SEC. 2. Increase in excise taxes relating to firearms.
(a) In general.—Section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended to read as follows:
“SEC. 4181. Imposition of tax.
“There is hereby imposed upon the sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of the following articles a tax equivalent to the specified percent of the price for which so sold:
“(1) Articles taxable at 20 percent:
“(C) Firearms (other than pistols and revolvers).
“(D) Any lower frame or receiver for a firearm, whether for a semiautomatic pistol, rifle, or shotgun that is designed to accommodate interchangeable upper receivers.
“(2) Articles taxable at 50 percent: Shells and cartridges.”.
Text for H.R.5103 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act of 2018
INCH by INCH: Obama Issues Executive Order That May Drive Gunsmiths Out of Business – The Truth About Guns
President Obama has the ability to issue “executive orders” that direct the agencies controlled by the Office of the President to change the way they operate. Government agencies have a large amount of leeway when it comes to the interpretation of the law and how it applies to the American people, and these executive orders are intended to allow the president to specifically direct those agencies in whatever manner he sees fit.
Last Friday President Obama issued one such order which changed the definition of a “manufacturer” under the ITAR treaty regulations, a change which now means anyone who so much as threads a barrel on a firearm needs to pay thousands more dollars in fees and is subject to further registration. From the NRA:
By way of background, the AECA and ITAR concern rules by which military materiel is exported from, and imported to, the United States. The so-called “defense articles” governed by the AECA/ITAR are compiled in what is known as the U.S. Munitions List and include some, but not all, firearms and ammunition, as well as their parts and components.
Thus, for purposes of the regime, a spring or floorplate from the magazine of a controlled firearm is subject to the same regulatory framework as the firearm itself.
The AECA/ITAR require anybody who engages in the business of “manufacturing” a defense article to register with DDTC and pay a registration fee that for new applicants is currently $2,250 per year. These requirements apply, even if the business does not, and does not intend to, export any defense article.
Moreover, under ITAR, “only one occasion of manufacturing … a defense article” is necessary for a commercial entity to be considered “engaged in the business” and therefore subject to the regime’s requirements.
The issue is the definition of “manufacturer.” Previously, only machine shops who actually produce a firearm from scratch were required to register as a “manufacturer.” Local gun shops with a shade-tree gunsmith happily threading barrels and trueing up receivers were exempt, since they didn’t actually make anything new.
This new interpretation of the ITAR regulations has changed all that, and anyone who so much as threads a barrel now must further register with the Federal government as a “manufacturer” and pay an additional $2,250 in registration fees. That might not seem like a lot to a big shop, but for the small mom-and-pop gunsmiths this could be enough to put them out of business.
The NRA’s opinion on the matter is predictable:
DDTC’s move appears aimed at expanding the regulatory sweep of the AECA/ITAR and culling many smaller commercial gunsmithing operations that do not have the means to pay the annual registration fee or the sophistication to negotiate DDTC’s confusing maze of bureaucracy. Like ATF’s early “guidance” this year on theGCA’s licensing requirement for firearm “dealers,” it is also likely to have a significant chilling effect on activity that would not even be considered regulated.
The administration’s latest move serves as a timely reminder of how the politicized and arrogant abuse of executive power can be used to suppress Second Amendment rights and curtail lawful firearm-related commerce. That lesson should not be forgotten when voters go to the polls this November.
A discussion group on Facebook called Texas Pew Pew Pew Show & Tell warned its users that it was intended to host conversations “about anything that goes pew pew pew,” but not to facilitate the sale or trade of firearms.
The same note asked participants to “be smart” and “to take it to PM,” a reference to private messages. “If you don’t get the hint, I can’t help stupid,” the note said.
Though the message did not explicitly tell users to talk about the sale of guns only on a private channel, those who monitor such posts said it was one of many ways that users of Facebook, the world’s largest social network, have tried to circumvent its ban on private gun sales announced in January.
Mike Monteiro, a web designer from San Francisco, helped start a campaign to monitor Facebook and report violations to get gun sales removed. Mr. Monteiro, 48, said he felt compelled to act after a gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in June in the country’s worst mass shooting.
“I just started to search for gun sales, and sure enough, Facebook was full of them,” he said.
Some users have tried to skirt the ban by advertising other products for sale, such as baby powder or a can of Hawaiian Punch, next to rifles.
Other users did little to hide their intentions. A post pinned on a military memorabilia and firearms Facebook page recommended that those who wanted to sell guns or ammunition write the caliber and model numbers using code words, rely on external sites to share photos and make deals through private messages. The group’s moderator did not respond to a message on Facebook.
Mr. Monteiro said in the past month he reported about 500 posts or groups. Facebook took down about two-thirds of them, but sometimes only after follow-up complaints. Some of Mr. Monteiro’s social media followers joined in the effort. “If even you report 10 and one gets knocked down, that’s one less gun sale,” he said.
Mr. Monteiro is not alone in his effort. John B. Sibley, 41, of the Bronx, spends an average of 30 to 45 minutes a day reporting violations. He said he has been a longtime supporter of groups that seek greater gun control but felt that their approach focused mostly on raising money and seeking changes legislatively.
“If you want to do something practical, they don’t have much to offer you there,” he said. “This is an action I can take. Every time I foil a gun sale, I get a little satisfaction.”
Not everyone feels the same way, however. Mr. Sibley said he gets a fair amount of harassment on Facebook. Mr. Monteiro said a photo posted online showed a rifle pointing at a computer screen that displayed his Twitter profile. He has also been banned briefly by Facebook four times after his account was flagged several times.
Mr. Sibley said he personally has gotten 1,288 groups or posts removed in a month. He takes a screenshot of every confirmed removal notice. He also developed a detailed guide to identifying gun sales on Facebook.
Groups that operate in the open (ones with “buy guns” in their names, for instance) have been taken down, and what remain are closed, coded or secret, he said. “We’re starting to shut down the marketplace,” he said.
Still, Mr. Monteiro and Mr. Sibley described Facebook’s reporting process as a cumbersome multistep procedure that can change from day to day.
They suggested that Facebook has sophisticated software developers who could easily make the process of eliminating gun sales as automated and effective as it does in rooting out images of child pornography.
“When you want to change something, you can change it,” Mr. Monteiro said. “What all this boils down to is if Facebook did not want guns on the site, the guns would be gone tomorrow. They have the technology to do this.”
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement that she was grateful for Facebook’s response to the groups’ campaign to ban private gun sales, but that it needs to take responsibility for enforcing its own policy.
“Part of being a good corporate actor is taking ownership — lives are on the line, and it’s vital that Facebook figures this out quickly,” she said.
Facebook said any content that violated its prohibition would be removed. “We rely on our community of 1.6 billion people to help us enforce this policy by making it possible for anyone to report any piece of content including posts, photos, videos, and messages,” it said in a statement.
The Facebook group Barter Junkies, which currently has more than 166,000 members, lost about 17,000 members after the gun sales ban went into effect, said Christopher Sullivan, the group’s primary moderator. The group facilitates the purchase, sale and barter of goods that include, among other things, cars, real estate and car parts. Mr. Sullivan said he regularly gets complaints and threats about enforcing the ban or when gun sales are removed. When he recently posted a note reminding users about the ban, the group lost 4,000 followers in four days.
Gun enthusiasts are also turning to activism. A petition on change.org that has drawn 40 of the 100 supporters it seeks urged Facebook to lift its ban. Douglas T. Brooks, 23, of Jacksonville, Fla., said he started the petition after a group he moderated on Facebook, Jacksonville Gun Traders, was shut down because it allowed members to buy, trade and sell guns.
“We were just mad because they shut us down without warning,” he said, calling the ban “kind of ridiculous.”
A secret group with a slightly different name was permitted by Facebook after it pledged to only discuss guns, he said. Still, Mr. Brooks said, he could not understand why Facebook would bar users who could legitimately own guns from buying and selling them on its site. “I would say it’s stepping on your rights,” he said.
Surely murder is a serious subject, which ought to be examined seriously. Instead, it is almost always examined politically in the context of gun control controversies, with stock arguments on both sides that have remained the same for decades. And most of those arguments are irrelevant to the central question: Do tighter gun control laws reduce the murder rate?
That is not an esoteric question, nor one for which no empirical evidence is available. Think about it. We have 50 states, each with its own gun control laws, and many of those laws have gotten either tighter or looser over the years. There must be tons of data that could indicate whether murder rates went up or down when either of these things happened.
But have you ever heard any gun control advocate cite any such data? Tragically, gun control has become one of those fact-free issues that spawn outbursts of emotional rhetoric and mutual recriminations about the National Rifle Association or the Second Amendment.
If restrictions on gun ownership do reduce murders, we can repeal the Second Amendment, as other Constitutional Amendments have been repealed. Laws exist to protect people. People do not exist to perpetuate laws.
But if tighter restrictions on gun ownership do not reduce murders, what is the point of tighter gun control laws— and what is the point of demonizing the National Rifle Association?
There are data not only from our 50 states, but also from other countries around the world. Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm’s empirical study, “Guns and Violence: The English Experience,” should be eye-opening for all those who want their eyes opened, however small that number of people might be.
Professor Malcolm’s book illustrates the difference between isolated, cherry-picked facts and relevant empirical evidence.
Many gun control advocates have cited the much higher murder rates in the United States than in England as due to tighter gun control laws in England. But Professor Malcolm’s study points out that the murder rate in New York has been some multiple of the murder rate in London for two centuries — and, during most of that time, neither city had serious restrictions on gun ownership.
As late as 1954, “there were no controls on shotguns” in England, Professor Malcolm reported, but only 12 cases of armed robbery in London. Of these only four became ever more severe — and armed robberies in London soared to 1,400 by 1974.
“As the numbers of legal firearms have dwindled, the numbers of armed crimes have risen” is her summary of that history in England. Conversely, in the United States the number of handguns in American homes more than doubled between 1973 and 1992, while the murder rate went down.
There are relevant facts available, but you are not likely to hear about them from politicians currently pushing for tighter gun control laws, or from the mainstream media, when those facts go against the claims of gun control advocates.
Despite hundreds of thousands of times a year when Americans use firearms defensively, none of those incidents is likely to be reported in the mainstream media, even when lives are saved as a result. But one accidental firearm death in a home will be broadcast and rebroadcast from coast to coast.
Virtually all empirical studies in the United States show that tightening gun control laws has not reduced crime rates in general or murder rates in particular. Is this because only people opposed to gun control do empirical studies? Or is it because the facts uncovered in empirical studies make the arguments of gun control zealots untenable?
In both England and the United States, those people most zealous for tighter gun control laws tend also to be most lenient toward criminals and most restrictive on police. The net result is that law-abiding citizens become more vulnerable when they are disarmed and criminals disobey gun control laws, as they disobey other laws.
The facts are too plain to be ignored. Moreover, the consequences are too dangerous to law-abiding citizens, whose lives are put in jeopardy on the basis of fact-free assumptions and unexamined dogmas. Such arguments are a farce, but not the least bit funny.
Thomas Sowell, a National Humanities Medal winner, is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher and author. He is currently Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
OKLAHOMA CITY –
You may have heard of civil asset forfeiture.
That’s where police can seize your property and cash without first proving you committed a crime; without a warrant and without arresting you, as long as they suspect that your property is somehow tied to a crime.
Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.
It’s called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last month.
Here’s how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.
“We’re gonna look for different factors in the way that you’re acting,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent said. “We’re gonna look for if there’s a difference in your story. If there’s someway that we can prove that you’re falsifying information to us about your business.”
Troopers insist this isn’t just about seizing cash.
“I know that a lot of people are just going to focus on the seizing money. That’s a very small thing that’ s happening now. The largest part that we have found … the biggest benefit has been the identity theft,” Vincent said.
“If you can prove can prove that you have a legitimate reason to have that money it will be given back to you. And we’ve done that in the past,” Vincent said about any money seized.
State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said that removes due process and the belief that a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He said we’ve already seen cases in Oklahoma where police are abusing the system.
“We’ve seen single mom’s stuff be taken, a cancer survivor his drugs taken, we saw a Christian band being taken. We’ve seen innocent people’s stuff being taken. We’ve seen where the money goes and how it’s been misspent,” Loveless said.
Loveless plans to introduce legislation next session that would require a conviction before any assets could be seized.
“If I had to err on the side of one side versus the other, I would err on the side of the Constitution,” Loveless said. “And I think that’s what we need to do.”
News 9 obtained a copy of the contract with the state.
It shows the state is paying ERAD Group Inc., $5,000 for the software and scanners, then 7.7 percent of all the cash the highway patrol seizes.
We are giving it a go!
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Steep gun tax concept endorsed by Hillary Clinton in 1993 beginning to take hold
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A $1,000 per gun tax should serve as a “role model” for states, according to the governor of the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, which imposed the $1,000 gun tax earlier this month. An idea first endorsed by Hillary Clinton in 1993, steep gun taxes have now taken hold in Cook County, Ill. the city of Seattle, and now a U.S. territory.
As reported by the Saipan Tribune:
The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres defended the CNMI’s new gun control laws on Friday as a law that could be “a role model” for other U.S. states and jurisdictions facing seemingly uncontrolled and continued gun violence.
The administration was responding to queries regarding its position on recent reports that the a legal challenge to the new law, Public law 19-42, was likely, particularly over a provision that assesses a $1,000 excise tax on pistols.
The $1,000 gun tax “role model” threat is not idle. Consider the following:
Seattle Gun Tax: On Jan. 1, 2016, Seattle’s $25 per gun tax took effect, as did a two cent to five cent tax per round of ammunition.
Cook County, Ill. Gun and Ammunition Tax: On June 1, 2016, Cook County’s new ammunition tax takes effect, at a rate of one cent to five cents per round of ammunition. The ammo tax comes on top of the existing gun tax regime of $25 per gun.
Hillary Clinton’s 25% Gun Tax Endorsement: In passionate testimony to the Senate Finance Committee in 1993, Hillary Clinton gave her strong personal endorsement to a new national 25% sales tax on guns and endorsed a steep increase in the gun dealer fee, to $2,500.
“The Left is now seeking to tax guns out of existence,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The Second Amendment makes it difficult to legally ban guns, but Hillary has led the way to explaining you can achieve the same thing with high taxes.”
In newly released footage from Americans for Tax Reform, Clinton is shown nodding enthusiastically as she endorsed the 25% gun tax and as legal gun dealers were described as “purveyors of violence.”
Gun rights advocates hope to remove a number of federal restrictions related to the purchase and ownership of firearm silencers.
The Hearing Protection Act would exempt silencers from the National Firearms Act of 1934, a law that also regulates fully automatic weapons. Under the current law, individuals who wish to purchase a silencer must pay a $200 tax and wait several months for the ATF to process paperwork on the item before bringing the accessory home. The process is more complex than buying a firearm.
A coalition of gun rights groups, including the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, are making the Hearing Protection Act a top priority for 2016. SilencerCo, a leading silencer manufacturer, is also at the center of the effort.
“It could be a really big deal for the gun industry,” said SilencerCo CEO Joshua Waldron, who also holds positions at the American Suppressor Association and NRA. “We’re gaining momentum. The best part about this bill is we didn’t understand how much support we would get from all of the organizations: NSSF, NRA, Congressional Sportsman Foundation. It’s really a strong push because in essence everybody understands what suppressors really are.”
“They make hunting and shooting safer. That’s an issue that everybody can get behind on both sides of the table.”
Waldron said his company was heavily involved in crafting the bill and has advocated on its behalf through advertising and email-writing campaigns. “We helped the American Suppressor Association in drafting the language for the bill,” Waldron said. “From our website alone we’ve generated 60,000 letters sent to lawmakers in support of HPA.”
Rep. Matt Salmon (R., Ariz.), an avid shooter who uses silencers and introduced the Hearing Protection Act, said he has seen a groundswell of support from his colleagues.
“It’s been very positive,” Salmon said. “We already have 55 co-sponsors. We have Democrats on the bill as well. It’s actually picking up a lot of steam. Suppressors really should’ve never been placed in the act in the first place. I think it was a mistake in the first place. There’s no rationale. It’s not the same as fully automatic weapon. To me it’s a great training tool.”
Salmon and Waldron both said silencers are not used in crime.
“There have been zero legally-owned suppressors used in crimes since the ‘30s,” Waldron claimed.
Salmon said that is why there has been little organized resistance to the bill.
“They’re just not used in crimes,” Salmon said. “People are buying them for training purposes and because they are concerned about the noise levels. Most people that have any level of opposition to it are operating on urban legend instead of reality. They’re the kind of people that get all of their knowledge from watching The Bourne Identity.”
“I think once people know exactly what they do and the benefits they have, the opposition just kinda withers up because it’s not rational,” Salmon said.
Two leading gun control groups, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety, did not respond to a request for comment about the bill, but gun control advocates have opposed silencers in the past.
“A silencer is useful to assassins but clearly has no purpose for sportsmen. Silencers are also illegal,” a 2008 report by the Brady Center said.
Many gun advocates view silencers as safety devices because they dampen the sound of gunshots so they do not damage shooters’ hearing. Some hunters like silencers because they prefer not to use hearing protection that blocks out the sound of approaching game. This results in hearing loss for many hunters, including Salmon.
Waldron said that current restrictions on silencers do not make sense. He pointed out that silencers and car mufflers are essentially the same technology, invented by the same man.
“It’s ridiculous when you think about it,” Waldron said. “Can you imagine if you had to pay a $200 tax for your muffler for your car and had to wait six months before you could go pick up your car from the lot? It doesn’t make any logical sense.”
Advocates of the bill said it is likely to pass the House and Senate easily this year, but will face a potential veto from President Obama.
Conflating Sovereign Citizens and Constitutionalists
The FBI and federal and local law enforcement groups categorize many libertarian, constitutionalist and other groups and individuals as “sovereign citizens.”
According to an FBI counterterrorism analysis, sovereign citizens “may refer to themselves as ‘constitutionalists’ or ‘freemen,’ which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control.”
The FBI considers the Redemption Theory (the abandonment of the gold standard in favor of fiat currency), emancipation “from the responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen, including paying taxes,” and “conspiracy theories,” including the formation of global government and a police state, as indicators of extremist or sovereign citizen ideology.
A National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) report produced by the Office of University Programs, Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security in 2014 lists sovereign citizens as the primary domestic terror threat in the United States, followed by Islamic jihadists, “militia/patriot” and “extreme anti-tax” groups.
The document attempts to persuade law enforcement that sovereign citizens are a direct threat to them. “Such changing perceptions about what is a serious terrorist threat is an important finding because identifying and prioritizing a threat is akin to hitting a moving target and evolves as new intelligence, data, and events develop,” the START report argues.
The FBI high school informer network initiative is part of a larger effort “identifying and prioritizing” supposed threats.
The FBI initiative—the latest manifestation of the “see something, say something” surveillance matrix—further engenders a government informant culture that shares a parallel with East Germany’s “Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter” or informal collaborator culture.
This Stasi network served as a primary instrument of repression in communist East Germany. The government forged partnerships with business, state institutions and social organizations. It is estimated that the Stasi had an informal collaborator or informant network exceeding 624,000 people (in 1989, at the height of Stasi power, the population of East Germany was 16.5 million).
Former intelligence professionals are well aware the United States is well on its way to becoming a totalitarian high-tech surveillance state that will soon rival the East German variant.
In January 2015 a delegation of Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence—which included ex-officers from the NSA, CIA and British MI5—visited the Stasi museum in Berlin.
“As the former intelligence officers-turned-whistleblowers walked among the well-preserved offices and conference rooms of a former totalitarian state’s internal spy apparatus,” writes Elizabeth Murray, who served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council, “the sense of deja vu and irony of what the United States of America has become was clearly not lost on any of them.”