The following column appears in the March 10 edition of “Firearms News” (previously “Shotgun News,”) on newsstands and in mailboxes now.
For decades, those who wish to see Americans disarmed have played an aggressive full-court game, whining through their concubines in the press that those who cherish our rights are resisting “perfectly reasonable and moderate restrictions” because they want to cause the “tragic deaths of thousands of little children.”
(Never mind that the “little children” often turn out to be 18-year-old gang members who don’t buy their street-fightin’ hardware legally in the first place. Never mind that children — and women, and everyone else — are never as much in jeopardy of mass murder as when evil men are armed, and good men defenseless against them — see Germany, Russia, China and Laos in the 20th Century. See Mexico today.)
The problem is that when self-styled conservatives hold a majority in Washington, they seem reluctant to play the same kind of hardball.
Unless pushed, many congresscritters figure it’s safer to talk much and do little. And congressmen are absurdly sensitive to being called “extreme” by The Washington Post — a big-government rag rarely seen back in their home districts. (There are more moderate alternatives to this leftist organ of the Democrat Party and their public-employee unions. A modest expenditure to see every congresscritter’s office receives a few copies each day of the colorful New York Post and/or the reasonably balanced Wall Street Journal might be money well spent.)
The better-than-we-hoped Trump administration -– combined with a Republican majority in Congress, and the opportunity to appoint and confirm judges who will again honor our Constitutional rights — presents a one-time chance to send the pendulum swinging back the other way. But far too many complacent Republicans will balk at the jump. They will need to be goosed.
They will need to be reminded the electorate expects quick action, before the chance is lost. They need to be convinced freedom lovers are already raising funds to finance primary challenges against foot-draggers one year from now; that voters in their districts are already at work to make sure Donald Trump wins a second term (presuming the “peace-and-love, guns-never-solve-anything” Radical Left can be prevented from shooting him, as they now widely threaten), that federal bureaucrats who try to block these overdue reforms should expect to be fired — and that if their unions demand the reinstatement of employees who thus violate their oaths and confound the will of the people, the very existence of those unions and those tactics (which infringe the Constitutional investment of executive powers in the President, not in a bunch of “civil service” seat-warmers and their union chiefs) will be challenged in court.
(No less a liberal Democratic icon than Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote in 1937 “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress”: see http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15445 .)
For the record, none of the following legislative initiatives are perfect. I still hope to see better. But for starters, check to see where your personal member of congress stands on:
CLOSING THE ATF, LEGALIZING SUPPRESSORS
The ATF Elimination Act, re-introduced by Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner in January, which calls for an ATF hiring freeze and would transfer the ATF’s current responsibilities to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Rep. Sensenbrenner explains this step “The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure and lacks a clear mission,” making it “a logical place to begin draining the swamp. . . .”
The ATF drew new heat in 2011 after their so-called “Fast and Furious” operation, in which the Bureau willingly let Mexican drug cartels buy illegal firearms, supposedly in order to track the guns.
But “The operation went drastically wrong as agents lost track of the guns. Instead of leading to arrests of high-ranking cartel members, the firearms were reportedly used in numerous murders in Mexico” . . . including that of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
In fact, as a result of a dispute over the ATF cover-up of the scandal, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder became the first sitting member of a Cabinet of the United States to be held in criminal contempt of Congress.
(Television networks ABC, CBS, and NBC have spent nearly seven times more air time on then-Sen. Jeff Sessions perfectly legal and routine meeting with a Russian ambassador than was spent when Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to a House investigation, according to a newly released Media Research Center study; see: http://www.breitbart.com/big-journalism/2017/03/04/mrc-3-media-networks-covered-sessions-testimony-near-7-times-eric-holder-contempt-congress/ or http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/03/03/the-media-is-covering-the-sessions-russia-story-far-more-than-holders-fast-and-furious-scandal/ .)
(Barack Obama, of course, refused to prosecute him. And where is the disgraced former cabinet member, now? Top Democrats in the state of California announced Jan. 3 that Holder “has been tapped as outside counsel to advise the Legislature” on how to block attempts by the Trump administration to enforce the immigration laws, and any other laws they don’t like.)
For the record, the “ATF Elimination Act” doesn’t go far enough. Most of this agency’s mischief – and the vast waste of everyone’s time and money — comes from its perceived duty to enforce the blatantly unconstitutional 1934 National Firearms Act, which claims to be about collecting a $200 tax but is really about erecting an absurd obstacle course designed to restrict ownership of firearms of military usefulness. (As I’ve said many times, if this “tax” were intended to generate revenue, we’d be able to hand over our $200 and buy newly manufactured, fully operational belt-fed machine guns at 24-hour drive-through windows in every major metropolis, no fingerprints or signature required.)
Just making ATF bureaucrats hang up new signs saying they’re now a branch of the FBI — or that even worse infringer of our human and civil rights, the DEA — is a bit silly. What’s really needed is a repeal of the 1934 National Firearms Act. But at least this is a start.
You should also ask your member of Congress where he or she stands on the sensible proposal of Congressmen Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and John Carter (R-Tex.) to eliminate the paper trail and federal tax on firearm suppressors.
While suppressors -– often inaccurately called “silencers,” though only subsonic .22s can really be rendered anywhere near “silent” — are not only allowed but sometimes required for hunters in other countries, in the U.S. they’re currently regulated under our old favorite, the 1934 National Firearms Act, which means law-abiding purchasers have to go through the burdensome process of being photographed and fingerprinted . . . even though a suppressor that will work reasonably well for a few rounds can be easily constructed from common household objects, meaning that (as usual) these restrictions have little effect on criminals.
Current regulations also require would-be purchasers to register the device with the federal government, and pay the federal government $200. The process takes approximately six months — all for a device that isn’t even a firearm.
The legislation would move suppressors outside of the NFA’s jurisdiction, “replacing the federal transfer process with a National Instant Criminal Background Check” in the 42 states where suppressors are legal.
NATIONAL RECIPROCITY, AND THE SUPREME COURT
Of course, both the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America will also be pushing the Republican Congress to enact national reciprocity for concealed carry, so “concealed carry permits” will be recognized across state lines, the same as drivers licenses.
Once again, simply enacting “Vermont carry” at the national level — making it clear the Second Amendment guarantees the right of every adult American to carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise, without any kind of “permit” — would be better. But this first step is so obvious that any member of Congress who declines to support it should face serious problems in his or her next re-election bid.
And finally, of course, while it’s true he doesn’t have much history of actually ruling on gun cases, the fact that President Trump’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch (who was confirmed to his current seat on the Court of Appeals by a unanimous voice vote of the Senate in 2006), is a strict constructionist like his predecessor Antonin Scalia — and the fact that Mr. Trump specifically called on the NRA to help usher through this nomination — indicates how important he could prove in moving us back towards a less radical, more pro-gun court.
The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said on Feb. 3 “When given the opportunity to consider the matter in his professional capacity, Judge Gorsuch has made clear that he understands the importance of the right to keep and bear arms.”
The Democrats are expected to filibuster the nomination, demonstrating once again that the Democratic Party of 2017 has little respect for credentials, experience, or intellect (or even for the Constitution, itself) -– that for them today it’s “all about politics.”
SOME GOOD NEWS
Briefly, in the “Good News” department, in early February the Arkansas House passed state Rep. Charlie Collins’ campus carry bill, requiring state colleges and universities to allow permit holders to go armed for self-defense on campus.
That’s much stronger than the measure recently enacted in Ohio, where the state ban on campus carry was removed but individual state colleges and universities can still choose to encourage rape and murder by banning concealed carry by law-abiding individuals on their campuses.
Democrat Greg Leding opposed the bill, suggesting it will make the job of law enforcement tougher. “He did not explain how showing up to a campus where the perpetrator has been shot and killed is tougher for law enforcement than showing up to a gun-free campus like Virginia Tech to find 32 unarmed innocents shot to death,” commented AWR Hawkins at Brietbart News.
The Arkansas campus carry legislation passed 71-22 and moved on to the state Senate.
And back in January, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down Chicago’s ban on gun ranges, as (of course) “unconstitutional.”
Vin Suprynowicz was for 20 years an award-winning columnist and editorial writer at Nevada’s largest newspaper, the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal. He blogs at www.vinsuprynowicz.com .