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It’s Never Enough: Gun Control Advocates Won’t Ever Be Satisfied With Marginal Changes to Our Gun Laws

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

It’s Never Enough: Gun Control Advocates Won’t Ever Be Satisfied With Marginal Changes to Our Gun Laws

When seeking to pass whatever the anti-gun flavor of the month is when it comes to gun legislation, anti-gun advocates often claim to be seeking only “reasonable” solutions. They often claim that if just one more marginal restriction on our rights is enacted, then we will be “safer.”  

Nowhere was this more evident than earlier this year when anti-gun advocates and members of Congress worked to pass two anti-gun bills through the House of Representatives. That fight involved what gun control supporters frequently claim is the most “reasonable” of all gun control laws, H.R. 8, the so-called “universal” background check bill.

However, as we pointed out at the time, there was nothing reasonable about a bill that would turn law-abiding gun owners into criminals for harmless conduct while doing nothing to stop the violent criminals who are actually responsible for the crimes often used to justify such laws.

If H.R. 8 were to become law, it would make the simple act of handing a firearm to another person a federal crime. There are exceptions, but they are so narrowly written that common and well-intentioned firearms transfers would still be crimes under the bill. Letting a friend borrow a rifle to go hunting: federal crime. Giving a gun to a female neighbor who is a stalking victim: federal crime. Selling a firearm to your own brother: federal crime.

There’s nothing reasonable about turning the gun owners in any of these examples into criminals, but even worse, anti-gun researchers have already found that expanded background checks are ineffective.

In 2018, researchers at U.C. Davis, who are subsidized by California taxpayers to study gun control, and at Michael Bloomberg’s own school at Johns Hopkins found that California’s expanded background check law didn’t reduce firearm homicides or suicides. That finding was consistent with a review of past studies on expanded background checks by the RAND Corporation that found that “evidence of the effect of private-seller background checks on firearm homicides is inconclusive.”

Faced with this evidence, the gun control lobby’s own witness testifying on H.R. 8 admitted that expanding background checks was not really the ultimate goal of those supporting the law. During testimony, Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Giffords Law Center, stated “H.R. 8 is absolutely the right first step . . . I think once H.R. 8 is passed there is a number of steps that this Congress can take to adequately address and reduce gun violence in America.”

It didn’t take long to see what those other “steps” would be. Only one day after an anti-gun majority in the House of Representatives passed H.R.8, they took up and passed H.R. 1112. That bill would flip the American concept of “innocent until proven guilty” on its head, at least when it comes to law-abiding Americans exercising their Second Amendment right to acquire a firearm.

H.R. 1112 would eliminate a provision in current law that gives an option to federally licensed gun dealers to proceed with a sale if the FBI does not respond to a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) request within three days. Under current law, the onus is on the FBI to show that a person is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm before they deny a NICS check. This bill would grant the FBI blanket authority to indefinitely delay lawful firearm transfers. An indefinite delay on the purchase of a firearm by someone who is not actually prohibited from purchasing a firearm is not “reasonable.”

But anti-gun lawmakers in Congress have not stopped with just these “reasonable” proposals.

In September, the House Judiciary Committee again moved gun legislation that proponents describe as “reasonable.” The Democrat-controlled committee took up H.R. 1236, the federal version of extreme risk protection orders, or “red flag” laws.

This legislation would establish a federal grant system to promote these laws at the state level and create a system where these orders would be available in federal court. The problem with this concept, however, is similar to the problem with H.R. 1112; flipping the “innocent until proven guilty” standard to “guilty until proven innocent.”

At the state level, these laws frequently allow the confiscation of firearms before the gun owner has ever had a chance to tell their side of the story. With only one side of the story and a person’s liberty on the line, these laws are a perfect storm for abuse.

A former roommate with an axe to grind could petition to have one’s right to keep and bear arms suspended. And in many cases, this will happen at an ex parte hearing, where a gun owner has no opportunity to participate.

And, this was still only the beginning of the “reasonable solutions” pushed by the anti-gun leadership in the House of Representatives.

At the same hearing where H.R. 1236 was advanced, the House Judiciary Committee took up H.R. 1186, which would ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. As NRA members are well aware, the idea of setting arbitrarily-determined limits on ammunition capacity for firearms has been promoted for decades.

Pro-gun members of the committee tried to point out that this kind of experiment in gun control was already tried with the federal magazine ban that was in effect from 1994-2004, and the government-mandated review of the law found no drop in violent crime attributable to the ban.

Undeterred, the anti-gun members of the committee passed the bill. In doing so, they made clear the contempt they have for our right to self-defense. As you know, magazines holding more than 10 rounds are used in the vast majority of firearms that law-abiding Americans keep and bear to protect themselves and their families.  

Just two weeks later, the House Judiciary Committee chaired by anti-gun Democrat Jerry Nadler (N.Y.) was at it again.

This time, the gun control extremists on the committee were after America’s most popular rifle, the AR-15. And, just as we have seen with previous hearings in the House on firearms, anti-gun Democrats ignored reason, facts, and any semblance of respect for the rights of law-abiding gun owners to push through another anti-gun bill.

This one, H.R. 1296, a reimagining of the failed federal “assault weapons” ban of 1994-2004. Yet again, proponents of the ban ignored the study that exposed that ban’s failure. This time they also ignored the testimony from retired law-enforcement officer Dianna Muller who was active before, during, and after the ’94 ban. Muller explained that in her experience the ban had no impact on violent crime.

What these hearings and these numerous bills show is that anti-gun lawmakers and advocates are not, as they claim, merely promoting “reasonable” gun laws. What they are actually promoting is a death-by-a-thousand-cuts strategy.

Or you could call it incrementalism. Whatever label you attach to their strategy, the fact is that the anti-gun movement is clearly looking to inundate law-abiding American gun owners with as many restrictions as they can. And, if they can pass what they have proposed thus far, they have already admitted the desire for even more.

The hearings in the House this year have even further confirmed this.

During the hearings on H.R. 1236 and 1186, Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal (D) referred to a “tapestry of laws” her party will try to pass. One can only imagine how many more bills she and other anti-gun members of Congress intend to force through their chamber to complete this “tapestry.”

Whatever is included, we know that confiscation of the over 400 million firearms in America is the ultimate goal.

While proponents of gun control have generally avoided publicly voicing support for gun confiscation, failed presidential candidate Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) made it a key part of his platform last year.

And, he wasn’t alone.

Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke famously pledged during a recent presidential debate, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47!” And while he may very well have dropped his presidential bid by the time you read this, other candidates continue to advance the confiscation strategy.

Even some politicians who are not as open, or perhaps honest, as O’Rourke about their ultimate goal of confiscation, often give away their less-discussed agenda when fantasizing about enacting Australia or New Zealand-style gun control in America. As we’ve pointed out numerous times in the past, when a politician says they support the gun laws England, Australia, New Zealand; they’re supporting the forced confiscation of lawfully acquired firearms.

Fortunately, adoption of these extreme gun control policies isn’t inevitable. In only one year, Americans will once again have an opportunity to decide the direction of our country. Before that happens, I ask you to join me in the fight to preserve our freedoms. NRA’s network of grassroots volunteers can use your help to ensure that we elect candidates who respect the Second Amendment next November. Please go to www.nraila.org/grassroots/volunteer to sign up to help. As long as we work together, NRA members and like-minded, freedom loving Americans will continue to be an unstoppable political force for the protection of our right to keep and bear arms for generations to come.

Jason Ouimet
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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.