Gun groups and their amusing double-standard

It looks like the pro-gun lobby is treating us to another “you can’t make this stuff up” moment.

In a new action alert from the group that calls itself Grass Roots North Carolina, recipients are informed that there is a nefarious plot underway to “hamstring gun rights groups.”

The supposed plotters? It’s those dastardly leftists at the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. These are the same radicals who’ve given the nation scores of conservative-to-middle-of the road proposals on everything from the “Insurable Interests Amendment to the Uniform Trust Code” to the “Transboundary Pollution Reciprocal Access Act.”

And their action? Developing something called the “Uniform Protection of Charitable Assets Act.” GRNC is convinced that such a law “would give gun control groups the chance to harass gun rights groups – even to the point of driving them out of business.”

Now, admittedly, the uniform laws commissioners have advanced plenty of flawed ideas over the years. And. Indeed, there may well be some problems with the new proposal (though from the description and early drafts it seems like a pretty straightforward consumer protection effort). But, “drive the gun groups out of business”? Please. The members of the groups advancing the law includes well-known right-wing lawyer, James Bopp.

Here, though, is the really funny part:

In the action alert, GRNC claims that the proposed law would encourage gun control groups to file complaints with an Attorney General,

who could then begin an investigation if he ‘has reason to believe’ it is necessary. Note that ‘reason to believe’ is an absurdly low burden of proof, and the resulting investigation could even result in the AG subpoenaing membership lists of organizations.”

Got that? “Reason to believe” is “an absurdly low burden of proof.”

Now, check out the so-called “Castle Doctrine” bill – the gun lobby’s proposal that has already passed the state Senate this year. What would you guess is the standard in the bill governing a gun owner’s use of deadly force (i.e. shooting someone) in “any place he or she has the lawful right to be” when defending him or herself against another’s “imminent use of unlawful force”?

There are actually several, but the catchall is this:

He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”

In other words, according to GRNC, “reasonable belief” is reason enough to shoot someone, but not for the Attorney General to investigate malfeasance by a charity.

Very funny and very depressing.


  1. Carolina Cannabis Coalition

    April 4, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    these gun guys are bunch of paranoid cry-babies…after all, nobody in NC faces arrest for possession of a gun like the risk that those of who choose to use cannabis medically or recreationally face every single day.

  2. Sean D Sorrentino

    April 4, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Whoops, wrong. Reasonably believe is a totally different standard that reason to believe.

    The proper standard for criminal investigation is reasonably articulable suspicion. In order to conduct a search, one must present probable cause to a judge and get a warrant. The phrase Reasonably believe means that in court you can show both that you believed something, and that belief was reasonable. It has always been the standard for self defense.

    Since a self defense situation occurs suddenly, and investigation occurs after the fact, the court can only probe whether or not a person believed that the use of force was immediately necessary and whether or not that belief was reasonable. The standard for “reasonable” is the so called “reasonable man” (or “person”) standard. Basically this means that if you take any average person with the same knowledge and training as the accused, would they be likely to react in the same way?

    Since investigation of a 501C organization does not occur suddenly, the court can take more time and should be held to a high standard of suspicion before they can drop the whole weight of the state upon the suspect.

    Before you opine on legal matters, it helps if you have some idea what you are talking about.

  3. David Warren

    April 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Methinks that GRNC is acting like a guilty party, prematurely but somewhat suspiciously. What does Paul Valone have to hide?

    On the other hand, if he is hiding something, NCGV might in fact be a worthy squealer on GRNC. So would the N&O. Even the NRA might get in on this one, since they don’t much like the blunt and hostile tactics of their little sister organization.

  4. Jim Gallagher

    April 5, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I also find this article humorous but not in the same way the author does. The basic premise here is that gun rights proponents are paranoid and over reacting to a seeming benign administrative proposal. The comments from Sean Sorrentino succinctly dismiss the different legal standards required by the different parties. What’s still left is the author’s contempt for the seemingly paranoid action. This is a recurring theme from anti 2nd Amendment folks who seem to forget that building the ark before the rain was prudent, not paranoid. The past efforts of gun controller’s would be ample evidence that vigilance on these minor issues is mandatory.

  5. Rob Schofield

    April 5, 2011 at 9:24 am

    This is not “seemingly paranoid action” by GRNC. It is paranoid.

    The notion that a panel of uniform law commissioners, which includes its share of arch-conservatives, is gonna set up some new structure to threaten pro-gun groups (or that state attorneys general — almost all of whom were long ago cowered into submission by those same groups) are gonna go after these groups at the behest of anti-violence advocates is utterly preposterous. Go after them for what?

    By this logic, we should do away with public law enforcement altogether.

    As for the terms “resonable belief” and “reason to believe,” it’s true there is a distinction to be made.

    But the Castle bill actually uses both terms. In addition to the langauge mentioned in the original post, it also says that it’s okay for a property owner to blow away someone who’s broken into their screened-in porch if they had “REASON TO BELIEVE” that an “unlawful and forcible entry” had occurred.

    GRNC can’t have it both ways. “Reason to believe” can’t be an “absurdly low” standard for duly empowered law enforcement officals investigating malfeasance and a perfectly good standard when it comes to shooting someone.

  6. Andy

    April 5, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I always find it amusing that those arguing for the protection of Constitutionally enumerated rights are called paranoid and those arguing for greater prosecutorial control by the government are common sense do-gooders, when it comes to progressives.

    Should arguments falling on the side of individual liberties be given the benefit of the doubt, or is that only a position taken by progressives when politically convenient?

  7. Rob Schofield

    April 5, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Vigilance in these matters is fine. Go ahead and pay close attention to any and all efforts that could potentially jeopardize civil rights and civil liberties.

    (As an aside, I always find it amusing that so many who are obsessed with guns are nowhere to be found when it comes to any number of other infringments of civil rights and liberties perpetrated by government — i.e. the war on drugs, the war on immigrants, racial bias in law enforcement, discrimination against same sex relationships, etc…).

    But this particular matter is just silly — especially at such an early stage. Moreover, having robust laws to protect charitable givers from scammers and rip-offs is generally good for nonprofits — gun groups included.

    But, frankly, if that’s where GRNC wants to fritter away its resources, I say “go for it, guys.”

  8. Sean D Sorrentino

    April 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    “I always find it amusing that so many who are obsessed with guns are nowhere to be found when it comes to any number of other infringments of civil rights and liberties perpetrated by government ”

    Don’t even get me started on the war on drugs and all the stupid power grabs associated with it. The war on guns is largely due to the war on drugs. Instead of doing to hard but necessary things like legalization, it’s easier and cheaper to just blame the regular gun owner for the violence associated with drug gangs.

    There’s no war on immigrants. There’s certainly a backlash against illegal immigrations, but that isn’t the same thing.

    There’s not much bias in Law Enforcement that you can point to successfully. The only study that’s ever showed a difference in outcomes based on race showed it was less likely for a person to be executed for killing a black person. The problem is that so many of the people that are murdered are drug dealers, so many juries are reluctant to impose the death penalty on people who kill other drug dealers. Sad, but true. Most violent crime is centered on drugs and the fact that drugs are illegal and therefore outside of the regular justice system. I am sure you understand that drug gang activity is much more prevalent in minority communities, and therefore so is the violence associated with it. Ending the drug war would reduce this violence and go a long long way toward reducing the large differences in crime rates between different racial categories.

    I’ll go you one better on same sex relationships. I’ll not only vote to make them legal, I’ll be happy to teach gays and lesbians to shoot so that if someone decides to bash them, the bashers lose. I look forward to the days that happily married gay couples can use their closets to store “assault weapons.”

    Try not to stereotype people. Just because I am passionate about my right to bear arms doesn’t mean I’d like to limit your rights. And you should watch the loaded words like “obsessed.” That’s just your editorial comment about someone who is concerned about rights that you don’t value.

  9. F. Paul Valone

    April 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    How nice to see the lefties of state are still torturing logic (should we call Amnesty International?), in this case by trying to equate a necessarily instant life-or-death decision with the ostensibly careful and reasoned machinations of the Attorney General’s office. Try running that in judicial proceeding and see how it works for you.

    Oh, and by the way: Among the many allegedly beneficial acts of the Uniform Law Commission, decades ago they also gave us the Uniform Firearms Act, which brought us much of the state-level gun control we now face.


  10. F. Paul Valone

    April 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Here is an object lesson on what happens when bureaucrats at the Uniform Law Commission begin meddling with your rights. The ULC is responsible for gun control as we now know it, preceding and eventually leading up to the National Firearms Act of 1934.

    From: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Northwestern)
    29 (1938): 529.

    “The first model pistol act was drafted for the United States Revolver Association between 1919 and 1922. This act became law in several states and served as the basis for the uniform act approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1926.[12] The Commissioners called their act the Uniform Firearms Act, though it deals only with pistols, including in that term revolvers. This act has been approved by the American Bar Association and enacted wholly or partly in a number of states.[13]

    “The Uniform Firearms Act contains five main provisions. (1) It adds to the maximum punishment of persons committing crimes of violence when armed with a pistol; (2) prohibits the possession of pistols by persons convicted of crimes of violence; (3) licenses the carrying of concealed pistols; (4) requires pistol dealers to be licensed, aims to check the sale of pistols to criminals and to secure a record of the sale of all pistols; and (5) creates a presumption [Page 532] of the intent to commit a crime of violence from the illegal carrying of a pistol. There are also sections forbidding pawnbrokers to deal in pistols and making it a crime to alter the numbers on pistols.”

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