Justice Dept Memo: Obama Gun Plans Won't Work Without Confiscation
The National Rifle Association is using a Justice Department memo it obtained to argue in ads that the Obama administration believes its gun control plans won't work unless the government seizes firearms and requires national gun registration.
The NRA's assertion and its obtaining of the memo in the first place underscore the no-holds-barred battle under way as Washington's fight over gun restrictions heats up.
The memo, under the name of one of the Justice Department's leading crime researchers, critiques the effectiveness of gun control proposals, including President Barack Obama's gun control plans.
The memo says requiring background checks for more gun purchases could help, but also could lead to more illicit weapons sales.
It says banning assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines produced in the future but exempting those already owned by the public would have limited impact because people now own so many of those items.
It also says that even total elimination of assault weapons would have little overall effect on gun killings because assault weapons account for a limited proportion of those crimes.
The nine-page document says the success of universal background checks would depend in part on "requiring gun registration," and says gun buybacks would not be effective "unless massive and coupled with a ban."
The Obama administration has proposed a national database, national gun registration database, which would include a national list of gun owners where the names of law-abiding Americans would be kept on file.
Yes, the names of citizens who have not broken the law would be kept on file with the federal government for reasons that the administration has yet to explain. Most Americans believe it is for reasons of confiscation.
The memo has the look of a preliminary document and calls itself "a cursory summary" and assessment of gun curb initiatives. The administration has not release it officially.
The NRA has posted the memo on one of its websites and cites it in advertising aimed at stopping Obama's efforts to institute a national gun ban that would ban more than just assault weapons.
The liberal media wants Americans to believe that the NRA is fighting Obama's efforts to contain gun violence, but they are again side stepping the truth and trying to make a gun ban look like a good thing while it violates our Constitutional Rights.
The ad says the paper shows that the administration "believes that a gun ban will not work without mandatory gun confiscation" and thinks universal background checks "won't work without requiring national gun registration."
"Still think President Obama's proposals sound reasonable?" says Chris W. Cox of the NRA in the ad.
Last month, the big lie coming out of the White House by way of its spokesman Jay Carney said that none of Obama's proposals "would take away a gun from a single law-abiding American."
And yes, while administration officials have said their plans would not result in gun seizures or a national gun registry, they seem to forget that on January 5th it was reported that Obama called for a national database.
He said he wanted "universal background checks for firearm buyers (and) track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database."
White House refuses to state why they need national gun registration, a national database, to track the legal movement and legal sale of guns.
While the memo's analysis of gun curb proposals presents no new findings, it is unusual for a federal agency document to surface that raises questions about a president's plans during debate on a high-profile issue such as restricting firearms.
Obama wants to ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines exceeding 10 rounds that are produced in the future. He wants universal background checks for all gun purchases.
Today, federal law makes background checks mandatory on sales by federally licensed gun dealers.
Depending on the state you live in, background checks are not always applicable. Here in California, background checks and waiting periods are the law whether its at a gun store or a transactions at a gun show or a private sale.
The NRA's Chris W. Cox said the commercial is running online in 15 states, including many Republican-leaning states where Democrats will defend Senate seats next year, such as Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. There are also ads in papers in five states.
The memo was written under the name of Greg Ridgeway, acting director of the National Institute of Justice, the Justice Department's research arm. It is dated Jan. 4th, a few days before Obama anounced his 23 executive orders in an effort to bypass Congress and the legislative process.
Justice Department officials said Ridgeway was not granting interviews. He came to the institute last July from the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research institution where he studied criminal justice issues, and has a Ph.D. in statistics.
The memo says that out of 11,000 annual gun homicides, an average of 35 deaths yearly are from mass shootings, defined as those with four or more victims.
"Policies that address the larger firearm homicide issue will have a far greater impact even if they do not address the particular issues of mass shootings," it says.
It says there were an estimated 1.5 million assault weapons before the 10-year ban on those firearms began in 1994, so their sheer number would weaken a new ban exempting existing weapons.
Such guns accounted for just 2 percent to 8 percent of crimes before the 1994 ban, so eliminating assault weapons "would not have a large impact on gun homicides," the memo said.
Coburn: Any proposal that keeps a record of legit gun owners will 'kill' Senate bill
Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said Sunday any Senate legislation on gun control that includes a national registry of firearms owners will be a deal breaker.
Coburn is part of the bipartisan Senate panel seeking ways to curb gun violence and that purportedly is about to agree on a proposal to expand background checks to most private gun sales, with national record-keeping still unresolved.
“Absolutely will not be record-keeping of legitimate, law-abiding gun owners,” Coburn told “Fox News Sunday.” “That will kill this bill.”
The potential deal on background checks was reported Saturday by The Washington Post.
“I don’t think we’re that close,” Coburn also said.
Federal law already requires licensed firearm dealers to keep records.
The Senate panel is made up of four Democrats and four Republicans, but recent negotiations are purportedly being led by a smaller team that includes Coburn and New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer.
The eight members of the Democrat-controlled chamber have been negotiating since returning to Washington in January, just weeks after the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in which 20 first-graders and six adults were killed.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected this week to begin considering new proposals.
Meanwhile, President Obama is working on a plan that, like Senate proposals, calls for background checks as well as bans on assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines.
The National Rifle Association, the country’s most powerful gun lobby, opposes background checks and a federal database.
Wayne LaPierre, the group’s executive vice president, recently told Fox the ideas won’t achieve their intended purpose of tracking guns used in crimes because criminals won’t sign up.
In addition, he said, federal law will not allow such a database to include the names of people with emotional problems – who have committed several of the most-recent mass shootings.
New Law Makes Arkansas Gun-Permit Records Private
On Friday, Arkansas became the latest state to exempt from public disclosure the names and zip codes of gun owners, those with permits to carry concealed weapons and applicants for gun permits.
The measure, signed into law by the state's lieutenant governor, came in response to a New York newspaper's decision late last year to publish the names and addresses of thousands of gun permit holders on its website after 26 people were killed in a shooting rampage at an elementary school in Connecticut.
In a rare maneuver allowed under Arkansas law, Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr, a Republican, signed the bill into law while Democratic Governor Mike Beebe was attending a National Governors Association meeting in Washington.
Voters elect the governor and lieutenant governor separately in Arkansas and state law empowers the lieutenant governor to take such an action if the governor is out of state.
"The governor does not condone the signing," spokesman Matt DeCample said. "However, with the unique circumstances surrounding this bill, we do not plan to raise any objections."
Beebe had opposed the bill, but said this week he would allow it to take effect without his signature on Monday.
Darr said that public release of the records threatened the safety and property of permit holders.
"Having been an outspoken advocate for Second Amendment rights, I felt passionately that there should be no delays in signing this bill into law," Darr said in a statement.
The power to act in the governor's absence was used notably in 1993 when the state Senate president pro tem pardoned two convicts and granted clemency to two others. The governor was attending Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration and the lieutenant governor's post was vacant, pending a special election.
About 130,000 Arkansas residents have concealed weapons licenses and the law immediately made their records and those of people applying for licenses private.
It was not surprise that The Arkansas Press Association and other liberal media groups opposed the new state law.
The Journal News, which serves suburbs north of New York City in Westchester and Rockland counties, pulled the gun permit information from its website in January after New York approved restrictions similar to Arkansas' along with expanded gun-control measures.
Kansas, Oregon, South Carolina and Kentucky also have similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Nicholas Stehle, a board member at the Arkansas Carry gun rights advocacy group that supported the measure, praised Darr's signing of the bill.
"People who are doing nothing more than exercising their Constitutional rights shouldn't have to worry about their personal information being accessed or appearing on a list visible to everyone, including people who might mean them harm," Stehle said.
Sen. Ayotte: American People Are ‘Tired of the Blame Game’
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said Sunday tax increases cannot be the fallback position of Democrats when it comes to increasing government revenues and that the American people are “tired of the blame game.”
“In terms of the Democrats’ plan, it seems like the first thing they come up with is, ‘We’re going to raise taxes,’” Ayotte Charged on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
She also said the upcoming cuts to government spending via the sequestration set to kick in Friday are owned by President Barack Obama.
“Even though this idea came from the White House . . . he’s [Obama’s] been out trying to blame Republicans,” she said. “I think the American people are tired of the blame game. I think we can do this in a more sensible way. What we need is leadership from the commander-in-chief.”
A member of the Senate Budget Committee, Ayotte said she is working with others in her party to propose alternative scenarios prior to the deadline.
“This notion of giving the president the discretion to make the spending cuts, I think that’s a cop out, so I will be urging my colleagues to have an alternative and for us to present one.”
Cattle Shortage Forcing Beef Industry To Make Cuts
Years of drought are reshaping the U.S. beef industry with feedlots and a major meatpacking plant closing because there are too few cattle left in the United States to support them.
Some feedlots in the nation's major cattle-producing states have already been dismantled, and others are sitting empty. Operators say they don't expect a recovery anytime soon, with high feed prices, much of the country still in drought and a long time needed to rebuild herds.
The closures are the latest ripple in the shockwave the drought sent through rural communities. Most cattle in the U.S. are sent to feedlots for final fattening before slaughter. The dwindling number of animals also is hurting meatpackers, with their much larger workforces. For consumers, the impact will be felt in grocery and restaurant bills as a smaller meat supply means higher prices.
Owner Bob Podzemny has been taking apart the 32,000-head Union County Feed Yard near Clayton, N.M. It closed in 2009 when a bank shut off its operating capital in the midst of the financial crisis, and Podzemny said he doesn't see reopening after struggling through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
"There just are not that many cattle in this part of the country no more, and it is not profitable to bring them in and feed them, so it is shut down," Podzemny said.
He's now feeding a few cattle in another feedlot, buying them at about 450 pounds and growing them to 800 to 850 pounds. He then sells them to others who bring them to the typical 1,200- to 1,300-pound slaughter weight.
"It is making a little money now on just growing feeders and selling them as feeders rather than finishing them all the way out," Podzemny said. "We do what we got to do to survive, you know."
Cattle numbers have been falling for years as the price of corn used to feed animals in feedlots skyrocketed. The drought accelerated the process, but many feedlots were able to survive at first because ranchers whose pastures dried up weaned calves early and sent breeding cows to be fattened for slaughter.
But now far fewer livestock than normal remain on the farms. And, ironically, if it rains this spring and summer, even fewer animals will go into feedlots because ranchers will hold back cows to breed and rebuild their herds.
Texas, the largest beef-producing state, has been particularly hard hit with a historic drought in 2011 from which it still hasn't fully recovered.
"Most of the bad news is in Texas," said Dick Bretz, an Amarillo broker who specializes in selling feed yards and other agribusinesses. "That is where I see most of the empty yards, that is where I see most of the interest in selling yards and where I see the least interest in buying yards."
He recently dismantled a 7,000-head feed yard in Hereford, Texas, for a new owner who had bought it for the land, not the business. The previous owner had lost the property to foreclosure, and the facility was in very poor condition and would have cost too much to repair, he said.
When corn prices first spiked to $8 a bushel nearly four years ago, about 70 big feed yards went up for sale in the High Plains feeding area that includes Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, Bretz said. Today, there are 10 and 15 feed yards for sale in the region, mostly in Texas. Bretz said he knows of 15 more that are empty, three recently dismantled and two others now being torn down.
Feed yards typically employ one worker per 1,000 head of cattle, so even big ones may not have more than a few dozen workers. But they supply meatpacking plants, which have much bigger workforces, and feedlot closures could herald greater unemployment to come.
Cargill Beef, one of the nation's biggest meatpackers, temporarily closed a slaughterhouse in Plainview, Texas, earlier this year, laying off 2,000 workers. The operation had been one of four meatpacking plants in the Texas Panhandle, and the annual economic loss to the region is estimated at $1.1 billion -- a "major chunk of that economy," said Steve Amosson, an economist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Amarillo.
Cargill is moving what business remained at the plant to slaughterhouses in Friona, Texas; Dodge City, Kan.; and Ft. Morgan, Colo. That will allow those plants to run near capacity and more consistently give their workers full paychecks with 40 hours per week, spokesman Mike Martin said.
"By idling, we are retaining both the plant (in Plainview) and the property for potential future use," Martin added. "And the hope is that at some point some years down the line, the cattle herd will be rebuilt and there will be a need for additional processing capacity."
Most experts estimate the cattle feeding industry now has an excess capacity of between 20 and 25 percent, CattleFax market analyst Kevin Good said. The meatpacking industry has an excess capacity of 10 to 15 percent -- even after the recent closure of Cargill's Plainview plant.
Given the cost of transporting cattle, most of the nation's feed yards and slaughterhouses are in the big cattle-producing states of the High Plains. While the industry has been gradually shifting north from Texas into areas that are expected to more rapidly recover from the drought, businesses in Kansas and Nebraska are struggling too.
In southwestern Kansas, Lakin Feed Yard manager Steve Landgraf said his operation is down to 75 percent of capacity and he expects it to be less than half full within the next couple of months. For every two animals now going out of his lot for slaughter, only one is coming into it.
With a capacity of 15,000 head, the yard now employs 14 people. But with normal attrition, Landgraf anticipates he'll be down to 10 or 11 workers by spring, and he may reduce their hours.
Still, with little debt, Landgraf says he's in a better position than some.
"Some people are probably going to go broke because they aren't going to have the occupancy," he said.