Only law enforcement and the military would have access to body armor if a California Congressman gets his way.
Democratic Rep. Mike Honda (D-California) would also like to ban the sale of “lower receivers” that are used to make homemade AR-15s and require the regulation of other homemade firearms in some of the most restrictive gun control legislation ever introduced in Congress.
Honda introduced all three bills on the same day earlier this year.
“These bills are sensible, reasonable measures to limit the damage that can be inflicted by guns and those who mean harm with them,” Honda said. “We have seen too many people injured and killed by guns to just stand by and do nothing. These bills will modernize our gun laws to reflect how weapons are currently getting into the wrong hands.”
The Responsible Body Armor Possession Act, HR 378, would “amend the federal criminal code to prohibit the purchase, ownership, or possession of enhanced body armor,” according to a bill summary. The ban includes helmets and shields. Presumably, anyone who already has purchased such armor would be in violation of the law.
“This bill allows law enforcement to respond to active shooting situations more effectively,” a press release said.
The Homemade Firearms Accountability Act, HR 377, would require that all homemade guns have serial numbers and be regulated in the same way as those that are purchased.
The Home-Assembled Firearms Restriction Act, HR 376, would ban the sale and purchase of “incomplete lower receivers,” which are often bought by gun enthusiasts to make, for instance, an AR-15.
Banning Guns AND Defense Against Guns
Not surprisingly, gun control groups endorsed the bills.
“Representative Honda’s bills would fill gaping holes in our nation’s gun laws that make it far too easy for mass shooters, gun traffickers, and common criminals to build homemade military-style firearms and acquire military-grade body armor,” said Kristen Rand, the legislative director of the Violence Policy Center.
But commenters on Honda’s own website wondered about the wisdom behind the bills.
“If body armor, which is entirely defensive in nature, is to be banned, how is that fundamentally different from banning locks on doors?” commenter Jay Silla asked. “After all, locks make it difficult for the police to conduct raids…”
Ryan S. wrote, “So, wait … you want to ban guns because they kill people. … But you also want to ban something that protects people from guns?!? Are you serious?!”
Another commenter was highly critical of the proposed ban on lower receivers.
“Criminals don’t go online, buy an 80% AR lower, buy a jig and an end milling kit, and then spend 3+ hours milling out the AR lower with his drill press, then another hour with a fine file making all the internals fit. You know who does that? Lawful gun owners who will never use that gun that they just made to commit a crime and are more interested in saying ‘I made that.” Some, including me, would call it art,” the commenter, named Gunner, wrote.
Even some Democrats are skeptical of use of serial numbers to track weapons. Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a state bill similar to HR 377.
“I appreciate the author’s concerns about gun violence, but I can’t see how adding a serial number to a homemade gun would significantly advance public safety,” Brown wrote after vetoing a bill called SB808.
3D Guns Targeted
At least one gun control advocate thinks that Honda’s legislation also targets 3D- printed guns, although such weapons were not mentioned in the press release.
“3D printed guns remain unregulated and law enforcement deems them a threat,” said Brian Malte, the senior national policy director of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “We applaud Rep. Honda for introducing legislation to regulate 3D printed guns to protect our kids and communities.”