After the GOP lost the House to the Democrats – many of whom are so far left that the Communist Party USA openly celebrated their victories – the flood of “common sense” progressive proposals seemed inevitable. Sure enough, the 116th Congress is awash in new legislation – with 315 bills or resolutions introduced and 33 passed in the last week. Of course, there’s the usual round of resolutions to either recognize someone or something or to express some great congressional opinion – in other words, one might say, a whole lot of nothing. But hidden amongst the legislative slop are little gems that can make a huge difference to your liberty.
Universal Background Checks
The House advanced H.R. 8, titled “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019,” Feb. 27. Despite the somewhat deceptive title, the bill passed mostly along party lines. Eight Republicans voted for and two Democrats opposed, for a final tally of 240-190 in favor, with two others – one from each party – abstaining.
From just a glance at the title, one might assume this bit of legislation would render all private gun transfers unlawful. It almost does. The act does include an exception that allows the transfer of firearms between family members – so long as they don’t have any reason to suspect the recipient is a prohibited person or that the weapon will be put to criminal use. Law enforcement, military, and security personnel are also exempt. Otherwise, the bill quite plainly states:
“It shall be unlawful for any person who is not a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to transfer a firearm to any other person who is not so licensed, unless a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer has first taken possession of the firearm for the purpose of complying with subsection (s).”
This is far from the first push for universal background checks by the Dems, and with a GOP majority in the Senate, it’s unlikely this attempt will make it to the Oval Office. If, however, Democrats can convince as many Republicans on the Senate as they did in the House, it could be President Trump who decides this bill’s fate.
Make ‘em Wait
Another showing from the left, H.R. 1112 was also passed mostly along party lines. The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 cleared the House on the 28, 228-198 – with three Republicans supporting, seven Democrats opposing, and three of each party not voting.
When attempting to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer – or anyone, if H.R. 8 becomes law – the would-be buyer must pass a background check. The decision generally doesn’t take long, but sometimes there are delays. Under the current regulations, if the FBI fails to complete the background check in three days, the purchase is automatically cleared. This particular bill would draw that period out to ten business days.
Much like the other major gun control measure to leave the House that week, it seems unlikely to pass the Senate. However, if successful, there is something else piggybacking on this legislation – an apparently subtle change in the wording that could cost many more Americans the right to keep and bear arms:
SEC. 5. NEW TERMINOLOGY FOR THOSE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.
Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, is amended in each of subsections (d)(4) and (g)(4) by striking “adjudicated as a mental defective” and inserting “adjudicated with mental illness, severe developmental disability, or severe emotional instability”.
A Different Approach
While House Democrats sought new ways to prevent more Americans from buying guns, the GOP took a different approach. Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced H.R. 1339 Monday, Feb. 25. It was cosponsored by 45 other Republicans and has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. If successful, this will enhance the penalties for stealing firearms from licensees and establish a Mass Violence Prevention Center.
Two other new introductions, H.R. 1397 and H.R. 1412, would require the background check system to notify ICE when it detects an illegal alien attempting to purchase a firearm. Both were referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary Feb. 27 and have seen no other action. However, it’s quite likely the Democrats will kill these bills.
The initial sponsor of H.R. 1412, Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), also proposed an amendment to H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would have required the notification of law enforcement whenever someone failed a background check for any reason. It was killed by the Democrats on the committee, however. In a statement, Rep. Steube explained that the language of his amendment came from a Democrat-sponsored bill from the 115th Congress, yet his colleagues from across the aisle shot it down. “Clearly, the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee don’t care about preventing gun violence,” he said. “They simply are playing politics with Americans’ Second Amendment Rights.” He went on to call the fact that they didn’t want the police alerted when someone failed a background check “truly troubling.”
Tune in next week for more highlights – or lowlights – from Congress.