Defend the Second Amendment

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms should not be up for debate. But misguided politicians and bureaucrats in Washington often treat the Second Amendment like it’s a second-class right.

That disregard was evident last week, when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) published a new Biden Administration rule that subjects pistols with stabilizing braces to the regulatory and tax requirements normally reserved for short-barreled rifles. Conservative organizations like the National Rifle Association were right to call this rule what it is — a gross federal overreach that misunderstands both firearms and the Second Amendment.

Supporters of the Second Amendment in Congress and across the country worked to stop this regulatory abuse. When the ATF announced it was considering implementing the rule in June of 2021, gun-rights groups stepped up to educate the Administration on the proposal’s flaws. These advocates highlighted the burden it would place on disabled veterans and sportsmen who rely on pistol braces.

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Despite these good-faith efforts, the ATF decided to push ahead anyway. The final rule contradicts the Bureau’s past positions and reverses over a decade of guidance that gun owners have used to make purchasing decisions. Law-abiding owners will now be forced to register these guns, modify them, surrender them, or destroy them. If they do not, they could soon face a federal felony charge. It is not clear how any of these provisions would improve gun safety.

From my first days in Congress, I have worked to defend the Second Amendment and protect the rights of every American, including gun owners. I am joining Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana in introducing a resolution that would nullify this outrageous and unnecessary regulation.

This latest ATF rule is a reminder that the fight for the Second Amendment continues in the 118th Congress. I recently cosponsored the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which was introduced by Senator John Cornyn of Texas. The premise of the bill is simple, and it should be unobjectionable. Gun owners with concealed-carry privileges should have the same protections in every state — so long as they abide by that state’s laws and meet all federal requirements.

The fact that this policy is not already the law of the land is evidence of how much work remains. Gun owners with concealed carry privileges are overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens, hence their licenses and permits. Their constitutional rights should never be questioned, including when they travel to states with restrictive gun rules.

Misguided gun-control policies are ineffective at best or harmful at worst. Some of the most terrible gun violence happens in places with the most onerous gun laws, including in jurisdictions like Illinois or California, which each have dozens of gun restrictions. What makes schools and communities safe is when they have strong law-enforcement presences, supportive families and organizations, and focus on mental health, especially for troubled young people.

In Federalist 28, Alexander Hamilton described the “original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.”  When that right is challenged, Congress and the Court will push back. In cases like District of Columbia v. Heller, the Second Amendment hung on the vote of just one Supreme Court justice. Fortunately, with a conservative majority and outstanding recent additions like Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch, I am confident that this Court will protect the Second Amendment. I will work to ensure my colleagues in Congress do the same.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)