Government report anticipates calls for gun control in Congress

NOVEMBER 18, 2012


The shootings in an Aurora, Colo., theater and the Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wis., make it “likely that there will be calls in the 112thCongress to reconsider a 1994 ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices,” a November 14, 2012 Congressional Research Service report on “Gun Control Legislation” obtained this morning by Gun Rights Examiner reveals.

That's hardly breaking news to those who monitor such things, but to see it coming out of an official report talking about a session that will end on January 3 of next year is indicative of a new-found confidence in the wake of the recent elections, and that's something to take note if.

The CRS reports are intended to advise Congress on issues, and are not officially posted online, a subject activists interested in keeping an eye on the horizon should work to rectify. The Open CRS website provides a collection of reports obtained through their channels and through reader submissions. While prior versions of CRS “Gun Control Legislation” reports are available there and on other websites, they do not yet include this report, now posted on this correspondent’s Scribd account (see link in first paragraph).

Providing a history of recent legislation in the introductory summary that includes House actions on Fast and Furious gunwalking, amending “a limitation on the Secretary of Defense’s authority to regulate firearms privately held by members of the Armed Forces off-base,” funding ATF for FY2013, passing the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012, establishing “a greater degree of reciprocity between states that issue concealed carry handgun permits,” and prohibiting “the Department of Veterans Affairs from determining a beneficiary to be mentally incompetent for the purposes of gun control, unless such a determination were made by a judicial authority based upon a finding that the beneficiary posed a danger to himself or others.”

Further actions on these developments require monitoring by activists and cognizance by gun owners. For example, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act has not been universally embraced by gun owners, and the last major action took place Thursday in the Senate with a motion by Harry Reid. Likewise, the reciprocity bill was last acted on in the Senate a year ago yesterday, and the veterans bill has been laying fallow in the Senate for over a year.

It’s important to keep track of such things, and effective citizens must be familiar with the THOMAS legislative tracking website, established “In the spirit of Thomas Jefferson” by the Library of Congress, to keep informed on the progress of bills as they move through the labyrinth. But also of critical importance is the ability to anticipate gathering storms, and the CRS report is an invaluable bellwether for that.
“This report also includes discussion of other salient and recurring gun control issues that have generated past or current congressional interest,” the summary continues. “Those issues include (1) screening firearms background check applicants against terrorist watch lists, (2) combating gun trafficking and straw purchases, (3) reforming the regulation of federally licensed gun dealers, (4) requiring background checks for private firearms transfers at gun shows, (5) more-strictly regulating certain firearms previously defined in statute as “semiautomatic assault weapons,” and (6) banning or requiring the registration of certain long-range .50 caliber rifles, which are commonly referred to as ‘sniper’ rifles.

“To set these and other emerging issues in context,” the summary concludes, “this report provides basic firearms-related statistics, an overview of federal firearms law, and a summary of legislative action in the 111th and 112th Congresses.”

It must be noted that the CRS report is not an advocacy document. It is meant to be a dispassionate analysis of what has happened and what is likely to occur, so gun owners who don’t like what it predicts must not make the mistake of killing the messenger.

Rather, concerned activists who demand transparent government should insist that they have a right to see the reports as they are released, so that they can see what their representatives are working with and influenced by, "in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson" and all. As the Open CRS website informs, “American taxpayers spend over $112 million a year to fund the Congressional Research Service, a ‘think tank’ that provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. Yet, these reports are not made available to the public in a way that they can be easily obtained.”

That should be considered unacceptable, especially since it took this correspondent about a minute to upload this latest report and post it to Scribd. Congress could make these reports available to We the People at virtually no cost, using existing web resources and taking mere moments of a clerical staffer’s time. For reasons of their own, they've decided not to.

A primary objection is that some CRA reports may contain copyrighted material reproduced with the understanding that it is to be limited to members of Congress and their staffs -- a pretty hollow excuse and one easily circumvented, again in moments, by producing a public version when needed with redactions and a citation reference (and link to the source when available).

As to the institutional and legal excuses for not publicly disseminating the reports, they appear in all but rare cases to be just that, and in any case, with the expansion of electronic distribution options since the objections were raised, and with the commitment of anti-government secrecy activists to shine a light on official activities, many have been rendered moot. Case in point, this latest report is now online in spite of government reluctance to let their employers have oversight. As to the worry that “Members may increase the number of confidential requests,” and with the understanding that CRA reports do not contain classified information, why shouldn’t there be a mechanism to tell the public who those members are and what topic they’re trying to sneak around on?

Why should your ability to access informational tools to help you maintain oversight on legislative activities that directly involve your rights be dependent, in this case, on some guy sitting in his den in Hudson, Ohio? If it can be done privately, on a Sunday morning over coffee, how unreasonable is it to expect some federal employee, making good money with benefits the private sector footing the bill can only dream about, couldn’t have posted this along with a boilerplate cover sheet press release last Wednesday afternoon when the report was submitted to Congress?

Perhaps your representative can answer, without equivocation or weasel words, why he or she hasn’t championed this to change (perhaps you’d care to ask). Because as we can see, some of these oath-breaking usurpers have targeted our unalienable rights, and that would be catastrophic to liberty if they’re allowed to get away with it. After all, if an asteroid is coming, it’s better to deflect it when it can still be done with a nudge rather than wait until its momentum is unstoppable.

Besides, where do you think the government got the money to run this operation from?

Government report anticipates calls for gun control in Congress - National gun rights |