Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.
Tucked away in committee on Capitol Hill is a firearm licensing bill that Second Amendment advocates worry may just be waiting for the right “Columbine moment” to emerge and effectively ban handguns in the U.S.
As WND reported, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., sponsored H.R. 45, an extensive licensure law that creates a national database of current firearm owners, requires psychiatric testing and fingerprinting to obtain a license and places new restrictions on gun use and storage.
Mike Hammond, legal adviser with Gun Owners of America, told WND that H.R. 45 gives the federal government so much power over gun ownership that the wrong administration could use it to “bring gun ownership in America to an end.”
“It takes semi-automatic firearms and handguns – the guns people use for personal self-defense,” Hammond said, “and sets up a licensure system, that is, the government would have to give you permission to own a gun. The government can therefore also deny that permission, and it would mean an anti-gun administration could use it to effectively ban most guns from private ownership.
“Even if you are willing to undergo a psychiatric exam, be fingerprinted and do what the bill requires to obtain a license, the law still requires the guns be unloaded and locked up,” Hammond added. “It renders the gun practically unavailable for self-defense.”
And even though H.R. 45 has remained dormant in the House Judiciary Committee since it was introduced, Hammond told WND his organization is worried it may not stay there.
“Our concern is that Rep. Rush comes from same political machine that Barack Obama comes from,” Hammond said. “So we have a real concern that Rush’s introduction of this reflects the thinking of an Obama administration. And while we don’t think this bill will be the first thing that the president pushes, before the Obama administration uses a Columbine incident to bring the bill alive, while it’s still lying on its back [in committee], we want to put a stake through its heart.”
Hammond summarized, “Ultimately if a license system is in place, any anti-gun administration can come after your guns.”
H.R. 45, alternatively known as “Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009,” is named after an Illinois teenager killed by 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.
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.”
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 and release of mental health records to the attorney general.
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 also 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.