On Thursday, May 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5326–the appropriations bill for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies fiscal year 2013–by a vote of 247-163.
One of the most important ways that Congress has protected the Second Amendment is through a number of general provisions included in various appropriations bills. We are happy to report that 11 provisions to protect the Second Amendment were included in the bill.
Specifically, the bill makes permanent the following protections:
- Curio and Relic Definition. A prohibition on the use of funds to change the definition of a “curio or relic.” This provision protects the status of collectible firearms for future generations of firearms collectors.
- Physical Inventory Prohibition. Prohibition on a requirement to allow a physical inventory of federal firearms licensees. The Clinton administration proposed a rule in 2000 to require an annual inventory by all licensees. While the Bush Administration eventually withdrew the proposal, Congress has still passed this preventive provision every year since FY 2007.
- Business Activity. This provision prohibits BATFE from denying federal firearms license applications or renewals based on a dealer’s low-business volume alone.
- Firearms Trace Data Disclaimer. A requirement that any trace data released must include a disclaimer stating that such data cannot be used to draw broad conclusions about firearms-related crime.
In addition, the bill restores four provisions that the Obama administration’s budget proposed to strike:
- Firearms Parts Export to Canada. A prohibition on the use of funds to require an export license for small firearms parts valued at less than $500 for export to Canada. This provision is intended to remove an unnecessary and burdensome requirement on U.S. gun manufacturers that was imposed under the Clinton Administration (restored and made permanent).
- Importation of Curios and Relics. A prohibition on the use of funds to arbitrarily deny importation of qualifying curio and relic firearms. This provision ensures that collectible firearms that meet all legal requirements for importation into the United States are not banned from import by executive branch fiat (restored and made permanent).
- Prohibit Funding for “Gun Walking” Operations. No funds may be used to knowingly transfer firearms to agents of drug cartels unless U.S. law enforcement personnel control or monitor the firearms at all times. This amendment is designed to prevent the Justice Department (or any government entity) from spending taxpayer dollars on “gun walking” programs like Operation Fast and Furious.
- Shotgun Importation Prohibition Protection. Prohibits the Department of Justice from requiring imported shotguns to meet a “sporting purposes” test that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has used to prohibit the importation of shotguns with one or more features disliked by the Agency, such as adjustable stocks, extended magazine tubes, etc.
The bill retains the following provision:
- Transfer of BATFE Authority. A prohibition on the use of funds to transfer any duty or responsibility of the BATFE to any other agency or department. This provision was written in response to a Clinton Administration plan to transfer firearms enforcement to the FBI or Secret Service. It also prohibits the Executive branch from skirting the will of Congress by allowing another agency to implement policies the BATFE is prohibited from implementing.
Finally, the bill includes two new provisions:
- DOJ Funding Restriction. Disallows funds to the Department of Justice if the DOJ falsifies documents, makes misleading or inaccurate statements, or covers up or conceals information. It is intended to ensure the Department of Justice is truthful and forthright with ongoing Congressional investigations of “Operation Fast and Furious.” (Also known as the Chaffetz/Gosar/Farenthold “Fast and Furious” Amendment, this provision passed by a vote of 381-41.)
Southwest Border Rifle Registration. Prohibits the use of federal funds to carry out the BATFE’s requirement that firearm dealers in the four southwestern border states file “multiple sales” reports on individuals who buy more than one detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifle of greater than .22 caliber in a five-day period. (Also known as the Rehberg/Boren Amendment, this provision passed in committee by a vote of 30-19, despite a threatened veto by President Obama.)