This week saw an innovation in gun regulation. A true first-of-its-kind policy. And it’s already creating a stir.
San Jose, California’s city council voted to pass a requirement that all gun owners in the city buy mandatory liability insurance and pay a yearly tax. No other government has ever attempted that before. It’s a policy supported by Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords Law Center which means it could see further adoption in the future.
However, it’s already facing a legal challenge with more gun-rights groups promising their own suits once the policy goes into effect.
New light was also shed on the Texas Synagogue attacker and how he managed to get a gun when he shouldn’t have been legally able to. Authorities have levied charges in the case against the man who sold him the gun. Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman examines the latest details to see whether or not new gun-control measures proposed by President Joe Biden (D.) would have made a difference.
Plus, I give an account of my time at the gun industry’s trade show in Las Vegas. Outdoor writer Gabby Hoffman also joins me on the podcast to talk about the new products and some of the political news from the show.
We also find out how many millions of new gun owners came into the market last year thanks to a new report.
San Jose Passes Mandatory Insurance, Annual Fee for Gun Owners
By Jake Fogleman
San Jose gun owners now face first-of-their-kind restrictions.
The city council voted to approve Mayor Sam Liccardo’s (D.) ordinance on Tuesday. That makes San Jose the first city in the nation to enact a mandatory insurance regime for gun owners and require them to pay an annual fee.
“While the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, it does not require taxpayers to subsidize gun ownership,” Mayor Sam Liccardo (D.) said in a statement before the vote. “We won’t magically end gun violence, but we will stop paying for it. We can also better care for its victims, and reduce gun-related injuries and death through sensible interventions.”
First Lawsuit Filed Against San Jose Gun Tax, Insurance Mandate
By Jake Fogleman
Less than a full day after the votes were tallied, San Jose’s new gun control ordinance faces its first legal challenge.
The National Association for Gun Rights and an individual plaintiff filed suit in federal court against the city Wednesday morning. The lawsuit alleges that the city’s unprecedented gun-insurance mandate and annual gun ownership fee violate the Second Amendment rights of San Jose citizens.
“San Jose’s imposition of a tax, fee, or other arbitrary cost on gun ownership is intended to suppress gun ownership without furthering any government interest,” the suit reads. “In fact, the penalties for nonpayment of the insurance and fees include seizure of the citizen’s gun. The Ordinance is, therefore, patently unconstitutional.”
Report: 5.4 Million New Gun Owners in 2021
By Stephen Gutowski
A flood of Americans became gun owners for the first time last year.
Just under 30 percent of gun sales were to new buyers in 2021, according to a National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) survey released on Tuesday. The industry trade group said that amounted to at least 5.4 million new owners. That means more than 13.8 million Americans have become gun owners since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“These trends show that not only is there still a strong interest in gun ownership but also that these new gun owners are interested in learning more about the safe and responsible handling, use and storage of firearms,” Joe Bartozzi, NSSF President and CEO, said in a statement.
DOJ Charges Man Who Illegally Sold Gun to Texas Synagogue Attacker
By Jake Fogleman
Federal prosecutors have charged a 32-year-old Texas man with a federal firearm crime after alleging he sold the gun used in the Colleyville synagogue attack earlier this month.
Henry Dwight Williams was charged on Tuesday with being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Texas. Prosecutors allege he sold Malik Faisal Akram the handgun used in the synagogue standoff just two days prior to the incident.
“The Dallas FBI Field Office and our partners have worked around the clock since January 15, 2022 to determine how Malik Faisal Akram acquired the weapon he used to terrorize worshipers at Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel synagogue,” Matthew DeSarno, Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge, said.
The arrest clarifies how Akram, a British national, was allegedly able to obtain the firearm used to take four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel. Records showed he arrived in the U.S. just two weeks before the incident, and his citizenship status precluded him from legally purchasing a gun under federal law.
Earlier this month, the country watched in horror as news broke that an armed man had taken four people hostage inside a Texas synagogue. Fortunately, all involved got out unscathed except for the gunman, who was killed by responding federal agents.
However, many were left wondering how a British national who had only been in the country for a few days could obtain the firearm used in the attack. New developments from the Department of Justice help shine a light on just how it happened and the limitations of gun legislation to preclude motivated assailants from obtaining weapons.
On Wednesday, the DOJ announced criminal charges against a 32-year-old Texas man named Henry “Michael” Williams, who allegedly sold the Taurus G2C pistol that the British national used in the synagogue hostage situation. According to the criminal complaint, Williams is a felon previously convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance. That means he was prohibited from even possessing a gun under federal law, let alone selling one.
“Federal firearm laws are designed to keep guns from falling into dangerous hands,” U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham said in a statement. “As a convicted felon, Mr. Williams was prohibited from carrying, acquiring, or selling firearms.”
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Feature: SHOT Show in the Time of Coronavirus
By Stephen Gutowski
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — Guns, porn, and concrete.
That’s what you can expect to find in the Nevada desert on the third week of most Januarys. But, it’s been a while since we’ve had a January like most.
Last year the firearms, adult, and concrete industries canceled their conventions. This year, SHOT Show and the World of Concrete pushed through omicron concerns while the AVN Show pulled out back in September.
There’s a lot to be said about the specifics of this year’s SHOT, and we’ll get to that, but it’s impossible to separate the event from the pandemic in which it occurred.
SHOT Show is back after being canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
I was able to attend the show and so was this week’s guest Gabby Hoffman. Gabby has been one of the top outdoor writers in the country for quite some time. She also hosts the District of Conservation Podcast where I’ve been a guest several times.
Gabby and I compare how attendance at this year’s show stacks up to years past, some of the covid mitigation efforts, and how a number of large companies dropping out affected everything. It was certainly a different experience than in years past, but it seemed fairly successful overall. The crowds weren’t back to the level they used to be, but they weren’t small either.
The understandable absence of some larger gun companies may have provided more of an opportunity for smaller companies to entice buyers. This is especially likely since there weren’t many noticeable trends in the industry beyond the introduction of the new .30 super carry caliber. So, buyers looking to find stock two years into the pandemic may be willing to entertain offers from anybody with product. Companies like Sig, Springfield, and Berretta who decided not to attend, probably don’t need the show to make sales while their smaller competitors may be more reliant on the exposure the show offers to grow their sales.
But, industry dynamics weren’t the only thing on display at SHOT. Politics also made their way in. Gabby describes what she saw at the Governor’s Forum where a collection of six Republican governors gathered to describe their approach to bringing in new gun companies. She said they each made their case to the industry that their state would do the most to incentivize and protect gun makers who relocated to their respective states, a big recent trend fueled by increasing hostility to the industry in the northeastern states many were founded in.
Plus, contributing writer Jake Fogleman and I talk about the return of “smart gun” prototypes with one even ending up at the show. And, he explains new details that emerged this week showing Dominion Energy was more connected to the shadowy PAC that tried to suppress gun voters in last year’s Virginia election.
You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here.
You can also watch the video podcast on our YouTube Channel.
Analysis: First-Hand Insights on the Golden Rules of Gun Safety
By Ryan Donahue
Protection is arguably one of the main reasons why so many American citizens are buying guns now more than ever, increasing the need for personal and home defense. The spike in first-time gun buyers raises the need to maintain and help ensure safety for these individuals and those around them.
Responsible gun ownership comes with the commitment of learning and practicing certain rules and behaviors to avoid any accidents. Whether it’s safely storing your gun and gear or properly disposing of cartridges and any residue, following the golden rules on gun safety can save lives and ultimately grow the minority protecting the Second Amendment.
Gutowski Debates Gun Crime, Policy on the Megyn Kelly Show
By The Reload Staff
Reload Founder Stephen Gutowski joined the Megyn Kelly show for a wide-ranging discussion on gun politics Wednesday.
He joined Mike Spies, a senior writer at The Trace, for a two-hour conversation on the prevailing controversies surrounding guns in America. The pair talked about how current gun laws are supposed to prevent criminals from getting guns, how they fail, and ways they could be fixed.
The show takes a long-form and serious approach to discussing the problems of gun violence. Gutowski and Spies debate over regulation of gun stores, universal background checks, AR-15s, smart guns, and community violence interruption programs. The two men, who have spent years covering gun news, debated the different approaches to solving issues of gun violence.
The full episode can be seen on The Megyn Kelly Show’s YouTube channel.
Reload Founder Stephen Gutowski explained the breadth of new regulations about to hit the gun industry during a recent interview.
He joined National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) Director of Public Affairs Mark Oliva for an interview during the group’s trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada last week. The pair discussed how President Joe Biden’s (D.) proposed rule changes would broaden the authority of the ATF while also requiring millions of Americans to register certain firearms. Gutowski described how one rule would require licensed dealers to mark older guns and provide a “much more expansive” definition of firearm.
“The ATF, under President Biden’s executive orders and initiatives he’s taking, wanted to change that definition to make it much more expansive and give the ATF much more power over deciding what is and isn’t a firearm frame or receiver,” Gutowski said. “Really the serialization is the issue at the core of this because you have gun control advocates and the president who say you shouldn’t have un-serialized parts…but serialization itself really wasn’t even required until the 1960s.”
California gun-rights advocates were dealt a setback in federal court on Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns denied a request from gun owners for a temporary restraining order to block the recently signed state law allowing their personal information to be shared with academic research centers. In his ruling, Burns determined that the gun owners had not shown the law created sufficient harm to warrant an emergency restraining order.
The ruling is a blow to the privacy concerns of gun owners throughout the state. As a result, California officials can continue freely sharing gun owners’ personal information while the legal challenge to the law continues to be fought in court.
The Reload in the Media
This was a busy week for me outside The Reload as well as inside it. As you saw above, my interview with SHOT Show TV was published this week. So was my appearance on The Megyn Kelly Show. In addition to that, I did a long interview with AR Build Junkie about the state of The Reload and gun politics.
I also had my first piece published by George Mason’s Discourse Magazine. It deals with the Supreme Court’s gun-carry case and just how consequential the ruling could turn out to be.
Then I had my first piece published in Reason Magazine. That one was a bit more fun for me since it’s about my experience shooting the machine guns at SHOT Show and why you can’t (realistically) own them.
Definitely an exciting week of firsts for me!
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.