U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Dist. 8) has reintroduced a gun-control bill that last year remained buried in committee after significant NRA opposition. This year Moran hopes last month’s Newtown, Conn., massacre will lend some sway to the bill’s chances at becoming federal law.
According to Moran, the “NRA Members’ Gun Safety Act” bill, (H.R. 21), would implement five gun safety reforms that polling shows are supported by at least 63 percent of current NRA members.
Moran says research by Republican pollster Frank Luntz shows the five gun safety reforms in his legislation received overwhelming support from both gun owners and NRA members.
He adds that the provisions — several of which are drawn from gun safety legislation introduced by democratic lawmakers — also enjoy support from gun safety advocates.
Specifically, the legislation’s provisions would:
n Require background checks for every gun purchase
n Require background checks on gun shop employees
n Prohibit individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms
n Require gun owners to report to police when their guns are lost or stolen
n Establish minimum standards for concealed carry permits.
“The NRA has an opportunity to be proactive in the face of the Newtown tragedy, playing a constructive role in protecting the public in ways that do not undermine the Second Amendment in the eyes of their own membership,” Moran said. “The NRA’s absolutist position on gun issues is an impediment to the safety and security of the public. This legislation is designed to highlight that schism, offering popular proposals even NRA members support to prevent more gun-related tragedies.”
Currently, there are between 250 million and 300 million guns estimated by law makers to be owned by Americans. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, each year, approximately 100,000 people in America are shot with a gun, and over 10,000 are murdered using a firearm. In 2008 and 2009, 5,740 children — “one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years” — were killed by guns.
Calls made to NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam seeking comment on Moran’s bill were not immediately returned, but Mike Stollenwerk, founder of Fairfax County-based pro-gun group Opencarry.org, calls the legislation misguided.
“Bottom line, gun owners will oppose this bill if they read the details,” he said. “The bill is unacceptable and mostly unconstitutional on its face. Gun registration does not lead to increased public safety –– Adam Lanza used firearms purchased through background checks and registered in Connecticut –– one of the few states to require any gun registration –– to commit his murders. A teacher or parent armed with an unregistered handgun bought in a private sale could easily have stopped Adam Lanza and saved lives. This is what happens routinely in self-defense situations across America.”
Stollenwerk said some of the bill’s provisions are well-intended, but remain unconstitutional.
“OpenCarry.org members would have no problem with the provision requiring firearm dealer employees to undergo background checks as we think most states and/or dealers require this already,” he said. “It is also shameful that some states still do not provide all records of firearm disabling convictions and mental health adjudications to the National Instant check system (NICS), but Moran’s provision to ‘require’ states to only allow conceal carry with permits and to require states to change their permit laws, e.g., require training –– is plainly unconstitutional under well-known anti-commandeering doctrine.”
In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, Moran remains nonplussed by criticism.
“H.R. 21 goes after commonsense, popular, publicly polled, noncontroversial gun safety measures that a majority of NRA members support, yet remain opposed by the leadership at the NRA,” he said. “The NRA is working to block gun safety reforms, regardless of merit, and despite the schism between the group and their membership. In the wake of the most recent tragedy, enough is enough”.