On Wednesday evening, June 8th, the US House of Representatives voted on, and passed, a bill containing numerous “gun control” provisions that directly infringe upon the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The bill were already prepared and ready, and just waiting for the right amount of senseless murders by deranged psychopaths, and so the going was quick after the killings in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde, TX. Here, we are listing and explaining the intent and the probable outcome of these prohibitions.
About the Gun Control Bills Passed in the House
To be clear, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill has not been sent to the US Senate yet, and thus has not become law. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the lengths to which our Congress is willing to go to control guns, while ignoring the fact that criminals don’t obey laws, deranged murdering psychopaths need mental help, and – mainly – that Congress has armed security but public schools don’t. None of these provisions in this bill address school safety in any way, shape, or form.
The bill is called the “Protecting Our Kids Act”, and is made up of several different prohibitions relating to firearms. You can read the full text here, though it is quite confusing and difficult to read because it mainly amends previously passed laws.
Raising the Minimum Age
The first prohibition raises the minimum age for a person to be eligible to purchase any semi-automatic firearm from 18 to 21. Today, an 18-year old can purchase a rifle, but cannot purchase a pistol. I’ve never believed that this law made sense, but for opposite reasons as our current congress.
One can join the military at age 18 (17 with parental consent), and be issued a military grade automatic rifle in addition to a semi-automatic pistol, depending on your MOS (military occupational specialty). So, a civilian 18-year-old cannot purchase a pistol, but if that same civilian joins the military, he or she can be issued any weapon the military chooses. That’s a small incentive to join the military, but it’s discriminatory on its face.
Furthermore, a civilian 18-year-old cannot purchase a .22 caliber pistol to plink cans with, but that same civilian teenager can purchase a .308 caliber rifle with a 16″ barrel, high powered optics, and all the cool accessories. Does that make sense?
No Straw Purchases
A “straw purchase” is when a person buys a gun for the sole purpose of acquiring the gun for another person who is not able to pass the FBI NICS background check. In other words, you buy a gun for someone who is not legally eligible to buy a gun.
Here’s the fun part: straw purchases are already illegal, and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But Congress has added “family members” to the clause, and also made it illegal for anyone to purchase any gun for any third party. In other words, Dad cannot buy a gun for his wife or kids, nor vise versa, for example.
There is lots of language in these particular prohibitions, but the bottom line is that, if passed, this bill would make it illegal for a non-FFL individual to 3D print and assemble a firearm. The same language further defines “frame”, “receiver”, “firearm”, etc., just to make sure there are no loopholes in the prohibition of individuals manufacturing their own personal firearms.
This provision technically makes it illegal for you or me to disassemble, clean, and reassemble our own firearms. It’s in there. It’s a stretch, but the language does include the following phrase, which could be easily construed to mean “You can’t assemble your gun after you’ve taken it apart to clean it. Here’s the phrase:
The term ‘manufacturing firearms’ shall include assembling a functional firearm
Again, it’s a stretch, but “unintended consequences” are nothing new to Congress. This language could certainly pinch an innocent individual given the right context.
This particular section is, in my opinion, the most confusing and hair-splitting part of the whole package. My interpretation is that what Congress is trying to say is this: you can’t keep a gun in your house if a minor might get to it or if someone who is not legally eligible to own a firearm might get to it. However, that doesn’t apply if you keep the gun is a “secure gun storage or safety device” or “in a location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure.”
OR, and here’s the hair splitting effort, if the individual who owns the firearm “carries the firearm on his or her person or within such close proximity thereto that the person can retrieve and use the firearm as readily as if the person carried the firearm on his or her person; or another individual unlawfully enters the premises under the control of the person and thereby gains access to the firearm.”
How can “another individual unlawfully enter the premises under the control of the person“?!? I have no idea. This language is Congress trying – unsuccessfully – to explain that you don’t have to have your gun in storage if someone breaks into your house, but you let them in…or something.
SAFE GUNS, SAFE KIDS.
Now, believe it or not, this one I can get behind. Basically, if you own a gun, and a kid gets hold of that gun and hurts or kills themselves or someone else, YOU are responsible. I totally agree with this one. It’s not a prohibition, but a penalty for being stupid and irresponsible with your guns. If you keep loaded guns in your home and you have toddlers or little kids, you are absolutely 100% responsible if one of those kids or their friends gets their hands on your guns.
We have “The 4 Laws of Gun Safety”. Some have added a 5th: “If you drop your weapon, let it fall. Do not attempt to catch it.” That’s fine, but I think we should add another: “Never allow your firearm to be in the hands of any individual who is not capable of properly operating your firearm.” We can work on the wording, but you get the picture.
More Gun Storage
Additional language under what’s called “KIMBERLY VAUGHAN FIREARM SAFE STORAGE” doesn’t make anything illegal or prohibit anything. Instead, it gives power to the Attorney General to set forth rules, regulations, and “best practices” for gun storage.
“The Attorney General shall establish voluntary best practices relating to safe firearm storage solely for the purpose of public education.“
“Public education” sounds benign, but it will be used to prosecute individuals whose firearms are not “stored properly” according to said “public education”.
Congress is banning bump stocks. In December 2018, the ATF issued a final rule that the definition of “machinegun” included “bump stock” accessories used on semi-automatic rifles. Gun Owners of America challenged the rule in district court on the ground that the rule conflicts with the plain meaning of the statute. The district court rejected the GOA’s argument on the ground that it could not avoid Chevron because Congress has intended that “ATF speak with the force of law when addressing ambiguity or filling a space in the relevant statutes.”
The result remains that, in effect and practice, “bump stocks” are banned by the ATF. Now Congress seeks to codify that murky decision into law.
Large Capacity Magazines
Congress seeks to ban “large capacity ammunition feeding devices”. The bill defines these devices as “a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, helical feeding device, or similar device, including any such device joined or coupled with another in any manner, that has an overall capacity of, or that can be readily restored, changed, or converted to accept, more than 15 rounds of ammunition; and does not include an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.”
So it’s 15 rounds now, instead of 10, and no .22 conversions. However, the bill also includes the following language.
“shall not apply to the possession of any large capacity ammunition feeding device otherwise lawfully possessed on or before the date of enactment of this subsection.”
In other words, your current magazines are grandfathered in. You can own 30-round mags, but you can no longer purchase 30-round mags.
What’s Next for these Gun Control Bills?
As usual, Congress showboats more than it actually accomplishes anything. That’s mainly what this particular bill is about, since literally nothing here would have done anything to stop or even inhibit any of the most recent killings perpetuated by murdering psychopaths. Furthermore, it does not address keeping our school kids safe in any way shape or form. Nothing. Showboating.
At the same time, the Senate has been “negotiating” behind closed doors to create the Senate’s version of “gun control”. From my understanding, the crux of those negotiations have been “red flag laws”. If you’re not familiar with red flag laws, basically it means someone can “notify the authorities” that you are not of sound mind enough to own a firearm. Then said authorities can come and confiscate your guns. No due process. Guilty until proven innocent.
The biggest problem with red flag laws is the potential for abuse. Maybe your ex decides to really stick it to you. Red flag law. Or maybe you get pulled into a legal situation and someone in the legal proceedings decides to “leverage” you. Red Flag Laws. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of potential abuses of these laws. The Senate wants FEDERAL red flag laws, so the entire nation would be subject to something that’s never been tried before. Not good.
What Can We Do?
Call your House rep. Call your senators. Both of them. Don’t email them. CALL THEM. Few people know about the hierarchy of “contact” that elected officials have. Here’s how it works. An email is “meh”. A phone call counts for 100 emails. A letter counts for 100 phone calls. It’s not an exact science, but you get the picture. Sure, it’s easier to email, but it’s less effective. CALL them, and politely tell them that you value your 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. Ask that they reject this bill.
Also, it’s an election year. Politicians do really weird stuff in an election year.