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Matthew Larosiere is the Director of Legal Policy at Firearms Policy Coalition. You can connect with him on Twitter @MattLaAtLaw.

2019 brought NICS check record, Guns banned at state Capitol, Virginia is for … ammo free school zones?  Virginia Sheriff may deputize “thousands” to shield them from gun control, In wake of gun control, Virginia delegate seeks to allow guns in church, Rhode Island, scared of ghosts, wants more gun control, Ohio AG proposes online stolen firearms database, Colorado cops test out day-old red flag law, Indiana Republican Pitching Gun Control, Kansas City Sues Gun Manufacturer.


2019 brought NICS check record.

On Monday the FBI announced that in 2019 it conducted 28,369,750 background checks via NICS for firearms purchases and carry permits; that’s almost a million more than the record set in 2016 (I wonder what might have caused that…). In December alone there were nearly 3 million. Who knows what the purchase boom is attributable to. Could it be great deals? Threats of draconian regulation? Or simply more and more people seeing the value of an effective means for self defense? Whatever the reasoning, one thing is clear: the people are taking their right to arms seriously. That said, we have to remember that NICS checks aren’t the same as gun sales. People lawfully acquire firearms without NICS checks every day, and some NICS checks involve firearms going back to its original owner. An interesting statistic, nonetheless.


Guns banned at state Capitol

Kicking off our Virginia update, state lawmakers voted Friday to ban firearms at the state Capitol. “Our focus here is to keep everybody safe,” said House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn of the new rule. “These are policies and rules that should have passed a long, long time ago.” The new policy is obviously in response to the massive public outcry and negative response that has attended the state government’s threats to bring down the hammer on gun control. No matter how you slice it, this doesn’t look like an olive branch to the people of Virginia.


Virginia is for … ammo free school zones? 

Delegate Kaye Kory (D - 38th District) has filed Virginia House Bill 318, which will make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly bring ammunition onto school grounds, potentially even if it’s in your vehicle. The bill modifies the language of an existing statute, § 18.2-308.1, which made it illegal to carry certain weapons on school grounds.


Virginia Sheriff may deputize “thousands” to shield them from gun control

Scott Jenkins, Sheriff of Culpeper County, VA, has announced that he would be willing to deputize “thousands” of law-abiding gun owners if necessary to shelter them from the sweeping gun legislation being pushed at the state house this session. Of course this deputization process would not be available to all applicants - individuals would have to pass the same background checks and psychological testing as full-time deputies. If deputized, individuals would be required to serve 8 hours per month, which we presume is intended to qualify the new deputies for law enforcement exemptions written into the bills being pushed by Virginia Democrats.  


In wake of gun control, Virginia delegate seeks to allow guns in church 

In a bit of good news for Virginia, Delegate Wendell Walker (R - 23rd District) In Virginia has introduced a bill which would repeal a current Virginia law that restricts the right to carry in houses of worship. As the law stands, carrying “without good and sufficient reason,” which is of course, subjective, is a Class 4 misdemeanor. Given the current climate in Virginia, it is uncertain whether this bill will reach the floor for a vote.


Rhode Island, scared of ghosts, wants more gun control

Ghost hysteria has struck Rhode Island, where State Assembly Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello (D - District 15), has expressed an interest in pursuing legislation which will ban “3D-printed guns and ghost guns” after police recovered “what appeared to be” a printed gun from a suspect. In response to a recent shooting, Mattiello gave the classic “while I strongly support Second Amendment rights, we need to get guns out of the hands of those with mental illness, as well as those who do not follow the laws.” His plan included requiring the police chief of a resident’s jurisdiction to evaluate firearms background check forms instead of the chief of the jurisdiction where the individual would otherwise purchase a firearm, which presumably complicates the firearms purchase process.

Rhode Island already has a red flag law on the books which is utterly ineffective at stopping violence perpetrated by dangerous people, while being highly effective at inverting the rights of Rhode Islanders. What is most concerning about these proposals is that the legislators justify them as a solution to isolated incidents involving individuals who knew each other, while either unintentionally or willfully ignorant of the fact that these laws unreasonably burden normal people. If we’re being cynical it seems, these incidents are being used as a pretext for driving up the cost of gun ownership, keeping lawful arms out of the hands of people who might need them most.

Ohio AG proposes online stolen firearms database

Ohio Attorney General David Yost has announced that he is building a public database for private citizens and gun shop owners to check to see if the gun they are interested in purchasing has been reported stolen. Yost expressed hope that law enforcement will assist him with the database because the state doesn’t have a system of this kind. I do wonder if he checked into whether anyone else had already provided a solution for this issue. A quick google search turned up several. There exist public databases of stolen firearms, where one can check the serial number to see if the weapon is “hot,” as well as some manufacturers’ websites. It seems resources may have been better spent collaborating with existing participants in this area, than trying to reinvent the wheel. But hey, it’s not my tax money. Enjoy, Ohioans!

Colorado cops test out day-old red flag law

One day after Colorado’s red flag law went into effect, the police took advantage of it to seize an individual’s guns. The details of the underlying case aren’t clear, but it seems often the case that when a red flag bills become law, they are turned to by authorities almost immediately. The state need only make mere accusations against an individual, forcing them into an uphill battle to have their constitutional rights respected without having first had their day in court.


Indiana Republican Pitching Gun Control

The Republican-controlled Indiana Legislature is pushing Senate Bill 16, which punishes former juvenile delinquents for violations they committed in their youth by preventing them from accessing firearms well into their adulthood, specifically until the age of 26 or 28 depending on the severity of the offense. 

Senate Bill 16 would prohibit any person deemed a juvenile delinquent for using a gun in an act that would be classified as a serious violent felony if committed by an adult from possessing a gun until reaching age 26 or 28, depending on the severity of the act. This bill necessarily raises a few questions. First, if the violation for which the affected person was so severe, why was that individual not tried as an adult instead? How did the legislators conclude that the ages of 26 and 28 were the magic numbers for restoring constitutional rights. And if the bill requires the state to forward any declaration of delinquency status to NICS, have they considered how difficult it will be for the affected individual to have their rights restored by the federal government, or do they just not care? 

Given the swiftness with which the bill has passed the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law - roughly one week - we doubt that the legislature is concerned about the bill’s impact on the state’s future adults. There is also the concern that juvenile defendants are given unserious consideration by the state, given the general presumption of a fresh start after adulthood. The problems inherent in our juvenile justice system are only compounded when they follow an individual to adulthood.


Kansas City Sues Gun Manufacturer

In a rather odd case, Kansas City has brought a suit against gun manufacturer Jimenez Arms, alleging the company’s involvement in a local gun trafficking operation. The city claims that Jimenez Arms, based in Henderson, Nevada, knowingly sold firearms to an unlicensed dealer and that the same dealer intended to resell the firearms to felons. The suit relates back to a City fire captain who was allegedly selling firearms illegally, basically listing every outfit he had contact with as defendants. This is a very sticky situation, one we’ll certainly be keeping our eyes on.