Two Senate Democrats—Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.—have broken ranks with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his campaign to block the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Schumer is pressuring Senate Dems to support an unprecedented filibuster against Gorsuch: “If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes … the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee.” However, Schumer and Sen. Harry Reid did exactly that in 2013 when they changed Senate rules to require a simple majority to approve lower court judges—not a single nominee was changed.
On the other side, NRA-ILA announced plans to score the Gorsuch vote in the upcoming elections, and is targeting Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018 with a $1 million ad buy, challenging them to support gun rights and confirm Gorsuch. Heitkamp was one of those targeted.
These two senators have chosen to defy Schumer’s partisanship and honor the wishes of their constituents. We’ll be watching closely to see if any of the other vulnerable senators follow suit.
Hundreds Gather To Speak On Texas “Permitless” Carry Bill
Encouraged by last session’s passage of both open-carry and campus-carry legislation, supporters of two constitutional carry measures showed up in droves at a Capitol hearing on Tuesday. According to the Star-Telegram, more than 320 Texans signed up to speak before the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee regarding HB375 and HB1911.
Supporters say the $140 carry permit—among the most expensive in the nation—caused low-income individuals to be unfairly priced out of their rights. HB375’s sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Strickland, explained the fee was actually unfair for everyone: “I don’t think the government has the right to sell us back our rights,” he said.
As Rep. James White noted, Texas already has constitutional carry for rifles and long arms. “Whether licensed or unlicensed—or a possessor of a pistol, revolver or rifle—the eligibility requirements should be the same,” he said.
So far, 17 lawmakers are co-sponsoring HB375 and 22 are co-sponsoring HB1911, indicating their willingness to side with a majority of their constituents. “Texans are sick of big government. They’re sick of wondering if their rights are always disappearing,” Strickland said.
Georgia Lawmakers Pass Campus-Carry Measure
Nearly a year ago, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed campus-carry legislation. Yesterday, a similar bill was passed by Georgia lawmakers on the final day of the legislative session and is now awaiting the Republican governor’s consideration.
House Bill 280 would allow law-abiding gun owners with a concealed-carry permit to carry firearms for protection on campus. Notable exemptions include athletic events, student housing, professor’s offices, on-campus child care centers, rooms used by high school students and rooms used for disciplinary hearings. The measure vetoed by Deal last year did not include these exemptions, and supporters hope these new exemptions will secure passage of the bill.
While the measure doesn’t provide for as widespread campus carry as some supporters had hoped, many proponents believe it is a good first step toward deregulating carry rights on Georgia campuses.
Pa. Game Commission Rejects Semi-Auto Rifles For Hunting
The Pennsylvania Game Commission last week rejected a rule that would have allowed hunters to use semi-automatic rifles in some of the most popular seasons throughout the state—just like is permitted in most other states.
Signed by Gov. Tom Wolf last November, Act 168 of 2016 eliminated the prohibition on the use of semi-automatic rifles for hunting and allowed for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to regulate these sporting rifles for all game species in accordance with season and bag limits. Yet the Game Commission’s Tuesday ruling essentially eradicated the efforts and progress made last session.
As most other states have discovered, allowing hunters to use semi-automatic rifles does nothing more than expand firearm selection for the hunter afield. Ending the prohibition on semi-automatic rifle hunting would have provided Pennsylvania hunters the same opportunities and options enjoyed by hunters in 48 states.
Use Your Power!
NRA-ILA is alerting Pennsylvania NRA members, hunters and gun owners that the Game Commission is set to meet again in June for further rulemaking. Please contact the game commissioners and urge them to reconsider and pass semi-automatic rifle hunting for big game seasons at the next rulemaking meeting. Contact them byclicking here.
79-Year-Old Alabama Homeowner Shoots Invader
A 79-year-old Center Point, Ala., man was sleeping early Wednesday morning when he heard a crash in the basement. When he opened the door to the stairs, he saw two men had broken in—and were heading up toward him. Fortunately, the homeowner had brought his gun.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies tell WVTM 13 that the homeowner, near-octogenarian John Croft, fired shots at the suspects as he confronted them on the stairs. One invader was hit while the other ran from the house. Croft gave chase, but the second suspect fired back, striking him.
When police arrived, they discovered Croft on the porch nursing a gunshot wound to the ankle and the other man inside, who was pronounced dead. Croft was treated and released, while the second suspect remains at large. Croft told reporters he lives by the Ten Commandments and did not want to kill, but he’s happy to be alive for his 80th birthday next month.