Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wyoming vs the ATF

The State of Wyoming attempted an end run around the Lautenberg Amendment, the ATF throws a hissy fit.

From the Billings Gazette:
CHEYENNE - The state of Wyoming says the federal agency that enforces gun laws was wrong to reject a state law that seeks to allow people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to regain their firearms rights in the state courts.

Wyoming this week filed its opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver, challenging a ruling issued in May by U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson of Cheyenne.

Johnson ruled against the state's claim that the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arbitrarily rejected a 2004 state law allowing people convicted of domestic violence to petition in state court to restore their gun rights.
Wyoming passed a law that would allow folks convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence charges the chance to recover their right to keep and bear arms.

The ATF says that they trump state law and throw a fit.
The federal agency had warned Wyoming that if it continued to allow people with such domestic violence convictions to buy guns, the agency would no longer recognize more than 10,000 concealed-carry permits issued by the state as a substitute for federal background checks for firearms purchases.
Some background for those new to these draconian gun laws.
Congress in 1996 expanded the law that bans convicted felons from owning guns to apply to people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Although states have the ability to expunge convictions, Wyoming's law specified that convictions could be removed for purposes of restoring firearms rights yet remain intact for purposes of enhancing punishment for any subsequent conviction.
To me, Wyoming's law makes great sense. It recognises that an individual has an inherent right to self defense, and provides for the safety of the community in the event the individual continues to violate the law.
This is the paragraph that caught me by surprise.
Johnson ruled that the BATF has the authority to determine whether a state law is insufficient to remove a federal prohibition against a person carrying firearms.
A judge ruled that a government bureaucracy has the authority to override state law without judicial oversight? That is just what the JBT's in the ATF need, a judge empowering them with even more authority.
"The BATF is attempting to administratively undo what Congress has legislatively done," the AG's brief states. "The BATF simply does not agree, on a policy basis, with the Wyoming Legislature's decision and has self-appointed itself the omnipotent role of deciding who should, and should not, possess firearms."
Heavy sigh.

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