H.R.358 – To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to more comprehensively address the interstate transportation of firearms or ammunition

Here is a letter I wrote to my Representative urging his support for H.R. 358, a bill to clarify and improve the law protecting interstate transportation of firearms. You have my permission to use this letter word-for-word, although for maximum effect, I would strongly encourage personalizing it before sending it to your Congressperson.

Dear Representative,

I am writing to urge your support for H.R.358, a bill to amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to more comprehensively address the interstate transportation of firearms or ammunition.

Under current law, legislation known as the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) provides some protections for firearm owners to transport firearms while traveling between states. The law requires that the firearms and ammunition are locked up and unloaded. In addition, the law requires that the person transporting the firearms must be able to legally possess the firearms in both the state where the trip started and the destination state.

Despite FOPA, law enforcement in some states, especially those in the northeastern United States, will still arrest law abiding citizens for possessing firearms even though those firearms were transported in accordance with Federal interstate transportation requirements. In situations like these, defendants are forced to endure out-of-state trials. A defendant has no recourse other than to assert an affirmative defense according to 18 U.S.C. § 926A.

This bill would clarify the intent of Federal law by specifying that a person may not be arrested for possession of a firearm as long as the Federal interstate transportation regulations are being followed. In addition, this bill attempts to dissuade law enforcement from making such an arrest by specifying that the court shall award to the prevailing defendant damages and relief including a reasonable attorney’s fee.

As a law abiding gun owner who travels frequently, this bill is extremely important to me. I frequently drive through states like New York, which is a particularly hostile state to firearm owners. For example, if I am driving from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania—both states where I can legally possess a firearm—I have no choice but to drive through New York. If I were to be stopped by a police officer, there is a good chance I could be arrested despite the intentions of Congress in passing FOPA. If I were to be arrested, it would be a financial burden to post bail. Worse still, it would be a financial burden when I lose my job as a result. This is not justice, nor is it what Congress intended. I urge you to protect my rights.

Thank you,
<insert your name here>

H.R.367 – Hearing Protection Act of 2017

Here is a letter I wrote to my Representative urging his support for H.R. 367, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017. You may use this letter word-for-word, although for maximum effect, I would strongly encourage personalizing it before sending it to your Congressperson.

Dear Representative,

I am writing to express support for H.R. 367, the Hearing Protection Act of 2017.

Under Federal law, sound suppressors are known as ‘silencers’. This bill would remove the onerous National Firearms Act (NFA) restrictions on sound suppressors. This bill would result in suppressors being treated like long guns, requiring a background check prior to making a purchase.

The existing NFA restrictions impose a $200 tax stamp as well as a lengthy permitting process, which commonly takes between 6 to 10 months to complete.

I’d like to dispel a common myth perpetuated by Hollywood. In movies, sound suppressors are portrayed as making guns almost completely silent. In reality, this is far from the truth. A gunshot from a .223 caliber rifle (one of the most common calibers in America) has a noise level of approximately 155 decibels. That is extremely loud. In comparison, a jet engine has a noise level of approximately 140 decibels, which is sufficient to instantly damage one’s hearing. A quality sound suppressor can reduce the noise level to about 134 decibels — still very loud.

Sound suppressors have many benefits. Primarily, they help to protect the hearing of the person operating the firearm and the people nearby. This is especially useful for hunters, who often don’t use hearing protection while hunting (anecdotally, my father and my brother don’t use hearing protection while hunting, despite my objections). Hearing loss is a serious problem in the United States and contributes significantly to the cost of healthcare. Another benefit is that there is less noise pollution; people who live near shooting ranges would appreciate this, I’m sure.

In almost every other area in life, we try to reduce noise pollution. For example, cars and trucks have mufflers to reduce exhaust noise. Airports sometimes have strict restrictions on flight paths and landing/takeoff times in order to reduce noise pollution in residential areas. Municipalities and communities impose limitations on excessive noise by residents. Let’s rid ourselves of this double standard and make gun mufflers more accessible.

Note that this bill does not infringe upon states’ rights. States would still have the right to regulate or ban sound suppressors as they currently do. This bill would not have any effect on states like California which already prohibit the possession of sound suppressors by those other than law enforcement and military personnel for use in their official duties.

Thank you,
<insert name and address here>

H.R.38 – Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017

Here is a letter I wrote to my Representative urging him to support the H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. I encourage you to write your Congressperson. You have my permission to use this letter word-for-word, although I strongly recommend personalizing it for yourself.

Dear Representative,

I am writing to urge your support for H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.

The U.S. Bill of Rights secures the right for law-abiding citizens to bear arms. In his majority opinion in Heller v. District of Columbia, Justice Scalia opined that “[the textual elements of the second amendment] guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

In the United States, concealed carry is the most common method for a law abiding citizen to bear arms outside the home. All 50 states (with the exception of Vermont) have some form of permitting process to allow for the lawful carriage of a concealed firearm.

The current state of carrying a concealed firearm throughout the United States is patchy. While many states recognize the permits of other states, some states do not recognize out-of-state permits at all. This results in a very confusing system that is constantly changing with the laws and political climate of each state. No other constitutionally guaranteed right is subject to geographical limitations within the United States. This bill aims to fix this problem.

In the United States, a licensed driver may drive in all 50 states. A concealed carry permit holder, however, may not carry a concealed firearm in all 50 states. It should be mentioned that while the right to bear arms is a constitutionally protected right, driving is considered a privilege and not a right. The right to bear arms should not be treated as a second class right limited by geography.

Thank you,
<insert your name here>

H.R.34 – Safe Students Act

Here is a letter I wrote to my Representative urging his support for H.R. 34, the Safe Students Act. You may use this letter word-for-word, although for maximum effect, I would strongly encourage personalizing it before sending it to your Congressperson.

Dear Representative,

I am writing to urge your support for H.R. 34, the Safe Students Act.

This bill would repeal the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 (GFSZA). The GFSZA is a misguided law that does nothing to make schools safer. It is illogical to think that this act would prevent a heinous act of violence (e.g. murder) at a school. Someone who is intent on committing such an act is already willing to commit a felony where the person would likely face death or a life sentence in prison.

As someone who travels a lot, the GFSZA has a substantial negative effect on me. I have a permit to carry a concealed handgun and I regularly carry a gun when I travel. When traveling in another state, I am not exempt from the GFSZA. This means that I must maintain a distance of at least 1000 feet from any schools. Considering that I am traveling, and therefore unfamiliar with the surrounding area, how am I supposed to know where all of the schools are? Built up areas often have many small schools. To make the issue worse, 1000 feet is quite a long distance. As a law abiding citizen, it is incredibly burdensome and frustrating to comply with this law.

The GFSZA creates a victimless crime. A victimless crime is a crime where no one is directly harmed. Frankly, what is wrong with a law abiding citizen driving by a school while carrying concealed? What about a hunter who drives by a school on her way home from a hunt and has her unloaded shotgun in the back of her SUV? Do these people deserve to be punished with a felony carrying charges of up to five years in prison? I would say this is injustice.

As you know, ignorance of the law is not a valid defense for committing a crime. However, it is unreasonable for government to create such a complex framework of laws such that the average citizen is unaware of the laws. How many people unknowingly break this law by driving by a school with a gun in the car? I would posit a lot of people break this law without realizing. Anecdotally, I recently discovered that my father, who is a hunter and is not exempt from the GFSZA, was unaware of this law.

Lastly, the GFSZA is a blatant abuse of the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. Our founding fathers did not intend for Congress to make such laws. The issue of whether or not to allow guns in school zones should be left to the States.

Thank you,

<insert name and address here>