By Tom McHale
USA –-(Ammoland.com)- If you’ve been listening to the NBC and CNN news reports after the election, you’d think that the Trump administration is going to launch some pretty outlandish initiatives, even by reality television standards.
Watching the endless parade of fearful snowflakes and those throwing public tantrums because their candidate lost might have you preparing for the worst.
You know, things like this:
- Internment camps for people who think The Big Bang Theory is a good TV show.
- Importation bans on safe spaces and warm fuzzies.
- Immediate deportation of anyone with more than two consecutive consonants in their name. Fortunately, I think the First Lady-elect is safe: M-E-L-A-N-I-A. Yep, she’s good to go.
I’m pretty sure none of those things are going to happen, at least not at the direction of our new President-elect. Well, with the possible exception of the safe spaces ban – that I can see as a realistic priority, but we’ll have to wait and see.
However, this revolution against the system of infernal, eternal stagnation (that would be Washington politics) does open some very real opportunities for gun law reform.
Since about 3am Wednesday morning, there’s been a visible display of unbounded enthusiasm among the shooting community. I was reading one blog post by a guy who was convinced that every piece of national firearms legislation would be repealed in 2017. He was confident that the 1934 National Firearms Act, 1938 Federal Firearms Act, Gun Control Act of 1968, 1990 Crime Control Act, and Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act would all be immediately repealed by President Trump. While that sounds like a swell wish list, and a good start, I think that guy is high on medicinal marijuana, but that’s beside the point here.
First, no President has authority to unilaterally change laws. Yes, I know Obama tried (and succeeded in a couple of cases) to do that, but it’s definitely out of the defined job description of Commander in Chief.
Second, while Trump has been quite vocal about his intent to address Second Amendment issues, it’s not his number one priority. I suspect his attention will gravitate to job and economy related issues first, like dealing with the (un) Affordable Care Act, jobs, and trade treaties.
Third, there are plenty of critters in Congress that are moderately proactive about negating pointless gun control laws, but there’s not a rabid appetite among the halls under that big dome for making machine guns available by mail order again anytime soon. There are good intentions out there, but I don’t see an army of politicians foaming at the mouth to repeal all those very substantial laws.
Politicians don't get positively enthusiastic about anything except their campaign war chests.
With that said, I’m confident we can get some positive things done in relatively short order. Just to be clear, short order for inside the Washington beltway is like dog years compared to our definition of time, but even still, I think we can see some results in 2017. Let’s take a look at what I think are some realistic possibilities for the first 345 days.
No More Tax Stamps For Silencers
First, a quick Silencer ownership refresher. To buy a muffler for your gun right now, you need to get fingerprints, passport photos, a federal background check, a cavity search (well, maybe not a cavity search) and send $200 to Uncle Spendy. For that, you get the distinct privilege of waiting six to twelve months for some faceless bureaucrat to lick and stick a colorful stamp on your application. Only at that point can you actually use the gun muffler you purchased. You know, that thing that helps prevent hearing damage from gunshot noise.
If you hadn’t noticed, suppressors are all the rage right now, even though it’s a pain in the butt to buy them. Once you shoot with one, you’ll know why. In many cases, you don’t need hearing protection. They keep noise levels to safe levels, thereby protecting shooters and those nearby. They make ranges less disruptive to nearby businesses and homes. They make shooting more pleasurable by reducing the blast and smoothing out recoil. Simply put, there are plenty of reasonable benefits to suppressor use.
The American Suppressor Association has been working diligently, along with manufacturers and friends of the industry to encourage passage of the Hearing Protection Act of 2015. H.R. 3799, introduced by Representative Matt Salmon of the great state of Arizona and 78 co-sponsors in the house, is very simple. Rather than describe it, allow me to copy the meat of it here.
Yes, it’s this short and sweet.
“(f) Firearm Silencers. — A person acquiring or possessing a firearm silencer in accordance with Chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, shall be treated as meeting any registration and licensing requirements of the National Firearms Act (as in effect on the day before the date of the enactment of this subsection) with respect to such silencer.”
In plain English, it basically says that if you buy a suppressor, then you’ve already met the onerous paperwork, fingerprint, and tax requirements that normally hold up the show for so long now. And when I say tax requirements, that means there is none. Do not pay $200 to Uncle Spendy for the privilege of using a muffler. Better yet, at least as the bill reads right now, anyone who dutifully sent in the $200 extortion fee after October 22, 2015, will get a refund. Of course, the bill may be revised and changed before passage, so don’t spend that refund money just yet.
The Hearing Protection Act of 2015 already has an identical companion bill in the Senate, 2236 with three co-sponsors, so it’s queued up and primed for relatively easy passage in both chambers. The big difference now is that come January 20, 2017, a President will be in the Oval Office who will sign this. One of the reasons it’s been sitting stagnant for a while is that the chances of Obama signing the Hearing Protection Act are about the same as all those mouthy and bratty celebrities actually leaving the country now that the election is over. Ah, we can still hope…
National Concealed Carry Reciprocity
While it may not have smooth sailing like the Hearing Protection Act, national reciprocity is a very real possibility for 2017, in part because multiple bills are already floating around the House and Senate. It’s another example of legislation that’s sitting on the burner too long because the guy in the White House would rather ingest two dozen cans of expired potted meat product than sign it.
However, like the Hearing Protection Act, that all changes in a little over two months.
Take a look at Senate Bill S.498, the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015. It basically grants “in state” carry permit authorization to anyone with a permit from another state. If you have, say, a South Carolina permit, and visit Nevada, you’ll automatically have all the flexibility of a Nevada resident permit holder. This one has 32 co-sponsors, a surprising number for a gun bill in the Senate.
There are three different national reciprocity bills floating around the House, 923, 986, and 402. H.R. 986 is particularly interesting because it contains legal protection and penalties aimed squarely at states (can you hear me New York, Connecticut and especially New Jersey?) that choose to ignore the intent of this law. If you get hassled illegally, you may be entitled to attorney’s fees and damages. I’m not a lawyer, so read the text of the bill yourself to digest the details. Regardless, this is good stuff, especially since these House Bills have hundreds of co-sponsors.
These two reforms are very real possibilities for the short term, largely because they’re well under way already and are in a holding pattern waiting on a friendly Sharpie at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That part is done, so it’s time to get moving. Bug your Congress Critters about these. They’re dedicated to the important public service of keeping their cushy jobs and I suspect they’ve gotten a taste of how fed our their constituents are from the recent election.
Now is the time to turn up the heat and inspire some action.
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.