Legislative Priorities in the 112th Congress

I don’t know what NRA is thinking, but I’m thinking our two top priorities need to be:

  • Trying again for national reciprocity.
  • Federal preemption of state and local gun bans.

I know that NRA probably also wants to push ATF reform, and I agree this is important, but these two issues can be carried out using Congress’ Section 5 enforcement powers under the 14th Amendment. There is court precedent in the case of City of Boerne v. Flores, which stated that Congress did not have enforcement powers that were more broad than the Court has established. Justice Kennedy’s opinion from that case:

Legislation which alters the meaning of the Free Exercise Clause cannot be said to be enforcing the Clause. Congress does not enforce a constitutional right by changing what the right is. It has been given the power “to enforce,” not the power to determine what constitutes a constitutional violation.

There have been subsequent cases backing up this one, which could make both of these legislative actions problematic. But I am not one to believe the Supreme Court’s rulings were chiseled on stone tablets brought down from Mount Horeb. There is language in Heller to support both of these. Let the Congress tell the Supreme Court what they think the breadth of the Second Amendment is, and let the Supreme Court tell the elected branches of government why that is not the case. Personally, I think they’ll be very reluctant to overturn Congress’ determination.

I believe these two items are more important than ATF reform because they put us on the offensive in the Courts, rather than the defensive. Rather than having to justify why certain restrictions are unconstitutional, we leave our opponents arguing why an Act of Congress is beyond its Section 5 powers under the 14th Amendment. ATF reform is great, but it doesn’t help us much in our struggle to define the meaning of the Second Amendment, which is the most important thing we’re facing right now.

8 thoughts on “Legislative Priorities in the 112th Congress”

  1. I agree with the National Reciprocity deal.

    Not sure I agree on preemption. I will think on that.
    What I want to explore in more detail is how we could accelerate voting referendums more. Let the politicians punt some tough decisions and let the people directly decide. Technology should allow for this now!

  2. Are you sure you want preemption in place the next time the Dems are in charge and an AWB is looking good? Or something more “reasonable” like adding a training requirement to the national license to carry?

    Preemption can cut both ways; in PA we’re lucky that it only cuts one direction. I don’t trust the feds on this.

  3. As much as I don’t like “licensing” a right, I could go for national reciprocity as an incremental step.

    Of course, I believe that abolishing the ATF in it’s entirety is the best course of action. We need to cut wasteful spending – and the ATF is an extremely wasteful spend And it should be easier and less antagonistic than cutting entitlements will be.

  4. I’d prefer that as well, but I don’t know how feasible it is. If they were abolished, enforcement would probably fall to the FBI. A lot of the agents would likely be transferred. Much of what ATF reform aims to do would need to be done even if you abolished the agency.

  5. Why posit this as either/or? Especially since ATF reform can be conducted as a fiscal issue.

  6. Define Federal “sensitive places” in US Code as “places with physical access restrictions and not accessible by the citizenry in the normal course of business”.

    Then, mirroring “Park Carry”, declare that non-sensitive Federal facilities will have carry regulations no more restrictive than local state law.

    We instantly get rid of Post Office carry restrictions as well as the need to disarm to go into non-Court, military or law enforcement customer parking lots and lobbies to do business with our public servants.

    Doesn’t change things a whit in “employee’s only” areas or on military bases, etc.

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