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Utah Congressman introduces bill to strip police powers from BLM, Forest Service

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The undeniable perception was that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents using dogs, Tasers, armored vehicles, full body armor and automatic weapons to confront a rancher who was delinquent with his grazing fees, constituted a terrifying overreaction.

The office of Utah Congressman, Jason Chaffetz, issued a press release on January 24 announcing his introduction of legislation to restore equality in law-enforcement authority to Western states. The press release reads:

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) released the following statement after reintroducing two bills dealing with the 67 percent of the State of Utah that is under federal ownership.

“It’s time to get rid of the BLM and US Forest Service police. If there is a problem your local sheriff is the first and best line of defense. By restoring local control in law enforcement, we enable federal agencies and county sheriffs to each focus on their respective core missions.

“The long overdue disposal of excess federal lands will free up resources for the federal government while providing much-needed opportunities for economic development in struggling rural communities.”

Bill Details:
H.R. 622, Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act, first introduced last year, removes the law enforcement function from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service. Instead, the bill calls for deputizing local law enforcement, combined with block grant funding, to empower existing duly elected law enforcement offices to carry out these responsibilities. The bill, jointly sponsored by Utah’s Rep. Mia Love and Rep. Chris Stewart, also establishes a formula to reimburse local law enforcement based on the percentage of public land in each state. The resulting cost savings will reduce the BLM budget by five percent and the Forest Service by seven percent.

This measure is neither arbitrary nor sudden on the part of Congressman Chaffetz. Utah, and its neighbor to the west, Nevada, have been ground zero for conflicts between federal police forces, local sheriff’s departments, and citizens, some of them deadly. Taking a cue from sheriff’s organizations, ranchers, and others in rural parts of the West, Chaffetz first floated the idea last May. The Federalist Papers quoted Chaffetz:

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz is sick and tired of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents and Forest Service armed to the teeth. It’s dangerous, unnecessary and sends the wrong message.

“These agents are more Rambo and less Andy Griffith than I would like,” he told the Deseret News Tuesday. So he wants to take away their guns and authority.

“Let’s not kid ourselves. The blood pressure is running high, especially in southern Utah, and I don’t want anyone to get killed,” Chaffetz said, adding his bill has the endorsement of his Utah colleagues in the House.

The Republican lawmaker said he also wants to issue subpoenas to the “out of control” federal agencies to find out why exactly they think they need submachine guns. He said he has asked them repeatedly with no satisfactory response.

“I want to know what kind of arsenal they have. I’m met with blank stares,” he said. “They’re wholly unresponsive. They don’t feel compelled to answer our letters.”

The federal government’s law-enforcement role in local disputes over resources and land has grown increasingly militant over the years. Images from the Bundy Ranch Standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada, in the spring of 2014, imprinted on the minds of millions exactly the ‘Rambo’ tactics Chaffetz referenced. The undeniable perception was that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents using dogs, Tasers, armored vehicles, full body armor and automatic weapons to confront a rancher who was delinquent with his grazing fees, constituted a terrifying overreaction.

In 2014, possibly in response to the Bundy Ranch Standoff, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association drew up a resolution addressing many of the same concerns as the Chaffetz bill. Referring to the 10th Amendment which limits federal power over states and citizens, the resolution reads, in part:

Pursuant to the powers and duties bestowed upon us by our citizens, the undersigned do hereby resolve that any Federal officer, agent, or employee, regardless of supposed congressional authorization, is required to obey and observe limitations consisting of the enumerated powers as detailed within Article 1 Section 8 of the U S Constitution and the Bill Of Rights.

The people of these United States are, and have a right to be, free and independent, and these rights are derived from the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” As such, they must be free from infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, unreasonable searches and seizures, capricious detainments and infringements on every other natural right whether enumerated or not. (9th amendment)

We further reaffirm that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” (10th amendment)

Furthermore, we maintain that no agency established by the U S Congress can develop its own policies or regulations which supersede the Bill of Rights or the Constitution, nor does the executive branch have the power to make law, overturn law or set aside law.

Although Congressman Chaffetz has never openly encouraged citizens or local or state law-enforcement agents to defy the federal government, his bill would draw a clear line between local and federal authority in law-enforcement, and theoretically end outrageous and dangerous spectacles such as that which erupted over Cliven Bundy’s unpaid grazing fees.

Federal bureaucrats playing Rambo isn’t the only motive behind the Chaffetz bill. As it states in his press release, the measure will result in a net savings of taxpayer money, despite the provision for federal reimbursements to local law-enforcement agencies given jurisdiction over public lands. Enacting a federal hiring freeze was one of President Trump’s first executive acts. With shrinking budgets and limited powers being the new reality for bloated agencies such as BLM and Forest Service, funds for the federal police state may naturally dry up.

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Bill aims to allow concealed weapons without permit

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MISSOULA, Mont. – A bill in the Montana House would let legal gun owners carry a concealed firearm without a permit. That measure is House Bill 262.

In order to get a federal firearms permit you will need a federal background check. In order to get a concealed weapons permit you need fingerprints, three friends to vouch for you and your picture.

This bill would change that. It would allow any legal gun owner to carry a concealed weapon without the special permit.

One resident we spoke with, Jim Zimmerman, who is co-owner of Selway Armory, works around guns all day. He’s got a concealed weapons permit, but that doesn’t mean he completely supports a bill that would let any legal gun owner conceal their handgun without requiring a special permit.

“Trained and responsible citizens carrying firearms are a deterrent to crime,” said Zimmerman.

State Rep. Bill Harris (R-Winnett), who proposed the measure, thinks the same thing.

“There are a lot of situations where you have gun-free zones; this creates a risk because if there is someone around that becomes violent and there is no one who is able to respond, it could be bad,” said Harris.

“Currently when you purchase a firearm you have to fill out a form 4473. It requires a background check, and in the state of Montana, by federal law, if you have a concealed carry permit you can forgo the check and use the permit,” said Zimmerman.

For some the law boils down to one thing.

“It’s a necessary requirement for people to get some education on carrying a concealed weapon and what the law requires and legal ramifications of carrying a firearm,” said Missoula resident Scott Giesick.

This same measure made it through the legislature last session but was vetoed by the governor. You can read a copy of it for yourself here.​

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NRA Wins Victory as Congress Reverses Obama’s Social Security Gun Grab

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Fairfax, Va. – The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today scored a victory when Congress agreed to review, and likely revoke, a final rule by the Obama administration that would blindly strip law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment rights.

“Congress’s decision to review the Obama administration’s back-door gun grab is a significant step forward in protecting a fundamental constitutional right for law-abiding gun owners,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The NRA has been fighting this unconstitutional government overreach since it was first discussed and we look forward to swift congressional action.”

Last year, the Social Security Administration finalized a proposed rule to ban certain recipients who use a representative payee from owning firearms. This ill-conceived action affected the most vulnerable in America and stripped them of their right to keep and bear arms without due process.

The NRA immediately opposed the Obama administration’s efforts when the proposal was first announced in summer of 2015. The NRA has fought every step of the way to ensure that social security recipients are not stripped of their rights without due process of law.

Today, we learned that Congress will review the Obama administration’s unconstitutional ban under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). CRA allows Congress to dispose of any actions an outgoing administration initiates in its last six months. This final rule falls under that time frame, and the review process is expected to move forward in the House and receive a vote as early as next week.

Imminent revocation of this egregious government action marks the culmination of the NRA’s diligent efforts on behalf of its members and law-abiding gun owners.

“This is a new era for freedom-loving Americans and the NRA is excited to begin work with our pro-Second Amendment president and Congress to ensure that law-abiding Americans’ constitutional rights are respected,” concluded Cox.

The NRA thanks congressmen Sam Johnson (R-TX), Ralph Abraham (R-LA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) for their work on this effort. It would also like to thank Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for their leadership on this issue.

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Montana Bill Would Set Foundation to Reject Federal Gun Control

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HELENA, Mont. (Jan. 15, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Montana Senate would prohibit state enforcement of any federal ban on firearms. If passed, the law would effectively nullify any such ban within the state.

Sen. Cary Smith (R-Billings) introduced Senate Bill 99 (SB99) on Jan. 9. The legislation would prohibit any state or local government employee, law enforcement officers, from enforcing. assisting in the enforcement of, or in any way cooperating with enforcement of a federal ban on firearms or magazines. The proposed law specifically prohibits participating in any federal enforcement action implementing such a ban.

SB99 includes a broad definition of “federal ban.”

“Federal ban” means a federal law or executive order that prohibits, restricts, or requires individual licensure for ownership, possession, transfer, or use of any firearm or any magazine or other ammunition feeding device.

The legislation would also prohibit expending or allocating public funds or resources for the enforcement of a federal ban on firearms or magazines.

SB99 does include a few exceptions. It would not apply to the possession of a fully automatic firearm, the enforcement of any federal or state law prohibiting a convicted felon from possessing a firearm, the enforcement of any federal or state law prohibiting a person convicted of domestic violence from possessing a firearm, or the enforcement of a protection order.

NECESSARY

Some gun rights supporters argue that such a measure is “unnecessary” because it addresses a nonexistent problem with a Republican Congress and an NRA-backed president.

“While we’re not expecting any new gun control to come from the federal government in the next few years, there’s no guarantee that we won’t see another Obama-style president in the near future, hell-bent on attacking the right to keep and bear arms,” Boldin said.

Passage of SB99 would cement measures in place should a future Congress or presidential administration attempt to implement new gun control programs, and it sets the foundation to address current unconstitutional violations of the Second Amendment.

“This bill would act as an essential firewall for the future, and would also set the foundation for further action by Indiana against current federal gun control,” Boldin said.

EFFECTIVE

Passage of SB99 would effectively withdraw all state cooperation from the implementation or enforcement of federal gun bans, an effective method to nullify them in practice.

Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” represents an extremely effectively method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from the states.

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.

The federal government relies heavily on state cooperation to implement and enforce almost all of its laws, regulations and acts – including gun laws. By simply withdrawing this necessary cooperation, states can nullify in effect many federal actions. As noted by the National Governor’s Association during the partial government shutdown of 2013, “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”

“Partnerships don’t work too well when half the team quits,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal gun control schemes, the states can effectively bring them down.”

LEGAL BASIS

SB99 rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program. The anti-commandeering doctrine is based primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.

“We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”

WHAT’S NEXT

SB99 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.

Contact Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them to support SB99 if you support this bill and ask them to please do the same.
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Wyoming school employees could carry concealed weapons under proposed law

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A bill filed in the state Legislature on Monday would allow school districts to decide whether employees can bring concealed guns on campus — the third bill filed this session that would expand where people could carry concealed weapons.

If House Bill 194 passes, school districts would choose whether to create a policy that would allow employees with concealed carry permits to bring guns into any school district facility. Each employee would also need individual approval by the district’s board of trustees.

Each district would be free to adopt whatever requirements they believe necessary to regulate concealed carry in their facilities. For example, they could require employees wishing to carry to complete additional training courses.

The law would apply to any person under contract with the districts, including administration, teachers, janitors, coaches, bus drivers and volunteers. School district superintendents would also have to give the names of those approved to local law enforcement, and district employees would be required to keep the gun on their person or in a secure lockbox while on school property.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Eklund, R-Cheyenne, did not respond for requests for comment Monday.

Kathy Vetter, president of the Wyoming Education Association, said the association does not support allowing concealed carry on campus. However, she said, allowing school districts to create their own policy makes Eklund’s bill better than similar bills filed in previous years.
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“Our stance is the same — we still don’t support concealed carry in schools,” she said. “But we do appreciate that this bill isn’t a blanket bill and returns responsibility to the local level.”

Eklund’s bill is one of three introduced so far this session that would expand where people could bring concealed guns. Wyoming is one of a few states that don’t require a permit to carry a concealed gun. However, state law prohibits concealed weapons in a number of places, including courtrooms, bars, law enforcement facilities and schools.

House Bill 137 would repeal previous laws that blocked people from bringing concealed guns into government meetings, including those of the Legislature. House Bill 136 would allow concealed carry on all public college and university campuses, including at sporting events.

Republicans filed a similar bill in 2015 that would have allowed concealed carry on school property, but it was voted down in the Senate after amendments were attached that allowed school districts to decide whether to adopt the law and provided extra protection for people who kept guns in vehicles on school property.

Senators were concerned that people who have a concealed carry permit do not necessarily have the training to defend a school from a threat.

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