“NO” on Senate Gun Bill

This week, the Senate is expected to take up the so-called Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S.649), which would undermine Americans’ constitutional rights and do little to prevent horrific crimes such as the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

First and foremost, any legislation must respect Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms.  The Heritage Foundation explains the “Second Amendment drew no fundamental distinction between an individual’s right to defend himself against a robber and that same individual’s right to band together with others in a state-regulated militia.”  As such, it “protects the right of individuals to privately keep and bear their own firearms that are suitable as individual weapons for hunting, sport shooting, self-protection, and other lawful purposes.”

The bill’s “universal background check” is better understood as a “gun tax.”  Heritage’s Senior Vice President for Legal and Judicial Policy David Addington explains:

Title I of the Reid gun control bill purports to “fix gun checks.” The proposed “fix” in section 122 of S. 649 is to take away an individual’s right to sell or give away a firearm to another individual unless, in most cases, the individual (1) uses a licensed importer, dealer, or manufacturer to make the transfer of the firearm and (2) pays a fee to that importer, dealer, or manufacturer to make the transfer. The individual transferring the firearm is not actually receiving a service; the federal government is receiving the service. The service the government gets is a background check on the intended recipient of the firearm, because the law requires the importer, dealer, or manufacturer to run the recipient through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. 

Forcing the individual to pay for the government-mandated service, which is in fact a service to the government, is in essence a federal tax on the individual. And the amount the individual pays as a fee is not limited by the legislation; section 122(a)(4) of the Reid bill enacts a new section 922(t)(4)(B)(i) of title 18 of the U.S. Code to grant to Attorney General Eric Holder the power to set the maximum fee by regulation.

Moreover, gun control laws do not lead to a decrease in violence nor does gun ownership correlate to increased violence.  As Heritage notes, “If gun control were a panacea, then Washington, D.C., Oakland, and Chicago, which have very strict gun control laws, would be among the safest places to live rather than among the most dangerous.”

In totality, the bill will not only fail to achieve the desired results, but by infringing on American’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms, it also fails to protect citizens’ right to self-defense.  Passage of “feel good” legislation will not make our communities or children safe because it will ignore the root cause of these complex problems.  Real, enduring solutions lie at the state and local levels, and within families and communities.

Heritage Action opposes S.649 and any procedural motions taken to get onto the bill, and will include the vote(s) as a key vote(s) on our legislative scorecard.

Key vote was originally announced April 2, 2013.

Heritage Action Legislative Scorecard
Heritage: Guns, Background Checks, and Your Rights
Heritage Action: Senate Bill: 8 Facts
Heritage Action: Senate Bill: Unprecedented Criminalization
Heritage Action: Senate Bill: Disrupting Legal Gun Use