(Another) Quiet Victory: NRA Thwarts Backdoor Gun Control

by
posted on February 22, 2022
Jason Ouimet

My subject this month is a largely-unnoticed near-miss that illustrates the value of an organization that never sleeps in the protection of your rights.

As with good health, it’s often what doesn’t happen that makes all the difference in the strength of the right to keep and bear arms.

The NRA is the Second Amendment’s immune system, constantly tracking and responding to any threats that would destroy its wellness and vitality.

Those exuding health and vigor as they age may make it seem easy to the rest of the world. But bystanders often fail to appreciate the work, deliberation and discipline that go into aging gracefully. 

Roughly 220 years after its ratification, the Second Amendment is at the peak of its strength and influence. And with developments like the Supreme Court’s renewed interest in the right, constitutional carry advancing in the states and a broader cross-section of gun owners than ever before, the outlook for its future is as favorable as ever.

That didn’t happen by accident, but because of the NRA’s staunch defense and advocacy during 150 years of that journey.

We can never take good health for granted. And we likewise can never preserve and expand our essential freedoms without constant vigilance and effort. This is only one such story of many others that could be told.

Congress last fall completed its work on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), sending this sprawling measure to Joe Biden’s desk for approval.

The NDAA is among a handful of “must-pass” bills on Capitol Hill, because we can’t have a government or a military unless our elected officials enact laws to fund it and to describe how those funds may be spent.

One might think legislation like this would place a sober concern for national security and for America’s role as the leader and protector of the free world over partisanship.

That, however, would be underestimating Washington, D.C.’s all-too-often petty politics.

Among the over 1,000 amendments introduced or attached to the bill were two especially consequential gun-control measures.

The first, offered by Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), would have gutted vital aspects of Export Control Reform for ordinary firearms and ammunition. This was one of President Trump’s most-significant pro-gun executive actions.

The point of this initiative was to make the U.S. firearms and ammunition industries more competitive on the world stage, while enhancing domestic and international security. It was based on the recognition that somebody has to supply the legitimate need for guns and ammunition internationally, and nobody can do it better or more responsibly than the United States.

The change creates a stronger industrial base for American gun owners, and we can all rest assured that U.S.-style oversight—unparalleled in its transparency, professionalism and thoroughness—plays a larger role in the international flow of arms.

Torres’ amendment, however, was designed to take export decisions out of the hands of national-security experts and to reintroduce congressional politics into the approval of these transactions. The result would have been delays, inefficiency and expense, leading international buyers to look elsewhere for their needs.

Another amendment, led by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), sought to subject American service members to the concept of “red flag” firearm-confiscation schemes. The U.S. military—a hierarchy where orders are expected to be followed without hesitation or argument—is increasingly subject to the Biden administration’s experiments in social engineering. This amendment was consistent with that trend.

It would have established a toehold for a federal regime of gun seizures for those merely accused of stepping out of line. This was a cynical move, targeting America’s guardians of liberty for an assault on one of America’s most unique and defining freedoms.

Thanks to the efforts of Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and many other pro-gun members of Congress, these terrible provisions were removed from the final version of the bill.

This is just the most-recent example of the difference the millions of NRA members make for freedom every day. Without NRA, our right to keep and bear arms would have been reduced to a privilege for the rich and politically connected long ago.

The NRA is the one organization with the access, awareness, reach, relationships, sophistication, and know-how to catch and defeat these efforts in their formative stages, before they attach themselves like tumors to huge spending bills that (unlike most) will inevitably pass.

That work goes on, even when it is unseen and unheralded. The proof is the pistol on your hip and the rifle protecting your home, freedoms that are now gone in “peer democracies” where there was no equivalent of the NRA standing guard. 

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