L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 128, July 2, 2001
Send to TLE@johntaylor.org
IT'S A GOOD FIRST STEP -- TRUST ME
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said on Sunday he was open to a "reasonable" increase in the gasoline mileage of cars and light trucks required by the federal government.
"I'm open to reasonable increases that hopefully won't have too much of an adverse effect on the working family," said Lott, a Mississippi Republican, on NBC's "Meet the Press," saying he wanted to "take a look" at the issue.
As part of its new national energy plan, the Bush administration is waiting for next month's release of a study by the National Academy of Sciences before deciding whether to raise the fuel standards set by Congress in 1975 after the Arab oil embargo.
The current standards require passenger cars to get an average 27.5 miles per gallon and light trucks 20.7 miles. Light trucks were given lower standard because at the time they were used mostly by farmers and businesses.
But today the category includes gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles (SUVs), pickups and minivans that account for about half the vehicles sold in the United States.
"The American people with large families are opting for these SUVs or vans," Lott said. "I think that we should encourage conservation and perhaps that percentage per mile per gallon can be raised without, you know, difficulty for the working family in America."
Some proposals call for an increase in the light truck category to the same standard as passenger cars, 27.5 miles per gallon.
"But I want to make sure that we can achieve it in a reasonable way. Some people have said that it should go first to maybe a step, 23 or 24 miles per gallon," Lott said
Lott Open to Increase in Gas Mileage Standards
DON'T WORRY, IT'S NOT REALLY A "LOSS" -- TRUST ME
WASHINGTON (AP) - The National Rifle Association lost a Supreme Court appeal Monday over whether the government can retain information about gun buyers under the landmark Brady gun control law.
The court, without comment, turned aside the NRA's challenge to the way the FBI handles information gathered from on-the-spot background checks in gun stores.
The NRA claimed the FBI's practice of keeping identities of legal gun buyers on file for several months is illegal under the 1993 Brady Act itself, and is akin to compiling a national registry of gun owners.
"The Brady Act was a historic compromise [note that this is what you get when you "compromise" your rights -- ed.] in which firearm purchasers submit to background checks in exchange for the assurance that, once cleared as law-abiding, the government will not compile any record of their identities," lawyers for the NRA wrote.
So-called instant checks replaced five-day waiting periods under the Brady Act in 1998. The phone checks are performed through the FBI, while the would-be gun buyer waits.
In planning for the change to instant checks, the Justice Department, under then-Attorney General Janet Reno, decided the FBI would keep the records for up to six months. Keeping the information would help the FBI debug the system and audit its performance, according to the administrative rule the Justice Department issued.
Keeping the log would also protect privacy by helping catch dealers or others who might run unauthorized background checks on people who were not trying to buy a gun, the department said.
The FBI eventually cut the length of time it would hang on to records to three months, but the NRA said any record retention should be banned.
The NRA sued Reno in federal court on the day the instant checks took effect. The court dismissed the NRA's claim, and a federal appeals court agreed last year.
Two of the three judges on the appeals panel found "nothing in the Brady Act that unambiguously prohibits temporary retention of information about lawful transactions." The dissenting judge called the FBI records retention "an unauthorized power grab" by the Justice Department.
The NRA then appealed to the Supreme Court, setting up a common question for the justices: How does a law passed by Congress square with government regulations imposed later on?
The Justice Department urged the high court to let the lower ruling stand. The appeals court correctly found that the FBI's buyer log was a temporary list and was not intended to track gun buyers, the department's lawyers argued.
The case is NRA v. Ashcroft, 00-1332.
Monday June 25 11:19 AM ET