The Toomey (R) – Manchin (D) deal is said to involve gives and takeaways to gun owner rights. But David Addington at Heritage has written a smart analysis of at least one peril that America faces with the plan.
The STM bill fuzzes up the law prohibiting a federal gun registry. First, the legislation says that nothing in the legislation shall be construed to allow establishment of a federal firearms registry. In addition, it says that the Attorney General may not consolidate or centralize records of firearms acquisition and disposition maintained by licensed importers, manufacturers, and dealers, and by buyers and sellers at gun shows (and makes it a crime for him to do so).
But then, the STM bill takes those protections away by using the all-powerful word “notwithstanding”—”notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Attorney General may implement this subsection with regulations.” The courts may construe the “notwithstanding” to allow Attorney General Eric Holder to issue regulations that could begin to create a federal registry of firearms, because the law says he can implement the subsection without regard to the protections against a registry elsewhere in the legislation.
The courts view the word “notwithstanding” as very powerful. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in 1989 in Crowley Caribbean Transport v. U.S. in reference to the phrase “notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter” that “a clearer statement of intent is difficult to imagine” to push aside other laws. The same court indicated in 1991 inLiberty Maritime Corporation v. U.S. that a grant of authority to a department head to be exercised “notwithstanding” any other law generally grants the broadest possible discretion to the department head. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1992 in Conoco, Inc. v. Skinner took a somewhat different approach, in which the judges themselves divine the congressional intent whether to let the word “notwithstanding” in a law override other conflicting provisions of the same law.
It has been postulated that the Republicans have outsmarted the Democrats by forcing a vote on any number of measures that actually make things better for our rights, while giving them only a little of their own demands – or – by forcing the Democrats to vote on an outrageous bill that will force them out of office in the next election. I don’t subscribe to either view, for a number of reasons.
First, this is more than likely to be yet another “you have to pass the bill in order to see what’s in it” example of ruling by ignorance. Second, the GOP is full of cave-ins and sell-outs, and has been for a very long time. Third, the GOP just isn’t that smart. They’re basically a very stolid, slow, confused bunch, many of whom act without any real principles. Leave it to the GOP leadership to miscount their own votes, thinking that they can stop the legislation at the end, only to see defections and thus new gun control laws. When this is over I expect to see GOP leadership looking stunned and shell shocked at what happened to them, just like with Obamacare.
Furthermore, I have warned against laws that can be broadly interpreted within some regulatory framework crafted by armies of lawyers sitting inside the beltway. Nothing good will come of it, and we all know that nothing they have done really addresses the real problem of ending phony gun free zones. And finally, we have discussed why universal background checks (and their corollary, a federal gun registry) are a bad thing, the quintessential element of any gun control program, and the goal of every progressive.
The only way we can truly be safe and prevent further gun violence is to ban civilian ownership of all guns. That means everything. No pistols, no revolvers, no semiautomatic or automatic rifles. No bolt action. No breaking actions or falling blocks. Nothing. This is the only thing that we can possibly do to keep our children safe from both mass murder and common street violence.
Unfortunately, right now we can’t. The political will is there, but the institutions are not. Honestly, this is a good thing. If we passed a law tomorrow banning all firearms, we would have massive noncompliance. What we need to do is establish the regulatory and informational institutions first. This is how we do it. The very first thing we need is national registry. We need to know where the guns are, and who has them.
Gun control is evil, at the same time both a function and a sign of wicked rulers.
The Bible does contain a few direct references to weapons control. There were many times throughout Israel’s history that it rebelled against God (in fact, it happened all the time). To mock His people back into submission to His Law, the Lord would often use wicked neighbors to punish Israel’s rebellion. Most notable were the Philistines and the Babylonians. 1 Samuel 13:19-22 relates the story: “Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes, and sickles sharpened…So on the day of battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in this hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.” Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon also removed all of the craftsmen from Israel during the Babylonian captivity (2 Kings 24:14). Both of these administrations were considered exceedingly wicked including their acts of weapons control.
We are not willing to give a little here as long as we can take a little there. The message has been clear from the beginning – and won’t change now. No new laws. Not a single one. If we have good and laudable goals (such as the repeal of the Hughes amendment), it’s our task to work to make that happens, rather than acquiescing to the very touchstone of gun control – universal background checks.
If we cannot pull this off, then America is truly lost, and the next steps are obvious.