Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Morgan Griffith Exposes Inconsistencies in Safety and Security Policy

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

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Defending the Second Amendment Rights of Law-Abiding Citizens

As you may know, last week President Obama released a set of executive actions relating to firearms. These include a number of rule changes, additional staffing and funding for certain initiatives, and recommendations to state and federal officials, among other things.

Many Ninth District residents contacted my office to relay their thoughts, and I share the concerns of those who expressed worry about efforts to needlessly limit the freedom of law-abiding American citizens.

I will always defend the rights of law-abiding citizens, and will protect the right to bear arms.

I am particularly concerned by his proposal to clarify who is considered to be “engaged in the business of firearms.” An attempt to expand that definition could lead to an unreasonably broad definition that infringes on an individual’s ability to transfer firearms to a friend or family member.

Should an uncle wish to give to his niece or nephew some of his guns, for example, that ought not make him a dealer, even if the transfer involves some cash. Sometimes families help each other out that way.

Additionally, I disagree with the impression left by the Administration that veterans and seniors who need some assistance managing their finances are necessarily unfit to possess a firearm.

Two examples.

First, consider an elderly person who is perfectly rational but tires of paying all their bills, and may be living with a younger relative. During my years practicing law, it was not that unusual for a senior in this situation to give to their relatives the right to handle all of their Social Security paperwork and matters. There now is seemingly an implication that a senior in this situation shouldn’t possess a firearm. That is just wrong! If their situation is worse than this, there are other legal remedies. Accordingly, I have cosponsored legislation to prevent the Social Security Administration from reporting the names of Social Security beneficiaries with a “representative payee” to the National Instant Background Check System.

Likewise, an American soldier severely wounded would most likely go through a period of time where they cannot handle their “finances.” This should not bar them from owning a gun or automatically put them in a position where they have to fight to get their rights back. I recognize that a veteran might have a mental health diagnosis which may ought to trigger a restriction. But such restriction ought not be done automatically without safeguards for the veteran’s rights.

Like everyone, I want a decrease in unlawful shootings and violent crimes, but none of the major shootings that have taken place in the recent past would have been prevented by new gun laws. This was affirmed by a Washington Post fact checker on December 10, 2015.

The Bill of Rights protects the “unalienable” rights that this country and its citizens hold dear, including the right to bear arms. I have an A+ rating with the National Rifle Association, and am proud of it. Rest assured that I will closely monitor the progress of the President’s proposals and the rulemaking process, especially given this Administration’s previous attempts to use back-door methods to hinder lawful gun ownership.

A Misplaced Missile, Politics, and Policy

The Wall Street Journal last week broke the news that an inactive U.S. Hellfire missile originally sent to Europe was wrongly shipped to Cuba in 2014, “a loss of sensitive military technology that ranks among the worst-known incidents of its kind.” Though the missile doesn’t contain explosives, it still contains sensitive weapons technology such as targeting and sensor information which countries like China or Russia could try to reverse engineer.

It is unclear at this point whether a number of mistakes led to the missile’s arrival in Cuba, or if criminals or spies were involved in its redirection. CNN notes that “…the U.S. has been trying for more than a year to get the Cuban government to return the missile. The delay could have been complicated by the attention paid to the historic thaw between the U.S. and Cuba last December, followed by the restoring of ties and opening of embassies in Washington and Havana this summer.”

It is outrageous to think that the Obama Administration proceeded with normalizing relations with Cuba while well aware of the Cuban government’s apparent refusal to return this missile. This appears to be yet another example of this Administration putting its politics over policy.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.
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