If I want to buy a gun, it’s a pretty simple process in the state of Virginia. I go to my local gun shop, pick out the firearm I want to purchase, fill out a Form 4473, go through the background check, fork over my money once the background check is complete, and walk out the door.
If New Jersey congressman Andy Kim gets his way, however, we’ll all be subjected to a federal gun licensing scheme that would make it impossible to exercise your Second Amendment rights without first navigating a maze of bureaucratic red tape. On Thursday Kim introduced the “Responsible Gun Ownership Licensing Act,” which would impose a host of new restrictions on citizens before they’d be “allowed” to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms. From Kim’s own press release:
To obtain a federal firearm license, the Responsible Gun Ownership Licensing Act would require the following:
- Certification that the individual completed firearm safety training, which must include a written test and hands-on training to ensure safe use and accuracy.
- Completion of a criminal history background check.
The federal firearm license must be renewed every five years, with an additional background check and firearm safety training certification. The bill contains a mechanism for DOJ to revoke the license if the individual poses a danger to themselves or to others.
That’s just the tip of the anti-gun iceberg, so to speak. Kim’s bill is the House companion to a Senate measure introduced by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and a close read of the legislation reveals a number of other requirements of would-be gun owners.
Booker’s bill, for instance, would require license applicants to not only go through a background check but also submit their fingerprints to the DOJ. I’m surprised that Booker didn’t include a DNA swab, but I suppose that could always be introduced via an amendment. In addition to undergoing vague training standards that include a written course and live-fire training, applicants must submit “identifying information on the firearm that the person intends to obtain, including the make, model, and serial number, and the identity of the firearm seller or transferor.”
Now, this bill is patently unconstitutional, but it’s also completely unworkable. As part of your application to exercise a fundamental right you’re supposed to detail what particular gun you want to purchase, including its serial number? Under the legislation, the DOJ, which would have the responsibility of issuing licenses, can take 30 days to approve or deny an application. What happens if the gun you want to buy is sold before your application is approved? It sounds like you have to start the process all over.
Under the proposal from the New Jersey anti-gunners, you’d also have to undergo the same nightmarish process for every gun you want to buy. Part of the process also requires the Attorney General “provide notice of an application for a license under this section to the relevant State and local officials,” who would also have to sign off on your license before it could be approved. According to the text of the bill, those officials can declare you to be too dangerous to exercise your Second Amendment rights for any number of reasons, including arrests that don’t result in convictions and even “any recent acquisition of firearms, ammunition, or other deadly weapons.”
Ostensibly someone could be denied a license because their local police chief or county sheriff believes it’s too soon for them to purchase another gun after lawfully buying one at some point in the “recent” past. The Supreme Court has already rejected this kind of subjective and arbitrary licensing schemes in Bruen, but its clear that neither Booker nor Kim give a damn about what SCOTUS has to say about the Second Amendment.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, there were nearly 1.4 million firearm transactions last month. Can you imagine the expansion of the federal bureaucracy that would be necessary to do a deep dive on every one of those purchasers? The legislation attempts to avoid that by giving states an exception so long as they have a similar licensing procedure at the state level, but either way we’re still talking about a new army of bureaucrats whose job is to ration the exercise of a civil right.
The good news is that Kim’s bill isn’t going anywhere in the House, but that could all change if Democrats seize control of the chamber next November. Anti-gun politicians are already prepping a salvo of bills that would obliterate the right to keep and bear arms, and Kim’s proposal is in line with other legislation that would ban the sale and possession of so-called assault weapons and “large capacity” magazines, create a federal “red flag” law, and a host of new infringements on our Second Amendment rights. The threat to our civil liberties is real but we still have the power to curb these abuses at the ballot box… so long as gun owners turn out and vote.