Forty-seven House Republicans sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner today urging him to refuse to bring to a floor vote any gun-policy legislation that isn’t backed by a majority of Republicans – first and foremost including a push for expanded background checks.
“The Second Amendment is the stronghold of our Constitutionally-protected freedoms,” they said in a joint statement. “As constitutional conservative Members of Congress, we have taken an oath to defend those rights from all infringements. However, the push for universal background checks takes the right to bear arms, which should be protected by the government, and transforms it into a privilege granted by the government. This is both unlawful and unacceptable.
“While our hearts go out to the victims of all violent gun crimes, we must not let the emotions of such tragedies dictate policy that will only affect law-abiding citizens,” the lawmakers continued. “Therefore, we urge Speaker Boehner and our Republican leadership to soundly and publicly reject all efforts to breach our Second Amendment protected rights – starting first by standing up to universal background checks.”
I’m having trouble deciphering some of the signatures, and neither Broun’s nor Stockman’s office responded to my request for a clean list. The one California member’s name that I can clearly discern is that of Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville, a House freshman and former state Senator and Assemblyman who has an “A” grade from the National Rifle Association.
Read the letter in its entirety, after the jump…
Dear Speaker Boehner,
We are writing to express our strong opposition to legislation requiring private sale background checks for firearms purchases.
The so-called “universal background check” system would be a violation of Constitutionally-guaranteed rights on an unprecedented scale. The principle that no person can purchase or sell a firearm without first receiving government permission transforms the Second Amendment from a “right” that should be protected by the government into a privilege granted by the government.
In addition to constitutional concerns, even if every private transfer of firearms were regulated by the federal government, it would not be an effective crime fighting tool. Typically, shooters steal firearms (Adam Lanza), pass a background check (James Holmes and Jared Loughner) or receive their firearms through straw purchasers (which is already illegal).
Such a law would apply to transfers between family members, friends and neighbors, who would be required to seek out a federally licensed gun dealer to facilitate the transaction. Many sellers in very rural areas would find it a great hardship to travel many miles, accompanied by their purchasers, in order to make a sale in a licensed dealer’s place of business. And many small dealers are closed on weekends and holidays. Will the people’s right to transfer lawfully owned products be valid only during working hours?
We are also very concerned about the potential for official misuse and gun owner registration, as the BATFE is increasingly copying the contents of gun dealers’ 4473 forms.
Universal background check legislation is also opposed by the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, the National Association for Gun Rights, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and other national and state level pro-Second Amendment organization.
Therefore, under the precedents and traditions of the House, we would ask that no gun legislation be brought to the floor of the House unless it has the support of a majority of our caucus.