H.R. 5717 was introduced on January 30, 2020. The Senate version of the bill, S. 3254 was introduced in February. You can read the bill in its current form here:
Most gun owners are not naïve enough to believe politicians that claim all they seek are “reasonable gun safety measures.” This is called an “incremental approach” to gun control and is effective with voters who undecided or uninterested regarding what gun laws should look like. Every once in a while, we get a glimpse into what life would be like if those who oppose America’s Right to Bear Arms had their way.
One of the most famous moments that betrayed the true aims of anti-gun zealots occurred in 1995 when Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) told “60 Minutes” “If I could have gotten 51 votes for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in,’ I would have done it.”
As of January 2020, we now have an even clearer picture of what the anti-gun agenda looks like. It’s called the “Gun Violence Protection Act of 2020,” or “H.R. 5717.” This legislation, which is pending before the U.S. Congress. It is a sweeping wish-list of bad ideas designed to turn the United States into a highly restrictive environment that’s is similar to Europe.
What is H.R. 5717?
H.R. 5717 was introduced by Rep. “Hank” Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District. Rep. Johnson gained notoriety in 2010 when he expressed his fear that the island of Guam would “tip over and, uh, and capsize” if a proposed 8,000 U.S. Marines were stationed there. Though Johnson is hardly the sage of the U.S. House of Representatives, the bill also has 18 co-sponsors, the names of which are a “Who’s Who” of gun-control advocates.
H.R. 5717 currently has three committee references, which is a long road, but Democratic members hold a firm grip on the House majority, so anything is possible. The bill is 260 pages long and covers a sweeping variety of subjects, but we will do our best to accurately summarize it. Topics include imposing firearm licensing requirements, restrictions on possession, expanded authority to deny gun owners’ rights, expanding taxes and implementing comprehensive bans of firearms and common accessories. It is, in a word, bad. Gun rights advocates are already calling it “Gunpocalypse.”
Eligibility Requirement to Own Guns
The bill begins with a massive shift in policy: a requirement that firearm owners be licensed by the U.S. federal government by establishing a “Federal Firearm Owner’s License.” In order to be eligible, an individual must be 21 years old, complete a firearm safety course that includes a written test as well as a hands-on demonstration of ability. A NICS background check must be performed and a photograph provided. The process would take as long as 40 days. If granted, licenses would be valid for 10 years. Instead of clear prohibitions on gun ownership enumerated by the Gun Control Act of 1968, H.R. 5717 allows broad latitude to deny one’s eligibility to obtain a license. We can’t think of another constitutional right that has an “eligibility” requirement.
Gun Sales & Storage Requirements
Various dealer requirements are imposed, including a mandate that “a dealer or private seller of firearms shall support all sales, rentals and leases of firearms, and sales of ammunition, to state authorities.”
Guns must be stored under lock and key by both dealers and individual owners. Further, private transfers are eliminated outside of immediate family members. Waiting periods would be imposed and would take at least seven business days.
Various so-called “Red Flag” provisions allow authorities to take away the rights of individuals with questionable due process. Firearms locks and safes would fall under the purview of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, which they are currently exempt from.
Defining “Assault Weapons”
Arguably, the worst part of H.R. 5717 is the ban’s sweeping categorization of rifles, shotguns and handguns defined as “assault weapons.” Individuals are prohibited from importing, selling, manufacturing, transferring or possessing an assault weapon that is not already owned at the time that the law is enacted. The ban defines firearms using various criteria including semiautomatic rifles with a pistol grip, for example, and dozens of other commonly owned firearms prohibited by name. The criteria is far more strict than what was experienced during the decade following the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which required that a firearm have three features (i.e., pistol grip, flash suppressor, folding stock) in order to make the banned list. In H.R. 5717, a single feature will categorize a firearm as an “assault weapon.” Additionally, all AR-style rifles and pistols are specifically banned as are guns built on the AK patterns. Saiga shotguns, Barrett M82A1 rifles and FN FALs are also on the list. Millions of firearms that are currently legal to own, would be banned by this act.
There is also a magazine ban that eliminates any feeding device that holds more than 10 rounds, centerfire or rimfire. The only exception is for rimfire rifles with tubular magazines. It is even unlawful under the act to attach or couple two magazines together if their combined capacity would exceed the ten-round limit. Like the firearm ban, there is a grandfather clause though it is unclear whether firearms and magazines would legally transfer to the owner’s heir upon their death. In other words, it is likely that your guns will die with you and their opposition to a complete ban would breed out in a generation’s time.
All suppressors, silencers or firearm mufflers are also banned, and there is no grandfather clause. According to the American Suppressor Association (www.americansuppressorassociation.org), there were 1.8 million legally owned suppressors in the United States as of January 2020. That figure does not include the thousands of suppressors that have been purchased and are awaiting BATF approval. Every one of those legally owned accessories will become contraband overnight.
We now have a clear understanding for what additional guns laws will attempt to eliminate if anti-gun advocates control the branches of the U.S. government. It remains to be seen whether H.R. 5717 or S. 3254 will see any forward movement in Congress, but it is possible. It is vital that pro-gun Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate to halt the House’s attempts at banning commonly owned firearms. To oppose H.R. 5717, please contact your representative in Congress and let your voice be heard.