Too many lawmakers have forgotten their representative duties.
What's a politician to do when it's clear that people will vigorously resist attempts to restrict their lives? Well, you could empower government officials to arbitrarily punish anybody who might help them exercise their freedom. That's the approach favored by three Democratic members of Congress, who appear to see the path to limiting private firearms ownership in harassing gun dealers and subjecting them to the whims of government officials.
Not that they're the only legislators to wield regulations as bludgeons, but it's always a lousy idea.
Ostensibly, the "Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act" (a name that maintains the congressional tradition of pompous bullshit) is aimed at "gun dealers who engage in illegal sales practices," which is to say it's supposed to make it more illegal to do illegal stuff. This isn't a new practice—Representatives Ted Deutch (D – Fla), Jim Langevin (D – R.I.), and Gwen Moore (D – Wis.) are hardly alone among lawmakers in thinking that what the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world (although we should take a few countries' official numbers with a grain of salt) needs is more people behind bars. And these three are also in good company in thinking that augmenting legal penalties with arbitrary harassment is the key to a better world.
As of today, the entry for the bill, formally H.R. 6075, is a placeholder lacking details. But, in a press release, Deutch's office says:
"Specifically, the Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act would:
- Authorize increased ATF inspections of gun dealers to ensure compliance standards are met.
- Strengthen penalties for falsifying gun sales records, including longer prison sentences for violators.
- Add new types of civil sanctions for gun dealers who violate ATF regulations.
- Permit ATF discretion in issuing gun licenses.
- Allow ATF to require dealers to conduct physical inventories if more than ten crime guns are traced back to them."
Why are these new penalties and powers necessary? Because, claims Deutch, citing the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, "just five percent of gun dealers supply 90 percent of guns used in crime," and "the combination of stringent standards and depleted budgets put ATF inspectors in an impossible situation."
Read more here.