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senate Bill S. 351

Should the Federal Gov’t Be Prohibited From Funding State & Local Gun Ownership Databases?

Argument in favor

The federal government is prohibited by law from creating a gun ownership database, but it’s unclear whether state & local governments can use federal funds to create such databases. This bill would clarify that no federal dollars can be used to fund a gun ownership database.

Argument opposed

Existing federal law already prohibits the storage of information acquired during the firearms background check process. Storing legal gun owners’ information in a database would treat them like criminals just for exercising their Second Amendment rights.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    IntroducedFebruary 6th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 351?

This bill — the Gun Owner Registration Information Protection (GRIP) Act — would prohibit the federal government from giving states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, or any U.S. territory funding for state firearm ownership databases. It would clarify existing law prohibiting the use of any federal funding by states or local entities for the storage or “listing” of sensitive, personal information related to the legal ownership or possession of firearms.

The term “state firearm ownership database” would be defined as a comprehensive or partial database of a state or political subdivision of a state that lists firearms lawfully owned or possessed by individuals or individuals who lawfully own or possess firearms. 

This prohibition wouldn’t apply to a state firearm database that lists firearms that have been reported as lost or stolen or individuals who have reported their firearms as lost or stolen.

Under current law, the federal government may not store information acquired during the firearms background process.  This legislation would clarify that this prohibition extends to the use of federal funds by states, localities, and other groups for the creation or maintenance of a full or partial gun registries.

Under this bill, funds from the National Criminal Histories Improvement Program, the NICS Amendment Records Improvement Program, and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program couldn’t be used for establishing state firearm ownership databases.

Impact

Guns; gun owners; gun ownership databases; federal funding to states and local entities for law enforcement; and prohibiting federal funding to states and local entities for gun ownership databases.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 351

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) — a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) — reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to ensure federal funding can’t be used by state, localities, or any other organization to maintain gun registries

“Federal law prohibits the government from tracking law-abiding gun owners and that ban extends to using federal dollars for such ill-advised activities on the local or state level.  This legislation clarifies that point. It would ensure local gun control schemes don’t wrongfully exploit federal resources to track people who own or purchase firearms legally.”

When she introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, Sen. Hyde-Smith said

“Not a single federal dollar should be used for states or cities efforts to target law-abiding gun owner. My bill would ensure no federal funds are used, either intentionally or not, for these misguided gun control efforts.  This legislation is needed to ensure the federal government is not involved in exploiting the personal information of law-abiding people who own or purchase firearms legally.”

Original Senate cosponsor Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) adds

“The right to keep and bear arms, ultimately the right to self-defense, is a fundamental right that should not be stolen by any level of government.  If enacted, the GRIP Act would ensure that no federal dollars are used for the creation of state-run gun owner databases. I will always fight any infringement on the Second Amendment every step of the way, and that includes fighting for the privacy rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

The NRA supports this bill. Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, says

“Senator Hyde-Smith has always worked to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and the men and women of the National Rifle Association applaud her for her leadership in sponsoring this important piece of pro-Second Amendment legislation.  This bill ensures that federal funding cannot be used to create and maintain gun registries – an issue of critical importance to NRA members and all gun owners.”  

This legislation has 11 Republican Senate cosponsors. Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), has 32 Republican House cosponsors.

Last Congress, this legislation had two Republican Senate cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote. There was no House companion legislation last Congress.


Of NoteIn recent years, many states have passed a variety of gun laws. In New York, gun owners were required to register their handguns with state police by January 2018 or risk criminal charges. Additionally, several state supreme courts have ruled that storing personally-identifiable information related to firearm purchases and ownership isn’t in violation of state laws. These rulings create a loophole for states to keep gun owner registries.  

With the New York law in mind, Sen. Hyde-Smith write in an op-ed in Ammoland

“I’m not sure what they’re thinking in places like New York, but one thing is clear: Not a single federal dollar should be used for states or cities to target the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners…We are a nation of laws. When someone breaks the law, there are consequences like being incarcerated and losing the right to vote or have a firearm. Law-abiding Americans shouldn’t be subject to those standards, particularly if they are gun owners. There is no need to track those who exercise their Second Amendment rights through a registry.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / somboon kaeoboonsong)

AKA

Gun Owner Registration Information Protection Act

Official Title

A bill to prohibit Federal funding of State firearm ownership databases, and for other purposes.

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