Forget that it could ruin his presidential aspirations. Look beyond the possibility he could spend about a century in prison explaining to fellow inmates (with names like Mad Dog and Widowmaker) the intricacies of constitutional law and vetoes.
Those of you who wish ill upon Gov. Rick Perry (and shame on you for doing so) perhaps will find delight in the fact that his indictment already has hit him where it hurts. It’s right there in federal law, specifically the federal law known as 18 USC 922(n), and I quote:
“It shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person (1) is under indictment for, or has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.”
Thanks to last week’s indictment, your fun-with-guns governor is now in that category.
For those of you who’ve been sleeping since it happened Friday, Travis County grand jurors indicted Perry on charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. The first count carries a possible prison term of five to 99 years. The second, two to 10. I’m no expert on law or math, but I believe those potential sentences each exceed one year.
And there’s more. As an indictee, Perry’s state-issued Concealed Handgun License, assuming he still has one — his office didn’t know as of Tuesday afternoon — will be suspended until the case against him is decided. (Cue the cheering coyotes.)
The indictment’s impact on Perry’s gun rights was brought to my attention by a former Democratic state legislator who seemed happy to point it out.
“I’m surprised that you haven’t analyzed the most significant and immediate impact of the governor’s indictment,” ex-state Sen. Steve Carriker, D-Roby, told me in an email including the applicable federal law.
Carriker also was most helpful in providing the official federal “Firearms Transaction Record Part 1” form, which must be filled in by firearms purchasers. Question 11b asks “Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?” (An information is a formal accusation of a crime by a prosecutor.)
For Perry that’s now a big ol’ yes. And yes means no new guns or ammo.
Houston lawyer Edwin Walker, who represents gun owners, said the federal law is pretty clear. Perry, while under indictment, can’t buy guns or ammo from a licensed dealer or from an individual. And he can’t accept guns or ammo as gifts.
Someone who sold guns or ammo to the indicted governor (or offered same as a gift) would commit a crime only if he or she knew Perry is under indictment, according to Walker. You, as a follower of the news, know that Perry is under indictment, so please don’t sell or give him guns or ammo.
Walker also said the Department of Public Safety, when made aware of the indictment — Hey DPS, Perry’s been indicted — will notify the governor that his concealed handgun license has been suspended until the case is concluded. He’d lose the license permanently if convicted.
“It seems to me the Travis County DA would gleefully file that form requiring that his CHL be suspended,” Walker said, evidencing a keen understanding of Texas politics.
Bottom line, he said, is that Perry’s gun acquisition rights now are severely restricted. He can keep what he’s got, but he can’t get any more.
“As long as the indictment is pending he cannot acquire a firearm and he cannot carry a firearm pursuant to his CHL,” Walker said, adding that Perry still can carry rifles and other so-called long guns.
And, he noted, Perry can no longer carry a handgun while jogging on public property, as he was doing when he famously gunned down a menacing coyote in 2010.
He can, however, jog with a rifle, which could be bad news for any elephants he encounters on the trail.