On Sept. 1, U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan introduced H.R. 3668, the Sportsman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act), a wide-ranging package of legislation aimed at promoting Second Amendment rights and America’s outdoor sporting traditions.
Different versions of the SHARE Act have been pending for a number of years, and the legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives during each of the last three sessions of Congress, most recently in February 2016. Few, however, expected that then-President Obama would have signed the bill into law.
Gun owners, however, now have a friend at the White House in President Trump and at the Department of Interior in Secretary Ryan Zinke. Fittingly, the current version of the SHARE Act is the most ambitious and consequential yet. Besides longstanding provisions aimed at enhancing opportunities for hunting, fishing, and shooting and broadening access to federal lands for these purposes, this year’s SHARE Act contains reforms that would widely benefit sportsmen and the gun-owning public at large.
For example, the bill would clarify and strengthen 1986’s Firearm Owner’s Protection Act, which among other things protects the lawful transport of firearms from one location where they are legal to another. These reforms would bring to heel states like New York and New Jersey that continue to defy FOPA’s protections and persecute Americans innocently traveling with lawfully-owned guns. It would more clearly delineate what behavior is protected and provide remedies for persons whose rights under FOPA are violated.
The bill also contains the Lawful Purpose and Self-defense Act, aimed at ensuring the Second Amendment’s core purpose of self-defense is adequately considered in the administration of federal firearms law. Currently, a number of federal laws that regulate the importation, possession, and transfer of firearms and ammunition measure their lawful utility based on their usefulness for so-called “sporting purposes.” Anti-gun administrations have exploited the lack of a clear definition of “sporting purposes” to bypass Congress and impose gun control through executive fiat. The most recent (and perhaps most infamous) example of this was the Obama administration’s attempt to ban as “non-sporting” a highly popular form of ammunition for the AR-15. This legislation would ensure that all lawful purposes of firearms and ammunition would be given due consideration in construing federal firearm laws.
Another component of the bill is the Recreational Lands Self-Defense Act. Since 2009, federal law has recognized the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms for self-defense when camping or hiking on National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System lands by incorporating the firearm carry laws of the states in which the lands are located. This part of the SHARE Act would extend that same rule to the 11.7 million acres of land administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which includes 400 lakes and river projects, 90,000 campsites and 4,000 miles of trails.
For the first time, the SHARE Act also contains the Hearing Protection Act (HPA). One of the NRA’s top legislative priorities, the HPA would remove firearm sound suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act and treat them as ordinary firearms under the Gun Control Act. This would eliminate the current $200 transfer tax on these items, decrease the red tape and long processing times currently associated with their purchase, and make the health-protecting benefits of suppressors more widely accessible to the gun-owning community. Suppressors are currently lawful for private ownership and use in 42 states, including for hunting in 40 of those states. There is no justification for federal regulations that serve mainly to discourage law-abiding people from possessing them.
America’s gun owners have been waiting for many years for Congress to send the SHARE Act to the president’s desk. Their patience may now be rewarded with the strongest, most far-reaching version of the Act yet.
Stay tuned as we keep you updated on the progress of this longstanding effort. In the meantime, please contact your U.S. Representative NOW and ask him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 3668, the Share Act. You can call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative’s office, or you can send an email using our Take Action tool.