On March 3, 2016, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri introduced legislation to protect gun transfers between family members, a measure he says is necessary with expanding federal involvement in firearms transfers under President Barack Obama. The bill was immediately referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
The bill would eliminate the authority of the President to further restrict the intra-family firearm transfers.
The White House refused to comment on the “Family Firearm Protection Act.” In January, the President issued executive orders requiring tighter federal oversight of gun sales, stepped-up efforts to increase gun safety, spending $500 million to bolster mental health treatment, and requiring more stringent reporting of lost and stolen guns.
The orders did not explicitly deal with transfers of guns within families. But Luetkemeyer said that his legislation “would simply protect the ability to transfer firearms to their family members,” and that it is “contrary to the Constitution and who we are as a people for the federal government [to interfere] with someone’s ability to transfer a firearm, or to leave a firearm in his or her will or trust, to an immediate family member who is legally allowed to possess a firearm.”
The bill specificly provides that “No officer or employee of the Federal Government may take any action that would result in a limitation on the transfer of a firearm between members of the same family, including by way of inheritance, that is more restrictive than the limitations on the conduct that are in effect as of January 3, 2016.”
The bill limits the “same family” to spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren or the legal guardian of the other person.
Obama’s January orders sharpened congressional divides on gun ownership and gun violence, with Democrats calling it a common-sense response to high-profile mass shootings. Republicans vowed to push back on what they said was Obama’s attack on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Luetkemeyer’s communications director, Kristina Weger, said that while Obama’s January orders “do not specifically address family firearms tranfers,” guidance released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on Jan. 4 is “vague.”
“Given the administration’s expansion of background checks and federal firearms licenses, it is necessary to protect this aspect of the Second Amendment,” Weger said.
There is no timetable as to when or if it gets put on the agenda for consideration, given the fact the Judiciary Committee and its subcommittees currently have over 32,000 bills and resolutions in the pipeline. Not all of these are going anywhere, of course, as some of them date back as far as January 3, 1973! The Family Firearm Protection Act is one of 965 pieces of legislation referred to the Judiciary Committee this legislative session alone.
We will continue to watch this bill to see if it gets taken up by the committee.