This feature appears in the August ’16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
Attention, Maine, Nevada and California: Anti-gun forces are passing restrictive state ballot measures off as “gun safety” initiatives, hoping to ensnare law-abiding citizens.
As November draws near, the nation’s attention is naturally drawn to the battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for the White House. While this is always the case in presidential election years, it is especially true in this cycle given Clinton’s desire to run a campaign centered on imposing gun control.
We’ve never had a presidential election like this one. It’s not an understatement to say that the Second Amendment is on the ballot this November. America’s choice for president will determine the fate of our gun rights for present and future generations.
At the same time, we must protect freedom everywhere it is under attack in November, especially where Michael Bloomberg has focused his vast fortune to push his gun control agenda at the state level. Under the guise of direct democracy, Bloomberg is funding several ballot initiatives to destroy the Second Amendment incrementally, one state, and one ballot question, at a time.
Bloomberg has targeted two states for his stealth campaign—Maine and Nevada. Gavin Newsom, the vehemently anti-gun lieutenant governor of California, has followed Bloomberg’s lead and has introduced a ballot measure similarly attacking the Second Amendment freedoms of Californians, but in a more direct and comprehensive way.
In all three states, the campaigns in support of these ballot questions are clearly aimed to deceive voters into believing they are benign “gun safety” measures that do not strip the law-abiding of their Second Amendment-protected rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s start with Maine and Nevada, because in both cases the imposition of a “universal” background check on the sale or transfer of any firearm between law-abiding individuals is at issue.
The initiatives in these two states are similar but not identical. For instance, there are minor differences in the exceptions provided. However, in actual practice, the effect is the same: the criminalization of simply lending a rifle, shotgun or handgun to a friend even for completely legitimate purposes.Forcing law-abiding people to submit to background checks on ammunition will have no impact on violent crime.
Both initiatives would forbid an individual from transferring a firearm to another person unless facilitated through a licensed firearm dealer. Both parties to the transfer must appear jointly at a willing dealer, who must conduct a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and comply with all state and federal requirements as though he were selling or transferring a firearm out of his own inventory.
While proponents of the initiatives often refer to them as background checks on sales of firearms, the true effect would be to criminalize otherwise lawful behaviors with firearms. As a general rule, the background check requirement would apply to all transfers, not just sales. The Maine language specifically includes “sell, furnish, give, lend, deliver or otherwise provide” a firearm to another, with very limited exceptions.
Want to lend a rifle to your friend to go hunting? Under these initiatives you’d better think again. And that’s exactly what Bloomberg wants—to chill your Second Amendment-protected rights to the point where they effectively have been stripped away.
In fact, the Nevada initiative lacks a definition of “transfer” completely, but the inclusion of very limited exceptions implies that the simple act of handing a firearm to another person would be illegal if the initiative becomes law. The overbroad nature of the initiative would criminalize many transfers that take place every day among our friends and neighbors, and as we know, these activities have nothing to do with violent crime.
The only permanent transfers that would be generally exempt from the background check requirements of the Nevada measure are those by or to law enforcement agencies or their employees as part of their official duties; transfers of antique firearms; transfers between immediate family members; and transfers that are part of estates or trusts that happen due to the death of the former owner.
So even with these new laws on the books, violent crime won’t be reduced and perfectly reasonable, law-abiding behavior will be banned.These initiatives will not stop violent criminals. Instead, law-abiding citizens will pay the price of increased red tape and potential criminal charges for failing to comply with background check requirements.
We all know that so-called “universal” background checks are not universal because criminals will never comply. Criminals will continue to break the law and acquire firearms as they always have—through the black market, straw purchasers, theft and other illicit sources on the street.
Further, according to the National Institute of Justice, “universal” background checks are unenforceable without requiring complete gun registration. So even with these new laws on the books, violent crime won’t be reduced and perfectly reasonable, law-abiding behavior will be banned. And you can trust that Bloomberg, if he’s successful in these states with these initiatives, will be back asking for registration so that background checks can be enforced.
Bloomberg and his anti-gun allies are counting on voters in Nevada and Maine to buy into their misleading and emotional arguments, and ignore the hard fact that expanded background checks will only apply to people who willingly obey the law.
Exploiting the initiative process is a fast-growing tactic of the anti-gun movement. Having failed in most states to convince well-informed state legislators to enact their freedom-killing proposals, they are now adopting the initiative process as a way to impose their agenda.
For more information on these initiatives, go to the following web page for more information:
The list goes on. So what else does the gun control crowd want to add?
The California proposal would require background checks for all ammunition purchases; require that any seller of ammunition have a state license; and ban the possession of standard capacity magazines.
Almost 50 years ago, ammunition sales became regulated under federal law. After a few years, the law was so unworkable that Congress repealed it. As is so often the case, anti-gunners never learn from their failures. For politicians like Newsom, there is no gun law that goes too far. Forcing law-abiding people to submit to background checks on ammunition will have no impact on violent crime.The NRA is the nation’s strongest grassroots organization because our members and supporters understand that we must win every battle today, while never losing sight of the broader war to protect our freedoms.
Back in 2000, California banned the sale of standard capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. That law “grandfathered” magazines that were already owned by millions of gun owners. This initiative, however, would make mere possession of these currently legal magazines a crime. Therefore, magazines that were purchased legally 20 years ago or more and owned responsibly for decades would suddenly become contraband and turn law-abiding people into instant criminals.
Over the past two decades, California has succumbed to the idea that there is only one answer to violent crime—gun control. Anti-gun politicians pass a new law claiming it will fix the problem, and when that law fails, they call for more. The truth is, the multitude of anti-gun laws in California will not, and cannot, protect the public from violent crime. The laws on the books in California certainly did not stop the terrorist attack in San Bernardino last December, nor the mass murder in Santa Barbara prior to that.
But truth has never been a part of the debate for people like Newsom. And his latest initiative is proof that anti-gunners will never be satisfied until they completely outlaw gun ownership.
What is happening in these three states should be of great concern to all gun owners. Campaign finance reports show that by June, Bloomberg groups had contributed $3 million in Maine and slightly more than $3 million in Nevada. There is no telling what they might contribute in California.
With millions of dollars from anti-gun billionaires like Bloomberg, the initiative process poses a serious threat to our fundamental freedoms. If you live in one of the 24 states that have an initiative process, take action now to learn how it works and how you can fight back if the anti-gun forces target your state.
The NRA is the nation’s strongest grassroots organization because our members and supporters understand that we must win every battle today, while never losing sight of the broader war to protect our freedoms. We must come together and send a united message to elitist billionaires like Bloomberg, and radical anti-gun politicians like Newsom, that we will defend our rights no matter the venue, no matter the approach, and no matter how much money is spent to try and deceive the American people.