Monthly Archives: February 2016

“Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013” Bill Commentary

[This is being provided both as an independent commentary and as further background to a later post to be published, the below though not being issues to be directly addressed therein.  This constitutes the body of an additional letter, this being disseminated during April, 2013, by the writer to Michigan’s two U.S. Senators.]

I provide this in my capacity as one of your constituents for consideration in your deliberation on the “Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013” Bill.

While I may have overlooked some material improprieties in Title II or Title III of the bill, it would appear to me that, other than the reference in Sections 203 and 205 to “ammunition”, that these provisions are within the jurisdiction of Congress, do not offend any rights secured to the States or the people, and appear to be reasonable policy.  I however exclude from this sanction the above reference to “ammunition” since it is not mentioned in the preceding sections and therefore is beyond the scope thereof.

I do though have significant problems with Title I of the bill. In fact my difficulties with it are so many — a conclusion that surprised me as I thought many of the opponents of broader background checks were being too extreme — that I am uncertain that I can set forth these objections in as complete or organized a fashion as I would prefer.  Initially I would note that the prohibition set forth in Section 122(a), especially when taken in conjunction with the definition of transfer set forth on pages 13 and 14 of the bill, is far too broad.  In addition to it being so intrusive, as affecting almost every conceivable action constituting a “transfer”, and therefore being in violation of Amendment X of the Constitution, its prohibition on transfer, except by means of the conduit through a federally-licensed person, is a deprivation of a property right that renders it in conflict with Amendment V of the Constitution.

The very narrow and minimal exceptions set forth on pages 11 through 13 of the bill prove the excessive inclusiveness of this prohibition.  Reviewing and reflecting upon them it is an easy matter to conceive of a whole panoply of normal and innocent activities involving a firearm that would be criminalized by such a prohibition.  For example, a person who visited another friend (in a rural area where there was no ordinance prohibition on firearm discharge) and who, while engaged in target practice on his friend’s property, handed his firearm to the friend standing next to him, so as to allow him to practice with it, would apparently be guilty of a felony.  Can it be imagined that it was anticipated that the federal government was permitted to regulate such an extensive range of otherwise permissible and innocent private activities?

The obnoxiousness of the proposed regime, it seems to me, is further proved by Section 123 of the bill. Now a person who has his firearm stolen and fails to at all realize he has to report the theft to the U.S. Attorney General, or is too busy for, say, a day-and-a-half to so report it to the federal government, is also guilt of a felony?  Is it really conceived the U.S. Congress has the constitutional authority to prescribe such conduct ordinarily within local purview only?

I could focus on other provisions and set forth the basis for why these are defects, but I trust the foregoing adequately indicates the core deficiency of Title I as currently drafted.

I understand that Senators Manchin and Toomey are engaged in endeavoring to fashion a compromise substitute for Title I.  I believe the effort is directed at regulating only arms-length transactions, such as gun show sales and online transactions and to not include temporary transfers or those between people who the owner knows or with whom he has the opportunity to familiarize himself. This seems consistent with the catalytic purpose of the bill, viz, preventing firearms from coming into the possession of prohibited persons; for under the latter circumstances the owner knows or would have the opportunity to know whether the recipient appears to be a prohibited person. And if the owner nevertheless delivers it to a prohibited person can be penalized under existing law or perhaps Title II (or a variation of Title II).

Thus I would urge support for such a substitute for Title I.  Failing an adequate substitute, then I would urge a Nay vote on the current version of Title I.



[This is being provided both as an independent memorandum and as an introduction to a later post to be published.]


10 USC 311 Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are-

(1)  the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2)  the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

(Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 14; Pub. L. 85?861, §1(7), Sept. 2, 1958, 72 Stat. 1439 ; Pub. L. 103?160, div. A, title V, §524(a), Nov. 30, 1993, 107 Stat. 1656 .)


MCL 32.509 State military establishment; composition; organized and unorganized militia.

The organized militia of this state taken collectively shall be known as the state military establishment and constitutes the armed forces of this state. The organized militia consists of the army national guard, the air national guard, and the defense force when actually in existence as provided in this act. The unorganized militia consists of all other able-bodied citizens of this state and all other able-bodied citizens who are residents of this state who have or shall have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, who shall be age 17 or over and not more than age 60, and shall be subject to state military duty as provided in this act.

History: 1967, Act 150, Imd. Eff. June 30, 1967

MCL 32.555 Unorganized militia; power of the governor.

The governor may order into the defense force any members of the unorganized militia in case of riot, tumult, breach of the peace, resistance of process, or for service in aid of civil authority, whether state or federal, or in time of actual or imminent public danger, disaster, crisis, catastrophe or other public emergency within this state.

History: 1967, Act 150, Imd. Eff. June 30, 1967 ;– Am. 2013, Act 99, Imd. Eff. July 2, 2013




[This is being provided both as an independent commentary and as an introduction to a later post to be published.  This was drafted originally as an enclosure to a letter disseminated during February, 2013, by the writer to Michigan’s two U.S. Senators.]

This is provided as a brief commentary in connection with the consideration of the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013” Bill, introduced in the United States Senate, and any similar bills that might be or have been introduced in either house.

Certain enhancements of the current regime may be appropriate, but I would tender that a ban of either so-called “assault weapons” or so-called “high capacity magazines” — being terms of art and having no meaning independent of arbitrary statutory definition — would be patently unconstitutional.  In addressing the question one should first give attention of course to Amendment II of the Constitution of the United States of America, viz,

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. [Emphasis supplied]

By the use of the terms Militia and Arms, it is clear that certain weapons arguably of a military character are not prohibited to the people but rather protected from infringement.  Thus, the use of the term “weapons of war” as characterizing implements that can be restricted is plainly a canard.

Now, by the terms of the amendment, the right is not unrestricted, for there are also present, one, the terms keep and bear.  The latter term protects only those arms that could be borne by an individual and whose primary capacity and use is to incapacitate or disable a single individual with each discharge, and the former term further identifies arms as those that both can be and historically are of a type that would have been kept by the people in their individual capacities, viz, arms that by the nature of the function they were designed to perform would not have been stored, in preparation for use, in a community armory.

However, more signal as a criterion is, two, the adjective well regulated.  The right to bear military (or quasi-military) arms is within the context of their disciplined use.  The concept of discipline reminds me of the analogous context of the CPL structure in Michigan.  Any person can, unless within certain defined categories, purchase and maintain a handgun.  However, they are not permitted to carry it concealed without certain training by an authorized person or persons.  By this they are both enhanced in the practical use of the weapon and also subjected to the observance of the instructor, as well as the other participants, in the process.

Thus, might not a tiered system of training, relative to the type of weapon to be used or the context of its use, thereby resulting in a better regulated citizenry, pass constitutional muster?  It would seem it might if the various additional levels of training required were not so arbitrary and capricious as apparently designed simply to be obstacles to the right to bear. In addition to imposition of a greater sense of responsibility upon the person, the additional training required should provide significant opportunities for observation by the other trainees as well as the instructor of any possible psychological or personality aberrations exhibited by any of the participants; if unacceptable or abnormal attributes were observed, then the observer could report this behavior, a determination that the offending person failed in his training might perhaps be issued, and the right to bear such a weapon possibly obstructed.  This it would seem would offer the most efficacious and practicable solution to problems ineffectually attempted to be addressed by misguided “gun control” restrictions.

Would institution of such a regime be consistent with the powers of Congress?  In addressing this question it would now seem appropriate to give attention to the following provision of the Constitution of the United States of America:

Section 8 – Powers of Congress

The Congress shall have Power

[Clause 16]

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; [Emphasis supplied]

The Congress then has the explicit power to prescribe the training discipline to which the citizen-soldier is subject.  This would include it would seem the reasonable level of knowledge, skill and mental acclimation to use an “assault weapon” equipped with a “high capacity magazine”, or other implements of war that can be kept and borne, as a condition to the purchase and keeping of it.  And depending upon the implement there could be gradually expanding levels of training for each, as appropriate.

To my mind, such a regime would provide the necessary amelioration to certain problems conceived to exist in the abuse of these types of weapons, while avoiding the constitutional defects incident to an effort to ban them.

While other proposals in the aforesaid Bill might be consistent with the Constitution, and also be amenable to a sufficiently broad range of the populace, and thus appropriate, I have focused here simply on the provisions endeavoring to ban “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines”.  For the above reasons I consider these provisions constitutionally defective, in addition to being misguided as the objectives thereof ought to be attained by alternative and more acceptable mechanics.