Category Archives: Firearms

Michigan “Extreme Risk Protection Order” Bills

After my last posting I took the occasion to review the subject, consisting of House Bill No. 4283 and Senate Bill No. 156 introduced in the Michigan Legislature.  They are “carbon copies” of each other.

Since the last post didn’t explicitly indicate that I favor these type of bills if properly structured, I decided that I ought to post comments I submitted to my State Representative and State Senator.  These demonstrate both my support of appropriate ERPO statutes, and also deficiencies in those bills.  Therefore, below is the text of those comments.

This is provided in regard to [House Bill No. 4283] [Senate Bill No. 156].

It is my opinion that the utility of an Extreme Risk Protection Order (“ERPO”) is a beneficial exercise of authority in appropriate situations and ought to be authorized by appropriate statute provided that the authorizing ERPO statute conforms to procedural due process requirements. Regrettably, it is my opinion that this bill does not, and therefore urge that the committee and chamber make radical amendments thereto.

For assistance in demonstrating some of the deficiencies in the aforesaid bill I have recently made an analysis of similar bills now pending in the U.S. Senate, this being accessible at:

Do the current proposed Congressional “Red Flag Laws” themselves exhibit Red Flags?

A PDF version of the post, containing in the body thereof the PDF tables linked therein, can be provided on request.

Specifically, I inter alia note problems with the following sections of the bill:

  • 3(e) (a qualified objection, as to its breadth)
  • 5(2)(b), (c) and (d)
  • 5(3), as to the “significant risk”, rather than an “extreme risk”, standard
  • 7(1), as to the minimal “reasonable cause” and “significant risk” standards. [In this connection I would note that the bill does not even require the unacceptable “preponderance of evidence” standard for the adversarial hearing order imposed by S.506 of Senator Feinstein.]
  • 7(1)(a), as it is not clear from the “testimony” reference that appearance by and cross-examination of the complainant is required, risking the same possibility of “show trials” envisioned by Senator Feinstein
  • 7(2), as a “clear and convincing” standard only is appropriate, though it, unlike S.7 of Senator Rubio and S.506 of Senator Feinstein, does require a showing of “immediate and irreparable injury”
  • 7(4), as to the limitation to 1 motion is inadequate, as potential abuse from multiple motions could be otherwise addressed
  • 17

Other sections of the bill also pose difficulties but, since they are not replicated in the U.S. Senate Bills, are not addressed in the post and would have to be discussed later.

I trust the foregoing is satisfactory to indicate the necessity of opposition to the aforesaid bill as presently drafted.

Sanilac County, Michigan USA
04 June 2019

Do the current proposed Congressional “Red Flag Laws” themselves exhibit Red Flags?

On January 3, 2019, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida introduced in the United States Senate his Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act of 2019 (“S.7″). On February 14, 2019, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California introduced in the United States Senate her Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019 (“S.506”).

On March 26, 2019, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing on Red Flag Laws: Examining Guidelines for State Action (“Hearing”). Five (5) witnesses appeared at the Hearing, all of whom submitted written testimony prior thereto as well as testified at it. One of those witnesses was Professor David B. Kopel (“Kopel”) whose written testimony set forth certain criteria for assessing the conformity of such statutes to procedural due process requirements.

This post will endeavor to analyze whether S.7 and S.506 conform to Kopel’s criteria. While some may disagree that these are the proper criteria to apply, this post operates upon the assumption that these ought to be operative in determining the acceptability of, or deficiencies in, either S.7 or S.506.

The initial observation is that both S.7 and S.506 are properly limited to the function of providing possible financial grants to the States for implementing such statutory regimes. For these regimes are solely within the Police Powers of the States and thus beyond the enumerated powers of the Federal government. Nevertheless, since both S.7 and S.506 prescribe certain guidelines for determining standing and procedures, those guidelines will be expected to exert a certain coercive effect upon the States to adopt a statutory regime parallel to them; for even if more strict standards could be employed by the States, or some of them, it will be expected that the general propensity (if not universal principle) to exert minimal effort to attain an objective will discourage the States, or some of them, to be more ambitious in providing further standing limitations or procedural protections.

Let us first review Kopels’ criteria, by category and standard, of preferred requirements. Afterward I will offer my own modest reaction to any toward which I might find problematic. These criteria, due to page width and consequent formatting problems, are set forth in my PV-ERPO_Tlb-1.pdf PDF file.

The only requirements that I might find problematic are, first, providing appointed counsel for the Respondent, and, two, excessive discouragement of No-Knock Raids.

Addressing the latter first, while these entries are certainly subject to abuse, they are occasionally required. If specific restrictions are described for their employment, then these can be prudent.

A confiscation regime is a civil proceeding. Accordingly, the requirement of provision of appointed counsel could be questionable. Nevertheless, since these proceedings could be deemed quasi-criminal, such a requirement could be appropriate.

Other than these, I find Kopel’s requirements reasonable and prudent indeed.

Let us now address our attention to S.7 and S.506 to determine how their standards conform to Kopel’s requirements. While some of those requirements may not be appropriate to either bill, as its purpose is to provide financial grants and only prescribe minimum standards therefor, I will include all of them in the below table, and either fail to note an “X” in either the “Yes” or “No” column if inapplicable, infer a negative answer by its silence, or include an * when the answer is qualified.

Now let us see how well these bills measure up. This comparison, due to page width and consequent formatting problems, are set forth in my PV-ERPO_Tlb-2.pdf PDF file.

As is clear from this PDF file, both S.7 and S.506 are deficient in providing protections deemed by Kopel to be required; while the marks in the “No” column for S.506 are profuse, S.7 also exhibits numerous failing grades. This writer likewise concurs that insufficient protections are afforded to the potential respondents in these proceedings.

S.7 makes some attempts to afford protection to potential respondents, albeit not adequate in this writer’s opinion. Its profuse provisions, the verbosity being far in excess of the sketchiness of S.506, may detract from, rather than enhance, those protections.

S.506, however, makes no attempt to provide more than a facade of procedural due process. It provides only a bare skeleton, delegating to the States — a facile gesture to Federalism as §4 describes it as the “National Extreme Risk Protection Order Law” (emphasis supplied) — the task of defining the procedural requirements, none of which have to be more rigorous than the bare skeleton of S.506.

Nevertheless, an attempt will be made now to compare certain of the respective provisions in, and the anomalies of, these bills. These will be addressed, as above, in a chronological order, and thus not a ranking of the importance of these deficiencies:

1. Commencement
S.506 provides no definition of or limitation upon the persons who could file a petition, but wholly defers to State action. Theoretically, then, if each State acted likewise, any of some-325,000,000 persons could file a petition against anyone else, regardless of their facile lack of knowledge.

S.7 attempts, by its addition of 34 USC 3041(3), to limit those qualified to initiate a proceeding. Still, the breadth introduced by (3)(B), (3)(C)(ii), (3)(E), and (3)(F) allows a wide range of persons who could act from ulterior motives as well as, in some of the cases, have minimal current contact with a potential respondent. Curiously, the proposed addition of 34 USC 3042(b)(5) allows a State to limit qualified petitioners to only law enforcement officers without imposing it as a minimum requirement; by this it almost appears as an afterthought or as a cautious suggestion to the States.

2. Risk of Injury
Neither S.7 nor S.506 impose a high standard of prospective adverse consequences if a confiscation order is not entered. S.7 only requires a showing of significant danger, while S.506 even eliminates the adjective and is satisfied with just a showing of danger. Neither then is consistent with their titles of addressing extreme risk. Further, the criterion of just danger seems overly-broad, would “cast too wide a net”, and often can merely be in the “eye of the beholder”.

3. Burden of Proof
This it would seem is the most-important deficiency in the bills.

While S.7 fortunately does require proof at the adversarial hearing by clear and convincing evidence, it permits the entry of an ex parte temporary confiscation order upon only a finding of probable cause; as this does not satisfy even the preponderance of evidence, much less the clear and convincing, standard, it clearly seems inadequate. This writer considers Kopel’s argument — if an unopposed application cannot at least satisfy a clear and convincing standard then there would not seem much merit to it — persuasive.

S.506 fails even more than S.7 in this regard. For an ex parte temporary confiscation order it only requires a finding of reasonable cause. And for the adversarial hearing it allows entry of a confiscation order by only a preponderance of evidence. Along with its other provisions, S.506 seems to consider requiring confiscation to be the default posture.

4. Ex Parte Temporary Confiscation Order Evidence
If the standard for the burden of proof justifying entry of such an order were high enough, then neither bill would be fatally deficient in this regard. It is of course common practice for Temporary Restraining Orders to be determined and entered based upon affidavit only.

S.7 does require the petition to be accompanied by a sworn affidavit “stating the specific facts that give rise to reasonable fear of significant dangerous acts” and requires for the entry of a temporary order “detailed allegations based on personal knowledge that the respondent poses a significant danger”. It also requires the court to “conduct a hearing, either in person or by telephone”. If it also imposed a higher standard of proof, this procedure would seem sufficient.

S.506, though, in addition to the same inadequate standard of proof, fails to provide for like submission of necessary evidence. It permits the entry of an order if “the application alleges that the respondent poses a danger of causing harm”, with the application being “on a form designed by the court … that … describes the facts and circumstances justifying … an extreme risk protection order … and … is signed by the applicant, under oath.” Those with familiarity with court forms providing for check boxes allows them to apprehend that merely minimal and cursory allegations may well suffice.

5. Surrender of Firearms
S.7 appears to provide for sufficient procedural protection upon this aspect. While not explicit, the various sections providing for surrender indicate that voluntary compliance will be allowed. No necessary confrontation between law enforcement and respondents is envisioned.

S.506 again is less accommodating. As it defines an extreme risk protection order as either “a written order or warrant”, it suggest that No-Knock Raids may be a standard feature of its regime.

6. Storage of Firearms
Both S.7 and S.506 provide adequate provisions upon this aspect. However, S.7 is superior as, in addition to storage by law enforcement and Federal Firearm Licensees, it allows storage by responsible third persons, presumably acceptable to the respondent. Further, S.7 provides an express prohibition upon any action (or inferentially inaction) by a custodian that would deleteriously affect or impair the rights of the owner in the firearms.

7. Notice to Respondent
While both S.7 and S.506 refer to providing notice to respondents, neither prescribes that this will be promptly effectuated, much less within any defined period after entry of a temporary order or the issuance of a hearing notice. This obviously allows for potential abuse and, especially in the case of an ex parte temporary confiscation order, possible dangerous situations.

8. Conduct of Adversarial Hearings
Here also, as with the Burden of Proof aspect, there is an inexcusable failure to conform to procedural due process requirements.

S.7 provides that a court “may conduct the hearing required under clause (i) [the adversarial, not the ex parte, hearing] by telephone …” The respondent then is apparently deprived of the right of cross-examination, and possibly even of sworn testimony being required of the petitioner. This is wholly unacceptable.

S.506, if possible, is even more egregious. It provides no standards for the conduct of the hearing — not even telephonic “testimony”. Apparently, the only evidence it would require of the petitioner is the sworn application. S.506, it would seem, now introduces the novelty of “show trials” into American jurisprudence.

9. Malicious Prosecution Sanctions
S.7 at least endeavors to discourage abuse of its procedures. For it requires the States to enact a statute that any making of false statements under oath in these proceedings would constitute a Felony. While it would presumably apply also to respondents, any petitioner would likewise be subject thereto.

This should discourage any clearly-unjustified petition. However, since some prosecutors conceivably could be loath to prosecute these felonies, provision should have been made also for a civil remedy, as it would be under the control of the wronged respondent. No such provision exists.

S.506, as expected, makes no provision for either.

Other deficiencies exist in both statutes. Among these are some questionable categories of evidence treated as admissible, particularly those recited in S.7. However, this post is verbose enough as it is. Suffice it to say that the foregoing should demonstrate both bills require radical amendments in order to conform to well-established principles of American jurisprudence.

Sanilac County, Michigan USA
06 April 2019


The author belatedly became aware that also on February 14, 2019, Representative Salud Carbajal of California introduced in the United States House of Representatives his Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019 (“H.R.1236”).

The author has now compared S.506 and H.R.1236 and they are identical.  Therefore, H.R.1236 displays all the deficiencies of S.506 discussed above.

Nevertheless, there is a further deficiency in both bills not previously appreciated.  Section 7 of both Bills recite:

Any extreme risk protection order issued under a State or Tribal law enacted in accordance with this Act 14 shall be accorded the same full faith and credit by the court of another State or Indian Tribe (the enforcing State or Indian Tribe) and enforced by the court and law enforcement personnel of the other State or Tribal government as if it were the order of the enforcing State or Tribe.

However, Section 4 of both Bills, in pertinent part, recite:


(b) ADDITIONAL AUTHORITIES.—Legislation described in this section may—
(1) provide procedures for the termination of an extreme risk protection order;
(2) provide procedures for the renewal of an extreme risk protection order;
(3) establish burdens of proof for issuance of orders described in paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection (a) that are higher than the burdens of proof required under those paragraphs; and
(4) limit the individuals who may submit an application described in subsection (a)(1), provided that, at a minimum, law enforcement officers are authorized to do so.

Therefore, Section 7 is manifestly inconsistent with Section 4.  Suppose State A enters an Extreme Risk Protection Order (“ERPO”).  The ERPO is then sought to be enforced in State B

However, State B, pursuant to Section 4(b)(1), (3), and (4) has enacted similar legislation but with standards more rigorous than those of State A; those higher standards might conceivably have resulted in denial of an ERPO if sought in State B.  Nevertheless, Section 7 would purportedly require enforcement of the State A ERPO even though unjustified by the laws, and against the public policy, of State B.

Hence, thereby, would the Police Powers of State B be supplanted and controlled by the laws of State A.  Federalism is not intended to allow, nor does it permit, the lowest common denominator to dictate the laws of another State.

For this reason also, these Bills are unacceptable.

Sanilac County, Michigan USA
03 September 2019


A Well-Armed and Well-Regulated Militia as a Mechanism for Gauging the Presence of Tyranny

Certain semiautomatic rifles, particularly the AR-15 and similar configurations, have been characterized by some as “weapons of war”. Since there are significant differences between the AR-15 and M16, particularly in the modes and rate of fire, it is well-known the characterization is inaccurate.

However, given the similarity in general design, including its ability to accept a high-capacity magazine, let us for the moment accept the designation as a “weapon of war”.  Does this then disqualify it for civilian ownership?

Preceding posts have sufficiently demonstrated, it is believed, that a large block of civilians in this country are compelled, in certain exigent circumstances, to provide military-type services to the country or their State in their capacity as members of the unorganized militia — or at least be available and prepared to do so.  By definition, then, would they not be engaged in war-type activities?  And, if so, should they not then be experienced in and have available a “weapon of war”?  How then can they be proscribed from ownership of and familiarity with such a weapon?

Moreover, the statutory prescription of potential militia service is parallel to the prefatory clause of the Second Amendment.  While historically and contemporaneously there have been continued conflicting interpretations of the purpose and scope of the amendment, there can be no dispute it includes two (2) clauses and that at a minimum the right to keep and bear arms was to enable the people to perform militia service.  Now, by both historical and legal definition, the performance of militia service was engagement, as the circumstances might require, in paramilitary and military service.  How then is the keeping and bearing of a “weapon of war” incompatible with this capacity?  Rather, does not this capacity instead require it?

One might also analyze the question from the perspective of the purpose of a militia.  It is beyond cavil that a militia was considered more harmonious with liberty, in contrast with the greater threat to liberty that was posed by a standing army.  While not as universally accepted, there was also an understanding that a militia could potentially act as a bulwark against a standing army controlled by persons with objectives in conflict with those of the larger — or, at least, a sufficiently substantial — body of the people.

Certain critics have cast scorn on the continued viability of this function, given the geometrically-superior firepower of the country’s military forces. How can, they say, a militia equipped with AR-15s and sidearms realistically oppose a standing army with, inter alia, M16s, tanks, fighter aircraft and bombers?  This however overlooks a singularly perceptive observation (or, at least, its corollary) from our Declaration of Independence.  It is tendered that this provides the mechanism which preserves and proves the viability of such a resistance — albeit one that hopefully will never be required.

Mr. Jefferson noted that “[p]rudence … dictate[d] that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”  Thus, even if evils are being perpetrated, they are likely to be borne by the greater body of the populace if they are not excessive and egregious.  Any rebellion by an insignificant body of the populace then allows, if not compels, a conclusion that the causes of the outrage are sufferable.

What then is the conclusion that is allowed, if not compelled, when a significant body of the populace engages in some form of insurrection?  It is tendered that it should be deemed then that these evils have now become magnified into ones which are excessive and egregious.  And it seems Mr. Jefferson concurs, as he further states that in such an instance of “… a long train of abuses and usurpations … evinc[ing] a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

Let us then suppose that just Five percent (5%) of the population between 15 and 54 years of age deemed themselves outraged by a “long train of abuses and usurpations”.  Nay, instead of more than 8,500,000 citizens, let us suppose that but One percent (1%) resolved to resist what they deemed despotism.  What is conceived to be the likely reaction of the U.S. military forces to a civilian force of more than 1,700,000 citizens?  Would they likely view with equanimity the slaughtering of such a large body of their fellow citizens, deeming it to be consistent with morals and the law?  Wouldn’t they instead be likely to conclude that the perceived grievances of their fellow citizens had become, consistent with Mr. Jefferson’s formula, “insufferable” and due to excessive and egregious “abuses and usurpations”?

It is tendered that out of natural and innate morality — much less and regardless of any concern for their potential jeopardy as a consequence of possible commission of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity — these military forces would conclude that the actions inspiring such resistance, as well as any orders to overcome such resistance, were patently illegal, and therefore would themselves resist.

It would be impossible of course to reduce to mathematical certainty what proportion of the citizenry would be required for an observer to conclude that resistance was legal rather than illegal.  Suffice it to say that there would be sufficient parameters, when viewed in the context also of any surrounding relevant circumstances, to allow a resistance by a substantial body of the citizenry to be cause for concluding the resistance was justified.  And upon a determination of such justification would instead eliminate the despotism that caused the resistance.

Consequently, a citizenry keeping and bearing arms sufficient to cause a suspension of exertion of force against them, in order to allow an assessment whether their actions were rather justified, demonstrates that the existence and interposition of a militia remains a viable mechanism for resistance to potential despotism.  And the keeping and bearing of arms compatible and consistent with their function as a militia continues to be an essential right.

Forester Twp, Michigan USA
04 July 2016

Duty of Every Citizen as Militia Member to Defend State as Nullification of Restrictions upon Means of Defense

As suggested by my three (3) postings this past February 26, I commenced work upon and intended to post the below shortly thereafter; however, other circumstances and obligations interfered with my completion hereof. Those three (3) postings provide context and reference for this posting and, in some respects, elaborate on this subject.)

The massacres over the past seven (7) months have, as is well-known, resulted in more calls for “gun control”. Unfortunately, these have to a great extent focused on the type of weapon used rather than the type of person who used the weapon or, perhaps more precisely, the deficiencies in the person who used the weapon.

In my opinion, the controversy and ill to be eradicated can be better addressed by attention to the well-regulation of persons who acquire what are deemed to be certain kinds of weapons that justify further regulation. This is further addressed at length in my ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN Memorandum, one of those postings published at this site on February 26. For prolonging exhausting and futile discussions about types of weapons, with certain exceptions of course, ignores and repudiates the reality of the right to keep, and justification for keeping, arms, the obligation to do so, and the necessary circumstances incident to the exercise of this right and obligation.

It is indisputable that there is a natural, and long-recognized common law, right to self-defense.  Nay, the writer tenders that there is not merely a right but further a duty of self-defense. The fact of birth of each living person is a given. If a person was born, then there is a reason for his or her life, be it, among possibly others, the choice of God, or the decision of his or her parents, or a role or purpose for him or her to perform, or an objective for him or her to realize or status to attain. In any event, the very fact of the person having life necessarily implies that it ought not be terminated but ought be allowed to endure, for fulfillment of whatever might have been its reason; for each person had no control over and was not the cause of his or her birth. If then he or she as it were was “impressed into duty”, he or she has no right to shirk this duty but rather a further duty to defend himself or herself from anyone who might endeavor to terminate their life and thereby prevent him or her from performing this duty or realizing their destiny.

The right to keep arms is but a corollary of that right and duty. While the circumstances under which one might have to defend oneself have not it seems been explicated, nevertheless the scope of this right of self-defense is intrinsically wide. For it must encompass at least each of the situations where a person is called upon to defend oneself against a:

  • savage animal,
  • solitary criminal aggressor,
  • band of criminal aggressors,
  • foreign or rogue domestic paramilitary force, or
  • foreign or rogue domestic military force.

All of these situations indicate that there can not be a severely-circumscribed scope of arms to which one is entitled. For an individual weapon that might be sufficient to protect oneself from a small savage animal would not be sufficient to protect oneself from a military force. Consequently, the conclusion must be that a person is entitled by right to keep arms that are sufficient to protect oneself against each of those exigencies.  [The writer of course recognizes that there are certain legal limitations to a broad rule — limitations though which are not incident to or inherent in the natural right of self-defense — as historical usage has, first, extended the entitlement to weapon types which an individual would commonly keep and personally bear, and, two, carved out weapon types that are specialized or might be usually stored in a facility such as an armory. Still, the burden should be upon the one arguing for a restriction that the type is one that should fall into the latter, rather than the former, category.]

Buttressing this line of reasoning is the insufficiently-examined significance and description of what a militia consists. The coupling of the militia phrase in the Second Amendment is frequently used as an argument that the right in the succeeding phrase should be limited.  However, this ignores what was the understanding of the composition of the militia at the time of its adoption. In addition, even the present meaning of the term “unorganized militia” — assuming that the term’s existence is even recognized, much less the significance thereof appreciated — encompasses a broader range of persons than is frequently acknowledged.  (For the succeeding citations the reader is referred to the writer’s Statutory Definitions of U.S. Militia posting this past February 26.) As a perusal of 10 USC 311 indicates, all able-bodied citizens of the United States, between the ages of 17 and 44, inclusive, are automatic and mandatory members of the militia. It would seem that the States have authority to expand the composition thereof since, for example, Michigan has expanded, by 16 years, the age group of persons who compose its unorganized militia, they likewise being under compulsion to be members of the State militia. MCL 32.509.

And what duties and in which circumstances may the unorganized militia be called upon to perform? Among them are to:

  • “… suppress Insurrections and repel invasions” US Const, art I, § 8, cl 15.
  • serve in the defense force “… 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.” MCL 32.555.

At a minimum certain of these duties, and the circumstances in which they would be performed, clearly are paramilitary or military in character. And is not some of the material with which they must be equipped well known?

If these persons are then part of a contingent military force and thus would be bearing arms in this service, is it not then incumbent upon them to have available and be trained in the use of the weapons which they might be required to employ in a hostile action? And it would seen that such a possible scenario is not simply academic, since, for example, both the U.S. Constitution and the statutes of Michigan allow the President and the Governor, respectively, to call forth the unorganized militia in exigent circumstances. US Const, art I, § 8, cl 15; MCL 32.555. If a person then is a potential military conscript, is not familiarity and training in the use of the arms necessary for them to competently perform their function essential?

Now it is perceived that an argument might be presented that the arms need not be kept by these members of the unorganized militia, but could be stored in some type of armory facility. However, in addition to this being inconsistent with the terminology of the Second Amendment, viz, a right not only to bear but also to keep, there could be a gross impracticability in the administration thereof. For in the event of some type of untoward and unanticipated emergency, might not the members of the unorganized militia require immediate resort to those arms? In addition, having the arms constantly available allows these members to frequently practice and train and perfect themselves in the use of the weapon, something that would not be as conveniently, if at all, possible if they were not always readily available.

In sum, undue restrictions upon the types of weapons available to the populace would not only be inconsistent with but would conflict with and vitiate both the rights granted to them and the duties imposed upon them. For these reasons, any effort to restrict or prohibit certain types of weapons appropriate to these potential functions would negate and interdict this right and this duty.

The writer shortly will further address a related issue in a succeeding posting.

Forester Twp, Michigan USA
03 July 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.


Gun Control

Do we need Gun Control? Looking at our world and the obscenities and tragedies rampant throughout it, it seems the answer has to be a resounding YES!

However, I would suggest a direction and focus that might be a bit different from what is likely the common answer. I would suggest that the direction and focus should be on controlling access to and use by our Political Leaders rather than, the usual suspects, the Private Citizen.

We have tragedies in Israel/Gaza, the Ukraine and all over the Middle East and Central Asia, to name just a few. After stepping back and taking a look, do we really want access and control in the hands of the likes of, for example, Vladimir Putin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Khaled Meshaal, or Barack Obama?

I would suggest that just about, say, any N.R.A. Member is more trustworthy than any of those people. So, Yes, let’s start a move toward Gun Control, by exerting more overview of and placing more limitations on the use of Military Force by all Political Leaders. (In the meantime, why not just move on from some of the concerns about our Private Citizens and allow them to continue to retain and exercise their rights in this arena.)

Sound reasonable?

Forester Twp, Michigan USA
18 July 2014