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When people oppose Federal Bill H.R. 127, this is the question that often gets asked in response. And—on the surface—it seems like a sensible question to ask.
Federal background checks and licensing only affect people with some sort of criminal record, right?
There’s a fair argument that this question is nonsensical, to begin with. But there’s also at least one legitimate answer, should you take the question seriously.
Here’s the point-by-point response to the idea that this bill won’t be an issue, so long as you’re a law abiding citizen.
Firearm Registration (Section 2)
Registering a firearm requires the owner to supply the make, model, and serial number of the firearm. The purchase date and information about where the firearm will be stored must also be supplied, along with the identity of the owner. All of this information will be stored in a searchable federal database.
Given the track record of the government, it’s questionable whether or not they’ll be able to protect all this information from cyber attacks. But that’s not the biggest issue with this section.
The cybersecurity of the database isn’t a huge deal because the bill specifies that the database must be searchable by the general public. Putting your information into this database is potentially doxing yourself, including giving out information about where your gun is stored.
And you’d be required to submit your information to this database if you own a gun. So there are some huge potential personal safety issues involved with this section.
Firearm License (Section 2)
This requires obtaining a federal license to own a firearm.
To get a license, one must:
- Pass a NICS background check.
- Completes a psychological evaluation.
- Completes 24 hours of firearms training.
- Be covered by an appropriate insurance policy.
- Pay an $800 licensing fee.
This is actually more extreme than it sounds. Sure, everyone already has to pass a NICS background check when they purchase a firearm. It costs $25.
However, 24 hours of firearms training is a lot. Currently, most shooting courses fall between 3 and 8 hours, with some of the more extensive courses hitting about 16 hours.
But, an 8 hour course can cost around $250. A 16 hour course can run you around $500. You can do the math to get to 24 hours of training. Sure, less expensive classes might pop up if the legislation passes. But lowering the price will certainly impact the quality of the training.
An approved insurance policy will probably cost at least a couple hundred bucks a year.
Then there’s the $800 fee.
There’s even more to dissect in the details about what will be considered acceptable training, insurance requirements, and how the psychological evaluation will be conducted. There are tons of logistical and bureaucratic landmines there.
But, my biggest issue with all of this is that this is legislation against economically underprivileged people.
As a firearms instructor, one of my goals is to make training as affordable as possible. It’s the single mother who lives in a one bedroom apartment in the worst part of town who most needs a gun and the skills to use it for self-defense. She’s at the most risk.
But this legislation will price the people who need it most out of owning a gun for self-defense. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, it seems like the people who wrote this bill only want the wealthiest people to have access to guns.
I have nothing against wealthy people owning guns. Guns for everyone, as far as I’m concerned.
But having the best tool to defend oneself shouldn’t be a right reserved for the economically elite. And that’s what the licensing aspect of this bill will do.
Partial Ammunition Ban
I’ll keep this short, since the ammunition restrictions—although sucky—are the least worrisome part of this bill. The provisions are really nothing new.
In short the legislation bans purchasing or possessing any ammo larger than .49 caliber (.50 caliber and larger), and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Some states already have similar regulations in place, which is why this isn’t particularly innovative. And (if there’s anything good to say about this bill), it doesn’t prohibit you from owning appropriate defensive ammunition.
But, even if this part of the bill were any good, it’s still attached to the registration and licensing legislation, which is super bad. So this last section still sucks pretty bad.
If You’re Not a Criminal, What’s The Problem?
The problem is that this bill essentially makes being poor a crime that excludes you from owning a gun.
No, this isn’t explicitly stated. But the registration and licensing requirements drive the financial burden of owning a gun up to the point where only the most economically elite will be able to afford a gun.
And that’s without even touching on all the gotchas that could be inserted into the insurance requirements, psychological evaluation, and mandatory training.
But—even without putting a tinfoil hat on—this legislation looks like politicians attempting to stop the majority of Americans from owning guns, without pissing off their wealthy benefactors.
Regardless of whether or not you believe gun control laws are the right solution to certain firearm abuses, this legislation isn’t an earnest attempt to solve that problem. It’s just an attempt to pick and choose who gets to own guns.
If you want to give your input to your representatives in congress and the senate, use the Firearms Policy Coalition HR127 action page to send emails to your reps.