Chris Jacobs Introduces “Assault Weapons” Licensing Bill

New York Congressman Chris Jacobs today announced the introduction of the Federal Assault Weapons Licensing Act, the latest attempt at attacking responsible gun owners. If passed, the law would require a federal license for all new “assault weapon” purchases. True to form, the gun grabbing Jacobs says his bill is “common sense.”

AR-15s assault weapons license
New York Congressman Chris Jacobs thinks you should have a license for these. (

Assault Weapons Ban Backlash

Jacobs, you may recall, represents New York’s 27th Congressional District, which includes suburban Buffalo. He is also one of the New York Congressional Delegation’s few Republicans. The state’s declining population led to the districts’ being reshuffled this year, meaning Jacobs was running for reelection in the new 23rd District, which added more rural voters to his constituency. He was the heavy favorite until he came out for gun control.

New York Congressman Chris Jacobs Assault Weapons License
Republican Chris Jacobs faced a huge backlash when he supported the “assault weapons” ban. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Jacobs responded to the Buffalo and Uvalde murders by saying he favored and would vote for an “assault weapons” ban and magazine restrictions. The backlash was immediate and intense. Shortly thereafter, Jacobs withdrew from the race, citing his desire for transparency and his wish to avoid an “incredibly negative and half-truth filled media attack.” That may well be true. It’s also true that Jacobs knew he would lose, especially when the New York State Conservative Party withdrew its support.

True to his word, Jacobs did indeed vote for H.R. 1808, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban on July 29. But that wasn’t enough. After quitting the race, Jacobs said he planned to introduce a civilian body armor bill and that he supported raising the purchase age for semi-automatic rifles to 21.  We haven’t heard anything about the body armor ban and the age change is already being shot down by the court system. But Jacobs is firing one last gun-controlling shot before his not-soon-enough return to private life.

New York Congressional Districts Chris Jacobs
Jacobs represents New York’s 27th Congressional District. The new 23rd District contains more rural voters. Jacobs dropped out when it became clear he would lose his reelection bid. (

H.R. 8882: The Federal Assault Weapons Licensing Act

Jacobs’ Congressional website says the bill is “designed to put in place additional protections on accessing high-powered weapons.” And it doesn’t take long before we see the typical gun controller double-speak. “While the overwhelming majority of Americans who own these weapons are law-abiding, responsible gun owners – the increasing trend of mass shootings with these weapons shows additional safeguards must be placed upon obtaining them. My bill will better ensure these guns do not fall into the wrong hands, while still protecting American’s ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

The bill seeks to create a new licensing system, including a mandatory gun safety course, an enhanced FBI background check, fingerprinting, and proof of identity. The license would have to be renewed every five years. Whether the whole process would have to be repeated every time is unclear. Jacobs’ statement implies that a separate license may be required for each additional purchase. That will require clarification.

The license would be denied or revoked if the applicant fails the background check, if disqualifying information becomes available, or if the Justice Department classifies the applicant as a danger to himself or others.

Active-duty military and law enforcement personnel are exempt from the licensing requirements. The bill “allows” a non-licensed individual to handle a restricted firearm at a shooting range or while hunting, as long as the licensed owner supervises. It also allows non-licensed people to possess the weapon to avoid “imminent death or serious harm to another person.” There is also a grandfather clause for all current “assault weapons” owners. Generous, that Congressman Jacobs.

assault weapons license
Jacobs claims his bill protects the Second Amendment. It does no such thing. (istock photo)

The Unserious Assault Weapons License

This bill also shows how unserious Chris Jacobs and other gun controllers really are. If he really believes these firearms are so dangerous, why grandfather the more than 20 million already in private hands? Yes, some murdering scumbags have lawfully purchased rifles that Jacobs doesn’t like and committed terrible crimes with them. Why does he believe double-secret background checks would have prevented them? Those individuals passed the NICS check because they do not have a criminal record.

But more likely, deranged people will do what criminals always do—steal what they need to do what they want, or they will just use another weapon. Remember, the Virginia Tech murderer killed 32 people with two handguns. This bill will do nothing but impede responsible gun owners with onerous restrictions. But, for the millionth time…the operative word in “gun control” is “control.”

Whether the House takes up the bill remains to be seen. All but five House Democrats voted for the July 29 Assault Weapons Ban, but passing this bill seems like it might undermine Senate support for the previous bill.

Chris Jacobs Doesn’t Understand the Constitution

Once again, a gun controller says he is “protecting” the Second Amendment while trying to restrict it. The Supreme Court long ago found that taxing or qualifying a Constitutional right is illegal. But guys like Jacobs don’t understand the difference between rights and privileges. To them, the Second Amendment is no different than a driver’s license.

I find it pretty rich that Jacobs says, “the bill contains protections for the privacy and constitutional rights of license holders.” Oh really? Being fingerprinted to exercise a Constitutionally enumerated right is a “protection?” The enhanced background check and constant FBI monitoring protects licensees’ privacy? Do tell. The whole thing is a Constitutional violation and if Jacobs doesn’t know that he really should not be in Congress. It directly contradicts the Heller and Bruen Decisions requiring contextual historical precedent for gun control laws. There were clearly no firearm licensing requirements in 1791.

The Second Amendment text. Chris Jacobs
Chris Jacobs does not understand how Constitutional rights work. (istock photo. Text added by author)

Jacobs says that “My legislation is common sense and provides a straightforward licensing process to ensure those who are purchasing and taking ownership of assault weapons are responsible, law-abiding Americans.” But there’s little indication that his process will do any more than NICS already does. It will just be more invasive while doing it. Criminals do not submit themselves for background checks. Future criminals have no record. They will pass this like they pass NICS. This bill does not implement psychics to scry out what they’ll do moving forward.

“We can honor and protect our Second Amendment while also ensuring that dangerous weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.” Well Chris, I’m sure you believe that. The problem is that your licensing scheme does neither. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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