News Releases

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chambliss, Isakson Urge Colleagues to Make Second Amendment Protections Permanent

WASHINGTON - In their continuing effort to protect Second Amendment rights, U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., have joined 28 of their Senate colleagues in urging the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to keep House-passed Second Amendment protections in place in the Fiscal Year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

While the House-passed version of the CJS legislation made permanent nine separate Second Amendment protections, amendments to add those same protections to the Senate version of the bill never received a vote in the Senate despite the fact there was broad, bipartisan support for all of them. The bill is now in a House-Senate conference committee where lawmakers are reconciling the differences between the two versions of the bill. Isakson, Chambliss and their colleagues who signed the letter below are urging the conference committee to maintain the permanent Second Amendment protections contained in the House-passed version.

The senators wrote that "Congress has taken many actions to preserve Second Amendment rights and prevent undue encroachment on those rights on the part of the executive branch." The senators also noted that "most of these protections have been in place for a number of years - some going back as far as three decades - and none of them have been the source of any significant controversy."

In addition to Chambliss and Isakson, those who signed the letter included Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Max Baucus (D-MT), John Barrasso (R-WY), Mark Begich (D-AK), John Boozman (R-MS), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The full text of the letter is below and is available here.  

 

                                                                                November 3, 2011

The Honorable Daniel Inouye                                                                     The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chairman                                                                                                             Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations                                                    House Committee on Appropriations    
Washington, DC 20510                                                                                   Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski                                                                The Honorable Frank Wolf                          
Chairman                                                                                                             Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,                                                   Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
   Science and Related Agencies                                                                    Science, and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations                                                    House Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510                                                                                   Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairmen:

                As supporters of the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding gun owners, we are writing to urge the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to maintain several House-passed firearms provisions in the upcoming Conference Report on H.R. 2112, the legislative vehicle for the Fiscal Year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.  While these provisions had broad, bipartisan support in the Senate, the amendments that would have reinstated these provisions in the Senate version of H.R. 2112 did not receive a vote. 

                Over the years, Congress has taken many actions to preserve Second Amendment rights and prevent undue encroachment on those rights on the part of the Executive Branch.  One of the most common ways in which Congress has accomplished this goal has been through a number of general provisions in CJS Appropriations bills.  Most of these protections have been in place for a number of years - some going back as far as three decades - and none of them have been the source of any significant controversy. 

                The House CJS Appropriations bill (H.R. 2596) made permanent nine separate Second Amendment protections.  However, the Senate version of H.R. 2112 stripped the House language and extended these protections only through Fiscal Year 2012.  We believe these protections should not be subject to yearly reinstatement, they should be permanently fixed in the law. 

                Specifically, the House-passed provisions would make permanent the following protections:

  • Firearms Database Prohibition.  A prohibition on the use of funds to create, maintain or administer a database of firearms owners or their firearms. This prohibition has been in place since FY 1979 and prevents the federal government from establishing a national gun registry.
  • Curio and Relic Definition.  A prohibition on the use of funds to change the definition of a "curio or relic."  This provision protects the status of collectible firearms for future generations of firearms collectors. This provision has been included since Fiscal Year 1997.
  • Physical Inventory Prohibition.  Prohibition on a requirement to allow a physical inventory of Federal Firearms Licensees.  The Clinton Administration proposed a rule in 2000 to require an annual inventory by all licensees. While the Bush Administration eventually withdrew the proposal, Congress has still passed this preventive provision every year, beginning in FY 2007.
  • Information Retrieval Prohibition.  A prohibition on the use of funds to electronically retrieve personally identifying information gathered by federal firearms licensees. This provision prohibits the creation of a gun registry from dealers' records that are required by law to be surrendered to the federal government when a dealer goes out of business. This provision has been included since       FY 1997.
  • Business Activity.  A prohibition on the use of funds to deny a Federal Firearms License (FFL) or renewal of an FFL on the basis of business activity. This provision prohibits BATFE from denying federal firearms license applications or renewals based on a dealer's low business volume alone.  Congress added this general provision in FY 2005.
  • Information Gathering Prohibition.  A prohibition on the use of funds to maintain any information gathered as a part of an instant background check or to maintain information for more than 24 hours. This provision protects the privacy of law-abiding gun buyers by prohibiting information about legal gun purchases from being kept by government authorities. It has been included since FY 1999.
  • Firearms Trace Data Disclaimer.  A requirement that any trace data released must include a disclaimer stating such trace data cannot be used to draw broad conclusion about firearms-related crime.  This provision has been included since FY 2005.
  • Firearms Parts Export to Canada.  A prohibition on the use of funds to require an export license for small firearms parts valued at less than $500 for export to Canada.   This provision removed an unnecessary and burdensome requirement on U.S. gun manufacturers that was imposed under the Clinton Administration.  It has been included since FY 2006.
  • Importation of Curios and Relics.  A prohibition on the use of funds to arbitrarily deny importation of qualifying curio and relic firearms. This provision insures that collectible firearms that meet all legal requirements for importation into the United States are not prevented from import by Executive Branch fiat. This provision has been included since FY 2006.

Once again, these are non-controversial protective measures that have long had the support of members of both parties.  Had a vote taken place, they most certainly would have been included in the Senate bill.  Once again, we urge the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, particularly those who will serve on the upcoming Conference Committee on H.R. 2112, to work to ensure that the language making these protections permanent are included in the Conference Report.

Thank you for your attention regarding this matter.