Letters to the editor from this week's Chronicle:

Letter to the editor:
In response to the Letter to the Editor last week : DISARM AMERICA
I want to thank Shorty and Marge Arnzen for being vigilant and looking out for our rights as Idahoans.  One of the most fundamental things about being from Idaho, is our right to keep and bear arms.  Shorty and Marge seem to be the watchdogs of our government and exemplify my strong belief, "Always love your country, But never completely trust your government!"
To that end, I only wish I had known about their intention to publish their letter.  PLEASE MAKE THIS CLEAR, THIS IS NOT A CRITISISM OF THEIR INTENTIONS OR PATRIOTISM.  Over two years ago, the first Email on this Blair Holt Bill showed up in my in-box from a family member, concerned about their gun rights.  I served in the military for twenty years, and did a lot of research while there, so I began looking into the situation.  The bottom line is, the Blair Holt bill does exist, but it is all but dead and has been that way for quite some time.  Additionally, it isn't attached to SB 2099 and the Email FALSLEY claims that you will have to register your guns on the 2010 (it used to say 2009) tax forms.
Below is my research, followed by the research done by a very good watch-dog web site, known as Urban Legends:
No, it's not true.  I've been shooting this Email down for about the last 18 months.  It used to say it was going to be on our 2009 tax forms!   Here's the research showing the real facts.  Currently, any rules regarding the registration of private firearms is regulated by each state.  That's what forcing you to declare your guns on a tax form would be, is mandatory registration.  Idaho has some of the most conservative verbiage regarding our right to keep and bear arms.  There are 38 other states with similar, but to a lesser degree, wording as Idaho.  There isn't a sitting President in their right mind that would allow legislation to go forward that is against the 38 State constitutions. Most of the Federal Gun Legislation that does get proposed, comes from a small minority of congressmen that were elected in districts with huge inner-city gun and gang violence problems.  This is the origin of the Blair Holt (H.R. 45) bill.  To make sure they get re-elected, they have to show their voters that they are trying to do something, even though they know full well there isn't any support for their bills in the majority of the congress.  Additionally, President Obama was asked in a speech in Mexico City about re-instating the semi-automatic weapons ban that Bill Clinton had enacted and George Bush subsequently over-turned.  President Obama said, "there is not any support in the congress or among the people for any new gun legislation.  The current laws are adequate as long as those laws are enforced.  There won't be any new gun legislation enacted that wasn't in place in 2004, under the Bush administration."  
So, don't worry, but stay vigilant!  We are very well protected in Idaho by Section 11 of the Idaho State Constitution, which is very clear: 
SECTION 11.RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS. The people have the right to keep and bear arms, which right shall not be abridged; but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to govern the carrying of weapons concealed on the person nor prevent passage of legislation providing minimum sentences for crimes committed while in possession of a firearm, nor prevent the passage of legislation providing penalties for the possession of firearms by a convicted felon, nor prevent the passage of any legislation punishing the use of a firearm. No law shall impose licensure, registration or special taxation on the ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition. Nor shall any law permit the confiscation of firearms, except those actually used in the commission of a felony.
Here is the information from the Urban Legends research site:
On 10 May 2007, 16-year-old Chicago honor student Blair Holt was riding a bus to school when another teenager began firing a handgun in a gang-related attack.  When Holt moved to shield a girl on the bus form the spray of bullets, he was himself hit in the abdomen and died.
At Blair Holt's funeral, Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois (representing the state's First Congressional district) promised to honor Holt's memory by introducing a strong gun tracking bill in Congress.  One month later, Rep. Rush introduced the Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act to Congress, but it was referred to a subcommittee and languished there without ever having been voted upon.  On 6 January 2009, Rush introduced essentially the same bill to Congress again as Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009 (H.R. 45).
Since then the Emails have been getting grander and more outrageous in their claims.  An August 2009 version of the Blair Holt e-mail (as stated in the Shorty and Marge Arnzen letter),  combined it with a Handgun Safety Registration Act (SB2099) e-mail that FALSELY claims a bill before Congress would require all handgun owners to list their firearms on the Federal Income Tax returns.
Urban Legends is downgrading this Emails status because even though the referenced bill is real and is technically still before Congress, as noted below there is virtually NO-CHANCE it will ever be voted upon.
As was the 2007 version of the Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act, the current version has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, and the fact that the bill does not have even a single co-sponsor makes it unlikely that it will ever be brought to a vote before Congress, much less passed. 
ESPN Outdoors correspondent Wad Bourne summed up the bill's chances of passage thusly:
"So, how likely is the Blair Holt bill's chance for passage?  Pro-gun activists are vigilant, but don't seem overly worried about it.  They point out that the bill's failure to attract co-sponsors is an indication of a lack of enthusiasm for it among other congressmen.  They feel it is too far-reaching and repressive of gun owners' rights to merit serious consideration by a majority of Congress."
Lawernce Keane of the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) states, "If the bill passes, Democrats would likely lose (control of) their chamber in upcoming mid-term elections (2010).  The leadership in the House knows that."  Keane says some 80 million-plus U.S. citizens own firearms, representing nearly half the households in the nation.  He believes that House Democrats will allow the Blair Holt bill to die in subcommittee rather than risk the ire of so many pro-gun voters.
Once again, I want to thank Shorty and Marge for being vigilant, and looking out for our rights as Idahoans, and I look forward to their similar support in the future.  I just wanted to clear up some of the facts and prevent a public panic and a mad race to the gun store to buy up all the guns and ammo, when your money could more wisely be spent elsewhere.
Joe Riener, 
US Air Force, Retired

Letter to the Editor:
Response to the Letter to the Editor from Marge & Shorty Arnzen in last week’s Chronicle
After reading Mr. & Mrs. Arnzen’s letter this week, I took the time to read through both Senate Bill 2099 and HR 45 to verify the complaints listed in their letter.  Regarding Senate Bill 2099:  it was introduced in February 2000 (not 2009 as stated in Arnzen’s letter) by Senator Jack Reed.  President Obama was sworn in as a Senator in January 2005, so he could not have introduced the bill.  Only members of Congress can actively introduce a bill. (Arnzen’s letter stated the bill was introduced by “the Obama staff”.)  The bill does not have a provision for requiring handgun owners to list their firearms on tax returns.  It would have required a tax on the manufacturer of $50.  
The basic intent of this bill, as stated in a press release from Sen. Reed, was “The bill would require registration of all handguns, including those currently in private possession, and would make it a felony for any person to transfer a handgun to another individual without prior law enforcement approval. Background checks would be performed on all primary and secondary transfers of handguns, including retail sales, gun shows, Internet sales and all private sales.”
Arnzens’ letter implies that this bill could have been made into law without being passed by both the House and Senate and signed by the President.  This again is untrue.   Arnzen’s letter also said to check out Snopes. If you did, you would find that Snopes lists the information contained in Arnzen’s letter as FALSE.    As to Arnzen’s claim that “the bill will only become public knowledge 30 days after the new law becomes effective”, well if that was the case I would not have been able to read it.  Once a bill is introduced it becomes public knowledge.   Where is the bill now?  It was submitted to the Committee of Finance where it died nearly 10 years ago.
Regarding HR 45:  This bill was introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush in January 2009.  The bill would not require applicants to “submit to a physical & mental evaluation at any time of their choosing” Where is the bill now?  It was referred to the subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.  As this bill does not have a single co-sponsor (indicating that both parties find the bill exceptionally unappealing), it is extremely unlikely that it will ever make it out of committee.  
The NRA had this to say about the email quoted in Arnzen’s letter “Like many rumors, there’s just a grain of truth to this one.  Someone’s recycling an old alert, which wasn’t even very accurate when it was new…. Now, it’s time for gun owners to drop this old distraction and focus on the real threats at hand.”  For the NRA’s full response you can go to: www.nraila.org.
Submitted by,
Stephenie O'Callaghan

Cottonwood, Idaho 83522


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