Apr 17, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon

Gun Laws

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11Former Florida Bank Manager Suing Wells Fargo For Firing Her For Carrying Gun

A former bank manager who was allegedly fired for carrying a legal, concealed handgun inside a Wells Fargo bank in Oldsmar, Fla., is suing her former employer.

Ivette Ros, 37, has filed a lawsuit in circuit court against the bank, alleging that termination violated her constitutional right to carry a firearm, the Tampa Tribune reports.

“I am within my constitutional right,” Ros told the Tribune. “The bank is one of the places that I am able to carry a weapon to. My weapon was concealed. I have a certified license.”

Someone reported Ros to bank officials last year for packing heat.

“I’m a manager of a bank,” Ros told the Tribune. “We have a lot of robberies that happen in our banks. I feel safer having that weapon if I ever needed to protect my employees.”

The single mother of three was fired for violating Wells Fargo’s ban on employees' carrying weapons.

“Team members are strictly prohibited from possession of firearms and weapons on company premises,” spokeswoman Kathy Harrison said.

Noel Flasterstein, Ros’ lawyer, told the Tribune that the bank cannot discriminate against law-abiding employees.

“Just because it’s in their handbook doesn’t mean it is correct or it will withstand a legal scrutiny or a legal investigation, which is what we’re doing in this case,” Flasterstein said.

Jason Bent, a law professor at Stetson University College of Law, said Ros was outside her legal rights because Wells Fargo is a private employer.

“There is nothing in the state statute that says the employer has to let her bring it into the building,” said Bent.

Ros’ lawyer disagrees.

“The second amendment is not a privilege,” Flasterstein said. “It’s a freakin’ right.”

Ros is seeking monetary damages and attorney fees.

A California court earlier this month overturned rules that allowed counties to limit the right to carry concealed weapons, a decision that resulted from a change in state law in 2012 that repealed the right of people to carry unloaded firearms publicly, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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11Tea Party Speaker Claims Gun Laws Could Lead to Genocide (Video)

During a speech two weeks ago at the South Carolina Tea Party Convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C., speaker Jan Morgan claimed that stronger gun control laws in the US could lead to genocide.

Morgan, who is head of the pro-gun group Armed American Woman, didn't mention the numerous free countries that have stronger gun control laws than the US, but appeared to go for the old standby cliche of Nazi Germany, notes RightWingWatch.org (video below).

“Gun control has never been about guns. It’s about control,” said Morgan. “In the twentieth century, folks, 170 million people have been annihilated by their own governments after being disarmed. So, don’t let anybody tell you that disarming America is going to make us a safer place.”

The "170 million" number likely comes from the NCPA, a right wing think tank that has been funded by Exxon and the Koch Brothers.

Salon.com reported last year that the claim that Hitler used mass gun control was debunked by University of Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt back in 2004. Under Hitler's 1938 decree, the gun laws were actually scaled back, except for specifically targeted groups, such as jewish people. No such law has been suggested by any major political party in modern US history.

Morgan didn't mention that deaths by guns in "free" Australia dropped 56 percent after the country enacted a gun law in 1996 in response to a mass shooting, notes Politfact.com. Australia is still free and its yearly gun death rate is about the same as the US gun death rate for one day.

Sources: Politfact.com, RightWingWatch.org, Salon.com, Wikipedia, NCPA

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11Warantless Invasion of Financial Advisor's Home Reveals No Weapons, Just Ammunition

If you think that carrying empty shells or casings is harmless, think again. Strangely enough, owning empty casings and shells is a crime as serious as having an illegal firearm.

It is also, apparently, a law that applies only to average citizens, and not to public figures.

As noted by the Washington Times, one year ago, NBC News anchor David Gregory was found to be in possession of a prohibited 30-round magazine during an anti-gun tirade on live TV. Although the broadcast was filmed within district limits, District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan dropped all charges on the grounds that arresting Gregory “would not promote public safety.”

Now, Nathan is refusing to drop the same charges against Mark Witaschek, a financial adviser with no criminal history and, unlike Gregory, no highly public profile. What he does have, however, is an angry ex-wife and a gun collection – he is a hunter – at his sister’s house in Virginia.

The case began in 2012 when police, acting on his ex-wife’s word, raided Witaschek’s house twice in one summer. Although they found no weapons, they handcuffed Witaschek and his girlfriend, put his terrified children in a separate room, and proceeded to search his entire house.

Their warrantless search produced only ammunition. Witaschek estimates that the damage done to the house during the search comes out to about $10,000.

Two pre-trial hearings have been held, after which the only piece of evidence that might still stand up in court is a misfired shotgun shell that Witaschek had kept as a souvenir from a hunting trip. The shell, having failed to have been propelled properly the first time it was used, cannot be fired again.

If he is found guilty for possessing this single, inoperable shell, he will face a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

“Since the night my home was invaded and family terrorized by a militarized D.C. police force, I am more afraid of what government is doing than I am of any of the people I encountered when I spent the night in jail,” Witaschek has said.

The jury trial will start of February 11. After the first of pre-trial hearing, Judge Robert Morin ruled that the warrantless search was disallowed; a box of rifle ammunition was removed from the charges.

After this hearing, the two assistant attorneys general for the District offered Witaschek probation if he pleaded guilty. Witaschek declined.

In the second hearing, prosecutors turned their attention to the items gathered from the second raid: a misfired shotgun shell, and a box of sabots (plastic bullet covers). Because there is no propellant on the sabot, it is unclear whether it can be categorized as ammunition, and thus, only registered gun owners can possess them.

The prosecution soon offered Witaschek a second deal in which, in return for pleading guilty to the lesser charge of “attempted possession of ammunition”, Witaschek would still be facing up to six months in jail. Again, Witaschek declined.

Witaschek has spoken out about the warrantless raid and the prosecution’s attempts to cover it up, saying, “I believe that some in the prosecution and police apparatus know what they did and are trying to continue this charade to cover their tracks.”

“If I am proven a ‘criminal,’ then their bad acts are covered. If not, they are liable,” he continued.

Without a weapon – and no weapon was discovered in his house – none of the ammunition could be used. Witaschek’s case is the first known case of a citizen being prosecuted in D.C. for inoperable ammunition.

Sources: Washington Times, policestateusa.com

Photo Source: Washington Times

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11TN Bill Would Criminalize Enforcement Of Federal Gun Control Laws

A Tennessee state senator has proposed legislation that would make enforcement of federal gun control measures in the state illegal. 

The bill, entitled S.B. 1607, was introduced by State Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), the woman who previously filed the Health Care Freedom and Affordable Care Act Noncompliance Act in an effort to make Obamacare laws illegal to enforce in her home state. 

The new bill simply states that federal laws regarding gun-control would not be followed in the state of Tennessee.

“Any federal enactment or federal enforcement action relating to firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition, is void in this state. Any federal enactment or federal enforcement action impacting or infringing upon the rights of individuals or entities relative to firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition, is void in this state,” read portions of the bill, according to Guns.com.

A similar bill was introduced in January of last year in Tennessee’s House of Representatives, as State Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) filed legislation that would arrest and prosecute any federal employee for enforcing federal gun control laws in Tennessee. According to WSMV, the bill failed to clear the House Civil Justice Committee. 

The fate of S.B. 1607 remains to be determined, although it’s unlikely that the U.S. federal government would comply with a state that enacted such a law. However, the recent marijuana legalization laws passed in Colorado and Washington signify a direct contradiction to longstanding federal criminal laws, and federal agents have thus far refrained from taking actions against the state. For gun owners in Tennessee wishing to avoid federal prosecution, Sen. Beavers' bill signifies a possible, yet unlikely sense of hope.

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11Florida Gun Owner Has Unpleasant Run-In With Maryland Police

A Florida licensed gun owner had an unpleasant run-in with a Maryland police officer while traveling through the state on a family vacation.

John Filippidis, a business owner and employer, is licensed to carry a concealed firearm. He and his family drove from Florida to New Jersey in December for Christmas and a wedding. Not looking for trouble, Filippidis decided to leave his palm-sized Kel-Tec .38 semiautomatic at home.

But that wasn’t enough. While passing Interstate 95, he and his wife, Kally, soon realized they were being followed by a Maryland police officer.

“Ten minutes he’s behind us,” FIlippidis told The Tampa Tribune. “We weren’t speeding. In fact, lots of other cars were whizzing past.”

The officer, from the Transportation Authority Police, asked Filippidis for his license and registration. Ten minutes later, he asked John to exit his vehicle.

He asked where Filippidis’ gun was, to which John replied was at his home in his safe.

The cop proceeded to ask Filippidis’ wife, Kally.

“Your husband owns a gun. Where is it?” the cop asked.

“I don’t know,” Kally said. “And that’s all I should have said.”

But in an attempt to be helpful she suggested the gun might have been in the glove compartment or in the console.

“I’m scared of it. I don’t want to have anything to do with it,” she recalls saying. “I might shoot right through my foot.”

The unidentified officer returned to John.

“You’re a liar. You’re lying to me. Your family says you have it. Where is the gun? Tell me where it is and we can resolve this right now,” the cop told him.

The search for the gun and interrogation continued for what seemed “forever,” Kally told The Tampa Tribune. At the end, the officer wrote out a warning to John.

“All that time, he’s humiliating me in front of my family, making me feel like a criminal,” John said. “I’ve never been to prison, never declared bankruptcy, I pay my taxes, support my 20 employees’ families; I’ve never been in any kind of trouble.”

Since the ordeal, John has received apologies from the officer’s captain as well as from a Maryland Transportation Authority Police internal affairs captain. Now John is considering canceling his license, but is hesitant.

“Things aren’t like they used to be. The break-ins, the burglaries, all the crime,” John said. “And I carry cash a lot of the time. I’m constantly going to the bank. I wanted to defend my family, my household and the ground I’m standing on. But I’m not looking for any trouble.”

It has not been known how the officer knew that Filippidis owns a gun. The MTAP is conducting an investigation, according to Joe For America.

Sources: The Tampa Tribune, Joe For America

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1176-Year-Old Burglary Victim Leon Winder Shoots Suspect Hiding in Closet

When police officers were unable to locate a suspected home intruder in Hampton, Va., homeowner Leon Winder decided to take matters into his own hands.

According to a report from Guns.com, 76-year-old Winder had phoned 911 around 2 a.m. Tuesday after he heard loud noises coming from inside his house. Police who arrived found a broken window at the back of the home, but they were reportedly unable to find anything missing or out of place.

After searching the man’s home inside and out, officers were unable to locate an intruder. According to The Virginia-Pilot, police officers left the home and continued the search outside around 2:40 a.m.

Winder, a former Army Airborne soldier, continued the search on his own.

After walking into the barbershop attached to his home, the elderly man noticed something out of place.

“I saw a coat on the floor and I looked to pick the coat up,” Winder told ABC affiliate WVEC. “I looked to my left to get the coat up and the guy was standing in the closet.”

Winder quickly fired two gunshots, hitting the intruder once in the arm.

“He didn’t say nothing,” said Winder. “I was firing on him he couldn’t say nothing.”

The suspect reportedly jumped through another window in an attempt to escape, but was met in the yard by two officers who had heard the gunshots moments earlier.

The intruder, later identified as 37-year-old John Buck Fields, was treated for a non-life threatening gunshot wound at a nearby hospital. According to Hampton Police, Fields faces a charge of burglary once he leaves the hospital.

Fields (pictured) is reportedly thought to be a homeless man.

Police add that Winder will not face any charges in the shooting.

Sources: Guns.comThe Virginia-PilotWVEC

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11Alaska Woman Bonnie Degenstein Kills Boyfriend While Drinking And 'Playing With Guns,' She Tells Police

In Alaska, a state with some of the most lenient gun laws in the nation, a 27-year-old woman is in custody this week after fatally shooting her 24-year-old boyfriend in the head while, she told police, drinking and “playing with guns.”

It seems that authorities in Anchorage now holding Bonnie Degenstein may not completely buy her story of a purely accidental shooting. They are currently holding her on $300,000 bail and charging her with second-degree murder.

Degenstein (pictured) called 911 at 10:16 on Friday night, to report that she had just shot Ryan Tamborrino, her boyfriend. Police showed up to find a dazed Degenstein sitting on a couch in an upstairs apartment in the midtown area of Alaska's largest city. Tamborrino was sitting on a different couch.

The man was slumped over and bleeding profusely from the forehead. He was breathing when police arrived. However, he died of the gunshot wound at a nearby hospital.

The arresting officers said that Degenstein had an alcohol smell about her, as well as blood on her pants and sandals. As they led her away, she said, “I can’t believe I did this.”

Police found two handguns in plain sight on a coffee table in front of the two couches. One gun was empty, but the other had a bullet in the magazine. Who owned the guns has not been determined, but a downstairs neighbor who knew both the accused woman and her deceased romantic partner said that she was not aware of Tamborrino owning any firearms.

Police also found two spent shell casings on the floor, as well as a mostly-consumed bottle of vodka and a shotglass that was partially filled, presumably with something alcoholic.

Jacinta Parham, the downstairs neighbor who said she had formerly been roommates with the deceased man told police that she had witnessed the couple arguing two days earlier, with Tamborrino demanding that Degenstein leave the apartment.

At the time, Parham said she gave Degenstein a ride home, during which the woman conveyed that she and Tamborrino were having relationship troubles because she had discovered that he was seeing other women.

The gun control advocacy group The Brady Project recently rated Alaska as having the nation’s second-most lenient gun laws. On a scale of 1-100, with 100 being most satisfactory to gun control advocates, Alaska received a score of zero.

SOURCES: Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch, Deseret News

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11Two Men Face Charges After AK-47 Fired Into the Air Hit Utility Lines, Cause Power Failure

Two men in Bridgewater, Maine, are facing criminal charges after gunshots fired into the air hit a utility line and caused the power to go out in several homes.

According to a report from the Bangor Daily News, the dispute began around 8 a.m. Monday when 59-year-old Christian Rotter (pictured) called police to report threats made by 33-year-old James Peaslee.

According to Chief Deputy Darrell Crandall of the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department, three deputy sheriffs were responding to the call when a neighbor called 911 to report gunshots heard in Rotter’s neighborhood on Boundary Line Road.

When deputy sheriffs arrived at the scene, they found damage to the utility line near Rotter’s home, and the power was out in an unknown number of homes. According to Crandall, police later found an AK-47 in Rotter’s home, which they determined was shot into the air during the dispute.

No one was injured in the incident.

Rotter reportedly faced a felony conviction for assault with a deadly weapon stemming from a 1991 charge in Rhode Island, so he was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, reckless conduct with a firearm and criminal mischief.

Peaslee was reportedly summoned for criminal mischief.

The cause for the feud between the men is still unclear, adds the Bangor Daily News. The investigation in this case is ongoing.

According to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, Maine state law allows “every citizen [the] right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.”

Additionally, no permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun.

“It is lawful to possess a machine gun that is legally registered and possessed in compliance with all federal laws and regulations,” the law adds.

Sources: Bangor Daily News, NRA-ILA

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11Witnesses Testify In Case of 10-Year-Old Accidentally Shot to Death

Ten-year-old Eric Klyaz died in June after he was accidentally shot while playing with a gun in his neighbor’s garage. The neighbor, Todd Francis, is now facing charges of accidental manslaughter; key witnesses spoke in Wednesday’s preliminary hearing.

Francis, accompanied by his wife and teenage son, listened to the testimony as he wiped tears from his eyes.

On the day of the accident, Klyaz was playing with Francis’ 9-year-old daughter in the garage of the defendants’ home in San Diego. The children discovered a firearm, and began to play with it. The gun fired, shooting a fatal bullet into Klyaz’s chest.

San Diego Police Officer Vito Messineo interviewed Francis’ daughter immediately after the incident, and testified about their conversation.

According to Messineo, he asked the girl what had happened. “She answered, ‘We were inside the garage playing, it was just us. There was a gun sitting on top of the couch and we were both touching it. Then it fired and it was pointing at Eric.’”

The officer also asked her who had been holding the gun. She responded, “Well, we were both holding it. I don’t really remember. It was just there and we both had it.”

Francis’s teenage son was watching the kids that day, as his parents were away from home. Francis insisted that the gun had not been loaded. “He said, ‘I just want to let you know that the gun was hidden and I know for sure it was not loaded. I guess I should’ve secured it better. If that kid dies, I don’t want to live anymore,’” testified Messineo.

Francis had reportedly hidden the gun case behind the water heater in the garage, and says he repeatedly told the children not to touch anything in there. He also claims that the ammunition was stored in a separate location.

Francis is an ex-employee of the TSA, and had recently lived in Las Vegas before moving back to San Diego. He is also the brother of Steve Francis, who once ran for mayor of San Diego.

Sources: NBC, CBS

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11Gun Ban for Domestic-Violence Offenders OK, Rules Court

A California man convicted of domestic violence lost his appeal, and will not be able to own a gun for the rest of his life. The 9th Circuit federal appeals court ruled on Monday that a ban on gun ownership for violent criminals is not a violation of the Second Amendment.

Daniel Chovan was convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in 1996. However, he omitted this information while applying to purchase a firearm in 2009, raising a red flag to the FBI.

After further investigation, FBI agents found Internet footage of Chovan shooting guns and conducting unauthorized “border patrols” along the Mexican border. They also learned that Chovan had threatened to hunt down and shoot his estranged wife if she broke up with him.

After searching his home and finding four guns and more than 500 rounds of ammo, authorities pressed charges on Chovan. Chovan fought back, saying that the federal law requiring a lifetime gun ban for domestic-violence misdemeanors is unconstitutional.

The panel of judges did not buy it. "The government has demonstrated that domestic violence misdemeanants are likely to commit acts of domestic violence again and that, if they do so with a gun, the risk of death to the victim is significantly increased," said Judge Harry Pregerson.

Originally, the law in question only applied to criminals found guilty of violent felonies. However, Congress altered the law in 1996 to include misdemeanor domestic violence charges, as these are the most common violent crimes that occur in victims’ homes.

Under California law, Chovan would have been eligible to own a gun ten years after his misdemeanor conviction. However, the federal law supercedes state law, so Chovan is still barred from owning a gun for the rest of his life.

Chovan has pled guilty to possessing illegal weapons, and was sentenced to probation.

Sources: Courthouse News, SF Gate

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