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Rounds, Mullin Introduce Legislation to Protect Tribal Members Second Amendment Rights

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, South Dakota’s member of the Indian Affairs Committee, and Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) introduced the Tribal Firearm Access Act. This legislation would clarify that tribal governments are eligible entities to issue identification documents for the purposes of obtaining a firearm.

“Under current federal law, tribal members are unable to use their tribal identification documents, which often is their only form of identification, to purchase a firearm,” said Rounds. “The Tribal Firearm Access Act fixes this problem, allowing tribal members to exercise their Second Amendment rights. As South Dakota’s member of the Indian Affairs Committee, I’m proud to introduce this common sense legislation.”

“Tribal citizens, and all law-abiding Americans, have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” said Mullin. “For too long, a lapse in existing law has prohibited Tribal members from using their Tribal government-issued ID to lawfully purchase firearms. Our commonsense legislation corrects this unconstitutional infringement. I’m proud to be leading this legislation in the Senate to protect Tribal members’ ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

This bill is endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA), Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition (FRAC) and Gun Owners of America (GOA).

“The fundamental right to keep and bear arms is dependent on the ability to lawfully acquire firearms,” said Jason Ouimet, Executive Director, NRA-ILA. “The Tribal Firearms Access Act would ensure Native Americans can use identification issued by federally-recognized tribal governments to transfer a firearm under federal law.”

“NSSF supports this no-nonsense measure that will ensure fair and accurate background checks for the purchase of a firearm at the point-of-sale,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation. “The Firearm Industry Trade Association consistently advocates for improvements to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to confirm that only those who can be trusted to possess a firearm are able to purchase one from a firearm retailer. Our members rely on that system to be accurate and providing a means for tribal members to use their tribal identification cards will safeguard their ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights while ensuring firearms remain out of the hands of those that cannot be trusted to possess them.”

“The National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA) supports the common sense approach to allow Photo Tribal Identification/Membership Cards to be utilized to purchase firearms,” said Gary L. Edwards, CEO, NNALEA. “Many of Indian Country Tribal Members lack easy access to other forms of government approved identification. NNALEA realizes the importance of properly identifying purchasers of firearms. NNALEA believes the government approved Photo Tribal Identification/Membership Cards of Federally Recognized Tribes would be an important tool to achieve the lawful purchase of firearms. On behalf of our membership we would like to thank your for your commitment to Indian Country issues.”

In addition to Rounds and Mullin, this legislation was introduced by Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).


The Tribal Firearms Access Act would declare that identification documents issued by tribal governments are generally accorded the same treatment under federal criminal law as identification documents issued by the Federal Government or by a state or local government.

This bill amends Section 1028(d) of Title 18 to include tribal governments as eligible entities to issue an identification document, highlighted below:

(3) the term “identification document” means a document made or issued by or under the authority of the United States Government, a State, political subdivision of a State, a tribal government, a sponsoring entity of an event designated as a special event of national significance, a foreign government, political subdivision of a foreign government, an international governmental or an international quasi-governmental organization which, when completed with information concerning a particular individual, is of a type intended or commonly accepted for the purpose of identification of individuals;”

For many American Indians, tribal IDs are their only form of identification. Online registration for a state-government ID is not always an option, as over half of Native Americans that live on reservations lack access to high-speed internet service and 18 percent of Native Americans living on reservations have no internet access at all, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Tribal IDs typically contain much of the same information found on a driver’s license.

Tribal government-issued IDs are considered acceptable forms of identification by numerous government agencies. In 2011, South Dakota passed a law that allowed Tribal IDs to be acceptable forms of government-issued ID for purchasing alcohol and tobacco products. Current law would allow for a citizen of a foreign country in the United States to purchase a gun with their foreign passport but does not permit an American citizen who is a tribal member to use their tribal ID to exercise their constitutional right.

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Mariannette Miller Meeks (R-Iowa) and Tracey Mann (R-Kan.).