Gun registration provisions in ethics initiative

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Gun registration provisions in ethics initiative

Postby Car Knocker » Tue 15 Dec 2009 10:58 am

Received the following alert from GOUtah this morning:

GOUtah! FINDS GUN-REGISTRATION CLAUSE IN EHTICS-REFORM BALLOT
INITIATIVE

A group calling itself “Utahns for Ethical Government” has sponsored a
citizens’ initiative, which they hope to get on the ballot for the
November 2010 elections. The group is currently gathering signatures
for that purpose. The official name of the initiative is “Government
Ethics Reform”, and the full text can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/ykhc9jk

GOUtah! strongly opposes the Government Ethics Reform initiative and
we encourage gun owners NOT to sign it because we've found that the
text of the initiative contains a de facto gun-registration clause.
We doubt that this clause was intentionally designed to require gun
registration, but that’s exactly what it does. Although this gun-
registration requirement would apply only to members of the state
legislature and their spouses, it would be Utah’s first state gun-
registration law. Furthermore, the full registration information
(including a complete list of each legislator’s firearms, how much
each gun is worth, and where they’re stored) would be made available
to the public.

In addition to GOUtah!’s general opposition to any law that requires a
person to register his firearms with the government, we believe that
this proposed registration/publication requirement could have a
broader impact on gun rights by discouraging gun owners from running
for the legislature in the future and enticing pro-gun legislators
currently in office to resign or retire (given that most pro-gun
legislators are probably gun owners themselves). We urge you to read
our analysis below and to also study the initiative on your own. If,
after doing so, you agree with us that the initiative should be
defeated, we urge you to go to the Action Item at the end of this alert.
The initiative is 21 pages in length, and most of it has little or no
direct bearing on Second-Amendment issues that we can discern.
However, GOUtah! Policy Director Charles Hardy carefully studied the
entire text and discovered the gun-registration requirement mentioned
above. GOUtah! isn’t opposed to ethics reform per se, and we take no
position on the 99% of the initiative that doesn’t have a direct
bearing on gun rights. If this were a regular bill going through the
normal legislative process, multiple opportunities would arise to
strip the anti-gun language out of it by means of amending or
substituting the bill during a committee hearing or floor debate.
However, no such options exist with the citizens’ initiative process.
If the initiative gets enough signatures to make it onto the ballot
and then passes next November, everything in it will automatically
become state law. Thus, the only way to prevent the gun-registration
clause from becoming law is to defeat the initiative.


ANALYSIS OF THE GUN-REGISTRATION CLAUSE

The gun registration requirement in the Government Ethics Reform
Initiative can be found in two portions, both of which are on page
13. The first of these would require every member of the Utah State
Legislature to submit a written “disclosure statement” each year to
the Utah Independent Ethics Commission (a state-level commission that
does not currently exist, but which would be established if the
initiative passes). This disclosure statement would need to include
“the location, nature of, and fair market value of any property, real
or personal, tangible or intangible (other than a primary personal
residence), in which the legislator or spouse, directly or indirectly,
holds an interest which is or is proposed or likely to be the subject
of…. regulation by any public body.”

A firearm constitutes tangible personal property, and private
ownership of a firearm is subject to stringent regulation by the Utah
State Legislature, the Utah Department of Public Safety, the United
States Congress, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms,
and Explosives (among others), each of which is “a public body.”
Thus, we believe that firearms clearly fit into the category defined
by the initiative. Which means that, if you’re a state legislator,
you and your spouse will have to provide the Ethics Commission with a
written list of all your guns, the estimated value of each gun, and
where each gun is kept. And you’ll have to do this every year.

GOUtah! and most other gun-rights groups have consistently opposed ANY
law that requires ANY citizen to provide ANY government agency with a
list of his privately-owned firearms. ANY such law is a gun-
registration law, pure and simple, even if the text of the law does
not include the words “firearm” or “register”. The portion of the
Government Ethics Reform Initiative described above therefore
qualifies, in our opinion, as a gun-registration law.
But there’s more! The second part of the registration requirement,
also on page 13, says: “The disclosure statements…. contemplated in
this section of this Act shall be accurate and complete; they shall be
signed by legislators under penalty of perjury; and they shall be
available for inspection and copying by any member of the public.”

This means that if you leave one of your guns off of the disclosure
statement, you’ll be guilty of perjury, which is a felony in Utah.
Any felony conviction will permanently strip you of your right to
possess a firearm. What’s even more alarming is that these disclosure
statements will be “available for inspection and copying by any member
of the public.” In other words, if you’re a state legislator, any
burglar or gang member will be able to make a copy of your disclosure
statement, which lists all the firearms owned by you or your spouse,
how much each of your guns is worth, and where they’re stored. Thus
the registration clause of the Ethics Reform Initiative is even worse
than existing gun-registration laws in other states, which at least
keep such information confidential.

Even though this gun-registration law would affect only state
legislators and their spouses, you as a gun owner should be very
concerned. Would you support a gun-registration requirement that
applied only to plumbers or stockbrokers just because you didn’t
happen to be a plumber or a stockbroker? Of course you wouldn’t. An
attack on any one else’s Second-Amendment rights should be regarded as
an attack on your own Second-Amendment rights. As Ben Franklin said,
“we all need to hang together, or else we’ll all hang separately.”

In addition to our opposition to gun registration in general, we also
oppose this registration requirement on practical grounds. If the
Ethics Reform Initiative becomes law, we suspect that the Utah
Legislature will become much less friendly toward gun rights in the
future simply because gun owners will be less likely to run for the
legislature. If you were a state legislator and you and your spouse
kept a dozen guns in your home and several more in your vacation
cabin, would you really want to register your guns and have this
information posted on a government website, where every burglar and
gang member in the state would be able to see it? Probably not.
Furthermore, the media would almost certainly have a field day talking
about your “arsenal”.

We suspect that many pro-gun senators and representatives, regardless
of party affiliation, would choose to retire or resign rather than
have to comply with the registration requirement. In fact, one key
pro-gun legislator has already told GOUtah! that he’ll resign for this
very reason if the initiative passes. And we suspect that fewer gun
owners would run for office in the future. We'd be much worse off
from a gun-rights standpoint if future sessions of the Utah
Legislature had nobody to sponsor pro-gun-rights legislation, and
nobody in key leadership positions to help derail anti-gun bills.
This is not a partisan issue. There are pro-gun-rights legislators
from both of the major political parties (just as there are anti-gun
legislators in both parties). The longtime presence of Mike Dmitrich
(a Democrat who retired from the Senate last year) on the Senate
Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee enabled us
to have several important legislative victories, and his position as
Senate Minority Leader in 2007 and 2008 was a good thing for gun
rights, as is the current position of Mike Waddoups (a Republican) as
Senate Majority Leader. The late Senator Ed Mayne, a Democrat who,
much to our sorrow, died in office last year, was a staunch defender
of gun rights during his legislative career. Rep. Curt Oda (a
Republican) has sponsored several important gun-rights bills and is
vice-chairman of the House committee to which most gun-related bills
get referred. We could go on, but you get the point.
GOUtah! does not endorse any politician or political party, of
course. We’re simply pointing out that if we’re going to protect and
expand the right to keep and bear arms in Utah, we’re going to need
people in the state legislature who are willing to fight for that
right, including people in key leadership positions. The gun-
registration requirement could make this much more difficult to
achieve by discouraging gun owners from running for office.



SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE INITIATIVE

If you’d like to read arguments both for and against the initiative,
here are some useful links. GOUtah! does not endorse of affiliate
with either of the organizations sponsoring these websites. We’re
merely providing these links for informational purposes. You are, of
course, free to make up your own mind on this matter. We can’t tell
you how to think. And it may be that, after reading the entire
initiative, you’ll decide that the other stuff that’s in it is so good
that it more than compensates for the badness of the gun-registration
clause.

Argument in favor of the Ethics Reform Initiative:

http://www.utahnsforethicalgovernment.org/

Argument against the Ethics Reform Initiative:

http://www.unethicalreform.org/


ACTION ITEM

If you’d like to help us prevent the gun registration requirement from
becoming law, we encourage you not to sign the petition to put the
Government Ethics Reform Initiative on the ballot. We also encourage
you to tell your gun-owning friends about the registration clause and
forward this alert to them.

If you already signed the petition prior to reading this alert and
would like to withdraw your signature, you can legally do so with the
following steps:

1 – Write, type, or print a statement on a piece of paper saying that
you signed the petition for the Government Ethics Reform Initiative
and that you wish to remove your signature from the petition. Include
your name and address.

2 – Take the statement to a Notary Public and sign it in his presence
and have him notarize it.
3 – Deliver the notarized statement to your county clerk’s office.

You should do this as soon as possible, because you can’t get your
signature removed once the petition has been submitted to the
Lieutenant Governor. The petition will be submitted to the Lieutenant
Governor if and when 95,000 signatures get collected. We don’t know
how many signatures have been obtained thus far.

Don

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Re: Gun registration provisions in ethics initiative

Postby Jeff Johnson » Tue 15 Dec 2009 6:18 pm

Let's keep a close eye on this one. I certainly hope that no UCC members sign this.
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Re: Gun registration provisions in ethics initiative

Postby jaredbelch » Wed 16 Dec 2009 8:23 pm

Wow I sure hope this doesn't get the initial signatures. I know I would never comply with this if I was in the Legislature. Sadly this would be one of the "bad laws" that I would risk being caught for breaking.
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Re: Gun registration provisions in ethics initiative

Postby Jarubla » Sun 20 Dec 2009 3:41 pm

Link to ksl.com:

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=9095713

text:

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A proposed ethics reform ballot initiative could lead to the creation of a gun registry for lawmakers, a group that defends gun rights said.

The Utahns for Ethical Government proposal includes a conflict-of-interest section that would require lawmakers to disclose property that could be subject to government regulation.

Gun Owners of Utah officials said they think that could result in a gun registry.

"I interpret it that way because that is the obvious, clear reading of the law," said the group's public policy director, Charles Hardy.

The group has sent an e-mail urging its members and others to reject a petition to put the ethics reform initiative on the 2010 ballot.

But interpreting the initiative as requiring the creation of a gun registry is absurd, said David Irvine, the attorney for Utahns for Ethical Government.

Irvine said no reasonable judge could interpret the conflict-of-interest provision to affect guns.

Utahns for Ethical Government wants to impose campaign contribution limits and a gift ban along with establishing an independent ethics commission. Irvine said an ethics commission could only have an interest in property that carries a potential financial conflict, such as a lawmaker owning property that could be sold to the Utah Department of Transportation for a highway right of way.

Irvine also said lawmakers can simply change administrative rules created by commissions.

Lawmakers have different thoughts on the possible ramifications of the initiative.

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said he prefers that legislators tweak any unintended consequences if the initiative is passed by voters.

"They may see something that I don't see, but I've never even thought of this," King said of Gun Owners of Utah's concerns.

But Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, said he thinks the group's concern is valid.

And Utah Shooting Sports Council Chairman Clark Aposhian said the initiative language leaves open the possibility of "a great degree of abuses of confidentiality."

"We have seen seemingly innocuous, seemingly benign sections of code used for nefarious things," said Aposhian, who added he hasn't asked his council's board for an opinion.
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Re: Gun registration provisions in ethics initiative

Postby Cinhil » Sun 20 Dec 2009 10:01 pm

I read this Friday and immediately felt it would be a burden on elected legislators and their families. I also feel it would violate their right to privacy & would amount to a back door gun registration scheme. The paper today had an op ed piece on this saying gun owners were more or less off their rocker thinking this would do this and that it would only affect real estate & real property. I highly disagree, if this went into effect someone, somewhere (most likely a judge or lawyer) would abuse this legislation (as so often does happen) and the spirit of the law would be violated by its own wordage and abuse of power. This would be a terrible bill!
What part of "Shall not be infringed" is not being abused today!

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Re: Gun registration provisions in ethics initiative

Postby caverat » Mon 21 Dec 2009 1:15 am

Ya this has all the markings of being another back door to a greater agenda :bat: There just no way that it can be realistically justified :spit:
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Re: Gun registration provisions in ethics initiative

Postby Sam Fidler » Sat 26 Dec 2009 9:55 pm

Has anyone else had the chance to read the full proposal? The bad ideas in it go far beyond just the gun registration. It creates a new commission with absolutely no oversight in an effort to eliminate corruption from a body with direct public oversight because, as their intent statement says, "It is the nature of power to corrupt."
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