Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- -The Democrats in the House of Representatives expanded the number of classes of people prohibited from exercising Constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights. Those prohibitions have been added to H.R. 1585, [this bill has now passed the House and goes on to the Senate] hijacking a re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
The Act had not previously been used to restrict gun ownership. Speaker Nancy Pelosi added the infringements to the bill.
The NRA never commented on this Act before because it never included gun control and but has now has come out in opposition to this change.
In 1968, the number of classes of prohibited possessors, those people who were not allowed to possess or own firearms, was greatly expanded. Before 1968, the classes of people who could not possess firearms were decided by state law.
When the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed, six categories of people who were not allowed to purchase firearms from federal dealers were created. The list included classes which did not exist in most states. The groups were these:
- 1. Not a legal resident of the State where the federal dealership is located
- 2. People under the age of 21 for handguns, and 18 for rifles and shotguns.
- 3. Convicted felons or those under indictment for a felony (a crime punishable by more than a year of imprisonment)
- 4. Fugitives from justice (fled from any State to avoid prosecution for a crime or to avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceeding)
- 5. Those adjudicated to be mentally defective or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
- 6. Unlawful user/addicted to a controlled substance
The last four categories were prohibited from possessing firearms.
In 1987, Congress added four additional categories:
- 1. Illegal aliens
- 2. Persons Dishonorably discharged from the military
- 3. Persons who have renounced U.S. Citizenship
- 4. People who are subject to a restraining order for domestic violence, harassment, or stalking (required a court hearing finding the person restrained was a threat)
In 1996, Congress added another category, people convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
On April 4th of 2019, the Democrats in the House expand the latest class, domestic violence, by changing it from intimate partner to include “dating partner” or “former dating partner.”
They are also added another class of prohibited people.
The additional class would is those convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of stalking,” which includes a “course of harassment, intimidation, or surveillance of another person.
Stalking or harassment does not include any physical harm. The crime of stalking or harassment is relatively new, with the first laws being enacted in California in 1990. The crime is defined to include the creation of either a reasonable fear of material harm or emotional distress to another person.
With zealous prosecutors, it would be possible for a person to be convicted of harassment for a series of tweets that caused “emotional distress.”
In many states, there is no right to trial by jury for misdemeanor offenses.
The general trend is easy to see. More and more classes of people who are prohibited from exercising their rights under the Second Amendment; less and less serious offenses are being used to take Second Amendment rights from people.
The expansion of the classes of prohibited persons and the expansion of offenses from felonies to misdemeanors results in a severe erosion of Second Amendment rights.
Several of the prohibited classes in existence have not been in existence for very long.
In the Supreme Court decision a controversial sentence is said to have been added at the instigation of Justice Stevens and the insistence of Justice Kennedy:
The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
Most of the prohibited classes are not mentioned. Only “felons and the mentally ill” are mentioned. It is uncertain if the Court would uphold challenges against the proliferation of prohibited classes. “Mentally ill” is far from clear. That prohibition is being challenged already, as are the prohibitions as applied to non-violent felonies.
The other classes are far from longstanding.
Second Amendment supporters would prefer to stop the current push by the Democrats to create expanded and new classes of prohibited possessors, rather than challenge the law in the Courts. Please contact your Senators and ask that the amended or oppose the new version of the bill.
Finally, the prohibitions in H.R. 1585 would apply retroactively to convictions that occurred before the legislation was passed. This could result in untold numbers of citizens being denied their Second Amendment rights because of actions that occurred years or even decades in the past.
Another Justice appointed by President Trump could make a significant difference in the restoration of Second Amendment rights.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.