Americans will ring in the new year with some new gun laws — and some of those new laws are no cause for celebration if you're a gun lover. Still, others are cause for Second Amendment advocates to pop open the champagne.
On the positive side for gun rights fans, President-elect Donald Trump may be one of the most Second Amendment-friendly presidents elected to office in recent times. He won the NRA endorsement during the campaign and established a Second Amendment Coalition of gun rights groups, grassroots workers, and even entertainers to press for continued fulsome gun rights.
At the same time, congressional representatives have relaunched a Second Amendment Caucus to oversee gun rights legislation as its introduced.
But they'll have a lot of opposition. In addition to the anti-gun groups, such as Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Michael Bloomberg-backed Everytown for Gun Safety, there's a new, organized effort by groups of attorneys nationwide committed to rolling back gun rights through targeted lawsuits.
As Gwen Patton of the gun rights group “Pink Pistols” tells Independent Journal Review:
“I see the rift between regions hostile to lawful gun owners and regions friendly to our rights only deepening, I'm afraid. We've got many areas in California bound and determined to make lawful gun ownership as onerous and expensive as possible, while other states are relaxing their gun laws even further.”
Here's a snapshot of some of the changes in gun laws for 2017 both nationally and in key individual states.
President Obama's Social Security Administration has finalized new administrative rules removing the ability to own guns for some recipients of disability payments.
Barack Obama’s Social Security Administration (SSA) issued the final version of a rule that will doom tens of thousands of law-abiding (and vulnerable) disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients to a loss of Second Amendment rights under the guise of re-characterizing them as “mental defectives.” The SSA, for the first time in its history, will be coopted into the federal government’s gun control apparatus, effectively requiring Social Security applicants to weigh their need for benefits against their fundamental rights when applying for assistance based on mental health problems
It removes due process from the new Social Security rules until after an individual's gun is taken away.
This is a net loss for civil rights and especially Second Amendment advocates.
Even after 14 unarmed innocents were mowed down by the gun-toting San Bernardino terrorists, California's answer to an open terror attack on its soil has not been to allow more people to defend themselves, but to pass more gun and ammo restrictions.
In so doing, California retains its ranking as the state with the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Some opponents call the new laws, “gunmegeddon.”
The new laws going into effect in 2017 are:
- Criminal penalties for people failing to report their gun as stolen or missing.
- Required background checks and a permit for people buying ammunition
- All gun pieces sold must have own unique serial number (as if it's a completed gun) by July 2018. Handmade guns made before 1968 will be required to get a serial number inscribed upon penalty of jail and fines.
- If you loan a gun temporarily, new law requires that it be only to a relative — and all handguns loaned must be permitted.
- Redefines “assault weapon” to include “semi-automatic centerfire, rifles and semi-automatic pistols that do not have fixed magazines and one or more prohibited feature.”
- Makes it a crime to possess “large capacity magazines” holding more than ten bullets.
Other details of regulations are still unknown because rulemakers haven't issued updates yet.
As California gun owners face more restrictions, the Peruta case, involving the state's restrictive concealed carry handgun law, is expected to continue advancing on appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.
California is a “may issue” state. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California's restrictive “may issue” criteria effectively denied people their Second Amendment rights. The full 9th Circuit Court disagreed and now the issue is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Ironically, as Californian's self-defense options are reduced, the voters have approved two measures pushed by Governor Jerry Brown to release more criminals from state prisons.
Gwen Patton of Pink Pistols says these laws are going exactly to the opposite of common sense after the San Bernardino terror attack:
“California has responded to the San Bernardino shooting by blaming the gun. Ohio's response to the Ohio State terror attack was to blame the terrorist. We don't see any efforts in Ohio to ban motor vehicles or sharp implements. Many are calling for campus carry in response to Ohio State, while California enacted some of the most draconian gun laws of the past decade in response to San Bernardino.”
The net effect of “gunmeggedon” is another huge loss for gun rights and victims advocates.
The 'show me' state no longer has to show a permit in order to carry a gun—in most cases.
After a 'Constitutional Carry' law passed the state legislature through an override of Democratic governor Jay Nixon's veto. St Louis Today reports that the new law does several key things:
• [L]awful owners of firearms will be able to conceal and carry them anywhere in Missouri, subject to the limitations that already exist — not in the likes of courthouses, jails, polling places or businesses, such as grocery stores, that post “no guns” at their doors.
• Only holders of Missouri concealed-carry permits can carry concealed weapons outside of the state, and Illinois still requires visitors to have Illinois permits.
• Local governments, such as St. Louis, still can prohibit people from carrying weapons openly unless they have concealed-carry permits.
The News Leader reports that the state has expanded rights of people to defend themselves inside their homes and on the streets, with expansion of the Castle Defense and Stand Your Ground Laws.
This is a huge win for gun rights.
In November, Nevada voters approved expanded background checks for private transfers of guns by requiring an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check. Now, the FBI has told state officials it has no intention of fulfilling those requests because state law shouldn't dictate their manpower requirements.
Furthermore, the state attorney general has issued an opinion stating that the new law will not be enforced unless and until the FBI agrees to do the checks.
Gun rights advocates consider this move by the AG to be a win for gun owners.
In 2016, Governor Chris Christie loosened the “justifiable need” definition to include “serious threats” in order for citizens to acquire a concealed carry handgun permit. At the 59th minute of the 11th hour, right before the holidays, the Democratically-controlled legislature rolled back Christie's new rule.
Newsworks reports that the state of play for people wanting to protect themselves in New Jersey is:
“State law requires that any resident hoping to get a concealed carry permit must demonstrate a 'justifiable need' to have the permit, such as specific threats or previous attacks.”
In other words, victims often must have already been attacked before they may legally carry a gun to protect themselves.
This is a loser for gun rights advocates.
The bill exempts active duty service members from concealed carry permit requirements even if they're not of age. Ohio Sen. Joe Uecker said the bill acknowledged the reality of service members being highly trained to use small arms. Service members must carry their military ID and have their qualification paperwork on them.
Secondly, after the Ohio State University terror attack, the bill shrunk so-called 'gun free zones' and expanded rules allowing gun owners to keep their guns in their cars outside schools, college campuses, and day care centers without fear of being fired from their jobs.
These moves are big wins for gun rights advocates.
Tennessee lawmakers have decreased the fee for handgun carry permits. Tennessee allows for some open carry and concealed carry of handguns. The lifetime handgun carry permit previously cost $500 but has been reduced to $200 for current permit holders and $315 for new applicants.
Tennessee has also reduced the age from 21 to 18 for handgun carry permits — but only for active duty military and those who have been honorably discharged.
Gun instructor Bob Hopping told WJHL that it the military age exemption just makes sense:
“It’s sort of foolish to say they can defend our country. Here’s a fully automatic rifle, go out and do that. And then, oh no, we’re not going to trust you with a handgun for self-defense."
Overall, these are wins for the gun rights side — and common sense.
Guns.com reports that as state lawmakers and federal officials go after citizen's gun rights, they're creating more 'criminals':
Recently, in Connecticut, just 50,000 guns deemed by the state to be “assault weapons” out of an estimated half million in circulation were registered. On the heels of New York’s SAFE Act which expanded the state’s definition of banned weapons, just 44,000 were registered with the state out of an estimated 1.2 million thought to be in the Empire State. Prior to Prop. 63’s passage in California, gun owners rallied at the state capitol and promised they would not be handing over anything.
In short, people aren't complying.
“Pink Pistols” 'First Speaker' Gwen Patton, told Independent Journal Review that the contrasts between Ohio and California responses to terrorism point up the disconnect between the way lawmakers view guns and responsible gun owners:
The contrast, for example between California and Ohio is as stark as night and day. While California is making it more difficult to buy ammunition with draconian rules requiring background checks and limits on how many rounds you can buy, Ohio is increasing the number of places where concealed carriers can legally carry..."
The head of the gay-oriented gun group said it's intellectual laziness to blame the weapon instead of the person who fired it.
Nowhere is that more obvious than in the responses to recent domestic terror attacks by jihadi's wielding guns:
“I'm saddened by the overwhelming tendency of people to blame the tool used instead of the hand that wielded that tool. Immediately following the Pulse Nightclub terror attack, I begged people not to reach for the low-hanging fruit of blaming the gun, but instead to hold responsible the attacker who used that gun to perpetrate horror. I look at the rift in the GLBT community and see in microcosm the rift between those who want guns and those who want to ban them.”
If there are gun law updates you'd like to add, please do so in the comments section.
This story was updated after publication.