House Committee Riders Look Good for Gun Rights, But Don't Get Too Excited

AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File

When it comes to gun rights, compromise is a sore subject for a lot of us.

The reason it's a sore point is because "compromise" has almost universally involved in us giving up stuff and the other side simply not taking as much as they'd like, only for them to redouble their efforts before the ink is dry on any bill in the first place. That's not compromise, that's a systematic assault on our right to keep and bear arms.


Anti-gunners never really give up anything. They simply ask for a little less. It's like an armed robber only taking half of your money and calling it a compromise. It's vile.

But there's something that might bother me just as much, and that's using gun rights as little more than a bargaining position, which is what a series of riders out of the House of Representatives basically does.

House Republicans are looking to include an array of conservative policy riders in the bill that funds the Justice Department, with provisions on red-meat topics like abortion, firearms policy and diversity efforts. 

Their version of the 2025 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill, scheduled for House Appropriations Committee markup on Tuesday, would handcuff the Justice Department from suing states over laws that limit abortion, curtail the department’s ability to challenge redistricting plans in court, and block it from bringing lawsuits against local or state governments over laws that limit “transgender medical procedures.” 

Many of the riders face an uphill battle to become law, with Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House. 


One rider would prohibit funds from being used to enforce a Biden administration rule that toughens regulations on firearms with stabilizing braces. Another rider would block funds to carry out “any regulation” issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives during the Biden administration.

A third provision would ban funds from being used to implement any so-called “red-flag” laws, which generally allow a court to temporarily forbid an individual from having a gun if they are believed to present a risk to themselves or others.


Now, these sound great from a gun rights perspective. I'd love to see all three of these go into effect, with the Biden administration deciding that they can stomach the hit because of the bills they're attached to.

That's how a lot of things have become law over the years, after all.

The problem is that none of this is actually intended to happen. It's simply a matter of putting things the Democrat-controlled Senate will find so objectionable that the White House will give a little in order to make it all go away.

No, that's not my read on it. That's literally what one House Republican leader said.

House Appropriations Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., speaking at the subcommittee markup, acknowledged the final Commerce-Justice-Science bill is likely to look different.

“I always see this as a process, as not a take it or leave it but an opening position, a negotiation,” Cole said. “[At] some point we’ll be dealing with our friends in the United States Senate. We’ll be dealing directly with the administration.” 

In other words, your gun rights aren't a serious matter to House Republicans. They're a bargaining position that can be sold out for some consession on something else.

That bothers me. It bothers me a whole lot.

On one hand, I know that's how the game is played. You put in a bunch of stuff the other side absolutely can't tolerate and then use it to negotiate for something a bit more tolerable but they still don't want to see happen. This is compromise to a much greater degree than what we usually see.


I'm just bothered by the fact that our gun rights are a bargaining position rather than something that can and should be defended with everything humanly possible. These are lawmakers who claim to care about the Second Amendment, and yet they only seem interested in pushing for anything related to our gun rights when they can sell it down the river for something else.

Gun rights advocates are going to have to have a chat with these lawmakers in the very near future, because they need to understand that our rights matter and we're not interested in just being the pitbull on the leash, something to scare the progressives into capitulating on other stuff so we'll stay nice and tied up.

Our rights deserve more than that.

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