When you are in the minority in the Senate, there is one thing you can do to stop unconstitutional legislation from getting started. You filibuster the motion to proceed with debate. We are all painfully aware that once the amendment process gets rolling, too many GOP senators are enticed into cutting a deal. Momentum builds for passage of the underlying bill, and Republicans feel the pressure to merely ameliorate the bill instead of killing it. That is what happened with Obamacare. That is what is about to take place with the gun control bill.
As early as this Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to bring the most sweeping gun control bill to the Senate floor since the ‘90s. The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed a slew of gun control measures in short order without bothering to submit a committee report. Reid, with the help of Chuck Schumer and Pat Leahy, has combined many aspects of those bills into one single bill – S.649, which is given the Orwellian name “Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013.” Reid will attempt to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed early this week.
Republicans must pledge to block it from the floor and use every dilatory tactic to ensure that the train never gets rolling. Senators Cruz, Rubio, Rand Paul, Lee, Inhofe, Crapo, Moran, Burr, Johnson of Wisconsin, Enzi, Risch , Crapo, Coats, and Roberts have already pledged to filibuster the motion to proceed. We need 29 more commitments, including a willingness on the part of the Mitch McConnell to lead from the front on this issue.
Here are some basic problems with the bill:
- National Gun Registry: At present, federal law only requires those who buy guns from a licensed dealer to submit to a background check under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS law was designed to protect against any attempt to record information and create a registry on guns and gun owners. It merely requires sellers to check whether that individual is listed as someone ineligible to own a firearm. Title 1 (Section 122) of the Reid bill extends the requirement for a background check to any private gun sale. In doing so, the law directs Eric Holder to require a “record of transaction of any transfer that occurred between an unlicensed transferor and an unlicensed transferee.” There is no protection in the bill against Justice Department officials using the information to create a database on gun owners.
- Private Sales: As noted, the centerpiece of the bill is a provision that would abrogate the right of an individual to sell or rent a firearm to a friend or family member without involving the federal government. We all must understand that those who perpetrate the violent crimes on the streets of cities like Chicago will never submit to such a process. This will only affect peaceful gun owners. It will grant an already overzealous ATF the authority to track down gun owners they deem suspicious and entrap them in the legal tape of private gun transfers. We should never have the federal government involved in private gun sales.
- Gun Tax: Section 122 of the bill authorizes the Attorney General (the same man who was involved in the worst gun smuggling scandal ever) to levy a tax on those private sales in order to pay for the expanded background checks. Incidentally, the fact that this bill levies a new tax on gun purchases should disqualify the entire legislation under the “blue slip” rule. Pursuant to the Origination Clause of the Constitution, any revenue-raising provision that originates in the Senate instead of the House is invalid.
- Criminalizing Gun Owners: Section 123 of the bill requires all gun owners to report lost firearms to the Attorney General within 24 hours. Failure to report a loss or theft would be deemed a felony punishable with up to 5 years in prison.
- Helping Criminals Pass Background Checks: While this bill does nothing to prevent violent crimes, it might actually make it easier for criminals to find which states have the most deficient background checks. David Addington of the Heritage Foundation notes that Section 112 (b) of the bill requires the Attorney General to publish a website ranking the states in order of how much data they have submitted to the background check system. For all the talk about loose gun laws helping criminals, this law will provide them with a handy list of states with bad background check systems.
- Veterans Gun Ban: There’s a provision in the bill which could punish anyone who sells a gun to a veteran without realizing he has PTSD.
The aforementioned concerns notwithstanding, we must remember that any Democrat gun bill is designed to open the door on limiting the Second Amendment, not clamp down on violent crime. They are employing a simple strategy of trimming around the edges on aspects of gun control that poll well, in the hopes that Republicans would have a hard time opposing “such commonsense” measures. It’s similar to their tax increase subterfuge in which they propose a tax increase “just on the very wealthy” in order to get Republicans to break their intrepid stance on the issue.
Unfortunately, this ploy is working. John McCain is ridiculing the conservatives for filibustering the bill. Tom Coburn is questioning Rand Paul’s sincerity on filibustering the bill, even as he is trying to concoct his own enhanced background check legislation. And Pat Toomey is trying to bail out Joe Manchin by cutting a compromise deal, which would exempt immediate family members from the background checks while leaving the rest of private sales subject to the backdoor gun registry.
Folks, we’re in a world of hurt. In a profound twist of irony, the Senate will be considering a new gun bill which seeks to regulate “undocumented guns” at the same time the Gang of 8 releases its amnesty plan for illegal aliens. We are living in absurdastan. Through the worst eras of big government Republicanism, the party has always stood strong on taxes and guns. Now, after the McConnell tax hikes and the impending gun control cave, there is nothing left of the GOP.
Please call your Republican senators and let them know that when the Second Amendment reads “shall not be infringed” it means just that. Call Mitch McConnell’s office and ask if he plans to lead the filibuster against this terrible piece of legislation.