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5 ways the next Congress can protect gun rights

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Washington, D.C., October 21, 2016 | comments
This op-ed was shared by Conservative Review.

President Obama’s famous words on executive actions, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone” was not reflective of a temporary mindset. No, this is how all future liberal presidents plan to govern. Hillary Clinton, if elected president, will need to be checked by a Republican Congress in every issue area. She will especially need to be checked on the issue of firearms. 

Hillary Clinton sadly misunderstands our fundamental right to keep and bear arms. Earlier this year, Mrs. Clinton remarked, “I do support comprehensive background checks, and to close the gun show loophole, and the online loophole, and what’s call the Charleston loophole, and to prevent people on the no-fly list from getting guns.” Americans are rightfully concerned that if Congress continues to miss opportunities to pass pro-gun related policy, one president can forever change our Second Amendment. 

The president’s increasingly large share of power, through agencies and departments, threatens our very republic. In order to safeguard our liberties against not only future presidents, but against the rulemaking process, Republicans in Congress need to have an agenda.

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is one of the many great ideas our country was founded upon. Our founders envisioned the right for we the people to privately keep and bear arms.

Most on the Left, and some on the Right, hold contempt for the Second Amendment and would love to see it further restricted. The Left finds it inconceivable that citizens should be able to own firearms.

I hold the view that the individual right to own a firearm is protected by our Second Amendment. The founders were specific in their language when the words “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

As the Left continues to beat the drum of gun control, few on the Right have laid out an agenda to further protect and advance gun rights. If the Republican-controlled House wants to continue to fight for gun rights and prohibit the next presidential administration from over stepping their Constitutional restraints, the House should move forward on a plan to do so. Here are just some of the ways Congress can take back their Constitutional obligation of legislating.

First, the House should take up and pass Concealed Carry Reciprocity. There were two such bills in the House this Congress, H.R. 923 the “Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” sponsored by retiring Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind. (B, 80%) and H.R. 986 the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C. (D, 61%). Both bills, of which I am a cosponsor, would dramatically expand the right of concealed carry permit holders. Gun owners should not have to seek permission to exercise their constitutionally protected rights. 

Second, the House should take up and pass H.R. 2001, the “Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act” sponsored by Jeff Miller, R-Fla. (C, 73%), similar legislation that provides Veterans due process protections, or restrict federal funds from being used by the Veterans Administration (VA) to categorize individuals as “mentally defective”. The VA has been using legal definitions to disarm lawful veteran firearm owners. Under current law, when a veteran has a fiduciary appointed to manage their benefits, the VA deems those to be “mentally defective.” The VA has been reporting to the National Criminal Background Check System (NICS) this list of veterans which makes it illegal for them to own a firearm. The practice of stripping veterans from owning firearms is inconceivable and should be stopped.

Third, Congress should reel in the administrative state by passing H.R. 2710 the “Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act” sponsored by Rob Bishop, R-Utah (D, 65%)According to the sponsor, “This bill will reign in the Obama Administration and the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives]. The ATF has attempted to ban ammunition used in the popular AR-15 rifle. The bill will eliminate the ATF’s illegitimate authority to prohibit this .223 caliber ammunition. This legislation will also eliminate ambiguity in current code that could allow the ATF and the Administration to restrict certain types of shotgun shells that are used for self-defense.” Any presidential administration should not be using executive orders or directives from agencies to circumvent Congress. Passing legislation to reign in Article 1 powers and protect the Second Amendment should be a no brainer.

Fourth, block any and all attempts to pass legislation that could jeopardize individual’s due process through secret government watch lists. There has been a substantial push from some in Congress to ban the ownership of firearms for those on terrorist watch lists. Terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms. Terrorists caught trying to purchase a firearm should be immediately taken to court, the transfer of the firearm should be blocked, and the terrorist arrested — end of story. At the same time, wrongfully listed Americans, like Representative Tom McClintock, R-Calif. (B, 85%) should not be denied their right to purchase a firearm. Banning people who are on secret government watch lists from owning firearms is not the solution. American’s right to due process needs to be protected. 

Fifth, the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Justice just recently released a report titled, “Audit of the Handling of Firearms Purchases Denials Through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” As the title suggests, the report identifies just how the DOJ handles occurrences where a firearm transfer has been delayed or denied. The report brings to light something pro-gun supporters have been saying for a while: the DOJ has the tools to prosecute criminals, it’s just not interested in using them. If, according to anti-gun politicians and organizations, everyone who is denied the transfer of a firearm as a result of a NICS denial is a dangerous person, why is the DOJ not interested in enforcing current law? Anti-gun politicians and presidential administrations can’t call for the expansion of the NICS system, but then neglect their duty to enforce current law. Anti-gun politicians simply want to make it harder for lawful citizens to own firearms. The House should be encouraging the administration and the Attorney General to faithfully execute the laws on the books.

It’s long past time for Republicans in Congress to advance an agenda that is not dictated by K-Street and wealthy elites. Americans are hungry for Republicans to stand up and fight on issues that they care about. It is without question that our fundamental Second Amendment right is one of those issues.
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