Outback Steakhouse: No Rights, Just Rules

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NRA-ILA)

 

Outback Steakhouse: No Rights, Just Rules

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2018

Outback Steakhouse: No Rights, Just Rules

The word “Outback” used to conjure images of Australia’s tenacious frontier spirit; of hunters, ranchers, and other adventurers who carved out a harsh existence from an unforgiving land. Thanks to a decades-long campaignto distance the island nation from certain elements of its rugged heritage and the proliferation of an Australian-themed casual dining restaurant chain, today the word “Outback” is more likely to bring to mind a 3,000 calorie deep-fried onion.

Despite its namesake and decor, culinary critics have long questioned whether Outback Steakhouse offers an authentic Down Under dining experience. However, these detractors should know that in recent years the chain has gone to great lengths to replicate for their guests Australia’s culture of civilian disarmament by prohibiting diners from carrying firearms onto the premises. This commitment to reproducing Australia’s defenseless society is so profound that earlier this month a uniformed law enforcement officer was asked to leave an Outback in Cleveland, Tenn. because he was armed.

The incident occurred when Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency Officer Andrew Ward and his wife went to the restaurant for dinner. In a Facebook post, Ward explained,

I was approached by the manager and asked if I would put my gun in my truck. I let her know that I couldn’t because I was in uniform. She then went and made a call and came back and we were asked to leave because Outback is a gun free zone.

Rightfully disturbed by the encounter, Ward added,

What is this country coming to? A uniformed Law Enforcement Officer who is sworn to protect and serve the public, is refused service because they have a firearm! I am disgusted and have no other words!!!

In an update to his initial post, Ward noted that he was asked to leave after Outback management bent to the will of an unhinged customer. According to Ward, “There was another customer who was ‘scared for her life’… because ‘police are shooting people.’” Ward explained that “the customer went on to demand to be escorted to her vehicle out of fear of being shot.”

Given the decades of statistics showing the law-abiding character of Right-to-Carry permit holders, Outback’s gun free zone policy is foolish. However, that the company would cite their gun-free policy as justification to yield to the ravings of an unreasonable individual to the detriment of a uniformed law enforcement officer is radical.

There is a general consensus that uniformed and ununiformed current and former law enforcement officers should be allowed to carry a firearm for the public benefit. That is why in 2004 Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act (LEOSA). Under LEOSA, current and former law enforcement officers who meet certain basic criteria, such as carrying qualified identification, are permitted to carry a firearm throughout the country. 

Showing the strong bipartisan support for this measure, the original legislation, H.R. 218, had 297 co-sponsors in the House of Representative and passed the Senate unanimously. Subsequent changes that have been made to increase the number of officers able to take advantage of this protection have been similarly popular. 

Sensing a growing public outrage, Outback reached out to the Wards and offered them a $100 gift card and an apology. Outback’s parent-company, Bloomin’ Brands, Inc., issued a statement to Chattanooga’s WTVC that contended it is not company policy to prohibit law enforcement officers from carrying at their restaurants. The statement went on to blame the incident on the individual restaurant manager.

While the manager might have handled the situation better, Bloomin’ Brands shares some responsibility for creating the irrational gun free zone policy that the employee was forced to interpret. Outback Steakhouse ads have long carried the tagline “Outback: No Rules, Just Right.” In order to better reflect company values and bolster ongoing efforts at authenticity, we submit for consideration, “Outback: No Rights, Just Rules.”

Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NRA-ILA)

 

Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2018

Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression

Lawmakers in California must have temporarily exhausted their store of ideas for legislating against law-abiding gun enthusiasts. After years of padding the bureaucracy with ever more complicated rules, restrictions and bans for people who legally own and enjoy guns, lawmakers are now considering a measure to strike a preemptive declaration against gun ownership.

The California bill, AB 1927, introduced by Assembly Member Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, directs the state’s Department of Justice to “develop and launch a secure Internet-based platform to allow a person who resides in California to voluntarily add his or her own name to the California Do Not Sell List.” This list would be uploaded to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), meaning the system would affect a person’s ability to acquire a firearm not just in California, but anywhere in the country.

On registering, a person has the option of providing the state with the names and email addresses of up to five contacts, who have the right to be notified as soon as the registrant seeks a restoration of the right to acquire guns. The bill makes it a crime to knowingly sell or transfer a firearm to a person on the list (and a licensed gun dealer is liable to lose their dealer’s license, too). “Receipt” of a firearm is “unlawful” for anyone on the list, although the bill specifies that mere possession is not prohibited (“possession after the moment of receipt is not unlawful and the fact of possession may not be relied upon to prove a violation” of the law).

While getting on the Do Not Sell List may be as simple as a few clicks of a mouse, getting off the list is challenging different matter entirely. The registrant must file a petition with a court to have his or her name removed. All persons on the registrant’s contact list are entitled to advance notice of the date, time, and location of the court hearing. And although a person may register on the list for any reason (or no reason at all), a court is authorized to remove a registrant off the list only after he or she establishes, by a “preponderance of the evidence that he or she is not at elevated risk of suicide.” The evidence needed to satisfy this standard isn’t specified, but it’s safe to assume that a mental health evaluation and testimony from a mental health professional will be required. Once a court grants the order, the state must remove the person from the NICS Index and expunge all records related to the person’s registration on the list.

A similarly inspired bill to allow a “voluntary waiver of firearm rights” is pending in Washington State.  S.B. 5553allows anyone to file a waiver document with the court, and to include the name of a “person to be contacted” if a voluntary waiver is later revoked. All waivers are fed into a state police database used to determine eligibility to purchase a handgun. The person is free to revoke the waiver at a later date, but the waiver must stay in effect for a minimum of two weeks (seven days, plus another week in which the police must delete the waiver from the database). The bill makes it a felony to provide a gun to a person where there is reasonable cause to believe the person is subject to an active waiver, and a licensed dealer is prohibited from selling or transferring a gun to such persons.

The apparent rationale behind these bills is to provide those at risk of suicide with a way to declare themselves “prohibited persons” for the purposes of future gun purchases. Assemblyman Bonta describes his bill as giving “people the power to create a potentially life-saving barrier,” and the summary on the Washington proposal claims it will prevent suicide by helping “people in crisis maintain their autonomy while saving their lives.”

Overlooking several practical issues, the bills’ effectiveness isn’t likely to match the declared sentiment of advocates.

The California bill requires that the “Internet-based platform” for the list “credibly verif[y]” the identity of those who sign up online. Neither bill, though, has a corrective procedure to remove anyone included because they share a name and birthdate with someone properly listed, or because of some other error. The only way the bill provides for getting de-listed on California’s registry is convincing a court not that there’s been a mistake, but that the registrant has a non-elevated risk of suicide.

Waivers of constitutional rights “must be voluntary and must be knowing, intelligent acts done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences.” In Washington State, persons contemplating a waiver should be aware that the waiver remains effective even after it is revoked because the police have a week to process the revocation, with ensuing legal consequences. Because of the time lag between actual revocation and the update to the police database, a person who seeks to obtain a gun after revocation but during that period is liable to be reported to a separate police database of people who attempt to acquire guns while prohibited under state or federal law.

The most distressing thing about these bills is the focus on the method while bypassing the underlying, core problem of the person’s suicidal impulses, depression, or other mental health emergency. Experts estimate that the vast majority of persons who commit suicide suffer from a mental illness at the time of their death. The same mindset impelled “gun violence restraining order” laws in California and Washington State, aimed specifically at disarming persons at risk of harming themselves (but only with a gun). Regardless, Assemblyman Bonta, resorting to the favorite catchphrase of the gun control movement, describes his bill as “a common-sense measure” to allow people to “self-restrict their ability to purchase a firearm.”

While lawmakers continue to look for new ways to restrict gun rights, people seeking help may find there’s a lot of talk about promoting health through “innovative” prevention strategies for at-risk individuals, without much in the way of actual help.

NRA Condemns U.S. Virgin Island Firearm Confiscation Plan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NRA-ILA)

 

NRA Condemns U.S. Virgin Island Firearm Confiscation Plan

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2017

NRA Condemns U.S. Virgin Island Firearm Confiscation Plan

FAIRFAX, Va. – The National Rifle Association on Tuesday announced its strong opposition to the order signed by U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp allowing the government to seize personal firearms and ammunition ahead of Hurricane Irma. The NRA is prepared to engage the legal system to halt the unconstitutional order. 

“People need the ability to protect themselves during times of natural disaster,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “This dangerous order violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and puts their lives at risk.” 

After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin instituted a similar order and began confiscating legally owned and possessed firearms. The NRA intervened in federal court and was able to halt the confiscations and obtain an order requiring the return of the seized firearms. The organization then backed federal legislation to prohibit the confiscation of legal firearms from law-abiding citizens during states of emergency. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed this legislation into law.  

“When 911 is non-existent and law enforcement personnel are overwhelmed with search-and-rescue missions and other emergency duties, law-abiding American citizens must be able to protect their families and loved ones. The NRA is prepared to pursue legal action to halt Gov. Mapp’s dangerous and unconstitutional order,” concluded Cox.


Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement, and the armed services. Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.