The House Divided

Time for a Reality Check for Pelosi’s Democrats
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February’s passage of two House gun control bills aimed at expanding background checks and extending waiting periods was hailed by the gun prohibition lobby as a victory. It was also sold to the American public as another step in preventing so-called “gun violence.”

Neither of those things is true and they know it. American gun owners now have an opportunity to stop the anti-Second Amendment crowd, consisting of House and Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans. All it takes is phone calls, letters and emails — more about that in a minute!

Almost immediately following the November 2018 election in which Democrats regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi declared gun control would be a priority. The announcement was cheered by the Democratic Party base and passage of H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 essentially fulfilled the promise

Florida Rep. Martha Roby

Sure, there was resistance from House Republicans. Perhaps the most energetic of those is Alabama’s Martha Roby, who wrote an op-ed saying, among other things:

“Any time Congress discusses placing restrictions on an enumerated constitutional right, it is our responsibility to very carefully weigh the many competing interests, which is ultimately why I recently voted against H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, during its consideration in the House Judiciary Committee. This is a poorly drafted and ill-considered bill that would punish lawful gun owners without doing anything to prevent gun violence.”

A House colleague, Oklahoma’s Markwayne Mullin, wrote in Fox News: “Stricter gun laws do not always equate to safer cities. Look to Chicago, where Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. The state earned a B+ rating from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Illinois ranks 8th in the nation for gun law strength.”

A few paragraphs later, Mullin added, “House Democrats will continue to carry on about how their bill will ‘prevent’ future gun violence. But H.R. 8 will not prevent gun violence at the hands of criminals. Current law already requires a background check on every commercial gun purchase in America. But that doesn’t fit House Democrats’ narrative.

So instead of working across the aisle to put forward legislation that will get to the root of the real problem … Democrats want to go after our constitutional right to bear arms. House Democrats bring before us H.R. 8 — misguided and careless legislation that turns lawful American citizens into criminals.”

Creating A New Criminal Class

Before going further, let’s review. H.R. 8 is the “universal background check” legislation requiring background checks on nearly every firearm transfer. Loan a gun to a friend, go through a background check first. To get it back, go through another background check. This is essentially the core of anti-gun Initiative 594, passed in 2014 in Washington State. So far, no one can verify it has prevented a single violent crime.

H.R. 1112 is a waiting period bill disguised as an “enhanced background check” measure stretching the NICS check review period from the current three days to 10 days. But wait! If the check still doesn’t clear within this time frame, an additional 10 days can be added, stretching the waiting period to 20 days. If the check still isn’t “resolved” within this time frame, the transaction is supposed to be allowed.

Wait, There’s More!

Another nasty bit of legislation, H.R. 1263, which is aimed at amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, would include semiautomatic rifles and shotguns using detachable magazines under the regulatory authority of the National Firearms Act.

Sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), this is what the bill says in part:

“Any person who, on the date of the enactment of this Act, lawfully owns or possesses a semiautomatic rifle or shotgun (as defined in section 5845(a) of such Code, as amended by this Act) that has the capacity to accept a detachable ammunition feeding device (as defined in such section) shall, not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, register the semiautomatic rifle or shotgun in accordance with section 5841 of such Code. Such registration shall become a part of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record required to be maintained by such section. The prohibition on possession of an unregistered firearm under section 5861 of such Code shall not apply to possession of such a semiautomatic rifle or shotgun that has the capacity to accept such a detachable ammunition feeding device on any date that is 120 days or less after the enactment of this Act.”

You shall register — within 120 days of the Act’s effective date!

Leading the Opposition

Naturally, gun rights leaders had unflattering comments after House passage of the gun control measures, H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112.

Chris Cox, Executive Director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) observed H.R. 8 was an “extreme gun control bill” which would make criminals out of law-abiding citizens. Cox had this to say:

“It will also make it harder for good people to defend themselves and their families. Criminals, on the other hand, will continue to get their firearms the way they always have — through the black market, theft and straw purchases. Forcing more government paperwork and additional fees on good people trying to exercise a constitutional right will do nothing to make Americans safer.”

He was joined in his criticism by Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, who said the legislation erodes the rights of honest citizens without preventing so-called “gun violence.”

“It’s all flash and no substance,” Gottlieb asserted. “It seems more designed to discourage honest citizens from exercising their rights than preventing a single crime.”

But then Gottlieb said something else, providing activists with a lesson in the process. If you’re going to oppose something, offer something else as an alternate solution:

“What the House should be doing, if they really care about fighting crime, is passing National Concealed Carry Reciprocity legislation. That legislation would empower law-abiding citizens with the means to defend themselves and their families from dangerous criminals, no matter where they travel across this great country.”

Now there’s an interesting suggestion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a chance to make it happen during the last Congress but the legislation passing the House was not acted upon even though it had a good chance of passing and being sent to President Donald Trump for signature.

NRA ILA Executive Director Chris Cox

What You Can Do

Aside from joining and financially supporting groups such as NRA, CCRKBA and Gun Owners of America, grassroots activists can turn their angst about gun control into energy and action.

Keep pressure on the GOP-controlled Senate to stop any gun control measure launched by a House vote. There are a couple of ways to do this.

You can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. From there, a switchboard operator can connect you directly with the offices of your two U.S. Senators. Be brief, get right to the point by identifying your concern (for example, “Hello, I’m Robert Jones from [your town, your state] and I am calling to urge Senator So-and-So to oppose H.R. 8, H.R. 1112 and any other gun control measure. I sincerely believe this/these bills violate the Constitution. As an alternative, I would like to see him/her sponsor or co-sponsor national concealed carry reciprocity legislation, for example, because I and my family and friends believe this would really improve public safety.” Above all, be polite.

Send an email. According to advice found at the following link: www.senate.gov/general/contacting.htm, “Some senators have e-mail addresses while others post comment forms on their websites. When sending an e-mail to your senator, please include your return postal mailing address. Please be aware as a matter of professional courtesy, many senators will acknowledge, but not respond to, a message from another senator’s constituent. If you “snail mail” a letter, address it to: Office of Senator --------, United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510.

Don’t think for a second the Republican Senate will automatically nix any gun control legislation passed by the House. Politics is not a perfect process; it’s a contact sport, not a spectator sport. Where guns are concerned, emotions run high.

Gun owners must defend their own interests and we just offered some advice on how. Stop expecting some major national group to do it for you. You’re in the game and the other side is playing to win.

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