Last Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee debated and voted on legislation funding the Commerce and Justice departments. Some of the most contentious debate was reserved for gun issues, but the only amendment to pass is one that would be a significant boon for gun rights. The amendment blocks funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program requiring gun dealers in the southwest border states (and soon, if they get their way, the rest of the country) to report to the BATFE any multiple sale of semi-automatic, detachable magazine-fed rifles of greater than .22 caliber. According to The Hill, Democrats on the committee were outraged, and for a decidedly odd reason:
Democrats were outraged at the amendment, which they said would stop a program meant to counter gang violence and mass shootings.
“I know we are enthusiastic about guns — we love these guns — but we have a responsibility to the American public,” said Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.).
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said Americans will point to the amendment when someone mows down an innocent crowd, prompting an angry Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) to accuse her of playing partisan “games.”
Um--"mass shootings"? How many rifles need one buy within five days to carry out such an atrocity? Aren't most mass shootings planned long in advance, meaning that even if the aspiring mass murdered did for whatever strange reason need two or more rifles, he would have time to acquire them? Since this is only a reporting requirement, rather than a prohibition on buying more than one rifle within five days, how is it supposed to stop a massacre?
The justification we have always been given for the reporting requirement, dubious as it is, is that it will (somehow) curtail the rampant violence associated with the illegal drug trade in Mexico. How that squares with the Department of "Justice" deliberately "gunwalking" so-called "assault weapons" across the border, without even telling the BATFE's own attaché to Mexico, has never been explained. As little sense as that makes, though, it's at least far less ridiculous than justifying the sales reporting requirement with breathless fantasies of it somehow stopping someone from "mow[ing] down an innocent crowd."
That wasn't the only defeat for Democrat anti-rights zealots. They also failed to pass an amendment of their own--this one to allow the Attorney General to unilaterally block gun sales to "suspected terrorists"--who have not been convicted of any crime, not indicted, not even arrested or charged with any crime. There is grounds for some concern here, though:
Another gun amendment by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) [she and St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner have some history on this issue] and David Price (D-N.Y.) aimed at preventing gun sales to individuals on the federal terrorist watch list was withdrawn after [Republican Representative from Texas John] Carter offered to negotiate a compromise on it before the bill gets to the floor.
And what kind of "compromise" has he in mind? What kind of "compromise" with such a pernicious abomination can a free people accept? This bears watching.
And finally, Democrats failed to strip the funding bill of the years-old language known as the Tiahrt Amendment, after retired Representative Todd Tiarht (R-KS), which prohibits the BATFE from sharing some gun trace data beyond law enforcement circles, a practice that has in the past facilitated attempts to sue the gun industry out of existence.
Democrats keep telling us that they have no animus toward private gun ownership. They just don't manage to be very convincing.
Update: Reader Daniel Oliver makes an astute comment about the notion of stripping people's gun rights based on the mere assertion by the government that someone is a suspected terrorist:
Hmmm.. Anyone remember what Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said about people who supported the Bundys in their dispute with the BLM? That's right, he called them terrorists.
Rep. Lowey and friends are demanding a mechanism by which to disarm their political enemies. Pro tip, Lowey--don't go there. Not, at least, before our hands are cold and dead.