“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”
United States – -(AmmoLand.com)- Second Amendment supporters often focus on efforts by anti-Second Amendment extremists to do one of two things: Either ban firearms or to make it harder for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights. There is a third tack that anti-Second Amendment extremists also take: They try to expand the number of people who are ineligible to even possess a firearm.
This is the approach that Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL) took with HR 1116, the Keeping Guns from High-Risk Individuals Act. It is the sort of attack that Second Amendment supporters need to defend against but doing so can be a bit risky.
Why? Because, in some instances, people who pass background checks, and who then proceed to misuse firearms often had criminal charges that while they didn’t trigger the provisions of 18 USC 922, they did point to a potential for violence. Now, some folks probably should be denied firearms, something that is contemplated in the Heller decision, which states, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill.”
However, Kelly’s legislation is way outside the bounds established by Heller. The text of the legislation adds four new disqualifying conditions, and none of them are really well-established historically as valid reasons to deny rights. For instance, it has long been the case that juvenile records are sealed once a person is an adult, yet Kelly’s bill seeks to use juvenile convictions as reason to deny Second Amendment rights.
The provision on alcohol and controlled substances seems to be duplicative of what is already in 18 USC 922. The other two provisions, on crimes of violence and stalking, would catch a number of people convicted of misdemeanors into the “prohibited person” category.
Those are all bad enough, but this bill also appears to violate Constitutional provisions against ex post facto laws. In this case, as was the case with the 1996 Lautenberg Amendment involving domestic violence, new punishments are added to crimes adjudicated long before the bill was proposed. Someone who agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge over a bar fight would find themselves a federal felon with the stroke of a pen if they kept a hunting rifle under this law’s provisions.
If stalking and crimes of violence are serious enough to take rights away, then politicians should be willing to take the heat of increasing the penalties so that they become felonies. Even if new categories are added to “prohibited persons,” then it should be made clear that such additions only take effect after the law is signed.
The fact is, there is no way to make HR 1116 even remotely acceptable. Second Amendment supporters should contact their Senators and Representative and politely ask that they oppose this legislation.