Gun owners relaxed a little last week when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid conceded that Democrats lack the votes for Senate passage of an "assault weapon" ban. But relaxing the fight is premature. Gun-control advocates had a good week, too, with small victories in Colorado and Maryland. The struggle over who gets to determine the meaning of the Second Amendment continues.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein isn't backing away from her scheme to outlaw the popular AR-15 "black rifle." Mrs. Feinstein, who is easily scared, thinks the AR-15 looks scary because it reminds her of fearsome weapons. She intends to attach her ban as an amendment to a bill mandating government tracking of gun sales between individuals. A "yes" vote on the California Democrat's proposal, which is expected to fail, is particularly loathsome to voters in the gun-friendly states of Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and West Virginia, where incumbent Democratic senators and candidates are threatened, several severely so, in the 2014 elections. By Mr. Reid's counting, Mrs. Feinstein is about 20 votes short of what she needs. That's a lot.
In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, had all the votes he needed. He signed into law a requirement to monitor private gun sales and to impose a limit on the size of pistol and rifle magazines. "Private sales to friends, neighbors or loved ones would become illegal, effectively turning law-abiding citizens into criminals," says the head of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, an organization representing 62 top county-level law enforcement officers. One sheriff says he won't enforce the new laws because they conflict with his oath to uphold the Constitution.
Magpul Industries of Erie, Colo., manufacturer of the prohibited AR-15 magazines, declared Colorado "occupied territory." The company and its suppliers are now preparing to move out of state, taking 600 jobs and $85 million in revenue with them. Magpul will establish a "Boulder Airlift" program to establish a consolation priority on shipments of magazines to Colorado residents, before the law takes effect July 1. This will be difficult because Magpul is struggling now to fill many thousands of orders, some from distant places. "We feel confident that Colorado residents can still take the state back through recalls, ballot initiatives and the 2014 election to undo these wrongs against responsible citizens," the company says.
Gun owners in Maryland suffered a setback at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel decreed that the state can forbid residents to carry guns outside their homes. The case, Woollard v. Gallagher, had challenged a state law requiring residents to cite "a good and substantial reason" to obtain a concealed-carry permit. In practice, only professional security guards, judges and prosecutors can be exempt from the law's prohibition. A lower court had found the law to be an infringement of the Second Amendment.
The issue is likely headed to the Supreme Court, but the final judgment will go to the court of public opinion, where voters can hand down their decision at the ballot box. Voters have rendered such verdicts before, and will again. Neither side shows signs of budging, even an inch, and the ultimate verdict in a gunfight always goes to the last man standing.
The Washington Times
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