Hysteria

Yesterday, a short notice appeared on the Senate Judiciary Committe website. It read in its entirety:

September 7, 2010

NOTICE OF COMMITTEE HEARING
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a hearing entitled “Firearms in Commerce: Assessing the Need for Reform in the Federal Regulatory Process” for Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

By order of the Chairman.

This notice was picked up by everyone from the Drudge Report to Gateway Pundit and assorted gun blogs. Unlike the general blogs, gun blogs didn’t fly into hysteria. Most assumed, correctly, that it was about the BATF Reform Act. SayUncle, David Codrea’s National Gun Rights Examiner, and others made the connection almost immediately.

Part of the problem is that the notice appeared near lunch time and people were away from their desks. Moreover, Erica Chabot, the Committee’s press secretary was out of the office on jury duty and couldn’t respond quickly.

With most everyone having free nationwide long distance with their cell plans, you would have thought that people would have just picked up the phone and called the Committee. That is what I did and what David Codrea did.

I ended up speaking with Stephen Miller, press secretary for the Republicans on the Committee. He said that the primary focus of the hearings would be on S. 941, the BATFE Reform and Firearms Modernization Act of 2009. He noted the Committee Chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy, was one of the 36 co-sponsors of the bill. Mr. Miller said he didn’t have a witness list yet so he could not be sure that the hearings wouldn’t take off on tangents into other areas. He did suggest that I speak with Erica Chabot. I ended up emailing her and got a response this morning.

FOR BACKGROUND PURPOSES ONLY:

The Judiciary Committee notices hearings one week in advance, and often times, witness lists are noticed a few days later. We are still working to finalize the witness list for this hearing, and once that is finalized, we will notice it on our website.

This hearing is intended to examine the BATFE’s practices for enforcing Federal laws against federally licensed firearms sellers and proposed legislation to make reforms and improvements to that system.

The hearing will look at S.941, legislation proposed by Senator Mike Crapo, of which Senator Leahy is a cosponsor along with a bipartisan group of 34 other Senators. The legislation is intended to improve the regulatory process for federally licensed dealers by, among other provisions, instituting a graduated penalty system, providing expanded administrative and judicial review of agency sanctions and revocations, and directing the Attorney General to produce investigative guidelines for the BATFE.

Sometimes the most obvious explanation is the correct explanation. That was the case here.

As an aside, the National Shooting Sports Foundation supports this bill and has asked people to contact their Senators to support it.


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