Wayne LaPierre, Executive VP of the NRA, often embarrasses himself publicly, but gets his way privately. PHOTO: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons
Hidden within the larger omnibus of a bill required to keep the government running (called the "continuing resolution") are needless pro-gun measures that will likely become law without getting half the attention that the assault weapons ban passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee got (which deserves attention, but has little chance of becoming law). The gun-specific amendments in the continuing resolution would make permanent a number of strange temporary laws that prevent the adoption of regulations which could place tighter controls on gun sales. According to the New York Times:
The provisions, which have been renewed separately at various points, would prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from requiring gun dealers to conduct annual inventories to ensure that they have not lost guns or had them stolen, and would retain a broad definition of "antique" guns that can be imported into the United States outside of normal regulations.
Another amendment would prevent the A.T.F. from refusing to renew a dealer's license for lack of business; many licensed dealers who are not actively engaged in selling firearms can now obtain a license to sell guns and often fly under the radar of the agency and other law enforcement officials, which gun control advocates argue leads to a freer flow of illegal guns.
A final measure would require the bureau to attach a disclaimer to data about guns to indicate that it "cannot be used to draw broad conclusions about firearms-related crimes."
In defending the amendments, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) said that, “The Second Amendment is a fundamental right guaranteed by our Constitution, and we should protect it wherever we can.”
In the comments section of my post on the assault weapons ban, I got into a debate with someone over how ambiguous the second amendment is in terms of which weapons it guarantees access to. I doubt he/she, who sees the second amendment as unambiguous and far-reaching, would say that preventing inventory checks of gun stores is defending the second amendment. Not directly anyway. In my view, there is no end to the lengths that the second amendment will be invoked to defend bizarre actions like preventing inventory checks. Grocery stores don't have those sorts of protections, why should gun sellers?
Sadly, these amendments will likely pass unless they receive more public attention, because, between the NRA getting angry about votes against, most of the rest of the world not noticing, and the fact that no one (but especially Democrats) wants to risk the government shutting down. It's politics at its ugliest, and not a lot's going to change unless we deal with the outsized influence of corporations, interest groups and their lobbyists.