While I have often been critical of the NRA when they have meddled in court cases or have brought cases with not enough focus, I have also recognized that they are very good in the electoral and legislative arenas. A prime example of their legislative expertise can be seen in the items included of interest to gun owners in the recent minibus appropriations bill.
Friday, November 18, 2011
The final conference report on the combined Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS) and Transportation/Housing/Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bills—also known as the “Mini-Bus,” was passed by both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, and has been signed into law.
One of the most important ways that Congress has protected the Second Amendment is through a number of general provisions included in various appropriations bills. Many of these provisions have been included in the bills for many years—some of the provisions go back almost three decades. This conference report is no exception, as it contains 12 provisions that strengthen the Second Amendment and protect the American people.
Specifically, the conference report makes PERMANENT the following protections:
- Firearms Database/National Gun Registry Prohibition. No funds may be used to create, maintain or administer a database of firearms owners or their firearms. This prohibition has been in place since Fiscal Year 1979, and prevents the federal government from establishing a national gun registry.
- Former Firearms Dealers Information Retrieval Prohibition. No funds may be used to electronically retrieve personally identifying information gathered by federal firearms licensees. The provision prohibits the creation of a gun registry from dealers’ records that are required by law to be surrendered to the federal government when a dealer goes out of business. This provision has been included since FY 1997.
- Information Gathering Prohibition/24-Hour Destruction of Records. A prohibition on the use of funds to retain any information gathered as a part of an approved instant background check for more than 24 hours. This provision protects the privacy of law-abiding gun buyers by prohibiting gun buyers’ personal information about legal gun purchases from being retained by government authorities for more than 24 hours after a firearm background check. It has been included since FY 1999.
In addition, the conference report adds two NEW provisions designed to bolster our gun rights and protect the Second Amendment from unelected bureaucrats who would twist the law to facilitate their gun-control agenda.
- Prohibit Funding for “Gun Walking” Operations. No funds may be used to knowingly transfer firearms to agents of drug cartels unless U.S. law enforcement personnel control or monitor the firearms at all time. This amendment is designed to prevent the Justice Department (or any government entity) from spending taxpayer dollars on “gun walking” programs like Operation Fast and Furious.
- Shotgun Importation Protections. Prohibits the Department of Justice from requiring imported shotguns to meet a “sporting purposes” test that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has used to prohibit the importation of shotguns with one or more features disliked by the Agency, such as adjustable stocks, extended magazine tubes, etc.
Finally, the conference report RETAINS the following provisions:
- Curio and Relic Definition. A prohibition on the use of funds to change the definition of a “curio or relic.” This provision protects the status of collectible firearms for future generations of firearms collectors.
- Physical Inventory Prohibition. Prohibition on a requirement to allow a physical inventory of Federal Firearms Licensees. The Clinton Administration proposed a rule in 2000 to require an annual inventory by all licensees. While the Bush Administration eventually withdrew the proposal, Congress has still passed this preventive provision every year since FY 2007.
- Business Activity. A prohibition on the use of funds to deny a Federal Firearms License (FFL) or renewal of an FFL on the basis of low business activity. This provision prohibits BATFE from denying federal firearms license applications or renewals based on a dealer’s low business volume alone.
- Firearms Trace Data Disclaimer. A requirement that any trace data released must include a disclaimer stating such trace data cannot be used to draw broad conclusion about firearms-related crime.
- Firearms Parts Export to Canada. A prohibition on the use of funds to require an export license for small firearms parts valued at less than $500 for export to Canada. This provision removed an unnecessary and burdensome requirement on U.S. gun manufacturers that was imposed under the Clinton Administration.
- Importation of Curios and Relics. A prohibition on the use of funds to arbitrarily deny importation of qualifying curio and relic firearms. This provision ensures that collectible firearms that meet all legal requirements for importation into the United States are not prevented from import by executive branch fiat.
- Transfer of BATFE Authority. A prohibition on the use of funds to transfer any duty or responsibility of the BATFE to any other agency or department. This provision was written in response to a Clinton Administration plan to transfer firearms enforcement to the FBI or Secret Service. It also prohibits the Executive branch from skirting the will of Congress by allowing another agency to implement policies the BATFE is prohibited from implementing.