Exclusive: Rep. Chip Roy introduces "No Backdoor Gun Control Act"

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas unveiled a new pro-Second Amendment bill on Wednesday designed to ensure that the ATF can’t use its regulatory power under the National Firearms Act to re-label many current firearms as “Any Other Weapon” and subject them to federal registration and taxation requirements.

Billed as the “No Backdoor Gun Control Act,” the legislation would remove the category of “Any Other Weapon” from the statutory language of the NFA, as well as require the ATF to destroy all registration records dealing with AOW within a year of the bill’s passage.

What exactly does the ATF consider to be an AOW? Here’s the agency’s current definition:

The term “any other weapon” means any weapon or device capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive, a pistol or revolver having a barrel with a smooth bore designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell, weapons with combination shotgun and rifle barrels 12 inches or more, less than 18 inches in length, from which only a single discharge can be made from either barrel without manual reloading, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire. Such term shall not include a pistol or a revolver having a rifled bore, or rifled bores, or weapons designed, made, or intended to be fired from the shoulder and not capable of firing fixed ammunition.

Roy says this bill should be seen as part of a broader push designed to check the expansive regulatory power of the ATF, including legislation like HR 4312 and HR 1758, which would remove short barreled shotguns and short barreled rifles from being regulated under the National Firearms Act. According to the Texas Republican, though, those efforts could be undone without the additional protections offered by his bill.

“Bearing arms in self-defense is a human right,” Roy says. “It is evident from the ATF’s behavior that, under Joe Biden’s Department of Justice, the agency is hellbent on attacking the Second Amendment through every means at its disposal. I am grateful for my colleagues’ work in Congress to remove short-barreled rifles and shotguns (SBRs, SBSs) from regulation under the National Firearms Act. However, should that legislation be successful in doing so, the NFA’s ‘Any Other Weapon’ provision would still allow an anti-gun administration to use the ATF to unilaterally regulate these firearms, and, more importantly, target their owners. The No Backdoor Gun Control Act would close this notable loophole and help protect law-abiding gun owners.”

While I wish these bills had a chance of passage under the current leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, their more immediate impact is in highlighting the stark differences between congressional Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the Second Amendment. Many D.C. Democrats aren’t all that interested in pushing Joe Biden’s gun control plans ahead of Election Day, despite pressure from the gun control lobby to take advantage of their nominal control of both chambers of Congress, especially given recent polling showing that gun control is political poison with rural voters.

No matter how much they might downplay their desire gun control before the midterms, the concern by most Democrats is over the timing, not the substance of anti-gun legislation. Ideologically, they’re still firmly committed to criminalizing our right to keep and bear arms, and honestly, I’m sure most of them are fine with the Biden administration using agencies like the ATF to take the lead on the issue for the next few months.

If Democrats manage to stave off disaster and a red-wave election in November, they’ll be much more willing to put a gun ban bill on the floor of the House and Senate afterwards. Heck, they might even try to do something in the lame duck session if and when they do lose control of one or both chambers.

Republicans, on the other hand, don’t appear too gun shy about offering up pro-2A legislation ahead of the midterms, and Roy’s legislation has already drawn support from nearly two dozen GOP co-sponsors. Not only would this bill be a dramatic improvement for millions of American gun owners if it were to become law, it looks like it will be a campaign issue for many conservatives hoping to put a solid Second Amendment majority in place in the House come November.