When we hear about training requirements in the context of firearms, we’re usually thinking about the unconstitutional practice that proliferates in states like Massachusetts. The Bay state requires citizens to undergo firearm training prior to being able to own a firearm. Other states use Massachusetts as an example when discussing implementing similar measures in their own jurisdictions, as if the land of the Salem Witch Trials does not have one of the most dangerous cities in the Union, Springfield. In the spirit of creating more red tape, as well as “other purposes”, as we’ve learned is code for “BOHICA”, Congressman Jason Crow introduced a bill on October 22nd that would require training for those that engage in the sales of firearms. There are some hidden goodies in this one, so pay attention. From his release:
Congressman Jason Crow (CO-06) today held a remote press conference to announce introduction of his latest gun safety bill, the Firearm Retailer Code of Conduct Act (H.R. 5678). This legislation creates a code of conduct for firearm retailers intended to curb the diversion of firearms into the illegal market. Because gun traffickers and their suppliers often obtain firearms through straw purchases and theft, gun dealers that implement safe business practices can play a vital role in keeping illicit guns out of our communities.
What’s the quick take on the bill? Looking at the punch list from the release, this is the quick and dirty:
The Firearm Retailer Code of Conduct Act:
- Takes commonsense action to require gun dealers and their employees to undergo training every two years to identify fraudulent or potentially unlawful firearms purchases;
- Instructs gun dealers and their employees to refuse the sale of firearms to straw purchasers, gun traffickers, intoxicated persons, or those at risk of harming themselves or others;
- Mandates retailers’ posting of notices indicating the signs of fraudulent or potentially unlawful firearms purchases and displaying contact information to report suspected illegal transactions at all points of sale; and
- Requires that federally licensed firearms dealers maintain business and liability insurance throughout the life of the business.
Ignoring the impossible nature of trying to mandate training that equates to having a division of pre-crime, or a crystal ball that will give the needed information to those in the industry, there’s more. Visiting what Crow actually had to say about the bill, we’re going to be greeted by some of the popular flavors of the day in so-called “gun violence” mitigation:
“Nearly 40,000 Americans per year die at the hands of guns and it doesn’t have to be that way. We must be dogged in our pursuit of commonsense legislation that will save thousands of lives,” said Congressman Jason Crow. “I’m excited to announce today the introduction of the Firearm Retailer Code of Conduct Act. This bill, which already has substantial support, is very simple. It includes commonsense stuff, and I’m happy to join with organizations like Brady, Everytown, March For Our Lives, and Giffords in offering these important reforms.”
Congressmen Crow, thank you for bringing up such vital statistics. Of the near 40,000 deaths attributed to firearms, nearly 2/3rds of those deaths are suicides. If you’re going to give us the numbers, do it properly. I understand that you’re trying to have training to stop straw purchases and identify behavior that would indicate self-harm, but you’re essentially asking FFLs and their employees to be mental health evaluators and police officers. Need you be reminded that as the law stands, FFLs and their employees can turn down any sale they are not comfortable with. Training is not going to stop bad actors, especially if they’re potentially in on the scheme.
Memorandum: Using the word “commonsense” is now a dead giveaway that you’re pushing a measure that is both not only not commonsense, but will also infringe on the rights of the population. I salute your gusto in using the language of the pinko commie mommies and AstroTurf groups, but it’s tired boss. It’s dog tired, and “commonsense” needs to go to bed for good. Find new rhetoric. I know that the playbook of Moms Demand Action specifically says to ignore the facts and focus on the emotions, very early on in the publication, but ya’ll need to know when to fold em.
Moving on, looking at the text of the bill, we’ll find the “two year training requirement” that is talked about in the release “require gun dealers and their employees to undergo training every two years”, is actually annual training.
To require federally licensed firearms manufacturers, importers, and dealers and their employees to undergo annual training to be eligible to sell a firearm, to require a notice to be posted at retail firearms locations that describes the signs of unlawful firearms purchases, to require such licensees to maintain physical security elements to prevent theft and a minimum level of business liability insurance, and for other purposes.
What happened? Did Crow’s handlers not like the two year training requirement and changed it to annual? The language of the bill contradicts itself in several areas concerning this requirement.
What was noticeably absent in the press release was this little mention of “require such licensees to maintain physical security elements to prevent theft…” Why would Crow and his cronies not include any mention of that in the release? What does the bill text have to say about that?
Beginning on the date that is 24 months after the date of the enactment of this subsection, each licensee referred to in paragraph (1)(A) of this subsection shall, when the premises covered by the license is not open for business except as provided for in subsection (j), secure each firearm in the business inventory of the licensee by means of devices or storage containers that are designed to deny unauthorized access to, and theft of, firearms.
‘‘(B) Each device or storage container shall be secured by a combination lock, key lock, or lock based on biometric information which, once locked, is incapable of being opened without the combination, key, or biometric information, respectively.’’.
That’s a fun stipulation. Sneaky sneaky. This is not the first we’ve seen members of the anti-freedom caucus push for more mandated storage methods for firearms, as if FFLs don’t have their own best interests in mind.
Another interesting thing hidden in the text of the bill and not in the release is this small provision on what FFLs may not do:
(D) shall not transfer a firearm to an individual not paying in United States currency, unless the identity of the individual matches the name on the payment method used by the individual; and[….]
Is this some sort of a scheme to make it so people won’t be able to buy firearms with crypto currencies? It sure seems that way, does it not? Crow did not talk about this one little, teeny, weenie, line buried in the bill. Would this also outlaw any barter system an FFL has? What if a mechanic trades services for a firearm? Is that not allowed? I’d imagine it’s none of Crow’s business in what legal manner people pay for their firearms.
Who’s going to pay for all this? As a matter of fact, who’s going to pay for this illustrious training that’s outlined below?
The Attorney General shall make available to each licensee referred to in paragraph (1)(A) written protocols which—
‘‘(i) outline the indicators of straw purchasing and gun trafficking, including the presence of a prospective firearm transferee who—
‘‘(I) is accompanied by 1 or more individuals;
‘‘(II) is communicating with other individuals by telephone or other means;
‘‘(III) is buying multiple firearms;
‘‘(IV) has been the subject of a crime gun trace;
‘‘(V) has purchased a firearm in the preceding 30 days; or
‘‘(VI) otherwise indicates that a firearm is being obtained for another person;
‘‘(ii) instruct licensees and their employees to attempt to ascertain whether a prospective firearm transferee is lawfully purchasing a firearm, including by asking questions of the prospective firearm transferee (including whether he or she intends to transfer the firearm to another person); and
‘‘(iii) inform licensees and their employees about how to report a suspected fraudulent firearm purchase to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
There are a lot of provisions of this proposed bill. Read on about the insurance mandate and penalties in the bill text. There’s a good deal of juicy details in there. The truth be told, nothing in this bill will aid to enhance the public welfare or safety of our society. All this bill, and other bills like it will do is create more hoops for the firearm industry to jump through. The chances of this making its way to the Biden-Harris desk are slim, however we’re seeing a bit more of the playbook, and how the anti-freedom caucus aims to over regulate an industry directly connected to a constitutional right.