Both the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation are ringing the alarm bells over impending moves by Democrats to ram through gun control legislation in the House in the coming days. In a tweet on Monday afternoon the NRA issued a warning that Nancy Pelosi plans to take up gun control as early as next week.
🚨BREAKING: Sources in DC report that Congress will be voting on Biden’s extreme gun control legislation as early as next week.
Possible that they will bypass committee process.
Stay tuned, NRA members.
— NRA (@NRA) March 1, 2021
Like the NRA, I’ve also heard that Democrats in the House could bypass the Judiciary Committee completely and bring the bill or bills directly to the floor for a vote.
So, what bills are the most likely candidates to be voted on? Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the NSSF, believes that Rep. Jim Clyburn’s Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 could be part of any gun control package that the House takes up. In a statement, Keane said that if the bill is the same as the version introduced in the previous session of Congress, the organization will be “as opposed to it now” as they were then.
This bill increases the burden on small business firearm retailer owners and flips the burden of proof on its head. This would make it incumbent upon the law-abiding citizen to prove his or her innocence to the government to exercise their Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm instead of the government being responsible for proving an individual is prohibited. This could potentially deny a law-abiding citizen their rights for up to a month, while they are saddled with the burden of proving their innocence. That’s un-American.
“Rather than placing further burdens on retailers and law-abiding gun owners, Congress should focus on adequately resourcing NICS. NSSF is the only organization that has successfully advocated for NICS to have the necessary resources to perform its mission in a timely manner.”
This is not a “universal background check bill,” but rather legislation that would allow the FBI to put a hold of up to 30 days on the transfer of a firearm, instead of the three currently allowed by law.
However, I’ve also heard from some sources on the Hill that a universal background check measure could also be introduced next week. At the moment, we have no idea what exactly Nancy Pelosi may try to ram through the House, but it appears as if we could see more than one piece of anti-gun legislation on the House floor with a matter of days.
Gun control groups have been pressuring Joe Biden to start moving on his gun control agenda, and I’ve thought for some time that it might be the next priority after the COVID relief bill gets to his desk. I have to admit, though, that I assumed Biden would issue executive actions rather than try to go to Congress first, given the uncertainty of success in the Senate, where Democrats would need to get 60 votes to secure passage. Howver, it’s also possible that Biden will sign one or more executive orders to coincide with the introduction of gun control legislation in the House.
A background check bill will certainly get the support of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, along with Republican Pat Toomey, but after that the math gets a little fuzzy for Chuck Schumer. He might be able to bring Susan Collins along, but I don’t know if Lisa Murkowski would be on board. After all, trying to abide by (much less enforce) a universal background check law in Alaksa would be virtually impossible. No one’s traveling hundreds of miles through the bush just to find an FFL so two friends can sell a gun to one another, and frankly, no one should be guilty of a federal crime if they failed to do so.
Given the fact that 60 votes would be a high threshold for Democrats, we have to assume that they’re going to look for any opportunity to pass the bill with 51 votes. Reconciliation would appear to be off the table, because this isn’t going to be a part of the budget process if they really do move on gun control starting next week.
I keep thinking about what Joe Biden told the Las Vegas Sun in a 2020 interview that was only recently released to the public. The Sun editorial board asked Biden, who was then just a primary candidate, how he would shepherd his gun ban through Congress if the votes weren’t there for passage.
So the way you give cover to some of our Republican friends who are scared of the NRA — and this outfit owns the White House right now — is you put it in a larger bill. So they (Republicans) say, “Look, I had to vote for it.”
You know, I have a 20-gauge and a 12-gauge shotgun. I’m a skeet shooter, and I used to go up and down the (Delmarva) Peninsula in Delaware and talk to the guys hunting and fishing. They’d say, ‘God darn, Joe, why are you taking my weapon away? You’re taking my shotgun.”
And I’d show ’em a picture of an assault rifle and I’d say, “You need this to hunt with? And you need a magazine with a hundred rounds or 30 rounds? You must be a lousy damn shot.”
The point is, it’s a totally salable idea.
Now, so far I’ve not heard any talk of Biden’s gun ban being introduced in the House, but that very could be part of any gun control package that Nancy Pelosi puts together. I think gun owners have to be very concerned about the prospect of Democrats using this strategy to get around the fact that they don’t have 60 votes for gun control in the Senate. There have already been grumblings on the Left about trying this tactic to get a $15-per hour minimum wage. As Allahpundit, my colleague over at Hot Air, wrote earlier today, that strategy comes with a lot of risk for Democrats, both at the moment and when Republicans take back the Senate, which could happen as early as next year.
A minimum-wage hike could always be attached to a government funding bill or a bill to raise the debt ceiling in the belief that Republicans will have no choice but to surrender on it and provide the 60 votes needed. But Schumer presumably knows better than to call the GOP’s bluff on a matter of core right-wing economics like the minimum wage and how it affects small businesses. If Dems dared Republicans to vote no by sticking it in a must-pass bill, they’re apt to find that the bill wouldn’t pass after all and we’d suddenly face a shutdown or a debt crisis. Plus, it would invite reprisals from the next Republican majority, which will attach some core GOP wishlist item to a must-pass bill of its own and expect Democrats to choke on it the same way. It’s a nonstarter.
Are Democrat smart enough to avoid calling the GOP’s bluff on gun control? Second Amendment activists may soon have to ask their Senators to hold the line, even if it means a government shutdown.
For the moment, however, that is semi-informed speculation as to how this might play out. What we know is that multiple sources are hearing the same thing; Democrats in the House are preparing to start moving on gun control, possibly within days or next week, and could bring a bill or bills directly to the floor of the House to speed things along.