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July 12, 2019

Congressional Democrats’ Coordinated Attack on Firearms


By Larry Keane

Editor’s Note: This column appeared on Inside Sources July 8, 2019 and is reprinted here with permission.

There’s a reason public approval ratings for Congress have not climbed above a paltry 26 percent since Democrats took the House of Representatives majority last January. One needs to look no further than the string of radical gun control measures introduced by various members. All represent the intentions of Congressional Democrats to deprive law abiding Americans of their constitutional right to defend themselves. The most challenging is discerning which is the most problematic or irrational.

Confiscation Legislation

Most recently, Presidential dropout U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) introduced legislation, H.R. 2359, titled the “Freedom from Assault Weapons Act” that would ban all versions of modern sporting rifles (MSRs) and establish a mandatory “buy back” program for all rifles currently in circulation. Since the government can’t “buy back” something it never owned, the real word for his proposal is confiscation. The language of the bill directs the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to establish a surrender period of two years after which he would jail any individual in possession of such a firearm. Congressman Swalwell’s press release on the bill claims there’s no accurate number of how many modern sporting rifles are in private ownership today. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates there are more than 16 million in the homes and gun safes of law-abiding Americans just since 1990. MSRs have been available on the commercial market since 1963, so the number is much higher. The Congressman has no concrete plan as to how the ATF would effectively enforce this law short of door-to-door searches of American homes. When questioned about effective enforcement, Swalwell seemingly threatened gun owners with nuclear weapons.  

Congressman Swalwell’s bill also reveals that his priorities lie not with keeping Americans safe, but rather with an overly broad and purposefully-inflammatory proposal meant to propel his Presidential campaign forward. Regularly available data shows that criminals misuse of modern sporting rifles make up less than five percent of all unjustified homicides in the United States. The majority of homicides are committed with fists, knives and blunt objects, followed by the criminal misuse of handguns. Of those, the vast majority are illegally-obtained through theft or the black market. At the very least, it is worrisome to see a congressman and candidate for president propose stripping law-abiding citizens of their fundamental rights without even understanding the relevant statistics behind the issue he is trying to address.

He’s Not Alone

Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is also responsible for another misguided gun control bill that targets bullets rather than guns themselves. H.R 1705, or Jaime’s Law, would require a “universal background check” for all purchases of ammunition. What the Congresswoman and co-author U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) call another component of “common sense gun control” is anything but, if for no other reason than it is in fact already illegal for those individuals legally prohibited from possessing a firearm to also own ammunition. Furthermore, H.R 1705 is named after Jamie Guttenberg, a student who tragically lost her life in the horrific Parkland school shooting in 2018. Since that day, we have learned that the murderer was able to purchase his weapons legally, as the FBI, local law enforcement and school authorities failed to act on glaring warning signs and downplayed previous criminal behavior. Knowing this, it is sad to see Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz attach a victim’s name to a bill that would have done nothing to prevent the tragedy to begin with.

Industry in the Crosshairs

Senator Blumenthal, in addition to going after Americans seeking to buy ammunition, is also determined to open the gun manufacturers to a cascade of frivolous lawsuits by introducing legislation to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which currently prevents firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when someone commits a crime with their lawfully sold, non-defective product. The PLCAA does nothing more than codify bedrock principles of tort law. Sen. Blumenthal says that this bill is “simply about gun violence victims getting their day in court” but the reality is his hope is to do irreversible harm to the Second Amendment by bankrupting firearm manufacturers with mountains of legal bills from hundreds of lawsuits.

Criminals are responsible for the crimes they commit. That is the same if crimes are committed with a firearm or with a car. It is nonsensical and blatantly wrong to hold a firearm manufacturer, or any other industry, liable for the criminal misuse of non-defective products sold lawfully. People in this country do not hold Ford or General Motors accountable for the negligent use of their cars and we should not create a legal precedent for a double standard with firearms.

Anti-gun politicians are trying to outdo each other with absurd and irrelevant gun control proposals. There are real solutions that work. It’s clear, though, political posturing and peacocking for media is being substituted for effective policy.

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