Archive for the 'Registration' Category

Colorado Consensus on Gun Laws

Posted by on Jul 26 2012 | guns, Registration, Right to carry

In an article today for National Review Online, I detail how “Broadly supported post-Columbine reforms balance gun rights and gun control”:

After the Columbine High School murders, Colorado enacted eight specific gun-law reforms. Three of these reforms are examples of what people usually call “gun control,” and five of them are in the “gun rights” category. But to many Coloradoans, all eight of the measures are cohesive and consistent. They are all based on the same principles: Guns in the wrong hands are very dangerous, and guns in the right hands protect public safety. Colorado strengthened its laws to make it harder for the wrong people to acquire guns and simultaneously strengthened laws to remove obstacles to the use and carrying of firearms by law-abiding citizens. As a whole, the laws embody a compromise that enjoys broad public support; they settled a gun-policy debate that had raged in Colorado for 15 years. The Colorado consensus has already saved lives.

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Weapons Laws of the Russian Federation

Posted by on Jun 12 2012 | guns, International Human Rights Law, Non-firearms Arms, Registration, Right to carry, Russia, Uncategorized

For those of who have been waiting for an English translation of Russia’s arms statutes, your wait is over. Independence Institute intern Margot van Loon is the author of the new Issue Paper, Weapons Laws of the Russian Federation. Here is a synopsis:

  • No permission or registration is needed to purchase and carry chemical defense weapons (e.g., tear gas guns) or electric defense devices such as stun guns.
  • Citizens have the right to acquire shotguns for self-defense and sport.
  • After five years of lawful ownership of a shotgun, a citizen may obtain a permit to purchase and use rifles for sporting purposes.
  • An individual may own up to five rifles and five shotguns.
  • Handguns are prohibited.
  • All firearms must be registered.
  • Before obtaining one’s first firearm, one must receive instruction in firearms laws and safety. Every five years, the firearms owner must pass a test demonstrating continuing knowledge of these subjects.
  • The first-time owner must also obtain a medical certification that he or she does not have any disqualifying conditions, such as mental illness or alcoholism.
  • In order to use a firearm for lawful self-defense, the crime victim must first attempt to give the criminal a warning, if practicable. Defensive use of firearms against women, the disabled, and minors is prohibited, unless they are attacking as part of a gang.

On the whole, the Russian Federation’s arms laws show considerably greater respect for the fundamental human right of self-defense than do the laws of some other European nations, such as the United Kingdom or Luxembourg.

The Russian Federation paper is part of continuing series of research papers from the Independence Institute providing full English translations of the arms laws of other nations. Other papers in this series are:

Colombia’s National Law of Firearms and Explosives. Full translation of the Colombian statutes, along with historical and narrative explanation. By Jonathan Edward Shaw.

Hungarian Weapons Law of May 2004. English translation and explanation, plus Hungarian text. By Crecy Azincourt.

Mexico’s Federal Laws on Firearms and Explosives.  By David Kopel.

If you would be interested in writing a paper for this series, please contact me using the information at the bottom of this page.

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The Great Gun Control War of the 20th Century — And its Lessons for Gun Laws Today

Posted by on May 31 2012 | Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Fourteenth Amendment, guns, History, McDonald v. City of Chicago, Politics, Popular Constitutionalism, Registration, Right to carry, supreme court

This is the subject of my article in a forthcoming symposium issue of the Fordham Urban Law Journal. The article details the political, cultural, social, and legal battles over gun control from the 1920s to the early 21st century. Here’s the abstract:

A movement to ban handguns began in the 1920s in the Northeast, led by the conservative business establishment. In response, the National Rifle Association began to get involved in politics, and was able to defeat handgun prohibition. Gun control and gun rights became the subjects of intense political, social, and cultural battles for much of the rest of the 20th century, and into the 21st.

Often, the battles were a clash of absolutes: One side contended that there was absolutely no right to arms, that defensive gun ownership must be prohibited, and that gun ownership for sporting purposes could be, at most, allowed as a very limited privilege. Another side asserted that the right to arms was absolute, and that any gun control laws were infringements of that right.

By the time that Heller and McDonald came to the Supreme Court, the battles had mostly been resolved; the Supreme Court did not break new ground, but instead reinforced what had become the American consensus: the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, especially for self-defense, is a fundamental individual right. That right, however, is not absolute. There are some gun control laws which do not violate the right, particularly laws which aim to keep guns out of the hands of people who have proven themselves to be dangerous.

In the post-Heller world, as in the post-Brown v. Board world, a key role of the courts will be to enforce federal constitutional rights against some local or state jurisdictions whose extreme laws make them outliers from the national consensus.

Also recently published in SSRN is a very good draft article by David Hardy, analyzing the four opinions in McDonald v. Chicago. As he persuasively shows, the arguments by Justice Stevens and Breyer against enforcing the Right to Keep and Bear Arms against the states would, if taken seriously, cast serious doubt on the legitimacy of enforcing against the states almost everything else in the Bill of Rights.

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New textbook: Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights and Policy

Posted by on May 15 2012 | Casebooks, guns, McDonald v. City of Chicago, Militia, Non-firearms Arms, Registration, Right to carry

The first law school textbook on the Second Amendment is now available from Aspen Publishers. The co-author are Nick Johnson (Fordham), Michael O’Shea (Oklahoma City), George Mocsary (Connecticut), and me. Here’s the publisher’s page for the textbook, from which professors can request a free review copy. The book is also available for civilian purchase from Amazon.

We also have our own website for the book. There, you can read the detailed Table of Contents, and the Preface. The website is in an early stage of development; eventually, it will include detailed research guides and topic suggestions for students who are writing seminar papers. If you a professor and one of your students writes a seminar paper which makes a genuine contribution to knowledge about a topic, we invite you to send the us paper for publication on the website.

The textbook will have an accompanying Teacher’s Manual. We are currently finishing that up, and aim to have it available before the Fourth of July. (It’s free for professors who get a review copy, and forbidden for anyone else.)

Besides the 11 chapters in 1,008 pages of the printed book, there will also be four more on-line only chapters, available to purchasers of the printed book. These chapters will be: 12, Social science about firearms policy. 13, International law. 14, Comparative law. 15, A detailed explanation of firearms and their function. (Chapter 1 of the printed book provides a brief explanation of firearms and their function; the on-line chapter will go into much greater detail [e.g., what is a lever action gun?], and will have illustrations and photos.)

Finally, Firearms Law is the first law school textbook to be the subject of a podcast series. The published podcasts are: Chapter 3, The Colonies and the Revolution. Chapter 2, Antecedents of the Second Amendment: From Confucius to the British Whigs. Chapter 1, An introduction to firearms laws and firearms function. As the summer progresses, we will be adding more, and some chapters may have more than one. Thus far, all the podcasts are interviews of me, but as we make our way through the book, other co-authors will also appear in the podcasts.

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Canada abolishes long gun registry

Posted by on Apr 05 2012 | canada, guns, Registration

Yesterday the Canadian Senate voted 50-27 to abolish the long gun registry. Bill C-19 received unanimous support from Conservative Senators, and some support from Liberals. The bill had previously passed the House of Commons. It became the law of the land today, with the Royal Assent of Canada’s Governor-General.

The bill does not change Canada’s registration system for handguns, which has been in effect since the 1930s. Nor does it change the registration system for certain long guns which have been classified as “prohibited” or “restricted” weapons. Likewise unchanged is Canada’s complicated and burdensome system for licensing gun owners, which was created by a Liberal government in the 1990s.

The registration changes, however, are monumental. Registration records for seven million ordinary long guns are to be destroyed. The government of Quebec has announced that it while file suit to attempt to obtain custody of the 1.5 million registration records pertaining to citizens of Quebec.

Ever since the regime of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in the 1970s, gun control in Canada has been primarily a culture war campaign against the “masculine” values of rural Canada, and as a means of demonstrating the dominance of Canada’s urban New Class.

To this day, the foremost public justification for all forms of gun control is Gamil Rodrigue Gharbi (who changed his name Marc Lépine). Gharbi/Lépine was the son of an alcoholic, wife-beating, child abuser who had immigrated to Canada from Algeria. In 1989, he murdered 14 women (13 by gunshot, one by stabbing), and wounded 8 women and 4 men in the engineering building of a school affiliated with the University of Montreal. An incompetent response by police dispatchers to the 911 calls gave Gharbi/Lépine the opportunity to murder at leisure.

In The Montreal Massacre (gynergy books, 1991), Quebec feminists describe their outrage, and demanded the rehabilitation of masculinity, whose (allegedly) misogynist pro-death culture is based on aggressive sports, violent entertainment, and the penetration of women during sexual intercourse.

Canada’s leading public proponent of gun control, Prof. Wendy Cukier, had previously proclaimed that in Canada, gun control is a one-way street; once restrictions are imposed, they are never lifted. This was never entirely accurate; popular demand forced the removal of some long gun restrictions that had been imposed during the World Wars. But the removal of a major peacetime anti-gun law truly does signal a new era in Canadian right to arms politics.

Efforts to repeal the long gun registry lasted 17 years, and they finally succeeded in part because the majority of Canadians have concluded that the registry was a colossal waste of money,  of no value in crime control, and a pointless invasion of privacy.

Globally speaking, the repeal of the registry is the most important gun policy event of the last year. As the United Nations works towards a final draft of an Arms Trade Treaty this year, the Canadian public’s rejection of registry adds to the challenges of the global gun control organizations which want the Treaty to include gun registration requirements.

An article in Forbes profiles Saskatchewan MP Garry Breitkreuz, whose tireless work was essential to the repeal.  Breitkreuz, incidentally, had started out as a supporter of registration, and changed his mind after studying the evidence about whether it would help reduce crime. Kudos also to the Canadian Sport Shooting Association, to Canada’s National Firearms Association, and especially to the late David Tomlinson, who passed away in 2007, and who for over three decades was the Founding Father and leader of Canada’s right to arms movement.

Canadian gun owners know that much more needs to be done to undo the damage caused the kulturkampf which Trudeau began, and which has burdened Canadians with laws that do nothing to enhance public safety, but whose purpose and effect is to harass and persecute law-abiding gun owners. Bill C-19 is a good first step, and a monumental one.

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“Nazism, Firearm Registration, and the Night of the Broken Glass”

Posted by on Nov 09 2010 | guns, Registration

(David Kopel)

Reichskristallnacht was 72 years ago. Stephen Halbrook’s 2009 article in the St. Thomas Law Review details the close connection between the disarmament of the German Jews and what came next. From the conclusion:

Over a period of several weeks in October and November 1938, the Nazi government disarmed the German Jewish population. The process was carried out both by following a combination of legal forms enacted by the Weimar Republic and by sheer lawless violence. The Nazi hierarchy could now more comfortably deal with the Jewish question without fear of armed resistance by the victims.

It may be tempting to argue that the possession of firearms by the German Jews would have made no difference, either in the 1938 pogrom or later in the Holocaust, when the majority were deported and then eradicated in death camps. Yet this fatalistic view ignores that the Nazis themselves viewed armed Jews as sufficiently dangerous to their policies to place great emphasis on the need to disarm all Jews. In 1938, it was by no means certain that Jewish armed resistance movements could not develop, and even less certain that individual Jews would not use arms to resist arrest, deportation, or attacks by the Nazis.

Consistent adherents of a “Never Again!” policy – which assumes that what has happened in history, could again happen – would seek policies to help ensure that it does not indeed occur again.

That brings us back to Alfred Flatow. [The article provides a case study of Flatow, a Jewish veteran of the German army, who competed for Germany in the 1896 Olympics.] What if he – and an unknown number of other Germans, Jews and non-Jews alike – had not registered his firearms in 1932? Or if the Weimar Republic had not decreed firearm registration at all? What if the Nazis, when they took power in 1933 and disarmed social democrats and other political enemies, or when they decided to repress the entire Jewish population in 1938, did not have police records of registered firearm owners? Can it be said with certainty that no one, either individually or in groups small or large, would have resisted Nazi depredations?

One wonders what thoughts may have occurred to Alfred Flatow in 1942 when he was dying of starvation at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Perhaps memories of the 1896 Olympics and of a better Germany flashed before his eyes. Did he have second thoughts, maybe repeated many times before, on whether he should have registered his revolver and two pocket pistols in 1932 as decreed by the Weimar Republic? Or whether he should have obediently surrendered them at a Berlin police station in 1938 as ordered by Nazi decree, only to be taken into Gestapo custody? We will never know, but it is difficult to imagine that he had no regrets.


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Puerto Rico law limiting use of shooting ranges

Posted by on Oct 12 2010 | guns, Registration, Uncategorized

(David Kopel)

An official with Puerto Rico’s Justice Department has announced that the Department will propose changes in the island’s firearms laws, to bring them into line with Heller and McDonald. However, two of the proposed changes appear to be unconstitutional:

Torres said the measures will include a requirement that shooting ranges keep logs of how much ammunition their members use and cap the number of bullets each client can fire in target practice at 500 per year….

The House legislation under analysis would require gun clubs to maintain logs that include information relative to the quantity and caliber of the ammunition that shooters use onsite. It would revoke licenses from any such business that does not comply with the legislation….

The measure will also limit the quantity of weapons that a person can possess to take to a gun club.

The round-by-round registration requirement would be enormously burdensome to shooting ranges, and beyond the practical ability of many clubs to implement. The ban on target practice (beyond 500 rounds per year) is contrary to public safety; firearms owners should be encouraged to practice with their firearms, so that they will be more skilled in using them for self-defense, hunting, or any lawful purpose. While courses to achieve basic competence may only involve firing a few dozen rounds, more advanced courses, which might take several days, can easily exceed 500 rounds per person. Moreover, going the range on one’s own once a month, and firing, say 100 rounds at each practice session, is a good way to improve one’s abilities.

The First Amendment equivalent would be a limit on hour many hours a year a person could spend reading at a private library.  

A similar issue is being litigated in Chicago, where a new law mandates that gun owners have safety training, including range time, but prohibits the operation of shooting ranges within the city–even though indoor ranges are well-established and safe throughought the rest of the nation, including in New York City.

I will be discussing the Puerto Rico proposal at 11:20 p.m. ET tonight on NRA News.


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The OAS Firearms Convention Is Incompatible with American Liberties

Posted by on May 19 2010 | Freedom of Speech, guns, International Law, Registration, Regulation

(David Kopel)

Just published on-line this morning is the above Backgrounder from the Heritage Foundation. My coauthors are Theodore Bromund  and Ray Walser, of Heritage. We argue that the CIFTA gun control convention, which was drafted by the Organization of American States, and which President Obama has urged the Senate to ratify, would harm First and Second Amendment rights. We suggest that the convention offers no practical benefits to the United States.


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Mayor Bloomberg’s gun show bill

Posted by on Apr 26 2010 | Gun shows, guns, Michael Bloomberg, Registration, S. 843

(David Kopel)

Does much more than just impose background checks small-scale vendors at gun shows. Details here, in this article I wrote for the Saturday Denver Post.


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