Report On Bills Before Congress


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

— Bills to support, and bills to watch out for

by Gun Owners of America

* Citizen’s Self-Defense Act (H.R. 27). Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) has reintroduced this bill to protect citizens, who use a gun in self-defense, from anti-gun prosecutors. GOA supports this bill and encourages activists to make sure their Congressman is a cosponsor.

* “Half-baked” repeals of Lautenberg Domestic Gun Ban (H.R. 26 and H.R. 445). Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) has introduced H.R. 445 which would only exempt the police from the domestic violence misdemeanor gun ban. Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) has introduced H.R. 26 which only repeals the part about past offenses, albeit for all citizens. Both bills stop short of a full repeal. It is imperative that Congress repeal this entire law from the books, otherwise it will serve as a precedent to expand the gun ban to other misdemeanors, traffic offenses, etc. GOA is currently working with several Congressmen who have expressed interest in introducing a full repeal. Please stay tuned for more details.

* Gun owner registration (H.R. 102 and H.R. 186). H.R. 186 (a bill to register handguns) has received quite a bit of attention in the grassroots. But an even greater threat is a bill, introduced by Rep. Barr, that will continue the registration of gun owners that began with the passage of the Brady bill.

H.R. 102, a bill to move up the implementation of the Instant “Registration” Check, will continue the registration of all gun buyers. GOA members should look for the current GOA newsletter which begins arriving this week. The newsletter explains how the feds are using the FIST software to register names compiled by the instant registration check. If you’re not a GOA member, you can order the Feb. 28 issue by calling 703-321-8585. Webusers:

* Concealed Carry Reciprocity (H.R. 339). Introduced by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), H.R. 339 would require every state to recognize a concealed carry permit issued by another state. This is a laudable goal, as a law-abiding citizen from one state should not lose his or her Second Amendment rights when traveling to another state.

There is one glaring flaw in the Stearns bill, however, that, unless fixed, will make an otherwise good bill unacceptable. Whereas the Second Amendment guarantees a preexisting “right” to carry a firearm, H.R. 339 only applies to citizens from states which issue permits. It fails to account for any state, such as Vermont, that does not require government officials to first give a permission slip to its citizens before they are “allowed” to exercise their rights.

Under Vermont law, if you are a law-abiding citizen of any state, you can carry a concealed firearm in the state of Vermont. You do not need to beg the government for permission to carry. You do not have to be photographed, fingerprinted, or registered. You do not need a government issued permission slip; you can carry as a matter of right. However, because H.R. 339 only applies to citizens from permit states, the Stearns bill can actually punish a state for being too pro-gun. H.R. 339 can hurt pro-gun efforts in several ways:

1) H.R. 339 puts tremendous pressure on permit-free states to adopt a permit system. Therefore, a pro-gun state like Vermont will be “encouraged” to pass a permit system similar to anti-gun New York State. If the state does not adopt a permit system, it is, in effect, punished for being too pro-gun, as its citizens cannot carry concealed firearms out of state.

2) Perhaps most importantly, this bill will undermine the efforts of pro-gun organizations who are pushing for Vermont-style legislation in other states. A state legislature will be less likely to consider a proposal that does not allow them the benefits allowed to other states.