3 Federal Bills to Keep an Eye On

Three proposed federal bills regarding gun-owners' rights are working their way through Congress: The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012; HR 4269, which addresses interstate transportation of firearms or ammunition under the Firearms Owners' Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986; and HR 308, The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act.

The good news is that two of the three proposed bills could be submitted for a vote this year. The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy's (D-NY) defacto revival of the 1994-2004 automatic weapons ban, has been mired in the House Judiciary Committee for more than a year - it is unlikely to be presented for a vote unless Democrats reclaim the House in November's elections.

Status checks on the three bills:
- National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012
Introduced to the Senate as S. 2188 by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) on March 13.

The bill would allow any person with a valid state-issued concealed firearm permit to carry a concealed handgun in any other state that issues concealed firearm permits, or that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms for lawful purposes. A state's laws governing where concealed handguns may be carried would apply within its borders.

The bill is the Senate companion to H. R. 822, which was approved by the U. S. House last November in a 272-154 vote after similar measures proposed since 1995 failed.

- HR 4269
Introduced by U.S. Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), this bill would make it illegal for local authorities to detain or arrest travelers who make every effort to comply with federal law when legally transporting their firearms between locations where they are legally allowed to possess them.

The Firearms Owners' Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986 already provides this federal protection, but some local jurisdictions use state licensing laws to harass and prosecute travelers in transit with checked firearms. The problem is particularly acute in New York City and New Jersey.

This exploitable loophole will close if the Senate passes the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012. If it doesn't, this reiterated refinement of FOPA will make it illegal to arrest someone for following federal law.

- HR 308, The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act
Since introducing this bill to House Judiciary Committee with 111 co-sponsors in January 2011, momentum for McCarthy's defacto AWB renewal has stalled.

The bill would ban the manufacture and importation of new magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Unlike the 1994 to 2004 automatic weapons ban, this bill would also make it illegal to sell or otherwise transfer "high-capacity" magazines, even through inheritance.

McCarthy also sponsored the failed Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007. For the moment, HR 308 isn't going anywhere. But that could change if Democrats regain control of the House in November's elections, or if President Barack Obama is re-elected.

Attorney General Eric Holder has repeatedly vowed since 2009 to reinstate the assault weapons ban. In early February, he told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that a second-term Obama Administration would aggressively pursue this goal.

"This administration has consistently favored the reinstitution of the assault weapons ban," he said. "It is something that we think was useful in the past with regard to the reduction that we've seen in crime, and certainly would have a positive impact on our relationship and the crime situation in Mexico."

Of course, Obama, Holder and McCarthy's HR 308 got a boost in early April when Mexican President Felipe Calderon repeated the claim he made during a speech to Congress in 2010: That Mexico's murder rate increased when the U.S. "assault weapon" ban expired.