Tripping Gun Owners At The Border

posted on May 18, 2015

A law-abiding Texan can buy a gun in the Lone Star State with no problem. Likewise, a law-abiding Arkansan can legally purchase a firearm in Arkansas. Why, then, can’t a Texan—who can pass a background check—buy a handgun in Arkansas, or vice versa?

The answer is because a complicated web of red tape has bound up so much of our right to keep and bear arms over the past several decades. And this red tape is one of the major motivating factors behind the drafting of the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, a federal bill sponsored by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.V.). Their intention is to ease the restrictions that are typically piled onto firearm buyers and sellers as soon as they cross state lines. 

“For decades now, our gun laws have made it harder and more costly to legally purchase guns in other states and then safely bring them home,” Scalise announced. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation with my friend and colleague … in order to remove these burdensome and unnecessary restrictions so we can bring firearm laws into the 21st century.”We hear a lot these days about “common-sense” legislation pertaining to guns, and it’s nearly always code for more gun control.

Americans are known for being a people who move around, and we don’t like anything that restricts our freedom of movement. The complicated patchwork of gun laws that regulates everything from buying, to carrying, to storing a firearm has the effect of punishing gun owners for choosing to practice their Second Amendment rights. Any piece of legislation that takes a few snips at that red tape is certainly welcome.

The bill is also intended to benefit military families, who tend to spend their lives moving from one place to another. Service members and their spouses would be able to claim residence based on their state of origin, place of actual residence or state of deployment; currently only the last category is operative. So someone from Oklahoma, stationed in Georgia but living across the border in Alabama would be able to purchase a firearm in any of those states.

The Scalise-Mooney Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act would also be good for the economy. Licensed firearms dealers would be able to transfer firearms to out-of-state buyers, directly transfer them (without shipping) between each other and attend to business outside their state of residence. These conditions would likely have a positive impact on gun sales. The caveat, of course, is that the bill doesn’t supersede state law by making something legal that wasn’t before.

The bill’s vocal opponents seem to have either missed that principle or intentionally ignored it. Josh Horwitz, director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, made the public claim that Scalise-Mooney would make it possible for someone who couldn’t pass a background check in their home state to drive to a jurisdiction with looser requirements and purchase a firearm there.

That argument might be enough to give one pause—if it were even remotely true, that is. The reality is that firearm purchasers would still be expected to pass the requirements of their state of residence. A California buyer would still have to pass a California background check, even to buy a gun in Arizona.

So what’s all the fuss about? Have Scalise-Mooney’s opponents simply failed to read or understand the bill? 

That’s always possible. But the more likely answer is that anti-gunners will leap at any excuse to confine gun owners in more webs of red tape. They understand that setting up legal and financial disincentives to firearm ownership hurts the Second Amendment far more than demonstrations in Manhattan with celebrity speakers. They want this right to go away, and they don’t mind going after whomever or whatever it takes to achieve their purpose.

We hear a lot these days about “common-sense” legislation pertaining to guns, and it’s nearly always code for more gun control. The Scalise-Mooney bill, on the other hand, actually embodies common sense by cutting some of the red tape that confuses and constricts gun owners. 

Use Your Power

We shouldn’t allow the antis to control the narrative on this matter with more of their cynical half-truths and lies. Everyone gets a chance to weigh in on this bill. Let your representatives know that you support the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act by writing today.




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