Rob Bishop of Utah introduced his own bill scaling back certain powers of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency (ATF). But instead of dealing with law enforcement jurisdiction, Representative Bishop’s bill aims to shield the Second Amendment rights of sportsmen and firearms enthusiasts against arbitrary or politically-driven ATF regulations and classifications.

by Marjorie Haun

Jason Chaffetz was the first Utah legislator out of the chute to address the growth ‘domestic armies’ within federal regulatory agencies. In January we reported on his introduction of a bill to deny police powers to land management agencies, specifically the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service. Chaffetz’ bill, HR-622, gives law enforcement powers back to county sheriffs and other local authorities in matters such as land disputes and crimes committed on federally-managed public lands.  The bill also funds the necessary expansion of local law enforcement capabilities where the BLM and USFS currently assert command.  According to the press release from Chaffetz’ office:

Last week, Rob Bishop, another U.S. Representative from Utah, introduced his own bill scaling back certain powers of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency (ATF). But instead of dealing with law enforcement jurisdiction, Representative Bishop’s bill aims to shield the Second Amendment rights of sportsmen and firearms enthusiasts against arbitrary or politically-driven ATF regulations and classifications. According to the NRA-ILA blog:Bill Details:
H.R. 622, Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act, first introduced last year, removes the law enforcement function from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service. Instead, the bill calls for deputizing local law enforcement, combined with block grant funding, to empower existing duly elected law enforcement offices to carry out these responsibilities. The bill, jointly sponsored by Utah’s Rep. Mia Love and Rep. Chris Stewart, also establishes a formula to reimburse local law enforcement based on the percentage of public land in each state. The resulting cost savings will reduce the BLM budget by five percent and the Forest Service by seven percent.

On Wednesday, May 24, 2017, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced H.R. 2620, the “Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act.” This bill would remove ATF’s authority to use the “sporting purposes” clauses in federal law in ways that could undermine the core purpose of the Second Amendment. Under Chairman Bishop’s legislation, all lawful purposes – including self-defense – would have to be given due consideration and respect in the administration of federal firearms law.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the core purpose of the Second Amendment is self-defense. Nevertheless, many federal laws that regulate the importation, possession and transfer of firearms measure the lawful utility of firearms based on their usefulness for so-called “sporting purposes.”   

The creep of anti-Second Amendment politics has infected numerous federal agencies, and the ATF has unfairly and inaccurately used wording in some policies to limit access by law-abiding citizens to certain types of firearms and ammunition. Bishop’s bill specifically names some of those items ATF has sought to prohibit.

The NRA-ILA Blog summarizes the bill this way:

Eliminate ATF’s authority to reclassify popular rifle ammunition as “armor piercing ammunition.” The federal law governing armor piercing ammunition was passed by Congress to target handgun projectiles, but Obama’s ATF used the law to ban common and popular rifle ammunition, including targeting M855/SS109 5.56×45 ammunition in 2015.

Provide for the lawful importation of any non-NFA firearm or ammunition that may otherwise be lawfully possessed and sold within the United States. Over the years ATF has used the current discretionary “sporting purposes” standard to deny the importation of firearms that would be perfectly legal to manufacture, sell, and possess in the United States.

Protect shotguns, shotgun shells, and certain rifles from arbitrary classification as “destructive devices.” Classification as a destructive device subjects a firearm to the registration and taxation provisions of the National Firearms Act (NFA) and creates a ban on possession of such firearms in some states.

Broaden the temporary interstate transfer provision to allow temporary transfers for all lawful purposes rather than just for “sporting purposes.”


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