Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Oh joy, more glad tidings from the House

Just got this from Gun Owners of America:
House Passes Extreme Penalties For Some Who Use Guns In Self-Defense
-- Bill could also make your hunting party a "criminal street gang"

Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408
http://www.gunowners.org

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Let's assume that you and your family are on your way home from
church. You have a gun in the glove compartment that is there for
self-protection.

After driving within 1,000 feet of a school (which is almost
unavoidable), you stop by the grocery store to pick up a few items
for lunch.

As you are exiting your car, you are approached by a gang of
teenagers, armed with long screwdrivers and wrenches. Realizing that
you are about to be mugged, you brandish your firearm in order to
scare them off -- although this act on your part is a violation of
state law which requires that you first retreat, rather than defend
yourself.

Congratulations. Under legislation that recently passed the House,
all the members of your family are now subject to a MANDATORY MINIMUM
sentence of ten years in prison -- and up to life imprisonment.

The judge would have NO DISCRETION to release you before the end of
the ten-year period -- but an anti-gun judge could sentence you and
your family to LIFE IMPRISONMENT.

Sound ridiculous? Welcome to the new "tough-on-crime" House of
Representatives.

It's not as though Republicans like House Judiciary Committee
Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) have no experience with the
"unintended" broad consequences of anti-gun laws.

Remember the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act
(RICO)? That bill was passed with the ostensible purpose of going
after the Mafia.

But it was poorly drafted. At its core, a person or business only
had to commit two of a broad list of sometimes-fairly-innocuous
crimes in order to be subject to stiff prison sentences. As a
result, lawsuits and criminal prosecutions soon sprouted against
legitimate banks and businesses and pro-life protestors.

Never capable of learning from its mistakes, Congress is about to go
after gun owners in the same way.

This new bill -- touted as anti-gang legislation -- is numbered H.R.
1279 in the House, where it passed by a 279-144 margin on May 11.
Twenty Republicans -- including pro-gun stalwarts like John
Hostettler (R-IN), Ron Paul (R-TX), and Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) --
voted against it. It now goes to the Senate, where its counterpart
(S. 155) is sponsored by anti-gun zealot Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and
Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

Similar to RICO, these two bills, at the core, would define "criminal
street gangs" to be formal OR INFORMAL groups of three or more
individuals who commit two or more of a long list of "predicate"
crimes.

What are these predicate crimes, of which two or more could get you
thrown into the slammer for the rest of your life? Check these out:

* Violation of the Kohl 1,000-foot "gun-free-school-zone" law would
be a predicate crime in the House bill.

* Having a gun in violation of the Lautenberg amendment -- because
you spanked your kid or spat on your husband -- would be a predicate
in both the House and Senate versions.

* Accidentally shooting a doe instead of a buck (or shooting the
wrong kind of duck) would be a "crime of violence" (under the 18
U.S.C. 16 definition) and could therefore be a "predicate" crime if
some of the worst provisions from both bills end up in the final
version that goes to the President.

And, as mentioned above, your family's trip past the school -- as
you're driving home from church -- could send all of you to jail if
you use your gun in self-defense, rather than first retreating as
required in some states.

This is because:

* A "criminal street gang" exists as soon as this
"informal" group
of 3 or more individuals (your family) commits "2 or more gang
crimes... in relation to the group" if one of the crimes is a
"crime
of violence."

* Violation of the Kohl "gun-free-school-zone" amendment (18 U.S.C.
922(q)) is a "gang crime."

* The threat to use a firearm against the muggers is both a gang
crime and a crime of violence because it involves a "threat" of
"force" against a person.


The bills have other anti-gun provisions, as well:

1. Mandatory Prison Sentences For Gun Owners

The "street gang" provisions in the bill (as mentioned above) could
send you and your family to jail for 10 years-to-life if you defend
them with a gun under certain conditions.

But even apart from those RICO-style provisions in the bill, there is
other language in the bill that could send you to jail for twenty
years MINIMUM if you use a gun in self-defense... even without your
family being nearby.

Federal law prohibits the mere possession of a firearm during and in
relation to a crime of violence. The term "crime of violence"
clearly includes brandishing or even opening your coat to display a
firearm to defend yourself against a mugger -- without retreating --
in states that require retreat. Hence, a concealed carry permit
holder who opens his suit jacket and displays a firearm to a
potential mugger in these states is liable under this section because
"crime of violence" means the threatened use of force against
person
or property.

Section 114 of H.R. 1279 would increase the MINIMUM penalty for
shooting the mugger (i.e., a Bernie Goetz-type offense) to TWENTY
years in prison.

2. Expanding The Lautenberg Gun Ban

Section 109 of the House bill -- and its counterpart on the Senate
version -- makes it more likely that a person will NOT get bail if
they possessed a firearm after committing a "Lautenberg
misdemeanor."
Again, a person could be held to commit such a misdemeanor if the
person spanked their kid or spat on their spouse. So for having
committed this small infraction (and for owning a gun) a person faces
a higher probability of being held in jail until trial.

ACTION: Contact your United States senators. Ask them to oppose
anti-gun so-called "gang" legislation.

You can visit the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center at
http://www.gunowners.org/activism.htm to send your Senators a
pre-written e-mail message.

Time to do some constructive yelling at your senator.

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