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November 14, 2018

The New Congress Promises Return of Old Ideas

By Larry Keane

Meet the new Congress. Same ideas as the old Congress.

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who promises she will be making a return as Speaker of the House, said on CNN late last week that passing gun control laws will be a “priority” in the new Congress.

She used all the carefully chosen words. “There is bipartisan legislation to have common sense background checks to prevent guns going into the wrong hands.” It’s all calculated to sound good, her remarks coming the day after the tragedy of the bar shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The presumptive new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), was emphatic in calling for hearings on gun violence. During those early 2019 hearings you will likely hear about “assault weapons,” “high-capacity” magazines, and what they used to call “universal background checks,” among other things.

More Laws, Not More Safety

In other words, it will be the same old ideas that ignore the truth that anytime there is criminal misuse of guns, multiple laws already on the books have been broken. These old ideas are readily at hand to proffer, but if passed into law they only affect law-abiding citizens and not those intent on criminality or murder.

The “gun lobby” will be vilified. Suggestions will be made that anyone offering objections is condoning violence or complicit in murder. We will be schooled that it is the availability of this style of rifle in this caliber or that handgun with this capacity magazine that must be further curtailed or ended.

That elected officials will purposely, or mistakenly mis-portray firearms characteristics or functionality is a given. We have seen it before.

It’s all predictable. Sadly.

The Mental Health Issue

I hope that I am wrong, but I suspect what you are not likely to hear are serious proposals to improve access to mental health care for the families of truly troubled individuals. To suggest we should have this discussion on the effects of the government’s originally well-intended deinstitutionalization policy is not to impugn the vast majority of those suffering from mental issues who are not dangerous or to suggest that we re-open mental institutions on a vast scale. But we must not deny the connection between serious mental health problems and violence if we really are to make strides toward making our communities and schools safer.

Know this. On behalf of the members of our industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has long advocated for effective solutions to prevent unauthorized access to firearms by criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, children and others who cannot be trusted to handle firearms in a safe and responsible manner. We will evaluate all proposals through this lens.

The firearms industry welcomes participation in the national conversation to make our communities and our schools safer. We will continue to lead and participate in finding and enhancing practical solutions that protect lives and preserve the rights of law-abiding Americans.

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