Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall’s introduction of the Home Defense and Competitive Shooting Act of 2019 could move well-established federal gun control laws in a pro-gun direction.
This bill would amend provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) that impose extra restrictions on short-barreled rifle ownership. Short-barreled rifles constitute those with barrels shorter than 16″ long or those with a total length less than 26″. The NFA mandates that short-barreled rifle owners register their firearms with the federal government, as well as pay a $200 excise tax for each short-barreled firearm they register.
If the Home Defense and Competitive Shooting Act of 2019 is signed into law, these additional requirements would be eliminated and short-barreled rifles would be subject to the same rules as semi-automatic rifles.
Further, the legislation would have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives destroy all current short-barreled rifle records within 365 days of the law going into effect. Consequently, information about short-barreled rifle owners would be wiped off the federal firearms database.
The NFA is the oldest piece of federal gun control, signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934 in response to rising levels of Prohibition related mob violence. The law focused on the regulation of short-barreled rifles because they were assumed to be the favored weapon of criminals. Their ability to be concealed made them an easy target for the federal government. However, times have changed. Marshall pointed out that short-barreled rifles are “commonly used for hunting, personal defense, and competitive shooting.”
Marshall’s bill would represent a good start in hacking away at the unconstitutional NFA. The NFA is a clear infringement on the American right to keep and bear arms. It’s no coincidence that its passage took place during the New Deal — an era that was filled with all sorts of unconstitutional power grabs. Since then, the U.S. has witnessed other gun control legislation, such as the 1968 Gun Control Act, come into the picture and continue federal overreach.
It should be noted that not all has been doom and gloom for the Second Amendment in recent times. The concealed carry movement of the 1980s gave the Second Amendment new life as it legalized concealed carry and set the stage for the constitutional carry boom of the 2010s. Marshall’s home state of Kansas was one of the states that embraced constitutional carry in 2015.
However, the divided Congress presents a legitimate obstacle to this bill’s passage. For starters, the Democratic-controlled House will likely let this bill die off. Then, even if it miraculously made its way out of the House, the Senate would not be a lock either. Establishment Republicans have proven to be unreliable in advancing pro-gun legislation.
This kind of legislation has to start somewhere though. Marshall is at least starting the conversation on getting the federal government out of micromanaging our right to bear arms. Ideally, Marshall’s efforts will be the first of many to make pro-gun legislation more viable at the federal level.