Columns

Blaine's Bulletin: Protecting the Second Amendment

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Washington, March 11, 2016 | comments
Our founding fathers, early lawmakers, and the American people of the late 1700s believed the right to keep and bear arms was so important that they enshrined it as the Second Amendment to the Constitution. In fact, the only amendment that precedes it in the Bill of Rights is the First Amendment, which, as you know, guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to peaceably assemble.
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Our founding fathers, early lawmakers, and the American people of the late 1700s believed the right to keep and bear arms was so important that they enshrined it as the Second Amendment to the Constitution. In fact, the only amendment that precedes it in the Bill of Rights is the First Amendment, which, as you know, guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to peaceably assemble.

Fast forward two-hundred and twenty-five years since the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791 to the present day, and the right to keep and bear arms faces unprecedented challenges. Growing up in rural St. Elizabeth, I understand the importance of the Second Amendment and, I believe it is my duty, as your representative in the 114th Congress, to uphold this critical right that was first proposed by James Madison in the First Congress in 1789.

Earlier this year, President Obama made a speech that he claimed was about making the American people safer. If you thought it would have been about ISIS or Iran or North Korea, you would have been wrong. Instead, he targeted the free exercise of the Second Amendment by lawful gun owners and unveiled a whole host of unilateral gun control measures that he bypassed Congress and the American people to mandate.

While the president’s plan contained a number of bad ideas, one particularly bad one is the dramatic expansion of federal control over firearm transfers among family members. That’s right, under the president’s proposal, family members would have to apply for a federal firearms license to transfer guns to family members under certain circumstances. As a result, I introduced the Family Firearm Protection Act. This legislation is simple. It would prohibit the federal government from infringing upon the ability of Americans to transfer firearms to their family members. It does not change current restrictions on firearm possession, such as the prohibition of certain criminals from possessing firearms. In many families, firearms are handed down from one generation to the next as treasured heirlooms. I want to ensure that the people of Missouri and all Americans continue to have the ability to transfer or leave firearms to their children and other family members. This is an essential aspect of the Second Amendment and this legislation ensures the government does not interfere with that.

Another front in the Obama Administration’s war on the Second Amendment is Operation Choke Point. As you may have read in previous bulletins, this program is an attempt by the Department of Justice to go after legal businesses that it doesn’t like by pressuring financial institutions to cut off entire sectors of business from access financial services. The Obama Administration’s target list of industries included ammunition and firearms.

This program is real and has affected many citizens across America. I recently received one email from a business owner who has been affected by it that stated “Operation Choke Point has to be one of the darkest stains on our Constitution and perhaps one of the most shameful examples of government overreach, discrimination, and denial of due process in our history.”

Thankfully, we are making progress in the effort to shut down Operation Choke Point once and for all. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed legislation I authored to stop this activity. While I am pleased my bill to end Operation Choke Point passed the House and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass the Family Firearm Protection Act – I know there is more that can be done. I will continue to vote in favor of legislation that defends the Second Amendment and vote against government attempts to infringe upon our rights. This right was important two-hundred and twenty-five years ago and it is still important today.

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