The 117th Congress wasn’t in session a whole day before the Democrats fired their first volley against the Second Amendment. The House has seven new gun control bills to consider from three representatives, all filed on the first full day of business. While there have not yet been any introduced to the Senate, with a Democrat trifecta in the Swamp, it seems a safe bet the issue will make it to the upper chamber sooner rather than later.
Bobby Rush, Traffic Cop?
Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) introduced H.R. 30, a bill to “increase public safety by punishing and deterring firearms trafficking.” Rush’s Gun Trafficking Prohibition Act amends already existing federal laws regarding trafficking.
Chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, establishes in federal law who can receive or send firearms across state and national borders, as well as the licensing requirements and punishments for violating any of the rules. Rush’s bill increases the penalty cap for most offenses from ten years in prison to 15 and a few to 25.
It also broadens the scope of what would be considered trafficking. By reworking Section 924(h) and adding the new sections 932, 933, and 934, this bill would establish new conditions under which a firearm or ammunition transfer would be considered trafficking under federal law – and explicitly states that this applies in all cases, regardless of state laws.
Currently, the law prohibits any dealer from transferring a firearm or ammunition to anyone they know intends to commit a crime of violence. Rush’s amendment would widen that to receiving or transferring guns or ammo if there’s even a “reasonable cause to believe” that they may be used illegally.
Sections 932 and 933 establish the lists of prohibited persons and a few new transfer conditions that would fall under trafficking. Rather than requiring a conviction, now transferring a gun or ammo to anyone even under indictment for a crime – misdemeanor or felony – that can be punished by imprisonment of more than one year or was of a violent nature would be considered illegal.
Things get interesting in the new Section 934. Anyone convicted of a violation in the new sections 932 or 933, regardless of any state law, would also forfeit to the U.S. government any property used to facilitate the transfer. Ordered online? There goes the computer. Transported it yourself? Bye-bye car or truck.
Closing the ‘Loophole’
Democrats often bemoan what they call the gun show loophole. The idea is that if you go to a gun show, you can buy firearms without having a background check. That’s both true and false. Any dealer at a gun show will be licensed and will do a background check. However, unless otherwise prohibited by state or local laws, an individual can buy or sell a firearm outside the gun show, just as they could anywhere else.
It is exactly this type of private transfer Representative Al Green (D-TX) is targeting with his latest gun control measure. H.R. 167 is currently titled “To prohibit the transfer of a firearm at a gun show by a person who is not a federally licensed firearms dealer.” There is no text, summary, or short title yet – but the long title makes the purpose of the bill quite clear. How exactly Green intends to regulate these private transactions remains to be seen, but this may well be another push for a federal universal background check.
Rep. Sheila Lee, Busy as a Bee
Another Texas Democrat, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, fired off five bills of her own on Jan. 4. There is no text yet available for these bills, but the long titles are descriptive enough.
Under current law, the FBI has three days to complete a background check. If there isn’t a nigh instant response, the check will be in delayed status – and if the delay isn’t resolved in three days, the sale can go through. That said, very few gun dealers are willing to process the sale without a clear background check because of the risk of lawsuits later. Still, it can – and supposedly does – sometimes happen. H.R. 135 would require the director of the FBI to report to Congress semiannually. The report would include any firearm transfers to people who later turned out to be ineligible because the background check wasn’t completed within three business days.
Lee also introduced H.R. 125, which would require a seven-day waiting period before anyone could take home a semiautomatic firearm, a silencer, armor-piercing ammunition, or a large-capacity magazine. H.R. 127 would institute a federal licensing program of some sort. Without bill texts available, it’s unclear exactly what form this would take. However, the title implies that there would be a license required to buy any gun or ammo, that some ammo would be prohibited entirely, and that all firearms would have to be added to a federal registry.
Lee’s H.R. 130 aims to establish a nationwide safe storage law, requiring firearms and ammunition to be stored in whatever manner the Democrat deems proper. The bill would also require any report of improper storage to be investigated. As for the enforcement of all these new laws, H.R. 121 would order the hiring of an additional 200 agents and investigators for the ATF.
Who Cares About the Details?
With detailed texts unavailable for all but one of these bills, it’s difficult to understand the full scope of what gun control may be coming down the pike – but coming it is. While the details are of vital importance to the individual citizen, they won’t likely contribute much to whether these bills pass or fade away. With Democrats effectively in control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency, there’s a good chance each of these bills will become federal law sooner rather than later.
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