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What Happens if our Opponents Take the U.S. House?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

What Happens if our Opponents Take the U.S. House?

There is no question that our liberties are at stake on November 6th.

The Democrat leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has become completely radicalized when it comes to the Second Amendment. Our constitutional freedoms are standing in the way of the extreme big government control that these anti-gun politicians want to impose.

Add that to the unbridled hatred that many on the left have for President Donald Trump, and it could not be clearer for NRA members and gun owners that we have to do everything we can to protect our pro-gun majority in Congress.

The threat is stark. Current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is an outspoken opponent of the Second Amendment. If Democrats take control of the House, Pelosi would return as Speaker. Her key lieutenants, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.), stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her in their support of gun control.  

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But, even this rabid devotion to restricting our rights isn’t enough for the party’s most extreme voters. In June, Democratic Caucus Chair Joseph Crowley from New York City proved not to be radical enough for Big Apple Democrats. Instead, they chose to replace him with self-described socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It would not be surprising to see the House Democrat leadership move even further leftward if they can take control of the House.

This will affect the leadership of key committees as well, which are responsible for drafting legislation that moves through the House.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, arguably the most important committee for gun legislation, would most likely be assumed by Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). Nadler has been an outspoken opponent of Second Amendment rights for decades. Many gun owners will remember the numerous attacks he made on law-abiding concealed carriers last year when he attempted to block passage of the NRA-supported concealed carry reciprocity bill. You can bet he will work in lock step with Nancy Pelosi to restrict our freedoms.

Another key committee for gun owners and hunters is Natural Resources. Currently, the Chairman is Rob Bishop (R-Utah.). Rep. Bishop is one the strongest supporters of the Second Amendment and our hunting heritage, and has sponsored key legislation to reform the broken and unconstitutional “sporting purpose” standard that has long been manipulated to restrict gun rights. If Republicans lose the majority, the Committee Chairman would likely become Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

In attacking a provision to reduce regulatory burdens on the acquisition of firearm suppressors last year, Grijalva claimed that “The hunters I know don’t use . . . silencers.” Rep. Grijalva is clearly out-of-touch with today’s hunters and his own constituents. Arizonans have enjoyed the right to use firearm suppressors for hunting since 2012.

And those are just a couple of examples. The House Appropriations Committee, which has long supported a series of pro-gun provisions on spending bills that help protect our rights, would without question by chaired by someone hostile to our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  Those legislators opposed to our freedoms are only limited by their imaginations when it comes to drawing up attacks on the Second Amendment. Don’t be surprised, should Congress fall under their control, by any proposal designed to attack our Second Amendment freedoms.

Of course, if the pro-gun majority goes away, we won’t just see dramatic changes in the leadership of key committees. We will also see an end to any hope of advancing our Second Amendment rights. And, of course, the floodgates will open to anti-gun legislation in virtually every form imaginable.

A Congress lead by anti-gun extremists means legislation like H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, will never see the light of day. This bill seeks to greatly improve self-defense protections by allowing law-abiding Americans who are eligible to carry a concealed handgun under the law of a state to do so in every other state that allows concealed carry. While it passed the House with bipartisan support last year, future efforts to pass National Right to Carry Reciprocity, NRA’s top legislative priority at the federal level, will disappear.

With an anti-gun House of Representatives, we can expect to see a torrent of anti-gun legislation passed and sent to the Senate.

We have already seen numerous attacks on our freedom with gun ban extremists in the minority. If they achieve majority status, they will only be emboldened to ratchet up their extremism.

Legislation to ban the most popular semi-automatic rifles will undoubtedly happen. Banning the future manufacture of such firearms will of course be proposed, but don’t be surprised to also see a ban on the possession of currently owned firearms. Anti-gun Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) famously said at the time that if she could have required gun owners to turn in the firearms affected by her 1994 ban, she would have. She’s not alone in that desire.

A ban on semi-automatic firearms will most assuredly be tied to a ban on so-called “large capacity” magazines. We’ve already seen H.R. 4052 introduced by Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), which would treat the same magazines most law-abiding citizens have in their pistols as contraband, subjecting their possessors to a possible 10-year stint in federal prison.

In addition, restrictions and regulations on firearm transfers have been proposed during this Congress. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) introduced a bill that would impose a three-day waiting period on the sale or “borrowing” of a handgun, including between private parties (H.R. 4018). The fact that waiting periods are no more than an arbitrary impediment to exercising the right to purchase a firearm is irrelevant to the champions of gun control.

One proposed bill would make firearm purchases by non-prohibited individuals subject to the discretion of the U.S. Attorney General (H.R. 4057), while others would deny the transfer of firearms to individuals based on incomplete evidence, such as arrests without final dispositions (S. 1923 and H.R. 3464). These bills show contempt not just for the Second Amendment but also for basic notions of fairness and due process.

Another pernicious legislative effort that could do irreparable harm to lawful gun owners, and especially future lawful gun owners, is H.R. 3984, which would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). The PLCAA was a reaction to a coordinated series of lawsuits designed to litigate the firearms industry into oblivion by holding law-abiding gun manufacturers and dealers responsible for the criminal acts of third parties.

Without the PLCAA, the very existence of the domestic firearms industry would be jeopardized, which is why we can expect gun banners to try to ram such a proposal through Congress should they seize control this November.

These anti-gun proposals are just the tip of the iceberg. Those legislators opposed to our freedoms are only limited by their imaginations when it comes to drawing up attacks on the Second Amendment. Don’t be surprised, should Congress fall under their control, by any proposal designed to attack our Second Amendment freedoms.

These are the reasons that gun owners must go above and beyond this year. Make sure you vote for pro-gun candidates; encourage friends and family members to do the same; volunteer for local campaigns that involve pro-gun candidates; and become an NRA-ILA Frontlines volunteer to help defend the Second Amendment. The only way we can win in November is by working together to keep Congress under pro-gun leadership.

Chris W. Cox

BY Chris W. Cox

Former NRA-ILA Executive Director

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Chris W. Cox served as the executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of NRA, until 2019. As NRA’s principal political strategist, Cox oversaw eight NRA-ILA divisions: Federal Affairs; State & Local Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research & Information; Conservation, Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox also serves as chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the Association’s political action committee; president of the NRA Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF), which focuses on non-partisan voter registration and citizen education; and chairman of NRA Country, an effort to bring country music artists together with NRA members in support of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage.

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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.