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A Pro-Gun House, Bulwark of Freedom

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Obama presidency hasn’t been easy for gun owners. During his first term, the president reversed Bush-era policy in order to participate in the profoundly anti-gun United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. His administration issued a policy requiring FFLs in the southwestern border states to register multiple sales of certain rifles. He nominated two U.S. Supreme Court justices who are hostile to the Second Amendment. And his Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) engaged in the notorious Operation “Fast and Furious” that supplied firearms to Mexican criminals, while his administration simultaneously blamed Americans for the proliferation of guns south of the border. 

If that weren’t bad enough, once elected to a second term, Obama lost all pretext of supporting our right to keep and bear arms and launched into a full scale effort to transform our nation’s gun laws. This effort seeks to ban popular semi-automatic firearms and their magazines; ban the private transfer of guns between lifelong friends and family members; and revive the Centers for Disease Control’s taxpayer-funded junk science anti-gun propaganda factory. Illustrating just how extreme his views really are, the president has repeatedly cited as models the confiscatory gun control policies of Australia and Great Britain when pushing for restrictions stateside.

Fortunately, since 2011, one thing has helped gun owners sleep easier at night.

For nearly four years, our rights have been protected by the very separation of powers envisioned in the Constitution, with a strong pro-gun majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. In recent years, the pro-gun House has exemplified Congress’ vital role as a check on the power of the executive branch.

The most obvious way in which the House pro-gun majority has respected the interests of gun owners, has been its continued rejection of legislation aimed at curtailing our rights. In the face of executive pressure and the politicization of high-profile tragedies, the House, led by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has refused to consider the opportunist attacks on freedom that gun control advocates have pushed time and again.

During the tumult that followed the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., legislation was proposed to bar the carrying of firearms within 1,000 feet of a member of Congress. Boehner and the House leadership were quick to make clear they did not support the bill.

Again, following the shooting by a deranged man in a theater in Aurora, Colo., as gun controllers called for new restrictions, Boehner was a voice of calm. In a press conference following the attack, as some members of the House were calling for restrictions, Boehner cited the president (who was then in the midst of a re-election battle) stating, “The president has made clear that he’s not going to use this horrific event to push for new gun laws. I agree.”

During the White House-led push for restrictions on private firearm transfers during the early months of 2013, the House stood as the ultimate backstop against this effort.

The defeat of this legislation in the U.S. Senate relied on several factors, including the hard work of the nra and the grassroots efforts of gun rights supporters who applied steady pressure on their senators to oppose the measure. But the House’s strong pro-gun credentials also played a role. Undoubtedly, some senators were reluctant to vote for a controversial piece of legislation that faced almost certain defeat in the House.

In recent years, the House has advanced several pro-gun appropriations provisions in its important role as the “power of the purse.” For instance, following the 2011 release of BATFE’s “Study on the Importability of Certain Shotguns,” which used the oft-abused “sporting purposes” test to propose banning the importation of various shotguns based on common design features, the House passed an appropriations provision barring implementation of the plan.

In addition to preventing anti-gun legislation from reaching the president’s desk and ensuring the passage of vital appropriations riders, pro-gun leadership on key House committees provides an essential check on unilateral executive actions, a favorite tactic of the Obama White House.

A significant example of the House functioning in this role has been the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s work. Under the leadership of Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the committee has taken the Obama administration to task for its handling of issues of importance to firearm owners, most notably by investigating Operation “Fast and Furious” and other batfe and Department of Justice (DOJ) missteps.

More recently, the Oversight Committee has investigated a series of widely publicized and controversial BATFE sting operations, some of which allegedly preyed on the developmentally disabled. Chairman Issa has also done important work to bring to light the abuses of Operation Choke Point, under which doj and other federal agencies have been intimidating banks into refusing or dropping business with legal but politically disfavored businesses. These businesses include makers and sellers of firearms and ammunition. Thanks in part to the committee’s diligent work, one of the agencies involved has revised its guidance to banks, and legislation has been introduced to curb these overreaches.  

In addition, the House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has stood strong in protecting our Second Amendment freedoms. As the committee responsible for the majority of legislation relating to our right to keep and bear arms, Chairman Goodlatte’s leadership has been of immense value to gun owners across the country.

The current gun-friendly House has been an invaluable ally to gun owners.

That is why it is vital that every gun owner and friend of freedom carefully check the nra candidate endorsements and head to the polls on November 4. Additionally, those who are prepared to go the extra mile for freedom should visit nraila.org or call nra-ila’s Grassroots Division at 800-392-vote (8683) for more information on how to volunteer to protect our rights.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.