On Wednesday, November 25, the President signed S. 1356, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 into law. Included in the bill were some very important pro-gun provisions that represent the culmination of long-term efforts by your NRA to advance Second Amendment rights at the federal level.
The first of these provisions clarifies an exception in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that pertains to ammunition. Although TSCA clearly exempts “cartridges” and “shells” from the Act’s jurisdiction, radical environmental groups like the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) have for years been trying to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate lead projectiles under the Act. Splitting the finest of legal hairs, CBD has tried to claim that the exception applies only to assembled cartridges, not to their individual components. CBD characterized the effort in a fundraising appeal to supporters as "a once-in-a-lifetime campaign … to ban all lead bullets everywhere in the United States."
Section 315 of the NDAA makes explicit the clear intent of the exception, which was to conclusively remove ammunition from the scope of the TSCA. Thus, the exception now includes not just shells and cartridges but “components of shot shells and cartridges.”
Section 526 responds to the ongoing issue of terrorist violence against America’s men and women in uniform on military installations. Ironically, individual service members are generally prohibited from carrying firearms for self-defense while on base, leading terrorists to view them as soft targets. This language would require the Secretary of Defense to “establish and implement a process by which the commanders of military installations … and such other defense facilities as the Secretary may prescribe” could “authorize a member of the Armed Forces who is assigned to duty at the installation … or facility to carry an appropriate firearm … if the commander determines that carrying such a firearm is necessary as a personal- or force-protection measure.”
Rounding out the list of pro-gun provisions is section 1087, which restores authorization to the Secretary of Defense to transfer to the Civilian Marksmanship Program surplus M1911 and M1911A1 .45 ACP pistols for sale to the public. The component of the CMP that dispenses the pistols would be required to obtain a federal firearms license and abide by all requirements of the Gun Control Act pertaining to licensed sales and transfers. Currently, the military has some 100,000 such pistols that it no longer needs and that are being stored as taxpayer expense. These historically-significant firearms can now be transferred to law-abiding owners at a net gain to the government’s heavily-indebted balance sheet.
The NRA thanks those pro-gun members of Congress who sponsored and voted for these provisions. They are a win for America’s law-abiding gun owners and for the nation’s gun-owning heritage.