How a Demo­cratic House will af­fect gun rights

Democrats are most likely to pass gun-con­trol bills that can be used as talk­ing points in 2020

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Frank Miniter

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, likely to again be the House ma­jor­ity leader, has said she will push new gun-con­trol laws as soon as the Democrats get the gavel back in Jan­uary. So how will a Demo­crat-con­trolled House af­fect your Se­cond Amend­ment-pro­tected free­dom? Re­pub­li­cans do still hold the Se­nate by a slim mar­gin and Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump could veto leg­is­la­tion, so gun-con­trol bills passed by the House aren’t likely to be­come law. In­stead, they are more likely to be passed to cre­ate po­lit­i­cal talk­ing points in 2020.

“Ex­pect hear­ings on tax­payer-funded gun vi­o­lence re­search, mag­a­zine re­stric­tions, am­mu­ni­tion bans, age­based gun bans and at­tempts to out­right ban en­tire classes of firearms,” says Larry Keane, se­nior vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral coun­sel for the Na­tional Shoot­ing Sports Foun­da­tion (NSSF), the trade as­so­ci­a­tion for firearms man­u­fac­tur­ers (full dis­clo­sure: I’ve done some con­tract work for the NSSF).

“Vir­ginia Demo­cratic Con­gress­woman-elect Jen­nifer Wex­ton de­feated Rep. Bar­bara Com­stock on a plat­form that in­cluded ban­ning AR-15 mod­ern sport­ing ri­fles and stan­dard ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines. She’s just one of sev­eral newly elected mem­bers of Congress who will be look­ing to make good on their cam­paign prom­ises,” says Mr. Keane.

As much of the pub­lic doesn’t un­der­stand the nu­ances of these is­sues (the main­stream me­dia has pur­posely not helped with this), here’s a list of what a Demo­crat-led House will likely take up on the gun is­sue and how those who re­spect free­dom should ar­tic­u­late their re­sponses. 1. Lim­its on mag­a­zine ca­pac­ity Bans on gun mag­a­zines over a cer­tain size have been passed in a few states. To some­one who doesn’t own a firearm, these can sound like com­mon­sense. Any­one who shoots, how­ever, knows such leg­is­la­tion isn’t prac­ti­cal or ef­fec­tive; it also likely isn’t even con­sti­tu­tional, as so-called “high-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines” are in com­mon use. Also, drop­ping and load­ing a new mag­a­zine can be done in a blur with lit­tle train­ing. Even shot­guns can be loaded fast with a lit­tle prac­tice. You can see ac­tor Keanu Reeves do this with mul­ti­ple firearm plat­forms (shot­gun, pis­tol and ri­fle) on YouTube as he trained for the “John Wick” films. 2. Bans on “as­sault weapons” Re­search shows that the 1994 “Fed­eral As­sault Weapons Ban” didn’t have any im­pact on the mur­der rate dur­ing the 10 years it was in ef­fect. This isn’t sur­pris­ing for a lot of rea­sons start­ing with the fact that the FBI’s “uni­form crime re­ports” con­sis­tently show that ri­fles of all types are used in less than 3 per­cent of mur­ders. The semi­au­to­matic firearm de­sign is also the most pop­u­lar gun type sold to­day; in fact, the AR-15 was hardly the first semi­au­to­matic ri­fle pop­u­larly sold to the pub­lic. In the very early 20th cen­tury many Amer­i­can gun mak­ers made a of semi­au­to­matic ri­fles and pis­tols for the pub­lic. The prob­lem isn’t this gun de­sign. 3. Bans on “bump stocks” The Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives (ATF) is al­ready tak­ing care of this is­sue. It was the ATF dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion that ap­proved bump stocks for sale in the first place. 4. “Uni­ver­sal” back­ground check laws “Uni­ver­sal” is in quotes be­cause crim­i­nals by def­i­ni­tion won’t sub­mit to back­ground checks, so such a bill would hardly by uni­ver­sal. What this kind of leg­is­la­tion does is make buy­ing firearms more ex­pen­sive, as gun stores will have to charge to call the back­ground checks into the FBI’s Na­tional In­stant Crim­i­nal Back­ground Check Sys­tem (NICS). So this would be a par­tic­u­lar bur­den on poorer Amer­i­cans. Also, as most mur­ders in the United States are com­mit­ted with il­le­gal hand­guns (not with guns legally pur­chased at a gun store or from a pri­vate per­son, but with stolen hand­guns sold on a black mar­ket), such leg­is­la­tion is un­likely to re­duce the mur­der rate. 5. In­creases in age lim­its Do we re­ally want to live in a coun­try that re­cruits and trains 18 year olds to fight for us, but that doesn’t al­low these same le­gal adults to buy firearms here in the land of the free?

6. Man­dates for “smart guns”

A man­date for “smart guns” is an un­con­sti­tu­tional gun ban of ev­ery­thing now avail­able in a very di­verse mar­ket­place. Such a man­date would at­tempt to force peo­ple to buy un­proven, ex­per­i­men­tal firearms and to put a bat­tery be­tween them­selves and mur­der­ers, rapists, and so on. Just the threat of man­dates has al­ready all but ended the de­vel­op­ment of this tech­nol­ogy.

7. Funds for “gun vi­o­lence” re­search

There is no fed­eral ban for fund­ing re­search into gun vi­o­lence. There is a ban on us­ing fed­eral funds for ad­vo­cacy on this is­sue. The “Dickey Amend­ment” was first in­serted as a rider into the 1996 fed­eral gov­ern­ment om­nibus spend­ing bill that man­dated that “none of the funds made avail­able for in­jury pre­ven­tion and con­trol at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) may be used to ad­vo­cate or pro­mote gun con­trol.” Frank Miniter is the author of “Spies in Congress: In­side the Democrats’ Cov­ered-Up Cy­ber Scan­dal” (Post Hill Press, 2018).


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