Any possibility that gun control and the individual Second Amendment civil right to keep and bear arms would be shelved as legislative and political issues during the 110th Congress came to a crashing end last week as representatives were sworn in on Capitol Hill.
Members of Congress introduced a number of firearm related bills in the House of Representatives.
Two deserving of all-out support from America’s 80 million law-abiding gun owners are H.R. 73, by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, and H.R. 226, by Congressman Cliff Stearns of Florida.
H.R. 73, the Bartlett bill, would protect the right to obtain firearms for security and to use firearms in defense of self, family, or home, and to provide for the legal enforcement of such right.
Although Bartlett has introduced similar measures in previous Congress, it remains at the top of gun rights activists’ short and long-range agenda.
The philosophy behind it is solid. Without recognition of a right to legitimate self-defense, there really is no genuine recognition of a right to life itself. And without recognition of a right to the means necessary for self-defense, that is, firearms, there is no real acceptance of a right to self-defense. So, conceptually, the right to obtain and use firearms for self-defense really is part and parcel of a right to life itself.
H.R. 226, the Stearns bill, would set national standards according to which non-residents of a state who possess permits to carry concealed firearms issued by other states may carry concealed firearms in the state.
This, too, is a proposal which for several years now has been right at the top of the agenda of gun rights activists. Few popular movements in recent times have gathered such growing grass roots national support as the movement for concealed carry. A number of studies, such as those conducted by John R. Lott, Jr., author of More Guns Less Crime, have demonstrated that, when jurisdictions enact legislation permitting the carrying of concealed handguns by qualified citizens, rates of violent crime decline precipitously in those jurisdictions. During the last decade or so, state after state has enacted legislation authorizing and even mandating the issuance of concealed carry permits to qualified individuals, so that now there are only a relatively few recalcitrant holdouts.
Both H.R. 73 and H.R. 226 undoubtedly will get massive gun owner support this year.
Even though they have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, now under the chairmanship of ancient gun rights opponent John Conyers of Michigan, firearm owners’ groups nationally may be expected to make a good hard fight in support of both proposals.
One proposal which definitely will not get gun right organizations’ support and, in fact, will be at the receiving end of gun rights opposition, is H.R. 96, by Congressman Mike Castle of Delaware. This bill, also referred to the House Judiciary Committee, would set up so many requirements for background checking and report filing in connection with the numerous gun shows which occur annually in the United States as to undermine or eliminate most or all of them. Gun owners probably will fight this one tooth and nail.
So there it is. The 110th Congress is not even a week old yet and already gun rights issues are set for Capitol Hill controversy.