Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., is hoping to pass a firearm-licensing bill that would significantly rewrite gun-ownership laws in America.
Among the more controversial provisions of the bill are requirements that all handgun owners submit to the federal government a photo, thumb print and mental heath records. Further, the bill would order the attorney general to establish a database of every handgun sale, transfer and owner’s address in America.
The bill claims its purpose is “to protect the public against the unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of firearms to criminals and youth.”
Columnist David Codrea of Guns Magazine, however, calls it a “ridiculous affront to liberty.”
“This is nothing less than a declaration of war on American gun owners,” Codrea writes on the website Gun Rights Examiner.
Rush’s bill, H.R. 45, is alternatively known as “Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009,” named after an Illinois teenager killed by a gunshot.
According the bill’s text, “On the afternoon of May 10, 2007, Blair Holt, a junior at Julian High School in Chicago, was killed on a public bus riding home from school when he used his body to shield a girl who was in the line of fire after a young man boarded the bus and started shooting.”
The bill argues interstate firearm trafficking and children dying from gun violence create legitimate cause for the federal government to monitor gun ownership and transfers in new ways.
If passed, the bill would make it illegal to own or possess a “qualifying firearm” – defined as any handgun or any semiautomatic firearm that takes an ammunition clip – without a “Blair Holt” license.
To obtain a “Blair Holt” license, an application must be made that includes a photo, address, all previous aliases, thumb print, completion of a written firearm safety test, release of mental health records to the attorney general and a fee not to exceed $25.
Further, the bill makes it illegal to transfer ownership of a qualifying firearm to anyone who is not a licensed gun dealer or collector. Exceptions to this rule include transfer to family members by gift or bequest and loans, not to exceed 30 days, of a firearm for lawful purposes “between persons who are personally known to each other.”
The bill also requires qualifying firearm owners to report all transfers to the attorney general’s database. It would also be illegal for a licensed gun owner to fail to record a gun loss or theft within 72 hours or fail to report a change of address within 60 days.
And if a minor obtains a weapon and injures someone with it, the owner of the gun – if deemed to have failed to meet certain safety requirements – faces a multiple-year jail sentence.
H.R. 45 is a resurfacing of 2007’s H.R. 2666, which contained much of the same language and was co-sponsored by 15 other representatives and Barack Obama’s current chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel. H.R. 2666 was assigned to the House Judiciary committee, where no action was taken.
H.R. 45 currently has no co-sponsors and is likewise assigned to the House Judiciary committee.
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