When Democrats took control of the U.S. House as a result of last November’s election, many Republicans assumed, perhaps optimistically, the danger presented by this new liberal majority would come primarily from legislation passed thanks to their newly-acquired majority; legislation that would be blocked by either the Senate or the White House.
Yet, for those like myself who have served in the House of Representatives and know the full force of the House is not necessarily in the legislation brought to the floor, but in the various committees that wield enormous power for the majority party, we warned that there would be consequences; in particular for the Second Amendment.
With the 116th Congress just two weeks old, that danger already is coming into sharp focus.
While most observers’ eyes initially focused on the drama surrounding freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s long shot bid for a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, veteran Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) was quietly installed as Chair of the Financial Services Committee. For gun owners and businesses, this is a worst-case scenario.
To many of those outside observers, it might seem as if the Judiciary Committee — with primary jurisdiction in the House over firearms laws and regulations — would be the key battleground for firearms-related attacks. However, for those of us who bear the battle scars earned through years of fighting to protect the Second Amendment from attacks in the Congress, it is clear this war will be fought on many fronts, and through attacks direct as well as indirect.
Lawful firearms businesses will remember well “Operation Choke Point” as a clear abuse of the federal government’s regulatory power over financial institutions, and part of a drive to choke off the ability of those businesses to engage in normal and necessary financial practices. (Even today, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is using similar tactics against insurance companies in his State that have lawful commercial ties to the National Rifle Association.)
Just as what is occurring in New York, none of the options available to Waters or any of the other House committees now controlled by Democrats, requires an actual vote on the House floor, or even in the committees themselves. And, there are no effective mechanisms available to the GOP minority to stop Waters or other Committee Chairs from using their clout, backed by threats of subpoena or appropriations riders, to bully corporations and agencies under their purview to adopt anti-Second Amendment practices or policies.