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Rep. Cheney Pushes Federal Gun Legislation

Liz Cheney

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney is a part of a controversial new GOP push to loosen the nation’s gun regulations. Cheney and other Republicans say it’s an effort to restore second amendment rights.

It’s called the “Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act,” or SHARE Act. Not only does the bill deal with guns, Cheney added a provision that prevents the courts from revisiting the delisting of grey wolves from Endangered Species protection.

“We’ve really been in a situation for too long where the environmental groups have really been able to exploit the legal system so there are a number of crucial titles in the bill that will begin to prevent that.”

The bill would also protect legal gun owners and concealed carry permit holders from states like Wyoming if they go through jurisdictions with tough gun restrictions. Cheney says Wyoming gun owners are currently at risk.

“You know they travel through someplace like New York which has got incredibly Draconian gun control laws, that they won’t be at the mercy of those laws, but in fact, the federal law which allows them to travel safely will be honored.”

The SHARE Act also blocks the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives from dubbing certain bullets as “armor piercing.” It allows foreign assault weapons to more easily be purchased in the U.S. and removes some restrictions on attaining silencers. That last one on silencers – or suppressors as many gun advocates call them – has caused the biggest stir, which Cheney says is misguided. I do think it’s a situation where people shouldn’t have to choose between damage to their hearing and being able to engage in sportsman’s activities.”

David Chipman is a policy advisor for Americans for Responsible Solutions – the gun-control group founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head at meeting with constituents. He testified before Cheney’s Natural Resources this week – testimony that was initially scheduled for June on the same day House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others were shot at a congressional baseball practice.

“Lives were spared that day because people recognized the unique sound of gunfire and were able to take cover.”   

During the hearing on the bill, around 20 mothers connected with gun-control groups or who lost loved ones in recent mass shootings wore red shirts as a sign of protest. That bothered Cheney who said politicizing the tragedy is wrong.

“I think it is inexcusable for anybody to use what happened to our colleagues as an excuse for arguing for more gun-control.”

Cheney and a Republican congressman who was on the field with Scalise took exception with the testimony of Chipman – a 25 year veteran of the ATF.

“What saved lives was the fact that there was return fire. The idea that somehow it was hearing the gunshots – that it was an issue having to do with hearing – is just not right. It was a cheap shot and, frankly, something the witness shouldn’t have done.”  

Sarah Dachos is with Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. She was disgusted by Cheney’s response.

“Appalling – absolute talking points from the NRA. We all know that’s not the case.”   

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva is the top Democrat on the committee. He says he and others in his party wanted to support the SHARE Act until it got larded up with handouts to the gun lobby.

“Improving conservation policy should have been a concern. Dealing with the real need of sportsmen who need access to our public lands, but none of that happened. What happened today is the kowtowing to the NRA in terms of their agenda, to the gun manufacturers and their agenda.”  

Cheney disputes that and says the legislation would go a long way in Wyoming.

“I think it’s a really important bill and it has a lot of important titles.”

The legislation passed through the Natural Resources Committee, but it’s unclear if it can pass the House, let alone the more sharply divided Senate.

Based on Capitol Hill, Matt Laslo is a reporter who has been covering campaigns and every aspect of federal policy since 2006. While he has filed stories for NPR and more than 40 of its affiliates, he has also written for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Guardian, The Omaha World-Herald, VICE News and Washingtonian Magazine.
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