By: José Niño
While most Americans are cooped up in their houses, and businesses are closing down due to shelter orders passed across the nation, Congress continues running. (The perks of being a part of the political class!)
And as long as Capitol Hill is open, gun control will always be lurking in the shadows. One congressman is abiding by former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s motto of never allowing a “crisis [to] go to waste.”
On January 30, 2020, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced the "Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020”, H.R. 5717. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a companion bill, S. 3254 on February 5, 2020. The timing of this bill is particularly relevant due to the current pandemic the U.S. is confronting. Not only do generalized crises provide excellent opportunities for gun grabbers to sneak legislation through, there’s a powerful public health narrative being used to justify gun control.
Gun control proponents have recently called gun violence a “public health” crisis and have used terms such as an “epidemic” to describe the allegedly increasing rates of gun violence occurring in America. Never mind the evidence from the FBI and other government bodies showing that homicides have actually been decreasing in recent decades as gun laws have been relaxed in numerous states. We live in a post-fact world, however, so compelling narratives — no matter how wrong-headed and misleading they are — end up becoming the order of the day. Warren went out of her way to emphasize the public health aspect of the bill in a joint statement with Johnson on January 30, 2020.
"This big, bold proposal--which combines and builds upon a number of common-sense measures introduced by my colleagues in Congress--would treat the epidemic of gun violence in the United States like the public health crisis that it is, help protect our children, and make our communities safer. With approximately 100 Americans killed every day from gun violence, it's long past time for Congress to stand up to the gun lobby and confront this deadly crisis head-on."
Under H.R. 5717, there would be federal licensing for firearms and ammunition, universal background checks, a ban on the much-maligned “assault weapons,” felony penalty for all purchases of “high-capacity” magazines, and a tax of 30 percent on firearms and another tax of 50 percent on ammunition.
Dudley Brown, President of the National Association for Gun Rights, had choice words for H.R. 5717.
“H.R. 5717 is the ultimate gun control smorgasbord – served up to satisfy the needs of the most power-hungry, anti-gun legislators in the D.C. Swamp,” said Brown. “Universal gun registration, semi-auto bans, licenses to own firearms and ammunition, you name it, it’s in there. Of course, we oppose this rights-shredding piece of garbage and we’ve got our members actively lobbying against it.”
Derek Wills, Senior Editor of Lone Star Gun Rights, described H.R.5717 as the “single biggest power grab the US Government has ever attempted.”
When put together, all of these gun control provisions constitute major infringements on gun rights. The taxes, licensing, and universal background checks impose extra costs on gun owners by making each firearms transaction they’re involved in more expensive. Regulations are ultimately passed on to consumers. For the gun owners of modest means, such costs, in terms of time and money, could make buying a firearm too expensive, thus depriving them of their right to bear arms.
A ban on so-called assault weapons is arbitrary at best and serves as a springboard for further gun grabs. The idea that “assault weapons” account for a majority of gun homicides is clearly debunked by objective data. According to the FBI, 403 people were killed by all types of rifles in 2017. That same year, there were nearly 15,000 total murders, which counted both firearms and non-firearms related deaths. To drive this point even further home, 1,591 peopled were killed in cases involving cutting instruments. A report from the Rand Corporation similarly found that so-called “high-capacity” magazines were only used in 37 percent of mass shootings from 1982 to 2015. With these facts in mind, we can see why AR-15 or magazine bans will do very little to stop gun crime overall.
If passed, this legislation would deprive hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Americans of certain firearms they could otherwise use to defend themselves or their loved ones. When dealing with “control Left,” we’re no longer talking about policy efficacy. They care more about raw demonstrations of power, and any kind of ban on firearms will suffice in putting them closer to their ultimate goal of civilian disarmament.
According to Congress.gov, the House version of this bill (H.R. 5717) is currently in the House Judiciary Committee, while it’s Senate companion (S.3254) is in the Senate Finance Committee. The House bill has 18 co-sponsors, while the Senate bill has 3 co-sponsors.
Due to the congressional makeup, it will likely not pass the Senate, should it make it out of the House. Nonetheless, we should not become too complacent. The best thing gun owners can do at the moment is target members of the respective House and Senate Committees via email and phone calls.
Contact information can be found below:
If you’re a member of a pro-Second Amendment organization or actively involved in grassroots politics, it makes sense to start an email series or robocall campaign to voters in these committee members’ districts. That way, they’ll get the message that infringing on the Second Amendment will be met with backlash from constituents and other gun-loving Americans.
While we wish all readers to stay safe in times of a pandemic, we should all be mentally prepared for the underhanded power grabs politicians will try to pull off in the meantime.
It always pays to be vigilant.
José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.