Doubting Thomas

While I’ve been a supporter of Thomas Massie since he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, it wasn’t long before I began to have some doubts. As his time in Congress has progressed we no longer need to rely on his promises and platitudes but can look at his actual record. An objective assessment reveals a lack of any meaningful action and begs the question first asked in 1986 by Janet Jackson: “What have you done for me lately?”

If you value the Second Amendment, the answer is, “not much.” Of particular note is his continuing failure to co-sponsor H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This bill was introduced on January 4, 2021, and does not yet carry the endorsement of the founder and chair of the House Second Amendment Caucus, Representative Thomas Massie.

But first, a little history.

I was first made aware of Rep. Massie’s disdain for national concealed carry reciprocity back in 2017, when an earlier iteration of H.R. 38 was introduced into the House of Representatives, and I looked up the list of co-sponsors hoping to verify that my representative (Massie) was signed on in support of the bill. I was surprised to discover that he was not, and called his office to ask that he do so. In the following days I had multiple conversations with two separate members of his staff regarding the bill, and was advised that Rep. Massie simply did not support H.R. 38, due to his concern that forcing states to recognize the concealed carry rights of non-resident visitors was a violation of states’ rights.

I always thought the rights of the people came before the rights of the states. Image courtesy of Oleg Volk

Unfortunately, Rep. Massie has been less than transparent on his opposition to national reciprocity, and has never admitted his states’ rights objections publicly. He prefers to use a different excuse…perhaps fearing that his constituents might not agree?

Instead, in 2017 Massie objected to the passage of H.R. 38 by claiming that his problem with the reciprocity bill was rooted in the fact that language from two (textually similar) bills, H.R. 4434 and H.R. 4477 (both titled “Fix NICS”) had been amended to H.R. 38, appearing as “Title II” of the final bill as voted on. However, H.R. 38 was first introduced on January 3, 2017, at the very beginning of the congressional year. The “Fix NICS” bill was not introduced until November 16, 2017…over 11 months later…and was obviously not merged with H.R. 38 until even later in the process. Still, Rep. Massie publicly professed his support for reciprocity, but that he could not support H.R. 38 because he disagreed with the “Fix NICS” amendment. However, he never supported H.R. 38 during the 11 months before “Fix NICS” appeared.

Now…there’s a reason I emphasized the word “reciprocity” above. When questioned as to how such a professed supporter of the Second Amendment could have a problem with national reciprocity, Rep. Massie would respond the he did in fact support reciprocity, but objected to the inclusion of “Fix NICS” language in the bill. This is nothing more than a bit of clever wordplay on his part, no doubt intended to deceive his constituents who wanted their concealed carry rights to be recognized nationwide. Because although Massie would insist he supported reciprocity, what you could never catch him saying is that he supports national reciprocity…because he never has. I have an open challenge to the internet at large to find me a verifiable video or audio clip of Thomas Massie stating that he supports national reciprocity. Such a clip does not exist.

Sniff around all you want…it’s not out there.

You might find a clip of Massie stating he supports reciprocity, but understand that during the 115th Congress when all this was occurring, Massie himself had introduced H.R. 2909, the DC Personal Protection Reciprocity Act, which would have afforded legally permitted citizens the ability to carry concealed firearms in the District of Columbia only. With this bill in process, Massie could now give interviews and answer questions on the topic by saying that yes, he does support reciprocity…while omitting the word “national.” Is this the behavior of an honest man?

So let’s review what we have so far: In 2017, a clean and unamended national reciprocity bill was in Congress for 11 months without Massie’s endorsement. Once that bill was amended with language that he could frame as more objectionable, he came out in opposition and blamed that language for his non-support. He also introduced another very limited reciprocity bill which would have benefited relatively few Americans (though he would be one of those), and used the existence of that bill as a smokescreen which allowed him to claim support for reciprocity.

Watch the video below and you will notice that nowhere does Rep. Massie state that he favors national concealed carry reciprocity or that he would support a clean H.R. 38 (since he doesn’t), but ties his objections entirely to the inclusion of the NICS language. Also note that the release date of this video is December 5, 2017…after more than 11 months of his non-endorsement of a clean national reciprocity bill.

Fast forward to the present day, and H.R. 38 is once again on the table in the 117th Congress. Once again, it is a clean and unamended bill…with no sign of any “Fix NICS” legislation in sight. Yet the bill languishes in a Democrat-controlled Congress, once again without Rep. Massie’s endorsement. What could his objection be now? I have reached out to his office to ask just that, only to receive the run-around, being told to email both his communications director and his legislative director in turn. I have done so (on May 20 and June 3, respectively), and have yet to receive an answer from either of them.

Is this how an honest, forthcoming, and pro-Second Amendment representative behaves? If Rep. Massie has straightforward objections to national concealed carry reciprocity, I would hope that he would have the courage to express them and defend them openly and publicly…but I have my doubts.

Originally posted at deltabravocharlie.com on 6/10/2021.

Postscript – I would also add that it is interesting to note that in this current Congress, Rep. Massie has also failed to sign on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 95, the Hearing Protection Act. This bill would de-list suppressors/silencers from the 1934 National Firearms Act., removing the requirement to undergo Federal taxation, registration, and licensing in order to own these accessories. Rep. Massie has endorsed similar bills in previous Congressional years.