blackgunowners

Massachusetts bump stock ban hearing has few takers

House | News | Politic

 

 

Although both chambers of the Commonwealth’s legislature have already passed a ban on bump stock devices, lawmakers held the first public hearing on the subject on Wednesday.

Few people attended the hearing, held by the Joint Committee on Public Safety, and only one speaker, state Rep. Donald Berthiaume, R-Spencer, addressed the panel, local media reported.

Berthiaume, one of just three lawmakers to vote against the sweeping House version of the prohibition last week, said he “never heard of a bump stock ever or trigger crank, and I’ve been shooting since I was a little kid” but was not inclined to support his chamber’s bill to ban them as he felt it was too vague.

That bill would bar the use on any rifle, shotgun or firearm of a device capable of increasing the rate of fire — a broad net that gun rights advocates argued could be interpreted to ensnare any number of gun accessories far beyond bump stocks. With no provision for grandfathering, those found guilty of possession of such devices would face between three and 20 years in prison.

The Senate version, which Berthiaume said he does back, sets more rigid definitions of “Bump stock” and “Trigger Crank,” regulating each in turn.

The Gun Owners’ Action League, the state’s National Rifle Association affiliate, said in a statement they do not support any legislative action on the devices but did credit the Senate version of the bill as stopping the “runaway train” of the robust House proposal which “granted unbridled regulatory authority to the Commonwealth over all firearms maintenance, enhancements, and modifications.”

Jim Wallace, head of the gun rights group, explained to media he chose not to speak at the hearing this week because there was no point in “testifying about something that has already happened.”

Lawmakers now must work out the differences between the two versions passed by the legislature before they can present the ban to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker who said he would sign anti-bump stock legislation “tomorrow” should it be presented to him.

Similar legislation is underway at the state level in Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington while at least three federal bills have been filed on Capitol Hill.

Judge denies motion to wipe clean Arpaio’s criminal conviction

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U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said she dismissed Arpaio’s criminal contempt case after President Donald Trump decided to issue a pardon. But in an order denying Arpaio’s motion to vacate all records of the conviction, Bolton said not even the president can erase facts.

The no-nonsense sheriff was found guilty in late July. Bolton ruled then that Arpaio had exhibited a “flagrant disregard” of a court order that barred him from rounding up undocumented immigrants. In her ruling, Bolton cited as evidence several comments Arpaio had made to the media.

“Why are they going after this Sheriff? Well we know why. Because they don’t like me enforcing illegal immigration law,” Arpaio was quoted as saying in an April 2012 interview with CBS.

“I’m still going to do what I’m doing,” he told PBS Newshour that same month. “I’m still going to arrest illegal aliens coming into this country.”

After hinting at it during a campaign style rally in August, Trump eventually pardoned the former sheriff. That spared the 85-year-old from up to six months behind bars. But that’s not enough for Arpaio. His lawyers say the pardon entitles him to the erasure of any record of the conviction.

“The President’s pardon moots the case, and it warrants an automatic vacatur of all opinions, judgments, and verdicts related to the criminal charge,” Arpaio’s lawyers wrote in a motion in late August.

Quite the contrary, says Bolton. “The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial record-keeping,” she wrote in her order, citing a previous court case.

Jack Wilenchik, one of Arpaio’s attorneys, told Capitol Media Services that the record of the conviction could be used against the former sheriff in future cases. “We’re not asking to undo facts,” he said.

“We’re not asking for expungement,” he continued. “There’s no such thing in federal law.”

Wilenchik said the pardon functions as if someone had died prior to sentencing or before having a chance to appeal. “The whole case gets undone,” he said.

Bolton disagrees. “Indeed, a pardon ‘carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it,’” she wrote, citing earlier court precedent.

“The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt,” Bolton wrote. “The President issued the pardon. Defendant accepted. The pardon undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, ‘revise the historical facts’ of this case.”

Arpaio’s lawyers have already filed paperwork to appeal the decision.

“It’s not going to be dropped,” Arpaio said.

4th Green Beret missing after Niger ambush has been found dead

House | News | Politic

 

US officials say an American soldier missing for nearly two days in Niger has been found dead. He was one of four US troops killed in a deadly ambush.

His body was found and identified Friday after an extensive search. Four Niger security forces were also killed.

The Department of Defense on Friday also identified the first three Green Berets killed as Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Georgia.

The name of the fourth Green Beret killed has yet to be released.

US officials say they believe extremists linked to ISIS were responsible for the attack about 200 kilometers north of Niger’s capital of Niamey.

The joint patrol of US and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders and were in trucks. They were ambushed by 40-50 militants in vehicles and on motorcycles.

Eight Niger soldiers and two US troops were wounded. The officials weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Gun stocks surge amid administration plans to ease export rules

News | Politic

 

Stocks for major gun makers surged Tuesday after a report surfaced claiming the Trump administration will ease export restrictions on small arms effective next year.

Four senior U.S. officials told Reuters the rule change would shift oversight of commercial arms sales from the State Department to the Commerce Department — giving American manufacturers more leeway to sell guns internationally, creating more jobs stateside and adhering to the president’s “Buy American” policy platform.

“Commerce wants more exports to help reduce the trade deficit. Amd State wants to stop things because it sees (arms) proliferation as inherently bad,” one of the officials, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, told Reuters. “We want to make a decision that prioritizes what’s more important. This will allow us to get in the (small arms sales) game for the first time ever.”

Sturm, Ruger and Co. and American Outdoor Brands — Smith & Wesson’s holding company — closed with double digit increases Tuesday. Vista Outdoor stock likewise gained more than 3 percent. The sudden boost follows a “difficult” summer for gun makers and retailers still standing in the shadow of last year’s record-breaking sales. Since the November election, stocks for Smith & Wesson and Ruger fell 50 percent and 26 percent, respectively. Both companies blame weak demand, with Smith & Wesson’s CEO predicting as much as a 17 percent decline in annual profits through 2018. Ruger’s second quarter net sales dropped 22 percent and its quarterly earnings fell by almost half compared to 2016.

The prospect of eased restrictions, however, could cure the industry’s malaise. Lawrence Keane, senior vice president for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Reuters the rule change would boost annual sales by as much as 20 percent.

The details of the new regulations could become public this fall before full implementation in 2018, according to the report.

Governor sidelined Nevada expanded background check law

House | News | Politic

 

Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, has asked for further legal guidance on implementation of a voter-approved universal background check law that never took effect.

The measure won by a thin margin at the polls last November but was suspended by Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt over concerns on how it would be applied. Now, Sandoval has asked Laxalt’s office to take another look at the law, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Laxalt pumped the brakes on the measure after receiving a letter from the Federal Bureau of Investigation explaining the state’s private party background checks are in the purview of Nevada’s own resources as one of the 13 “point of contact” states that conduct their own checks through a central repository. With the federal government declining to process the expanded checks directly, and the Nevada Department of Public Safety neither authorized nor funded by the ballot measure’s language to run the checks, Laxalt contends the law is unenforceable.

With backers of the measure threatening a lawsuit, Sandoval has asked Laxalt to explore the bifurcated approach that would let the FBI handle person-to-person checks and the state others, The Nevada Independent reported. This “partial point-of-contact” concept would split responsibility for background checks between the Nevada and the feds.

Everytown President John Feinblatt argues Sandoval should direct state officials to immediately work with the FBI to implement the law, pointing out that nine other states already operate as partial point-of-contact states

“It is unconscionable that, after months of refusing to enforce the will of the people, the Governor is now passing the buck,” Feinblatt said in a statement. “He doesn’t need another opinion from the attorney general—particularly not the same attorney general who starred in the NRA’s ads opposing this law.”

The referendum backed by gun control advocates, Question 1, failed in 16 of the state’s 17 counties with only voters in Clark County approving the measure, in the end passing by around 10,000 votes. The initiative was funded by a $19.7 million campaign fueled in large part by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Female firearm instructor aims to train 1 million women

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As the number of female and minority gun owners continues to grow, one Georgia-based firearm instructor aims to teach black women how to shoot.

Marchell Tigner, owner of Trigger Happy Firearm Instruction, is a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor whose personal mission is to provide training to 1 million women.

“It’s important, especially for black women, to learn how to shoot. We need to learn how to defend ourselves,” Tigner told the Associated Press, noting that black women are more likely to become victims of domestic violence.

According to her website, Tigner, whose love of firearms stemmed from spending seven years in the National Guard and later working at a firing range, started her company last year after she noticed a lack of representation for black women in the gun community. Tigner said she worked at a firing range and would often see women trying to learn how to use a firearm at the instruction of their significant others, something which, she said, made her uncomfortable.

“Sometimes it’s hard to believe you can do something until you see someone who looks like you in that position,” Tigner noted.

Thus, Tigner’s firearm instruction company was formed.

As part of the training, Tigner provides plastic replicas to women as she goes over basic safety rules and proper stance, grip, and handling. The instruction then moves to the range where women learn to load a magazine and, finally, shoot the target.

“The bad guy’s dead. He’s not getting back up,” Tigner tells a student as they look over a bullet-riddled target during a recent class in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

The class was made up of about 20 women; some experienced with firearms, some not.

Jonava Johnson, 50, who attended the class, noted that gun ownership has also been rather frowned upon in the black community. Johnson admitted her own fear of guns, which stemmed from a domestic violence situation when she was just 17 years old. Johnson’s ex-boyfriend, armed with a gun, threatened her before he fatally shot Johnson’s new boyfriend in front of her.

About 30 years after she witnessed the death of her high school boyfriend, Johnson considered getting a gun after her daughter was sexually assaulted in their own home. Johnson instead decided to get a guard dog, but she’s now a proud gun owner.

“I hope I never have to kill anybody, but if it comes down to me or my children, they’re out,” Johnson said.

Tigner said it’s important for women to feel like they’re in control of their own safety.

“I’m just here to empower women and make sure that no one else becomes a victim,” she said.

 

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