Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association that if Republicans win the majority in November he would push, as majority leader, to pass a bill protecting gun ownership privacy.
“You should all know for sure, if I’m given the opportunity to lead a new Senate majority next year, I will work … to advance this important idea,” McConnell said.
“The privacy of law abiding gun owners needs to be protected,” he continued. McConnell is up for re-election in November and faces a primary challenger on May 20.
The legislation would withhold 5 percent of Community Oriented Policing Services program funding if a state or local government publicly releases information on individuals that have licenses to purchase, possess, or carry firearms. The withheld money will be redistributed to compliant states. The proposal includes an exception for criminal investigations and court proceedings.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., authored the measure last year and offered it as an amendment to bipartisan legislation expanding background checks for gun purchasers, which ultimately stalled after failing to win 60 votes to advance.
The amendment was prompted by The Journal News, which published an interactive map last year showing the names and addresses of all handgun permit holders in New York's Westchester and Rockland counties.
“Many feared that this data could be used to target or harass them,” McConnell said.
“That’s why I supported legislation in the Senate last year that aims to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.”
McConnell also pledged to block a proposed Internal Revenue Service regulation that would limit the political activities of non-profit groups.
“I’ve been doing what I can to see that this regulation never goes into effect,” McConnell said.
He characterized the proposal as “the attempt by the federal government to curtail the speech of our citizens.”
The rule comes after the IRS was roundly criticized by the GOP for selectively targeting conservative political groups.
The matter came up recently during negotiations over a Ukraine aid bill. Republicans offered to support the measure with a provision approving an International Monetary Fund overhaul to which the GOP was opposed if Democrats agreed to include a provision blocking the IRS from imposing new restrictions on the political activities of nonprofit groups.
Democrats balked at the GOP's offer and ultimately agreed to drop the IMF provision.
McConnell said some progress has been made on opposing the regulation given that the IRS plans to redraft proposal.
He noted that regulation drew a record 150,000 comments before the deadline in late February.
He called for concerned citizens to continue to let their voices be heard.
“We need your continued engagement to ensure that the constitutional rights of all Americans, including second amendment supporters, are protected,” McConnell said.
“It’s a fight we will win if we keep the pressure up,” McConnell said.