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
CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF IDAHO
ARTICLE I DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
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:
ORIGINS OF THE BILL:
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.
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
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