By Glen Wunderlich
During a meeting with congressional Republicans immediately following his inauguration in 2009, President Obama felt compelled to remind them that “elections have consequences” and gleefully pronounced, “I won.” With his autocratic policies on parade since then, Americans across the country had had enough, and with their collective voice, rebuked his “change” and any “hope” of more of the same.
No two ways about it, Republicans and President-elect Trump have a heaping helping on their plates, but they are poised to promulgate sportsmen-friendly regulations and Constitutional guarantees relative to the Second Amendment. Here are a few to watch.
Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act – A group of U.S. Representatives, led by Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), launched the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus. “The recent election results present us with a new opportunity to advance pro-gun legislation and reverse the erosion of the Second Amendment that’s occurred over the last few decades. I look forward to working with the new President and this determined group of conservatives to promote a pro-gun agenda,” Massie stated.
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38) on the first day of the 115th Congress. The proposed legislation, with 63 co-sponsors, would compel states to recognize concealed carry permits issued from other states that have concealed carry laws within their own borders – much in the same way a driver’s license is recognized. The bill aims to eliminate the confusion of varying state-by-state laws and provide protection for Second Amendment rights for permit holders.
In addition to interstate recognition of concealed carry permits, the bill would also allow concealed carry in the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, and on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation, as well as provide greater legal protections in both civil and criminal cases for permit holders.
Hearing Protection Act – The 2015 introduction of the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) would have removed suppressors from the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA), replacing the antiquated federal transfer process with an instantaneous NICS background check and eliminating the onerous $200 tax. The HPA also included a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who would have purchased suppressors after October 22, 2015.
Typically, suppressors reduce the noise of gunshots by 20 – 35 decibels (dB), similar to sound reduction of earplugs or earmuffs. Additionally, suppressors also mitigate noise complaints from people who live near shooting ranges and hunting lands. It’s time to put this common-sense gun reform back on the table.
Government Savings Litigation Act – Americans were promised transparency in government, and unfortunately the promise fell as flat as roadkill. In testimony before a Congressional committee, Boone and Crockett Club president emeritus Lowell E. Baier told committee members that H.R. 1996, the Government Savings Litigation Act, would help America’s fish, wildlife and natural resources agencies do their jobs.
In recent years, animal rights and environmental advocacy groups began using lawsuits to protest lawful decisions they oppose. The groups use the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) to recoup their legal costs. The most frequent abuses include suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies on minor procedural decisions, then collecting huge settlements and EAJA reimbursements.
These private groups are collecting taxpayer dollars and consuming agency resources that could have gone toward wildlife management and conservation programs. The trouble is even deeper, because there is purposely no accounting for who gets paid and how much.
Baier said, “The Congressional Research Service in 2009 determined that EAJA was an anomaly in this regard. That’s a glaring privilege for nonprofit groups that is the antithesis of equality and fairness.”
Federal oversight and accounting of EAJA payouts are virtually absent; total costs are unknown. One attorney tracking the issue estimates 12 animal rights and environmental advocacy groups alone filed over 3,300 lawsuits and recovered more than $37 million in EAJA funds over the past decade. Boone and Crockett research shows EAJA actual costs exceeding $50 million per year from litigation by the top 20 environmental litigants.
H.R. 1996 would have required reporting exact costs, but Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) made sure it never made it to the senate floor.
These initiatives may seem like small potatoes, but a million here and a million there, and pretty soon we’re talking real money. Our money.
Buckle up, sportsmen and women and enjoy the ride!