The Gun Doctor
Defense Bill Targets Military Members
Welcome to this week’s edition of The Gun Doctor!
The annual defense spending bill passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives includes a couple of anti-gun measures.
Besides hundreds of pages of defense spending, the bill includes language to allow so-called “red flag” gun seizures of privately held guns from service members as well as an amendment that would dial back long pushed for export reform on firearms.
The seizure plan, added to the bill by U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat with a long track record of supporting gun control, would allow a military court order to “restrain a person from possessing, receiving, or otherwise accessing a firearm.” This could be issued on an exparte basis, where the subject of the order is not present and only finds out about the order when the police knock on their door.
In other words, military personnel could be forcibly disarmed of their lawfully possessed firearms before having so much as an opportunity to contest the accusations against them and present evidence in their defense. This would represent a clear denial of constitutional due process protections for those who have sworn an oath to protect and defend our country and the U.S. Constitution.
Such controversial orders have been adopted in 19 states and the District of Columbia, but extending it to a federal basis, even limited to military courts, would be a key victory for anti-gun groups.
In California, a state that adopted the “pre-crime” red flag law in 2016, the statute was at first rarely used, with just 85 cases in the first year. However, it has grown in popularity despite its low bar for protecting due process, with almost 1,300 such orders filed in 2020.
Lawmakers in the U.S. House also agreed to a move that would undo recent changes to the federal regulations on gun exports.
An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act was agreed to in a Democrat-heavy 215 to 213 vote.
The proposal would cut away at President Trump’s transfer of several weapons categories from export licensing controlled by the State Department to the more relaxed purview of the Commerce Department.
Those three categories on the State Department’s United States Munitions list are– those dealing with small arms including firearms, close assault weapons, combat shotguns, ammunition, and ordnance.
The State Department was also required to notify Congress every time it approved a license. Unfortunately, the Trump administration changed all of this,” when it moved the licensing of firearms export sales from the State Department to the Department of Commerce, and it changed the standard review process. They also ended the congressional notification process. The Department of Commerce is not currently required to notify Congress when they issue a munitions export license.
The U.S. Senate still must complete work on that body’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act then the two chambers will have to address inconsistencies between the legislation to send it to the President’s desk.
Nearly a quarter-million public comments were submitted on a proposed new rule on stabilizing braces commonly found on AR-style pistols. Federal regulators said it will take at least the rest of the year to process all those comments.
The proposed “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,'” was published in the Federal Register, essentially the federal government’s public bulletin board, in June. When the smoke cleared and the comment period closed on Sept. 8, over 211,000 comments were received.
In a joint status report filed with a federal court in Northern Texas, as part of a case brought against the ATF by a gun dealer and two disabled private citizens over the regulation of the devices, the agency asked the court for a continuation of a stay in the legal action so they can work through the comments.
The next steps in the rulemaking process—including the agency’s processing of all of the comments it has received which they believe will require more than 120 days, according to the report, the agency asked for a stay until at least Jan. 19, 2022.
Meanwhile, other gun rights groups which filed comments against the proposed rule, have pointed out at least 40 bullet points where the ATF’s proposed rulemaking is a misfire.
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For the Gun Doctor, I’m Tim Bivins