Another day, another challenge to our Constitutional rights. Or a tribute to a fallen, heroic child. You decide. Just when I thought it was safe to open my email, I read another message from the National Association for Gun Rights, warning me that HR45 was set to severely limit my Constitutional right to bear arms. The email came complete with a video message from U.S. Representative Paul Broun (R-GA), encouraging me to get involved to stop this bill from becoming law. Well, no duh! Only, we here at TTAG like to get ALL the facts before we go off, um, half-cocked. Think of us as the guy who doesn’t forward those chain emails that claim you’ll save some kid’s pancreas if you forward the pull tabs from soda cans to the American Cancer Foundation, but instead checks to make sure it’s not an urban myth BEFORE we hit the “forward” button.
So I did a little investigation. (Actually, it took all of about 15 minutes to get to the bottom of this story. Google is an awesome tool. If everybody knew how easy it was to get to the truth, then EVERYbody would become a blogger. Oh, wait . . .) Turns out the story about HR45 is true—but it’s not The End Of Civilization As We Know It.
HR45 does exist. And it’s every bit as draconian a bill as it’s detractors would have you believe. According to Snopes.com (the Internet’s premiere site for debunking urban myths), the bill—-
- Prohibits possession of any handguns or any semiautomatic firearms that can accept detachable ammunition-feeding devices (excluding antiques) by anyone who has not been issued a firearm license.
- Requires all sales of those types of firearms to go through licensed dealers.
- Directs the Attorney General to establish and run a federal record-of-sale system.
- Requires the possessors of firearms to secure them (by secure gun storage or safety devices) when they are kept in locales where children might be capable of gaining access to those firearms.
The bill would require every gun owner to submit information to qualify for a license to own a gun. Any gun. The requirements for qualification are—
- a current, passport-sized photograph of the applicant that provides a clear, accurate likeness of the applicant
- the name, address, and date and place of birth of the applicant
- any other name that the applicant has ever used or by which the applicant has ever been known
- a clear thumb print of the applicant, which shall be made when, and in the presence of the entity to whom, the application is submitted
- with respect to each category of person prohibited by Federal law, or by the law of the State of residence of the applicant, from obtaining a firearm, a statement that the individual is not a person prohibited from obtaining a firearm
- a certification by the applicant that the applicant will keep any firearm owned by the applicant safely stored and out of the possession of persons who have not attained 18 years of age
- a certificate attesting to the completion at the time of application of a written firearms examination, which shall test the knowledge and ability of the applicant regarding:
- the safe storage of firearms, particularly in the vicinity of persons who have not attained 18 years of age
- the safe handling of firearms
- the use of firearms in the home and the risks associated with such use
- the legal responsibilities of firearms owners, including Federal, State, and local laws relating to requirements for the possession and storage of firearms, and relating to reporting requirements with respect to firearms
- any other subjects, as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate
- an authorization by the applicant to release to the Attorney General or an authorized representative of the Attorney General any mental health records pertaining to the applicant
- the date on which the application was submitted
- the signature of the applicant
Wow. This bill is a gun-grabber’s wet dream. Talk about an act that would strike at the heart of the NRA and every citizen in the country that believes in the right to defend themselves. Sheesh. But who is Bobby Holt?
Back in May of 2007, a 16-year-old honor student, Chicago-resident Blair Holt, was taking the school bus on his way to class. A teenage gang-banger started firing at the bus. Holt threw himself over a girl on the bus to protect her from the attack. He took a round in the abdomen and subsequently died.
At the funeral, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL, and former Black Panther member) promised to honor Holt’s memory and sponsor a strong anti-gun measure in Congress. One month later, the “Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act” was introduced by Rush onto the floor of the U.S. House, where it was promptly referred to a subcommittee. And there it sat, never to be voted on.
In January of ’09, Rush introduced what was essentially the same bill again, entitled “Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009” (H.R. 45). This bill was again referred to the House Subcommittee on on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, where it languishes to this day.
As the bill has not attracted even one, single, solitary co-sponsor, that’s not likely to change. Technically, the bill is still alive, but you could say (accurately) that this bill, at least in it’s current form has virtually no chance of ever making it out of the subcommittee and onto the floor of the House, much less the Senate.
It does serve a couple of useful purposes, however.
The bill allows Rep. Rush and other anti-gun advocates to feel as if they have Done Something Important, and have done their best to get the legislation passed – without actually doing anything. This makes it easier to raise money for reelection campaigns, especially when you represent a district that leans predominantly Left.
By having the bill sit in subcommittee, it provides cover for the Usual Suspects on the Left (Pelosi, et all) that would ordinarily support such a bill, even though they realize that it would cause a tsunami of opposition from both Conservatives and Centrists/Moderates. And because they’re name’s are not on the bill, they don’t have to sweat a full-frontal assault by the NRA and other pro-gun groups.
As to the bill’s value as a fund-raising tool for the National Association for Gun RIghts, the NRA, and other pro-gun lobbies, it’s huge. Couldn’t ask for a better stalking horse. This one’s gonna be responsible for raising money AND blood pressure.
What are it’s chances of passage? Slim and none, actually (and Slim just left town). Even after the atrocities at Virginia Tech and Fort Hood, this bill couldn’t attract a co-sponsor. It simply goes too far to be taken seriously. But . . . weirder things have happened. So it’s not absolutely impossible.
And in our post-ObamaCare atmosphere inside the Beltway, where it’s apparently okay to bribe, cheat, lie and prove that the Ends justify the Means, anything could happen. The same crowd that shoved Health Care Reform down our collective throats are the self-same people that support this kind of legislation.
Let’s get this straight. Blair Holt was a hero. By all accounts, he was a good kid – honor student, bright future, all the good things we see in our kids, apparently this young man exemplified. His death is a tragedy, any way you look at it. He died trying to save someone else’s life. The thugs that were responsible for firing weapons at a school bus (or anywhere outside of a gun range) should be brought to justice (if they haven’t been already).
But to use his death as an excuse to trample on honest, law-abiding citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights is not the way to honor his memory. And to be fair, I have a problem with groups that use bills like the one that bears his name as a way to inflame the populace and raise money for their organizations. I have no problem with using Holt’s death to encourage an honest and open debate regarding crime, guns, and gun violence.
But this kind of “let’s use a tragedy to get something through Congress that the majority opposes” or “let’s use this tragedy and the Left’s response to demonize those with a different point of view” makes a mockery of Holt and the heroic way he died.