A Week in Review - April 1st, 2016

Connecticut legislators are considering passage of House Bill 5054, which will all but do away with due process for gun owners facing accusations of - not arrest for or conviction of - domestic violence.  If passed, the suspension of Second Amendment rights will be based on a judge's personal level of alarm at what is written in an affidavit by the alleged victim.

This is precisely the kind of redefinition of terms done after a gun law's passage that we mentioned in last month's piece, Explaining the Objections to Background Checks.  Adding "domestic abusers" to the list of prohibited persons was an easy idea to sell to the public.  Now, however, that precedent has set the stage for a different kind of abuse.

The TN legislature has passed SB 1559, allowing private schools to set their own policy regarding firearms on campus.  The bill "requires an administrative officer of a private K-12 school or private university to implement a handgun carry policy.... If the bill is signed into law, the local sheriff's department would need a plan from private schools wishing to allow guns on campus."

Idaho governor Butch Otter has signed SB1389 into law, allowing Idaho residents to carry concealed firearms without requiring a government-issued permit.  In his signing, the governor expressed concern about a lack of training requirement and encouraged "anyone considering concealed carry to take advantage of gun training opportunities."  We echo Governor Otter's advice to improve firearms knowledge whenever possible and applaud his signing of this bill.

UPDATE: NJ state senator Gerald Cardinale has had second thoughts on his proposed "rules for thee but not for me" bill, allowing lawmakers and judges to skip the “justifiable need” requirement for acquiring a concealed carry permit.  He has since issued the following statement: “In light of the public reaction, I am having companion legislation drafted to S-1982 that will allow anyone who passes a background check, similar to that for superior court judges, to likewise bypass the overreaching court-imposed, un-American ‘justifiable need’ provision of our present law.”

FEE's article on the FBI iPhone hack brings up an interesting position. Both of the techniques likely being employed by the FBI on the San Bernardino jihadist's phone were proposed weeks ago by private industry experts.  If the FBI's forensics experts did not know about them, they are far from experts.  If they did, then the agency deliberately lied about having no option beyond legal compulsion of a private company to compromise their own encryption.

US Senator Ken Buck (R-CO) introduced legislation worsening our nation's social stratification by making violence against police officers a federal hate crime.  If passed, employment as a police officer would be added to the current list of qualifications for special legal protection and treatment, joining race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.

Mississippi stands on the verge of legalizing permitless concealed carry, joining 9 other states in the practice. Currently, no permit is required for "off-body carry," such as in a purse, briefcase, or backpack. If passed into law, HB 786 would expand this to a concealed firearm "in a holster or scabbard on the belt or shoulder."

Colorado state senators successfully killed SB-16-075, which would have required collection of DNA, compiled into a criminal database, from those convicted of certain misdemeanors.  To give you a sense of what that would encompass, here are some real-life examples of the misdemeanor crimes involved:

  • Spitting on someone "whom the actor knows or reasonably should know to be a peace officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical care provider, or an emergency medical service provider" (third degree assault, CRS 18-3-204).
  • Shouting, "I will kick your ass!" (menacing, per CRS 18-3-206).
  • Teenagers stupidly "egging" a house and breaking a large window (criminal mischief with damage less than $300, CRS 18-4-501(4)(a)).
  • Attempting to "annoy" someone by "subjecting them to physical contact" (harassment, CRS 18-9-111(1)(a)).  Subsection (b) covers giving someone the finger, but it was not included this time.

House committee members are continuing to work on legislation forcing companies to work with government agencies on matters of data encryption.  "According to the Hill, Intelligence Committee members Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., plan this month to circulate a draft of such legislation... [which] Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Nate Cardozo says could endanger practically all the encrypted technology Apple has designed."

While not news per se, Bloomberg Business recently published a long but informative piece about the technology, tactics, and techniques used to manipulate voters and elections.  The phrase "voter fraud" usually conjures images of individuals voting multiple times, or ballots being "stuffed."  This article illustrates how much can be done by a just two or three tech-savvy men.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed House File 2279 ("the Hearing Protection Act"), legalizing the sale and ownership of firearm suppressors. Federal regulations and transfer requirements still apply, but the state now joins 41 others where suppressor ownership is not prohibited by state law.

In a disturbing development, law enforcement agencies and investigators are now demanding genetic information from companies that do ancestry research.  Customers who have voluntarily provided DNA samples for their own family lineage now run the risk of having that data seized by government.