By Jeff Crane, President
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will take up both the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8) and the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 1112). Both bills would have impacts on sportsmen and women and will likely result in firearms sales being curtailed among this responsible, and law-abiding community. Not only will this demographic be subjected to unnecessary restrictions on their time-honored pastimes, but conservation funding through the American System of Conservation Funding (wherein the sales of firearms and ammunition is one of the primary drivers of funding on which state fish and wildlife agencies rely) may also be impacted.
Both H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 have received considerable attention in both the pro-gun and anti-gun crowds. However, these are only two of the many firearms bills that are being actively debated throughout the nation. Turning to the states, CSF has been tracking more than 200 anti-gun bills since January 1. Common themes among these bills include the institution of waiting periods, restrictions on standard capacity magazines, restrictions on “assault” weapons, more rigorous background check requirements, microstamping of ammunition, firearms purchaser registries, and a host of other items.
As one might expect, much of this activity is occurring in the northeastern region, but all regions are dealing with an increase in anti-gun legislation this year. In the Midwest, our staff is presently tracking 49 anti-gun bills at this time. Some of the typical magazine and “assault” rifle bans are once again in play, as well as a few new ideas from Illinois that are particularly troubling. One bill (H 888) would allow the Department of State Police to search an individual’s social media accounts to determine if there is any information available that would disqualify them from owning a firearm. There is also a bill (H 2253) that would require that all handgun ammunition in the state be serialized.
In the 11-state northeast region, we’re now tracking nearly 100 anti-gun bills, with 46 of them in New York alone. However, it is not just the Empire State that is dealing with an increase in anti-gun legislation this year. Every single state within the region is grappling with this issue to some degree or another. A few standouts include a bill in Connecticut that would impose a 50% sales tax on ammunition (H. 5700), and bills in Maryland (SB 737 and HB 786) to create a firearms registry, institute a firearms licensing system, restrict firearms sales, and establish a waiting period on firearms transfers, to name a few.
The southeast region, which is historically known to be comparatively pro-gun, is also dealing with many anti-gun bills this year. A few noteworthy ones include Florida House Bill 455, which would place restrictions on both modern sporting rifles and standard capacity magazines, and North Carolina H 86, which would require a permit for purchasing a firearm, establish a waiting period, and mandate safe storage requirements, among other provisions.
Finally, in the west, Hawaii and Oregon both take top honors for bad ideas for the region, which is presently tracking 49 anti-gun bills at this time. In Hawaii, HB 25 would prohibit any person, including a hotel guest, from storing, keeping, carrying, or possessing any firearm or ammunition in any hotel room assigned to a guest, with certain exceptions. Oregon’s SB 501 would institute a permitting process for firearms ownership, ban magazines over 5 rounds, require trigger locks, limit ammo purchase to 20 rounds/month, require background checks on ammunition purchases, institute a 14-day waiting period on firearms purchases, and limit such purchases to one rifle/shotgun a month.
Our staff will continue to track and engage on these high-priority bills throughout the legislative session. If you wish to be kept up-to-date on specific pieces of legislation in real-time, please consider signing up for our Tracking The Capitols service or subscribing to our weekly newsletter, The Sportsmen’s Voice.