This week, House Democrats proposed two bills under the guise of curtailing gun violence. In reality the bills amount to a fundamental erosion of our Second Amendment rights, which should never be allowed. In Nebraska, the need for firearms is the same today as it was when the Second Amendment was enacted - before we were even a territory of the United States.
Rural Nebraskans depend on their firearms for self-defense and for protecting their livestock and crops. They also know how to handle firearms: to store them securely, to have someone else guard them when they can’t, and to let neighbors who are able to use them safely borrow them to meet their needs. I have serious concerns the first of two bills the House passed this week, H.R. 8, would criminalize the behavior we Nebraskans consider completely safe and normal.
Should a rancher who lends a rifle to a neighbor to address threats from predatory animals face a year in prison and $100,000 fine? Should a legally-carrying farmer who is injured at work be subject to arrest for handing his firearm off before being taken to the hospital? These are exactly the situations H.R. 8 would create, while doing little to address the real problems underlying crime in our society.
The other bill, H.R. 1112, would fundamentally change the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, in a way which undermines the presumption of innocence - one of the most sacred tenants of our legal system. NICS was intended to be instant and its authorizing law included a three-day “safety valve,” which allows the sale to go through in the absence of a response from NICS.
In this way, it protects American citizens from federal bureaucrats simply sitting on applications and stopping gun sales from going through. H.R. 1112 would do away with the safety valve altogether and replace it with a ten-day window after which a law-abiding citizen must petition the federal government to allow them to purchase a firearm, again subjecting them to the whim of bureaucrats in Washington.
These bills are wrong-headed and unconstitutional, which is why I spoke in opposition to them on the floor of the House. I have pledged from day one to fight against any encroachment or effort to undermine our Second Amendment rights, no matter how benign that approach might look.