By Jeff Knox
Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- Congressional staffers are quietly trying to lower expectations of gun owners for the 2017 session of Congress.
While rights activity took a big bounce in the first month of the Trump administration, it didn't take long for rights to move to the back seat.
The two bills most touted, and enthusiastically received by GunVoters, are national carry reciprocity and deregulation of silencers.
Both of those proposals received quite a bit of attention from politicians, the media, and rights groups – both pro and anti – but neither of them is making much progress.
Other good legislation, like Rep. Rob Bishop's bill to remove “sporting purpose” language from the Gun Control Act, haven't even been introduced this year, or have been mostly ignored.
The big surprise this year was the wide support for the Hearing Protection Act, H.R.367. This is something that we at The Firearms Coalition have been working on for at least a decade.
The legislation was first introduced by Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon in the 114th Congress, but it didn't generate a whole lot of interest. Salmon retired last year, and there was some question as to whether a similar bill would be brought up in the 115th Congress. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) ran with it straight out of the gate though, and it quickly gathered steam in the post-election euphoria.
As of this writing, H.R.367 has 137 cosponsors, including 3 Democrats (of 435 members of the House) and is languishing in the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. It is also worth noting that when I went to Congress.gov to check the cosponsor count, H.R.367 was listed as Number 3 in the list of most viewed bills.
H.R.38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, came in at Number 6 on that list. This demonstrates that there is definitely public interest in these bills, while there's not much action.
The Senate companion bill to H.R.367 is S.59, introduced by Mike Crapo (R-ID). It currently has 13 cosponsors, none of them Democrats, and is on hold in the Senate Finance Committee.
As to the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which was NRA's flagship bill going into the 115th Congress, it currently has 188 cosponsors, including 3 Democrats, and is also stuck in the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
A somewhat different version of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) as S.446. It has 36 co-sponsors, and has been relegated to the Senate Judiciary committee.
Another set of bills that have been introduced and are of interest to GunVoters, are H.R.1537 and S.162, labeled as the Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2017. This matching legislation was introduced by Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
They deal exclusively with Washington D.C., taking authority for certain firearm restrictions away from the D.C. government, and authorizing D.C. residents to purchase firearms in Maryland or Virginia. It also would make D.C. a “shall issue” district. The bills have only one cosponsor in the House, none in the Senate, and show little sign of life at all.
So, the big question now is: How do we get national reciprocity and hearing protection out of committees and onto the floors of the House and Senate for votes, and ultimately to President Trump's desk for his signature?
Everyone realizes that Congress has quite a bit on their plates right now, but the reality is they always have a lot on their plates, and there are always plenty of excuses as to why they can't act on our legislation right now. Another reality is that passage of either of these bills in the Senate is very unlikely.
Chuck Schumer would undoubtedly call a filibuster, requiring us to get 60 votes to pass these. If all of the Republicans in the Senate, and all of the self-proclaimed “pro-gun” Senate Democrats were to vote for them, we would probably still fall at least one vote short.
The good news is that forcing a vote in the Senate could significantly impact the 2018 elections, and shift the balance of power farther in gun owners' favor. Mathematically, Republicans have a huge advantage in 2018, because 27 Democrat-held seats (including 2 “Independents” who caucus with the D's), and only 7 Republican-held seats, will be up for election.
There are 7, supposedly “pro-gun” Democrats from solidly pro-rights states, among that 27, and all of them are considered vulnerable. There are also vulnerable Democrats running in 3 other strong pro-rights states. Pushing a vote now would put them all on record before the election, increasing the odds that GunVoters would rise up and ensure their defeats.
What's more, the fear of GunVoter reprisals at the polls, just might be enough to push one or two of those vulnerable, anti-rights senators into bucking their party and voting for passage of these bills. It's a win for gun owners either way, and there's no downside for Republicans.
The Senate is where action is needed and where action will make a difference, so call your Senators every week and tell them you want votes on S.59 and S.446. The Capitol Switchboard number is 202-224-3121, or find them on www.Congress.gov.
About Jeff Knox:
Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox lead many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA.