Basically, the bill would require a licence to own a gun (good for five years), and mandate registration of all firearms. To get a firearms license, you'd need to submit, among other things:
(7) a certificate attesting to the completion at the time of application of a written firearms examination, which shall test the knowledge and ability of the applicant regarding— (A) the safe storage of firearms, particularly in the vicinity of persons who have not attained 18 years of age; (B) the safe handling of firearms; (C) the use of firearms in the home and the risks associated with such use; (D) the legal responsibilities of firearms owners, including Federal, State, and local laws relating to requirements for the possession and storage of firearms, and relating to reporting requirements with respect to firearms; and (E) any other subjects, as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate;
Some of this stuff sounds vaguely reasonable, at first glance-- I took a firearms course as part of getting my concealed weapons permit, and I think that such courses should put more emphasis on laws, i.e., what you are and are not allowed to do, than they currently do. (Particularly in the case of concealed carry courses, because, God forbid, you might find yourself in a situation where you are threatened and have to seriously consider shooting somebody, and you'd better know where all the lines are beforehand.) So that all makes sense, right? Well, take another look. "Risks associated with such use" means "you're going to be subjected to anti-gun propaganda, and you have to smile and nod, or you're screwed." And "any other subjects such as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate" -- oh, there's no potential for abuse THERE.
(Our new Attorney General is, to the great disappointment of gun nuts everywhere, extremely anti-gun, and I could see him deciding to add, say, a few questions along the lines of, "Write a lengthy essay on tensor calculus.")
But hey, what else do we have to cough up?
(8) an authorization by the applicant to release to the Attorney General or an authorized representative of the Attorney General any mental health records pertaining to the applicant;
Yes, because we really want people who suffer from, oh, say, depression, to avoid seeking treatment for fear that their enjoyments will be curtailed. (Or: dear Congressman Rush, fuuuuuuuuck youuuuuu.)
This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall not apply to any department or agency of the United States, of a State, or of a political subdivision of a State, or to any official conduct of any officer or employee of such a department or agency.
Of course it shall not. Because government cars don't have to have license plates, government drivers don't have to have driver's licenses, and -- what? they do? oh. Guns, though, that's different!
(The most important reason to enforce laws vigorously on the powerful has nothing to do with fairness, or ideology: it's that the powerful, should they find themselves dealing with unjust or overbearing laws, have the financial and political wherewithal to challenge or modify them.)
For the record, I wrote a letter to President Obama's change.gov site suggesting some gun policy measures that might actually work for him, and pointed out that if he wants to get anything that he wants, it would be in his interests to give us something that we want. I suggested re-opening the machine gun registry. All machine guns are required to be registered by their owners, who undergo strict background checks, but it's impossible to register one made after 1986. This is bad for collectors, who're locked out of a lot of newer material, it's bad for manufacturers, who lose out on a great market, and it's bad for national security, because if somebody has a great, innovative idea for a new full-auto weapon, it's not worth the trouble of trying to build it because the only hope for success is landing a government contract. Too big a gamble to take. Keep the registry in place, fine, just *open* it.
Incidentally: one big reason gun nuts don't trust registration, issues of liberty aside, is that licensed machine guns are the least used guns in crime, ever. Since registration started better than seventy years ago, guess how many crimes were committed with registered machine guns? Two. And one of those was by a police officer. That's an *incredibly* clean record. And yet the registry got closed, anyway. So, yeah, good luck getting gun nuts to ever concede to mandatory registration of anything, ever again...