After the deadly events that played out in Las Vegas, two controversial pro-gun bills moving through the House this fall are in the spotlight.
The first is the SHARE Act (Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act). Backed by the NRA, the 144 page bill covers a lot of ground.
Aiming to open current restrictions on hunting/shooting on public lands, the bill would reverse the ban on lead tackle and ammunition, allow bird shooting over unharvested crops, and end endangered species protection for Great Lake grey wolves and purchase of new bird habitats. Controversial components of the bill also involve bans on silencers and armor-piercing bullets.
A silencer muffles the noise of a gun once it’s shot. Currently, to obtain one you have to submit fingerprints, a photo and submit to a waiting period of 9 months or more. This waiting period is similar to the one required when you buy a machine guns or explosives. Plus, law enforcement keeps track of the purchase. And, there’s a $200 transfer tax. The Hearing Protection Act would abolish all these restrictions.
Those who support silencers say they protect hunter’s hearing from damage by muffling gunfire – not actually silencing it.
“It isn’t a silencer because it still makes sound, but what it does is cuts the percentage of the noise down to make shooting sports a little nicer for people’s hearing,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale (Butte County).
Those against it say it makes it harder for law enforcement and bystanders to hear and avoid active gunfire.
“What it does is it disperses the sound, so you can’t identify where the sound is coming from,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) who is also a hunter. “It puts both law enforcement and the public at risk.”
Another sticky issue: the bill proposes legalizing the sale of armor-piercing bullets if the manufacturer labels the ammunition as intended for “sporting purposes.”
Although Democrats have reported they expected a vote on the legislation this week, Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that the bill is not scheduled and he does not know when it’s going to be scheduled. The bill was previously delayed this summer when a shooter open fired on a congressional baseball game injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalia.
The other pro-gun measure moving through the House is called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow concealed carry permit holders to take their weapons across state borders, as long as it is allowed in the state they live in. The NRA says that the act would “ensure that law-abiding citizens do not forfeit their ability to protect themselves as they travel from state to state.”
Counterarguments are that “you’d have a situation where somebody could come from Arizona, where there is no permit required at all to carry a gun, and that person’s Arizona residency would override California law and allow anybody with an Arizona driver’s license or resident card to carry a loaded gun in the state,” Peter Ambler, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. This is clearly a concern to those of us in California, which has much stricter gun laws than our neighbors.
What can we do? What can our members of Congress do?
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi condemned the SHARE Act and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act after welcoming Rep. Scalise back to Congress.
She believes Republicans have enough votes to pass both bills, but Democrats can likely block them with a filibuster.
Our representatives in the East Bay have some of the lowest ratings from the NRA; you can thank them for their continued action to fight for our safety and for common sense. In particular, Senators Feinstein and Harris have just announced a bill that would close the loophole allowing modification of automatic weapons. And on October 4, the New York Times reported that Republican leaders may consider banning the kind of device that allowed the Las Vegas shooter to turn his rifles into weapons of mass destruction. Tell Senators Feinstein and Harris: “Thank you for your efforts at gun control. Please vote NO on the SHARE Act, and urge your colleagues to enact restrictions on devices that turn guns into automatic weapons. It isn’t too soon. We don’t need any more mass shootings!”
Although these bills are seemingly tabled for the present moment, it does not mean the NRA and pro-gun law lobby is backing down. They’ve been quoted as saying that right-to-carry remains a legislative priority as well as reforming law relating to suppressors.
And it’s their pattern to go quiet after a violent event.
“Their plan is to avoid the media until the story passes and then figure out someone else to blame,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Here’s a great list of 7 things from Everytown to fight the SHARE Act & Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to help pass common-sense gun laws.