The Second Amendment declares that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” For nearly 250 years, these words have held up. Despite numerous wars, changing cultures and economies, our Second Amendment has remained strong. The directive “shall not be infringed” is powerful; there are no footnotes, exceptions, or clarifications — not even for coronavirus.
Like many Oklahomans, I’ve been around firearms my entire life. I have proud memories of teaching my children how to hunt, how to clean a gun, how to protect themselves. Unfortunately, Democrats want to take this away from future generations by rewriting the Second Amendment, and they want to use a global pandemic to force our hands.
Keeping our communities safe is a top priority. I believe, as do many on both sides of the aisle, that empowering our communities to own and properly use firearms keeps our families safe, especially during unprecedented trials like we’re experiencing now. This is not an opportunity to take advantage. It’s a time to stand tall under the rights and protections Americans have held for centuries.
Not everyone sees it that way. With H.R. 5717, the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, Democrats want to leave Americans defenseless at our most vulnerable moment.
H.R. 5717 ensures the only firearms in a community will be obtained illegally by bad actors. It dictates every aspect of gun-ownership and places burdensome regulations on where an individual can store a firearm in their own home. Forget about storing your gun in your bedside table, dresser, closet, or anywhere practically accessible during a home invasion. Most people keep a gun in the home for exactly that situation; increasing the barriers to access the gun in an emergency puts our families in danger.
Even more, H.R. 5717 creates a nationwide gun registry, implements a national “red flag” confiscation policy, forbids those under 21 from obtaining a firearm, rations the number of guns you can purchase within 30 days, bans almost all semi-automatic weapons, and expands gun-free zones. Most appallingly, the legislation creates financial obstacles for economically disadvantaged Americans wanting to exercise their right to bear arms by imposing a 30% tax on firearms and a 50% tax on ammunition.
The people who wrote this legislation don’t know enough about firearms to understand all they got wrong or whom they’re putting at a disadvantage with these restrictions.
In times of duress, we look to the Constitution. It has held true through crises worse than the coronavirus and will continue to be our guiding light for centuries to come. Instead of rewriting the foundational laws of our country, we should work within the bounds of those laws to enforce the regulations that already exist without stripping our people of their rights.
Now, more than ever, Americans are seeing the dismal results of power-hungry politicians’ work. Across the country, power is being abused to suppress the long-held rights of our people. “It’s for your own good,” we’re told, as if we are children reprimanded by an all-knowing parent.
They don’t care what freedoms they trample on in their pursuit of control. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to assemble, the right to bear arms — power-hungry politicians are laying the groundwork to remove each one.
Congress should instead take a solutions based approach to gun violence. There are countless bills in the House that aim to prevent firearm theft and find the patterns that lead to mass violence, helping law enforcement identify and eliminate threats before they happen. I’m proud to support this kind of legislation because it’s not the guns that have changed, it’s the people behind them.
Along with many across the country, I’ve been disappointed in Speaker Nancy Pelosi throughout this pandemic. At every opportunity, she’s chosen an unpopular, leftist agenda over the health and economic rescue of the American people. She’s willing to put our small businesses and workers at risk of total ruin for the sole purpose of passing one-sided legislation such as H.R. 5717. I’m more than ready to have this fight over our Second Amendment as soon as Congress returns to business as usual, but I will not let Pelosi co-opt a national crisis to further her own agenda.
Kevin Hern, a Republican, represents Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House.