On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives showed its strong support for the Second Amendment by sending H.R. 2578 -- the Fiscal Year Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (CJS) -- to the Senate with numerous pro-gun, pro-liberty provisions. While a number of these are listed in our accompanying press release, a few deserve special mention. All show Congress asserting its role as the peoples' representatives against a president and administrative state that has embarked on a lawless crusade to suppress the right to keep and bear arms.
Last year, the Obama Administration (well before it attempted to ban one of the most popular forms of AR-15 ammunition under its infamous "Framework" for "armor piercing ammunition)," issued a "special advisory" summarily prohibiting the importation of 5.45x39 7N6. The move against 7N6 was made without public input and without regard to whether the popular and affordable cartridge qualified for a "sporting purposes" exception under the federal "armor piercing ammunition" law. Rep. Paul Gossar (R.-Ariz.) championed an amendment to the CJS prohibiting the special advisory from being carried out, stating: "ATF reclassified 7N6 only after finding an extremely rare and obscure Polish-made pistol that could supposedly shoot the 7N6 cartridge. Banning 7N6 ammunition commonly used by sportsmen for target practice through a misguided advisory is another example of federal overreach by the ATF."
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) offered his own CJS amendment to prohibit the use of funds to treat ammunition as armor piercing for purposes of the Gun Control Act, except for ammunition designed and intended for use in a handgun. This would prohibit enactment of the BATFE "Framework," restore the original intent of the congressional restrictions on "armor piercing ammunition," and curb BATFE's discretion to arbitrarily reclassify ammunition for political reasons. Rep. Massie's amendment is a clear rebuke to administrative overreach.
Rep. Rob Carter (R-Tex.) also weighed in against BATFE's imperious tendencies with his CJS amendment to prohibit the use of funds to propose or to issue a rule that would change the chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) certification requirement for the making or transfer of an NFA firearm, including suppressors. This measure is in response to a BATFE rulemaking from 2013 known as "41P." As we reported at the time, the 41P rule would allow CLEOs to effectively veto NFA transfers for even the most law-abiding of citizens. In these CLEOs' jurisdictions, 41P would act as a de facto ban on the otherwise perfectly lawful transfer of NFA firearms.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) sponsored a CJS amendment that would correct a long-term injustice under which petitions for relief from firearm disabilities, authorized by Congress in the Gun Control Act, are not even being considered by the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the courts. In some cases, these disabilities affect people who were convicted of non-violent offenses, paid their debts to society, and went on to live productive, law-abiding lives. In others, they reach people who had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor to put their court cases behind them, only to discover years later that their convictions deprived them of their fundamental right to keep and bear arms. And in other cases, people become disabled after a suffering an episode of mental illness that required hospitalization at the time but from which they later fully recovered. Under Rep. Buck's amendment, all these people would again have a chance to make their case to DOJ and the courts as to why they can safely resume the exercise of their Second Amendment rights.
The CJS also contained other important amendments and provisions of interest to gun owners including:
- a prohibition on the use of funds for "Operation Choke Point," a program that deprives gun shops and other legitimate businesses with access to banking services;
- a prohibition on the use of funds to maintain any record or gun registry on multiple rifle or shotgun sales to law-abiding individuals; and
- a prohibition on the use of funds for collecting data regarding a person's race or ethnicity on a Form 4473 when purchasing a firearm.
We thank all of the House members who stood tall for the Second Amendment, and we call upon the Senate to ensure these beneficial provisions reach the president's desk.