Democrats Speak Out Against Sham Markup of Gun Deregulation Measure Disguised as “Sportsmen’s Bill”

Note: The quotes attributed to Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) were added online after the initial version of this release was publicized.

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Democratic members of the House Natural Resources Committee joined in condemnation of today’s just-concluded markup of a bill that weakens public safety, unnecessarily deregulates gun silencers and makes it harder for federal authorities to regulate armor-piercing bullets.

H.R. 3668 – Rep. Jeff Duncan’s (R-S.C.) bill to weaken firearms laws under cover of helping hunters – only received a Committee hearing yesterday. Video highlights of that hearing are available at http://bit.ly/2xysBFQ.

Today’s Committee markup was scheduled to include several other bills, but the markup was adjourned after consideration of H.R. 3668 concluded.

“Today’s votes were a poorly disguised attack on public safety and the environment,” Ranking Member Grijalva said. “The National Rifle Association thinks Congress owes them more armor-piercing rounds and gun silencers on the streets, and today our Republican colleagues showed they’re happy to do what they’re told. I’ve been here since 2003, and passing these bills in the name of ‘helping sportsmen’ is one of the most cynical excuses I’ve ever heard.”

“This bill is no longer about American hunters protecting our outdoor heritage but has become a vehicle to weaken federal and state gun safety laws and boost gun profits as sales are lagging,” said Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.). “If the majority wants to roll back our gun laws at the behest of the gun lobby, or tell states that the actions they've taken to reduce gun violence are unnecessary – they should do so openly and transparently. We should not use our hunters and sportsmen as a prop to enact the NRA’s agenda.”

“The SHARE Act carries significant public safety concerns by altering the process by which firearm silencers are regulated and purchased,” said Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.). The bill removes silencers from the National Firearms Act, while also blocking states like Massachusetts from passing their own regulations or taxes on silencers. While I believe that the Constitution confers a right to own firearms, and I understand the desire of sportsmen and hunters to utilize silencers, there is a thorough vetting process currently in place that ensures silencers do not end up in the hands of dangerous people. In the wrong hands, silencers pose a threat to the public and to law enforcement and we should not be changing a longstanding law that blunts this threat.” 

“Today’s votes do nothing to advance the interests of hunters and sportsmen,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.). “I was disappointed to see Republicans towing the line for the NRA to the detriment of public safety and the safety of our courageous law enforcement personnel.”

“Leading up to consideration of the SHARE Act, my constituents contacted me to express their strong concerns with heinous provisions in this bill. I am opposed to any legislation that would make it more difficult for law enforcement officers and others to hear the sound of gunfire. That sound alerts citizens to danger, and it tells first responders exactly where they are needed,” said Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.). “Too many of my constituents have lost friends and loved ones to senseless gun violence, at Virginia Tech and elsewhere. Virginians do not want laws that make active shooter situations even more dangerous. This bill could lead to needless deaths.”

“The most troubling aspect of this bill, however, is the extent to which it weakens some of our nation’s most essential common sense gun safety laws,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.). “This bill literally puts lives at risk and makes it more difficult to prosecute criminals over firearms abuses. I believe strongly in ensuring that sportsmen and sportswomen are able to enjoy all the recreational opportunities our public lands have to offer, but this legislation attacks the very conservation laws that protect those federal lands, seriously relaxes commonsense gun safety precautions, like prohibitions on armor piercing ammunition and silencers, and puts lives at risk from gun violence.”

“H.R. 3668, the SHARE Act is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.). "Only if enacted, you won’t hear this wolf coming. Rather than including provisions that benefit the sportsmen community, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Committee Republicans chose to include dangerous and unnecessary gun silencer provisions.”

“The so-called Sportmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act is the latest thinly-veiled attempt by this Republican Congress to line the pockets of the gun lobby at the expense of public safety,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.). “The Natural Resources Committee should be working together to ensure that all Americans can enjoy the great outdoors, but instead, we’re yet again debating dangerous proposals to weaken gun safety protections. I hope that more of my colleagues think about their constituents’ safety, not the financial interests of the NRA, and join us in voting against this deadly legislation when it comes to the House floor.”

"The NRA-bought GOP gun bill rushed through Committee today will have an adverse effect on our public safety and has no place in this Congress," said Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.). "I sought input earlier this year from my local police departments and have since received unanimous opposition to expanding the availability of gun silencers. I will continue to support their efforts as well as serious measures to prevent gun violence and keep us safe. Silencers, however, are not used to hunt or for any sporting purpose, and they have absolutely no business being a part of such legislation. I am also concerned about what this bill would do to Congressionally-mandated wilderness areas, such as those in the San Gabriel Mountains. Opening federally protected lands to motorized vehicles and temporary road construction would only weaken conservation efforts. We must defeat this dangerous bill."

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