022. When he’s not doing politics, Brakey serves as the financial manager for Brakey Energy, a family business.
He graduated from Ohio University, Honors Tutorial College, and he is a volunteer with the Lewiston/Auburn Community Little Theatre and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Androscoggin County.
July 2015 Gun Rights Defender – Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT)
When Utah Congressman Rob Bishop introduced H.R. 2710 – the Lawful Purpose and Self-Defense Act of 2015 – he fired a political shot across the bow of an agency that has seemed to many to be out of control for years with law-abiding gun owners as the ultimate victims, and an administration that has not discouraged overreach when it comes to firearms regulation.
The measure quickly picked up co-sponsors, and got fast support from gun rights organizations including the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
The legislation would strip the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of the authority to ban popular ammunition for the AR-15 rifle, and also change the “sporting purposes” and “sporting use” standards on the importation of shotguns and ammunition that are used for self-defense.
CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb issued a statement reminding Congress that “There is no ‘sporting purpose’ stipulation in the Second Amendment, and there should not be one in federal law. The right to keep and bear arms is not just about hunting or target shooting.”
“It is long past the time for the ‘sporting purposes’ provision to cease to be the standard by which firearms and ammunition are judged,” he added. “That standard has allowed a bureaucracy to decide what are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ guns and ammunition, when there has never been any justification. Bishop’s measure is a great idea.”
Rep. Bishop spent 16 years in the Utah Legislature, including a term as Majority leader and as Speaker of the House. He also served two terms as chairman of the Utah State Republican Party and is a co-founder of the 10th Amendment Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives
He chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources and serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Readiness Subcommittee. He also served on the House Rules committee and was instrumental in creating the 10th Amendment Task Force.
In a press release announcing his legislation, Bishop asserted that the ATF “has exploited vagaries present in federal gun law to chip away at basic rights. This legislation will slap the over-reaching hand of the federal government and restore some of the freedoms our grandparents enjoyed.”
“Congressman Bishop’s legislation represents a good step forward in the effort to expand Second Amendment rights and self-defense protections,” Gottlieb said. “The right to keep and bear arms may encompass hunting and competition, but that’s not why the Founders included it in the Bill of Rights.”
June 2015 Gun Rights Defender – Seth Lipsky
Defending a constitutional right takes many forms, and every so often, it comes in the form of a verbal bow shot in what might be called “enemy territory” where the idea of exercising the right to keep and bear arms seems as alien as Michael Rennie’s “Klaatu” character emerging from a flying saucer in the classic The Day The Earth Stood Still. Veteran editor and journalist Seth Lipsky, founder of the New York Sun – and writing in the New York Post – nailed it recently when he discussed the potentially national ramifications of the recent federal court ruling against the District of Columbia’s “good reason” requirement for obtaining a handgun carry permit.
Said Lipsky: “It’s a big deal because the ‘good reason’ hurdle is being used by municipalities to evade the Bill of Rights. What would be the reaction were Americans required to show “good reason” before they were allowed to pray in public? Or before they were allowed to speak on a street corner? Or before they were allowed to publish or read newspapers? Or, for that matter, to demand to see a search warrant. Or to remain silent when arrested. All are protected under the Bill of Rights. No questions asked.”
Quoting Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and founder of CCRKBA’s sister organization – and winning plaintiff in the District lawsuit – Lipsky seemed to agree wholeheartedly with Gottlieb’s assertion that this was “a devastating loss for the District and its anti-gun-rights policy.”
Lipsky founded the New York Sun, which operated as a print edition from 2002 to 2008 and is now available on- line. He proved to be no slouch when reminding Empire State officials, and especially those in the Big Apple who perpetuate the city’s Draconian gun laws, that New York has gone a long way downhill when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms. New York City makes it financially and bureaucratically difficult, if not impossible, for the vast majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain a carry permit.
Lipsky’s opinion column reached a lot of people, and perhaps raised a lot of eyebrows in the process. That’s frequently how people defend one right, or all of them; by education and provocation, and sometimes a verbal slap with a wet towel.
Writing about federal Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr ’s 23-page order declaring that the “good reason” requirement did not pass the constitutional smell test, Lipsky stated, “He blocked the city from enforcing its handgun law, and he set an “expedited schedule” to resolve outstanding details.
“That suggested the judge was tired of local officials trying to resist several Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment,” Lipsky’s commentary continued. “The Heller case, for example, established that the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ is an individual right, not that of a militia. “Heller, though, was also acase from Washington, DC, which is governed, ultimately, by Congress,” he reminded readers. “A second landmark decision, known as McDonald v. Chicago, required the states to obey the Second Amendment.
“Could this pattern be repeated in the case just decided,” Lipsky mused. “It may be that the local authorities won’t appeal, lest they risk setting a national precedent. It’s also possible to imagine that Congress will wake up to what’s happening in its own back yard.”
“This is an irony for New York,” Lipsky lamented. “The most progressive state is one of the most regressive when it comes to the Second Amendment. And it’s a far cry from New York’s roots; the state ratified the Constitution only on the condition that it would protect the right to bear arms. It carefully marked that condition in a famous statement put out in Poughkeepsie at the time the Constitution was ratified.
“It asserted that the ‘people have the right to keep and bear arms’,” he reminded readers. “It said nothing about them having to show good reason.”
May 2015 Gun Rights Defender – Dave Daniel
Josephine County, Oregon Sheriff Dave Daniel recently made headlines when he told a Grants Pass newspaper that enforcing a new so-called “universal background check” law would not be among his priorities.
The former Oregon State Trooper and Grants Pass police officer and said he did not plan to enforce such a law, which was still making its way through the legislature. Violation of the law would only be a Class B misdemeanor, and with his budget constraints and resulting small staff, his department has its hands full with more serious crimes.
During his campaign, Sheriff Daniel did comment on concealed carry saying, “I believe all persons who have no mental issues, a clean criminal history, and the physical ability to operate a firearm safely should have equal access to a C.C.W. There is a reason why laws have been enacted for private citizens to carry weapons legally, and I feel personal protection is a good cause for issuing a C.C.W.”
Sheriff Daniel is not alone in his thinking about universal background check laws. Sheriffs in other states, including neighboring Washington, have strongly indicated their objection to such laws. Sheriffs in New York and Colorado have also said they would not enforce such laws.
Last year, voters in Washington passed Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure that requires background checks on all firearm transfers, defined in the language of the law as “the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans.”
The sheriff told Point Blank that he opposed the background check measure early on in the legislative process, not only because it might infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, but because he also thinks it’s a waste of money that could be better spent on mental health and enforcing existing laws against felons possessing firearms and using them in the commission of crimes.
Sometimes a Defender of the Month isn’t recognized for just rushing headlong at a problem, but for looking at it, laying it out and determining the best way to beat it.
In Daniel’s case, he is caught in the middle of a dilemma. A background check law passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and signed by the governor would supersede the county charter. That charter says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Sheriff Daniel is a fellow with an overwhelming challenge. His department is under-funded and under-manned, and yet he appears to have a pretty keen sense about priorities and where that state should be spending its money in terms of fighting crime.
April 2015 Defender- Bill Mateja
EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF FOR TEXAS ATTORNEY
Thirteen years of experience with the Department of Justice appears to be paying off for Second Amendment advocates in the form of Texas attorney Bill Mateja, a principal in the Dallas office of Fish & Richardson, P.C.
He is the “boots on the ground” legal counsel in the case of Mance v. Holder, the case brought by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms that found the ban on interstate handgun sales to be unconstitutional. He’s also the CCRKBA April 2015 Defender of the Month.
Mateja was teamed with attorney Alan Gura, who won the Second Amendment Foundation’s celebrated case of McDonald v. City of Chicago, extending the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment.
William B. “Bill” Mateja has more than a quarter-century of legal experience. During his time with the Justice Department, , he was senior counsel to U.S. Deputy Attorneys General Larry Thompson and James Comey in Washington, D.C., and he also worked for the department in Texas. He was the justice Department’s special counsel for Health Care fraud and also worked on the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force.
Now in private practice, Mateja works for clients with a variety of legal issues from the local to the federal level. “D” magazine named Mateja as one of the “Best Lawyers in Dallas” in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, and he was also included in the 2011 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in the practice area of Commercial Litigation, according to his biography.
One cannot gauge the value of this kind of experience until one sees it at work. The Mance case, according to CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, could have far-reaching implications.
“Our lawsuit strikes at the heart of a debate that has been ongoing for several years, since the creation of the National Instant Check System (NICS),” Gottlieb said. “With the advent of the NICS system, it makes no sense to perpetuate a ban on interstate transfers of handguns.”
CCRKBA’s case is financially supported by SAF, and is but one of the legal actions against gun laws that Gura has handled for the foundation.
March 2015 Defenders- Fredric Russell Mance, Jr., Andrew & Tracey Ambeau Hanson
DEFENDERS COME IN BUNCHES!
When it comes to standing up for firearms rights, one of the best examples recently involved three people, the plaintiffs in a case filed by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, that found the judge declaring the long-standing ban on interstate handgun transfers to be unconstitutional.
Texas firearms retailer Fredric Russell Mance, Jr., and Andrew and Tracey Ambeau Hanson of Washington, D.C. can lay claim to something few others have been able to accomplish. Their federal complaint against Attorney General Eric Holder and the interstate handgun transfers ban produced a significant victory for the Second Amendment.
As noted elsewhere in this issue, CCRKBA – with financial support from the Second Amendment Foundation – and these three citizens took on a very politically incorrect statute. The Hansons, after being turned down on a handgun purchase by Mance because of the interstate handgun sales ban, went after the law. Mance had his own issues as this affected his business, and they worked with CCRKBA attorneys Alan Gura of Virginia and William B. Mateja of Dallas.
This was a speedy case, too, suggesting that it was solid from the opening gavel.
At issue was the federal regulation as it relates to the buying, selling, and transporting of handguns over state lines under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(a) (3) and 922(b)(3). Long story short, the lawsuit contended that the ban on interstate handgun transfers infringes on a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution, according to the opinion from U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division.
The Hansons would have had to have the handgun shipped to the single federally-licensed firearms retailer in the District, and he charges a $125 fee per transfer, therefore adding considerable expense on the exercise of a civil right. That retailer does not keep an inventory of firearms, the ruling noted.
It was a rare foray into the court system for CCRKBA, acknowledged Chairman Alan Gottlieb.
But this case seemed tailor made for the organization because it strikes at the very heart of what the right to keep and bear arms is all about.
At the time the lawsuit was filed, which was only in July of last year, Gottlieb stated, “It is overreaching, if not downright silly, in today’s environment with the federal instant background check system to perpetuate a prohibition on interstate handgun purchases that has outlived its usefulness. If a law-abiding citizen can clear a background check and legally purchase a handgun in his own state, he would pass the same background check just across the border in another state.”
Point Blank has frequently recognized the contributions of attorney Alan Gura to the restoration of Second Amendment rights, and Dallas attorney Bill Mateja deserves an honorable mention for his work on this case as well.
While it is likely the ruling will be appealed, Gottlieb and both attorneys are confident CCRKBA will prevail at the Fifth Circuit.
But none of this would have been possible without the three eager plaintiffs, all CCRKBA members, who were willing to join in this legal action. When all is said and done, defending the Second Amendment is a job that invariably falls into the laps of individual citizens who step forward and do the right thing.
February 2015 Defender- State Rep. Jim Lucas
INDIANA’S REP. LUCAS DEFENDS RIGHTS
When Indiana State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-69th District) recently introduced legislation that would repeal the state’s concealed carry structure and replace it with so-called “constitutional carry,” it did not seem out of step for the Marine Corps veteran who was first elected in 2012.
Lucas’ House Bill 1144 would amend state law to allow the lawful concealed carry of a sidearm without a permit by anyone who could legally own or possess a handgun. According to a report by WRTV in Indianapolis, there are more than 570,700 carry permits in Indiana. With a population of 6.5 million, that makes the state one of the top in terms of per capita concealed carry.
This is not Lucas’ first foray in the gun rights arena. He sponsored legislation that would allow a citizen to store firearms in their vehicles, out of sight, while on school property. This would benefit parents who might have occasion to come to a school for a parent-teacher conference, or in the event of a student illness or injury.
He also sponsored an amendment to remove restrictions on guns in schools and allow trained school employees to carry firearms during school hours. At the time, Lucas observed that so-called “gun-free zones” were actually “defenseless zones,” where people cannot defend themselves against a criminal attack.
Constitutional Carry is not a new concept. Other states, including Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and most of Montana, allow unlicensed carry, openly or concealed. Indeed, before state governments got into the permit business, citizens did carry openly or concealed. There is a growing advocacy for the concept.
Re-elected last fall, Lucas represents portions of Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings and Jefferson counties, according to a brief biography on his website. He is vice chair of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, and he also serves on the Education and Public Policy committees.
Before being elected to the General Assembly, Lucas served on the Seymour City Council. He’s got a business background as the owner of The Awning Guy, Inc. His biography also notes that the right to bear arms is one of his legislative priorities, and so far, his record shows that to be true.
He lives in Seymour with his wife, Lynn. They have three children.
Upon introducing his carry legislation, Lucas told WRTV/ABC6 news that, “I want to remove one more obstacle” in the path of law-abiding citizens so they can defend themselves.
January 2015 Defender- Governor John Kasich
OHIO’S KASICH REBUFFS ANTIS, SIGNS PRO-GUN MEASURE
When Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed legislation to allow the use of suppressors by hunters, while also reforming the state’s concealed carry statute, he did so despite pleas by national gun prohibition lobbying groups to veto the bill.
Kasich’s signing was praised by Brett Pucillo, president of Ohio Carry, who acknowledged that the legislation was not “perfect,” but it was a “large step forward for firearm rights in Ohio.”
Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said the new law “restores rights that we’ve lost.” He called it “good public policy.”
The governor and former congressman had heavy legislative votes backing up his decision. The legislation had passed the state Senate 24-6 and the House 72-21.
Anti-gunners insist the new law will make it easier for citizens to get concealed carry permits. Law-abiding Buckeye State citizens are facing smaller hurdles to exercise their rights.
Republican Kasich spent nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. From 2001 to 2007, he worked for the Fox News channel as host of his own program, and he also held a job in the private sector.
He was elected governor first in 2010 defeating incumbent Ted Strickland, and in November he was re-elected to another term, turning back a challenge by Democrat Ed FitzGerald by a wide margin.
Under the legislation Kasich signed, concealed carry applicants will only have to attend training courses lasting eight hours instead of 12 hours. The new law also eases residency requirements and it expands concealed carry reciprocity for non-residents who are licensed in other states. It also extends “competency certification” to military veterans and allows non-residents who work in Ohio to apply for a carry permit where they work.
All of these things make anti-gunners furious.
Kasich has not always seen favor with Second Amendment advocates, but this time around, his signature on H. 234 is definitely considered a victory by gun rights organizations. The new law will take effect in March, 90 days after it was signed.
When he ran for governor, Kasich insisted he believes in the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and he has held to that. By signing the legislation, he’s earned recognition as the gun rights defender of the month.