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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rep. King (R-NY) to Introduce Bill Banning Guns Within 1,000 Feet of Government Officials

Representative Peter King (R-NY) is considering introducing a bill that will ban guns within 1,000 feet of any government official. That will include any federal members of Congress, governors, or any federal judge:

Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, is planning to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official, according to a person familiar with the congressman's intentions.

King is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. The proposed law follows the Saturday shooting of Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and a federal judge that left six dead, including the judge, and 14 wounded...

It is already illegal in the U.S. to carry a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. King's legislation to make it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within 1,000 feet of the president, vice president, members of Congress or judges of the Federal Judiciary, would offer government officials the same protection.

This law could be very problematic for various reasons. Ed Morrissey of HotAir broke it down perfectly on why this could cause more problems than it would solve:

There are two questions involved in any gun-control legislation, the first of which is whether it will be constitutional, and the second of which is whether it will do any good. Let’s take those in order. Courts have thus far upheld reasonable restrictions on where guns may and may not be carried, such as courthouses and in the vicinity of schools. However, those are fixed locations, not mobile personnel, locations for which a court could reasonably expect most people to know.  If one carries a gun legally to a public place without knowledge of the presence of a judge or member of Congress, then an arrest would pobably be unreasonable (although courts might end up ruling otherwise). And if an arrest without any kind of attempt to initiate an assault is considered unreasonable, then the law is superfluous, since the attempt itself would be illegal already.

Some may also argue that an attempt to create a special class of protected people in this law might also fail to pass constitutional muster  I’d say a court would take a long look at whether Congress has a compelling state interest in passing such legislation, at least on that point, and wouldn’t bet that they’d rule no. A better question might be jurisdiction, where the law would create a mandate on state and local police to enforce federal law. The Obama administration just got done arguing in federal court that Arizona should be constrained from enforcing federal immigration law, to which the district court agreed. Would states not have an argument in the other direction in the case of this law?

Next, let’s look at its effectiveness  Would such a law work in the sense that it would make these protected classes more safe?  Such a law would not have stopped the shooting in Tucson. Had anyone in law enforcement seen the pistol in Jared Lee Loughner’s hands, they almost certainly would have reacted to it immediately by detaining him even without the federal law  Depending on the circumstances, they may not have been able to prosecute him under existing state law, but perhaps they could have confiscated his gun and revoked his permit after discovering just how insane he was and the evidence of his grudge against Giffords. Of course, the sheriff’s department in Tucson already knew of Loughner and hadn’t done much about it, but that won’t change under King’s proposed law, either.

King’s effort is of questionable constitutional and operational merit at best. It seems like another example of my axiom, Legislate in haste, repent at leisure.  Rather than issue knee-jerk proposals to change the law, let’s see where the evidence leads us in this case to determine how best to protect everyone from lunatics like Loughner.

Given that the Republicans control the House and could easily block it in the Senate, I doubt that this will go anywhere. This is just a knee-jerk reaction to the shooting out of fear or grief. In the end, cooler heads will prevail, and this bill should die a quick and quiet death.

Security around government should probably be strengthened, but this law wouldn't stop another attack from happening.

1 comment:

  1. What are these MORONS thinking with as if we don't know. You all have NEVER read the statistics have You? The safest country is Switzerland, WHY? EVERYBODY has a weapon, the more weapons the less crime. But this Socialist government doesn't that getting out, because it would be impossible to disarm 300,000,000 law abiding people. 42 children get killed by guns each year, 3,500 are poisoned by 1 legal product, another 3,500 are killed by safety caps, and hundreds are killed by autos, drowning and fire, but what gets on the news, you're right Guns. But what they won't tell you is how many lives a gun saves, HUNDREDS. Semper Fi.