Gun Owners of America comments on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice proposed regulations to implement the Brady Law

Gun Owners of America (GOA), a not-for-profit association of more than 200,000 Americans devoted to preserving their firearms rights, submits the following comments on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice proposed regulations to implement the Brady Law, Public Law 103-159.

GOA is responding to the proposed rulemaking, printed in the Federal Register on June 4, 1998, Volume 63, Number 107, at pages 30514-30517 and 30429-30438, and on August 17, 1998, Volume 63, Number 158, at pages 43893-43897.

These proposed regulations are unlawful and unconstitutional. They are so fundamentally corrupt that there are no incremental changes which will even marginally improve them. Rest assured that they will be challenged in every possible judicial and legislative forum.

Among the unconstitutional, unlawful, and overreaching provisions which we will challenge are the following:

I . The efforts to extend your purview to persons who have been indicted for a felony, but not convicted of anything, exceeds your authority under 18 U.S.C. 922.

2. The attempt to extend the category of prohibited persons to individuals subject to a restraining order, when the person did not have an opportunity to participate in a hearing, is a misreading of 18 U.S.C. 922.

3. The efforts to retain information on gun owners for eighteen months -- and indefinitely in your computer backup system -- constitutes an illegal system of firearms registration, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 926. The same is, in fact, true even for efforts to retain information about persons prohibited from purchasing firearms.

4. The efforts to force disclosure of Social Security numbers represents a clear violation of the Privacy Act. Whereas you state that the disclosure of a Social Security number will not be required with respect to any background check, we fully expect that you will use your failure to approve firearm purchases as a lever for forcing this information.

5. The "guarantees" of individual privacy are a travesty. These regulations violate the privacy of gun owners in an astounding variety of ways. In particular, you admit that you will retain and/or disclose:

- "any record [which] is found by the system which indicates, either on its face or in conjunction with other information, a violation or potential violation of law (whether criminal or civil) and/or regulation and a violation or potential violation of a contract..." [emphasis added];
- records to "contractors, grantees, experts, consultants, volunteers, detailees, and other non-FBI employees performing or working on a contract, service, grant, cooperative agreement, or job for the Federal Government...";
- records disclosed "to the news media or member of the general public or to a victim or potential victim in furtherance of a legitimate law enforcement or public safety function... ";
- records disclosed "to the news media or general public in other situations of legitimate public interest where disclosure would not constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy...";
- records disclosed "[w]here the disclosure of system records has been determined by the FBI to be reasonable and necessary to resolve a matter in litigation or in anticipation thereof...";
- records disclosed to the National Archives;
- results of NICS records checks which may be disclosed to "authorized employees of Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies...";
- disclosure with respect to "an inquiry from the ATF in connection with a civil or criminal law enforcement activity...";
- disclosure to "authorized Federal agency employees who in the future may be provided message-basked access to the NICS Index via the NCIC communications network for the purposes of adding, updating, and canceling records";
- retention by the states of any record "part of a record system created and maintained in accordance with state law..."

6. The classification of gun purchasers on the basis of race demonstrates that bigotry has not wholly vanished from the federal bureaucracy.

7. The insistence on a background check for persons seeking a carry license from a qualifying state is nowhere authorized in 18 U.S.C. 922(s) or (t).

8. The imposition of a bureaucratically created tax is a specific encroachment on the powers of Congress under Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution. Your effort to use a discriminatory tax system, from state to state, in order to bludgeon non-Point of Contact (POC) states into imposing additional taxes and layers of bureaucracy makes your tax doubly suspect.

9. The refusal to take responsibility for the security of points of contact and agencies -- or the accuracy of information -- throws the integrity of your system into even greater doubt.

10. The contentions that your regulations "will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities," that they "will not have a substantial direct effect on the states, [or] the relationship between the national government and the states," and that they Ccwill not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more, a major increase in costs or prices, or have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of the United States-based companies to compete" are laughable.

11. The efforts to create bureaucratically initiated crimes conveniently fail to impose penalties for violations by you and your bureaucrats.

12. The idea that foreign nations can voluntarily submit disqualifying information, thereby managing our criminal justice system, borders on the ridiculous.

13. The idea that gun sales will be halted nationally if any database fails to respond is so far out of the purview of the law that the author ought to be held responsible for such a suggestion.

In short, we understand, as you do, that you have attempted to use circumstances in order to institute a MASSIVE power grab, seizing authority from the BATF, Congress, and the American people. Rest assured that we will battle your unlawful action with every resource and in every forum available.

Finally, we are including a copy of the comments that we submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms earlier this year. The February regulations proposed by the BATF also relate to the implementation of the Brady Law, Public Law 103-159.