In the waning days of the presidential race, Donald Trump’s campaign quietly announced the formation of a “coalition” dedicated to protecting the Second Amendment. The 62-member group would be helmed by the president-elect’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., along with Chris Cox, the National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist. “These leaders will continue to advise Mr. Trump and Governor Pence as they protect our Supreme Court and our right to keep and bear arms,” a press release said.
John Boch, the executive director of Illinois-based group Guns Save Life, was one of those named to the coalition. In an interview with The Trace, Boch says he is eager to share with the new administration his views on how to dismantle decades of presidential actions on firearms — just as soon as he is asked.
“I am looking forward to helping protect and defend the Second Amendment over the course of a generation or two,” he told The Trace by phone, noting that he was cleaning his gun while he chatted.
The list of policies that Boch is eager to see eliminated is similar to those of other gun activists: He wants aggressive legislation that will force states to honor concealed carry permits issued by states with looser gun laws. He also wants Trump to roll back many other, less-known measures implemented by his predecessors, including the elimination of restrictions on purchases of Chinese guns.
The agenda Boch proposes highlights the intent of gun rights advocates to undo as many federal firearms regulations as they can. They have good cause for their optimism: Trump ran the most assertively pro-gun campaign in memory, backed by record breaking funding from the NRA.
Here’s what Boch told The Trace he’s expecting President Trump to do:
1. Rescind a slate of executive actions issued by President Obama. That list includes 23 relating to guns signed after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Those actions include ordering the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence; declaring that doctors are not barred under the Affordable Care Act from asking patients about gun ownership; and creating incentives for states to report information into the National Instant Background Check system.
Most recently, in January, Obama announced that any and all firearms dealers engaged in the business of selling guns must obtain a federal license and conduct background checks on all buyers.
Trump promised to “veto” the background check directive, adding: “I will unsign that so fast.”
Trump, in fact, cannot veto or unsign Obama’s move, which was technically a public announcement of a clarification by the ATF of existing law. But he can announce a reversal of Obama’s steps, which would have the same result.
2. Remove limits on arming service members at military facilities, such as recruitment centers. Few military offices are “gun-free” though firearms at facilities are restricted by a decades-old Defense Department policy limiting who can carry weapons to those servicemembers who specifically apply and undergo training to do so in military offices. Trump vowed to “mandate that soldiers remain armed and on alert at our military bases.”
3. Revoke restrictions on importing Chinese guns and ammunition. Some gun enthusiasts hope to buy Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco’s MAK-90, a version of the AK-47 semi-automatic, and other knockoffs of popular brands the company makes. Those who want to purchase these guns believe they would be relatively cheap, and in some cases object philosophically to restrictions on buying them. Laws that effectively prevent importing Chinese weapons and components date to a 1989 executive order signed by President George H.W. Bush that banned foreign-made semi-automatic guns. In 1994, President Bill Clinton also barred sales by China’s biggest gunmaker, as a part of a trade deal. In 2003, under President George W. Bush, the Treasury Department further banned imports of Norinco after the company was accused of violating international nonproliferation laws by selling missile parts to Iran.
4. Make silencers easy to access. Boch wants the Trump administration to work with allies in the Republican-dominated Congress to pass legislation that allows silencers to be purchased at regular federally licensed firearms dealers (they currently fall under special regulations enacted by the 1934 Firearms Control Act). Some gun users say they want silencers to prevent potential hearing damage and reduce noise that bothers other nearby.
Boch and another member of the coalition who spoke with The Trace said they know of no plans to meet or formally communicate. Aides to two members of Congress listed as co-chairs of the coalition said that they were unaware that the lawmakers had even been named to the group.
But Boch says he doesn’t really care: His candidate is headed to the White House, and he feels secure. “I don’t see a whole lot of limits to what we can do,” he says.
[Photo: Sig Sauer via Facebook]