This week a Kansas Republican introduced a bill that would no longer make short-barreled rifles subject to the restrictions of the National Firearms Act.
Under the NFA prospective purchasers of an SBR, defined as a rifle with a barrel length fewer than 16 inches or a rifle with an overall length under 26 inches, need to fill out paperwork, submit photographs, get fingerprinted and pay a $200 fee (tax stamp) to the government.
The Home Defense and Competitive Shooting Act (H.R. 5289) would remove all that red tape for SBRs and, in the process, streamline ATF processing times for other NFA items. Current wait times for NFA items, including suppressors, can exceed 12 months, as GunsAmerica recently noted in an “Exclusive: ATF Kills Controversial Program that Fast-Tracked Applications for NFA Items.”
“Opponents of the Second Amendment want to use bureaucracy and regulations to obstruct citizens attempting to exercise their God-given right to keep and bear arms. The firearms addressed in this bill are commonly used for hunting, personal defense, and competitive shooting,” said Congressman Dr. Marshall, the bill’s sponsor in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.
“Since I came to Congress, I have fought tooth and nail to stop attempts that would strip our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” he continued. “This bill will eliminate regulations designed not to protect Americans, but to deny them their Constitutional rights.”
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If the Home Defense and Competitive Shooting Act were to become law, buying an SBR would be no different than purchasing a conventional rifle.
“On behalf of the NRA’s five million members, I thank Dr. Marshall for introducing necessary legislation that will restore Constitutional rights to law-abiding Americans to choose which firearms best suit their needs,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director, National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.
“It’s time Congress eliminates costly and unnecessary government regulations on short-barreled rifles, which are used in sport shooting, hunting, and are especially popular with women gun owners for self-defense,” he added.
Pro-gunners will obviously wonder why the bill singles out SBRs for special dispensation. In other words, why not just repeal the NFA altogether?
The answer is, maybe, that it’s more politically feasible to do it piecemeal than all at once. Suppressors, on one bill (e.g. the Hearing Protection Act), SBRs on another (e.g. Home Defense and Competitive Shooting Act) and hopefully short-barreled shotguns, too, down the line.
Remember, the NFA covers a wide variety of items, including “destructive devices” and “machineguns.” No doubt that anti-gunners would pounce on these two, in particular, to stoke up fears and concerns, as baseless as they may be, in an effort to thwart a total nullification of the antiquated and unconstitutional law.
With that said, it’s not like pro-gunners haven’t tried over the years to move the needle. In 2017, a petition was started on WhiteHouse.gov to “Repeal the NFA.” The petition needed 100,000 signatures within 30 days to get a response from the Trump administration. It reached that threshold within six days and by the end of the month, there was a total of 308,272 signatures.
But, it doesn’t appear that anyone from the Trump administration responded. And, that was at a time when there was a GOP-majority in both the House and the Senate. Humph!
The Home Defense and Competitive Shooting Act is now headed to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on the Judiciary. Democrats run both. Keep your fingers crossed.