Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Texas Senators Guns And Taxes

Two of the many major issues important to constitutional conservative and libertarian citizens are Second Amendment protections and reforming the federal tax code.

With the 2014 election cycle upon us, politicians at the state and local levels are jockeying for support and taking up some of these "hot-button" issues. Senator John Cornyn is one of those facing re-election. He is also facing a primary against US Rep. Steve Stockman, considered to be a TEA Party favorite.

Cornyn received the NRA's endorsement. Meanwhile, Stockman has garnered GOA's endorsement. Both the NRA and GOA are strong pro-2nd Amendment organizations. 

Cornyn has sponsored a bill in the US Senate entitled "The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2014". Some claim this is just a means of retaining support, considering Cornyn was once considered "the 2nd most conservative member of the US Senate".

However, Cornyn introduced similar legislation in 2013 in the form of an amendment. This time around, he is hoping for more support. The bill, S. 1908, already has 16 co-sponsors and promises conservative, Republican, and possibly "blue-dog" Democrat support.

Here is a list of the bill's co-sponsors and the dates they added their names to the roster:

Sen Blunt, Roy [MO] - 1/13/2014
Sen Boozman, John [AR] - 1/9/2014
Sen Burr, Richard [NC] - 1/9/2014
Sen Cochran, Thad [MS] - 1/9/2014
Sen Crapo, Mike [ID] - 1/9/2014
Sen Enzi, Michael B. [WY] - 1/9/2014
Sen Graham, Lindsey [SC] - 1/9/2014
Sen Inhofe, James M. [OK] - 1/9/2014
Sen Johanns, Mike [NE] - 1/9/2014
Sen Moran, Jerry [KS] - 1/13/2014
Sen Portman, Rob [OH] - 1/9/2014
Sen Roberts, Pat [KS] - 1/9/2014
Sen Thune, John [SD] - 1/9/2014
Sen Toomey, Pat [PA] - 1/13/2014
Sen Vitter, David [LA] - 1/9/2014
Sen Wicker, Roger F. [MS] - 1/13/2014

Here is the bill's text:

A BILL
To allow reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms.
    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2014'.

SEC. 2. RECIPROCITY FOR THE CARRYING OF CERTAIN CONCEALED FIREARMS.

    (a) In General- Chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 926C the following:

`Sec. 926D. Reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms

    `(a) In General- Notwithstanding any provision of the law of any State or political subdivision thereof to the contrary--
      `(1) an individual who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm, and who is carrying a government-issued photographic identification document and a valid license or permit which is issued pursuant to the law of a State and which permits the individual to carry a concealed firearm, may possess or carry a concealed handgun (other than a machinegun or destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce in any State other than the State of residence of the individual that--
        `(A) has a statute that allows residents of the State to obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms; or
        `(B) does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms by residents of the State for lawful purposes; and
      `(2) an individual who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm, and who is carrying a government-issued photographic identification document and is entitled and not prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm in the State in which the individual resides otherwise than as described in paragraph (1), may possess or carry a concealed handgun (other than a machinegun or destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce in any State other than the State of residence of the individual that--
        `(A) has a statute that allows residents of the State to obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms; or
        `(B) does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms by residents of the State for lawful purposes.
    `(b) Conditions and Limitations- The possession or carrying of a concealed handgun in a State under this section shall be subject to the same conditions and limitations, except as to eligibility to possess or carry, imposed by or under Federal or State law or the law of a political subdivision of a State, that apply to the possession or carrying of a concealed handgun by residents of the State or political subdivision who are licensed by the State or political subdivision to do so, or not prohibited by the State from doing so.
    `(c) Unrestricted License or Permit- In a State that allows the issuing authority for licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms to impose restrictions on the carrying of firearms by individual holders of such licenses or permits, an individual carrying a concealed handgun under this section shall be permitted to carry a concealed handgun according to the same terms authorized by an unrestricted license of or permit issued to a resident of the State.
    `(d) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt any provision of State law with respect to the issuance of licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms.'.
    (b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections for chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 926C the following:
      `926D. Reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms.'.
    (c) Severability- Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, if any provision of this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, or the application of such provision or amendment to any person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, this Act and amendments made by this Act and the application of such provision or amendment to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
    (d) Effective Date- The amendments made by this Act shall take effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
A layperson's summary translation of this bill is simple. The bill, if passed, will make it so a CHL/CCP holder in one state can carry concealed in any other state that issues CHL/CCPs as long as that person abides by the visiting state's laws and regulations regarding concealed carry. The law will not apply to open carry laws, per se. It also does not force any state that does not issue CHL/CCPs to acknowledge a permit from an issuing state. It is basically a step towards making CHL/CCP reciprocity similar to Drivers License reciprocity.

One key problem is that there are no constitutional protections or guarantees for drivers licenses. There is a constitutional protection of the right to own and carry (keep and bear) firearms to protect self, property, neighbor against crime, violence, theft, and tyranny.

Another problem with the bill, given the current administration's stance on gun control including increased executive regulations aimed at increasing infringements on Second Amendment protections, is that the bill will most likely not garner the 60 votes needed to pass over a presidential veto. Harry Reid alleged himself a pro-gun "blue dog" at one time. However, he will likely attempt to block the bill from consideration on the Senate floor.

That begs the question if this bill is a campaign stunt or a stand on principle. What brings that question even more to the forefront are rumors that Cornyn has made statements opposing the open carrying of weapons. Many second amendment advocates claim that open carrying is protected by the US Constitution and not subject to licensing the way concealed carrying is.


What About Taxes? 


Senator Ted Cruz took office in Jan. '13. He isn't up for re-election until Nov. 2018.

One of Cruz's earliest actions as a US Senator was to place his name as a co-sponsor to the Fair Tax Act of 2013. S.122 is still on the rolls for the 113th Congress.

It's a law of economics that is easy to understand. Art Laffer proposed it and Ronald Reagan supported it. A country's revenue is healthiest at that point where the tax base is at its widest yet low enough to not impede or remove incentives to produce. In other words, it's better to tax more people a little bit than to tax just the wealthiest a lot.

That is part of the premise behind The Fair Tax. Tax reform advocates tend to fall into three major categories. Some back a universal flat tax on all income. Others back a consumption, sales, or VAT style tax such as the Fair Tax. The third group considers a blending such as the 9-9-9 plan proposed by former presidential candidate Herman Cain.

9-9-9 combines a 9% consumption tax, a 9% capital gains tax, and a 9% flat income tax.

Advocates for a more progressive tax system do not like any of the above. They least favor the flat tax, claiming it is regressive and proposes a greater proportionate burden upon lower-income earners.

They claim similar with the 9-9-9 plan, however the 9% capital gains does present a more "progressive" tax on the more affluent.

Then there is The Fair Tax. Former lawyer and retired radio personality Neal Boortz co-authored two comprehensive books on The Fair Tax. Put simply, it is a tax on the purchases of new goods and services, like a sales tax. The more new stuff you buy, the more taxes you pay. If you save or invest, you don't pay as much taxes, for now.

Here is Senator Ted Cruz in his own words, from a letter, on the current tax code:

The U.S. tax code is far too complex. Americans spend more than six billion man hours and more than $430 billion each year just to comply. The system penalizes work, savings, and investment through multiple layers of taxation, high marginal rates, and distorted tax preferences.
Our tax code should not choose favorites, and it should not give the Internal Revenue Service the power to do so either. The recently uncovered IRS scandal, in which revenue collectors targeted individuals and entities based on their political beliefs, reminds us how imperative it is to limit these authorities.
To this end, I have joined eight other senators in cosponsoring S.122, the Fair Tax Act of 2013. We need a tax code that encourages economic growth and ensures fairness across the board. I will support this and other reform measures that pave a path to abolishing the IRS and fundamentally reforming the U.S. tax system. The code should be simple enough for Americans to understand and impossible for special interests to exploit.
For Liberty,
Signature

And here is a link to the text of the Fair Tax Bill of 2013. Please read through it as well as both of the books scribed by Neal Boortz in order to garner a better understanding of the legislation and the plan.
Given the necessity to repeal the 16th Amendment, this bill faces a hard fight. The Fair Tax has been proposed several times to the US Congress but has yet to see even an hour of serious debate or consideration on the US Senate or US House floors. Co-sponsoring this act is not an empty political stunt, but an obvious stance on principles, something Texans respect deeply.