Firearms Legislation In The 111th Congress
Gun Owners of America Analysis of Current Gun Bills
H.R. 17 (Bartlett): This bill would reaffirm the right to use firearms for self-defense and for defense of one’s home and family.
H.R. 45 (Rush): This bill would require a license for handguns and semiautomatics, including those currently possessed. The applicant must be thumbprinted and sign a certification that, effectively, the firearm will not be kept in a place where it would be available for the defense of the gun owner’s family. The applicant must also make available ALL of his psychiatric records, pass an exam, and pay a fee of up to $25. The license may be renewed after five years and may be revoked. Private sales would be outlawed, and reports to the attorney general of all transactions would be required, even when, as the bill allows, the AG determines that a state licensing system is sufficiently draconian to substitute for the federal license. With virtually no exceptions, ALL firearms transactions (involving semiautos, handguns, long guns, etc.) would be subject to a Brady check. In addition, the bill would make it unlawful in nearly all cases to keep any loaded firearm for self-defense. A variety of “crimes by omission” (such as failure to report certain things) would be created. Criminal penalties of up to ten years and almost unlimited regulatory and inspection authority would be established.
H.R. 197 (Stearns): This bill would establish national standards for concealed carry reciprocity, but would not protect residents of pro-gun states like Vermont and Alaska which do not require paper permits.
H.R. 256 (Jackson-Lee): This bill would, among other things, impose a ten-year prison sentence (a life sentence if death or kidnapping results) for using a firearm to cause bodily injury on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.
H.R. 257 (Jackson Lee): This bill would take the already Byzantine restrictions on teaching your kids the responsible use of firearms and extend them from handguns to semi-autos; increase the age of applicability from 18 to 21; and increase potential penalties to up to 10 years in prison.
In addition, the bill prohibits unaccompanied minors from gun shows, and subjects parents to up to 3 years in prison for keeping an unloaded gun (with ammunition in the vicinity) if a jury finds that they disregarded a risk, that a kid (including a burglar) would get a hold of the gun and the unauthorized user causes injury. This provision effectively eliminates having guns available for self defense.
H.R. 265 (Jackson-Lee): This bill is intended to remove the disparity between sentencing for crack cocaine (perceived as a drug used more frequently by blacks) and powder cocaine (perceived as a drug used more frequently by whites). The bill is, among other things, intended to relieve sentencing on the basis of the fact that crack cocaine was the drug involved, but increase sentencing on the basis of the fact that a weapon was “brandished.”
H.R. 442 (Rehberg): This bill would provide amnesty for a veteran who acquired a “souvenir” (such as a machine gun) while serving overseas, so long as it is registered during a 90-day grace period.
H.R. 455 (Welch): This bill would add the Missiquoi and Trout Rivers in Vermont to the Wild and Scenic Rivers system, and commission a study on, among other things, the possession of weapons on lands adjacent to the area.
H.R. 495 (Rodriguez, Teague, Engel, Reyes): This bill would authorize $15,000,000 for two years to the BATFE for the purpose of enhancing its project to thwart the transportation of firearms across the Mexican border.
H.R. 510 (Kind et al.): This bill would provide that the manufacturer’s excise tax on recreational equipment be paid quarterly.
H.R. 623 (Reyes): This bill would suspend minimum sentencing requirements in the case of a person who was authorized to carry a firearm in connection with his employment and committed the crime during and in relation to his employment. (See, also, H.R. 834 and H.R. 866.)
H.R. 642 (Flake): This bill would provide that, except for overriding reasons such as national security or safety, public lands should be open to recreational shooting. It would generally require that withdrawal of lands from recreational shooting be offset, and would require congressional committees to be notified in writing before such a withdrawal.
H.R. 673 (Filner, McHugh): This bill would make changes in the federal employee retirement system with respect to certain law enforcement personnel.
H.R. 675 (Filner): This bill would provide police, criminal investigators, and game law enforcement personnel in the Department of Defense with the authority to execute warrants, make arrests, and carry firearms.
H.R. 808: This bill would create a Department of Peace, which would be tasked with, among other things, analyzing policies with respect to “tools of violence, including handguns.”
H.R. 834 (Poe): This bill would suspend minimum sentencing requirements in the case of a person who was authorized to carry a firearm in connection with his employment and committed the crime during and in relation to his employment. (See, also, H.R. 623 and H.R. 866.)
H.R. 866 (Brady et al.): This bill would suspend minimum sentencing requirements in the case of a person who was authorized to carry a firearm in connection with his employment and committed the crime during and in relation to his employment. (See, also, H.R. 623 and H.R. 834.)
H.R. 1022 (Schiff and Bono Mack): This is the 111th Congress’ incarnation of the “gang bill.” It would, among other things, define a “criminal street gang” to include an informal group of five or more people (such as a family or business), each of whom has committed one or more “gang crimes” (such driving by a school with a gun in the car under 18 U.S.C. 922(q)), including a violent felony (such as defending your family against a criminal under circumstances in which a prosecutor feels you should have retreated).
H.R. 1048 (Sires, Hare, Wilson, Frank, Meek): This bill would prohibit the HUD secretary from accepting any fees for enforcing any provision of a dwelling lease agreement that requires registration of firearms or prohibits their possession for sport or self-defense.
H.R. 1074 (Scalise): This bill would allow for the interstate sale of firearms, provided that the laws of the State in which the transfer is conducted and the State of residence of the transferee are complied with, in addition to federal law.
H.R. 1448 (Rodriguez et al.): Like H.R. 495, this bill would authorize $15,000,000 a year to send BATF agents to the Mexican border and to Mexico in connection with “Project Gunrunner.” In addition, it would provide $9,500,000 a year to do things like trace firearms recovered in Mexico, presumably for the purpose of building a case for anti-gun legislation in the U.S. It also contains $150,000,000 a year for other border security operations and $15,000,000 for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
H.R. 1620 (Boozman): This “Vermont-friendly” bill would authorize a person who can lawfully carry concealed in his state of residence — or has a concealed carry permit from any state — to carry a concealed firearm in all states. Unlike some reciprocity bills, it allows non-permit states like Vermont to benefit from its provisions and does not set “national standards” for carrying firearms.
H.R. 1684 (Hastings): This bill would codify the Bush Administration’s regulations concerning guns in National Parks.
H.R. 1913 (Conyers, Frank): This is the controversial House-passed Hate Crimes bill. It would impose a 10-year prison sentence for a simple “attempt” to cause bodily injury if a firearm was involved.
H.R. 1923 (Gingrey): The Fairness in Firearms Testing Act bill will require that an unedited video be recorded during the testing of a firearm to determine if it is a machine gun. Getting guns to malfunction is a favorite technique of the BATFE as it gives them a great opportunity to rack up convictions on the possession or selling of “machine guns,” which requires a special type of license. David Olofson is one of the most recent victims of BATFE abuse. Olofson’s AR-15 malfunctioned at a range when it fired a multiple round burst with a single trigger pull before jamming. But the BATFE could only replicate the malfunction after experimenting, behind closed doors, with different types of ammo. They labeled the firearm a machine gun and, as a result, Olofson was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. A law such as H.R. 1923 would demonstrate to jurors the extent to which the BATFE is capable and willing to trample the rights of citizens in their frenzy to put innocent gun owners behind bars.
H.R. 2159 (King of New York, Rangel, McCarthy, et al.): This bill would allow Eric Holder to declare any person a “prohibited person” (revoke licenses of, etc.) if he “suspects” that individual of aiding terrorism. Given recent disclosures that the government regards pro-lifers, pro-gun advocates, veterans, and other conservatives as potential terrorists, this has to be regarded with some alarm. This is particularly true because Holder is specifically authorized by the bill to withhold information concerning the basis for putting conservatives on his “enemies list.”
H.R. 2296 (King, Space): This is a reincarnation of a bill which contains a hodge-podge of relatively minor good things — and one really bad thing which was used to secure the cosponsorship of the Judiciary Committee Chairman on the Senate version of the bill. The bad thing is that the bill would allow BATFE to impose, for the first time, civil penalties on federal firearms licensees. Civil penalties could easily put a small licensee out of business, but can be imposed without the burden of proof, disclosure requirements, and other protections accorded criminal defendants. And, although proponents argue that civil penalties will allow BATFE to impose penalties short of license revocation, there is no requirement that license revocations be reduced commensurately. While GOA has pushed other provisions in the bill tightening state-of-mind requirements and gun definitions, these are not enough to offset giving the BATFE a tool which has served as the central engine for expanding the power and jurisdiction of other agencies (like the SEC).
H.R. 2324 (Castle, McCarthy, et al.): This bill is a reincarnation of the year-after-year effort to effectively ban gun shows by allowing them to be regulated and inspected to an unlimited extent. In addition, any gun show sponsor would be subject to up to two years in prison if he failed to notify every single attendee of his responsibilities under the Brady Law.
H.R. 2401 (McCarthy): This bill is a reincarnation of legislation to make “prohibited persons” of everyone on an administration “terrorist watch list.” Suffice it to say that:
- there are virtually no guidelines to who can or can’t be placed on one of these lists, and they have prohibited boarding by people like Ted Kennedy;
- it is impossible to find out why you are on the list and very difficult to get your name off.
S. 160: This is the Senate-passed bill to grant a voting representative for the District of Columbia in the House. As a result of an amendment added on the Senate floor by Senator John Ensign, it would repeal the gun registration and microstamping provisions of D.C. law, and would bar the District from passing new anti-gun statutes.
S. 296 (Chambliss, Cornyn, Coburn, Isakson): This bill would replace the federal income tax with a national sales tax. Although the language is a little muddy, it appears that the 1934 National Firearms Act is retained.
S. 325 (Cochran): The bill would allow pest control pyrotechnics to be exempted from the explosives provisions of Title 18.
S. 371 (Thune, Vitter): This “Vermont-friendly” bill would authorize a person who can lawfully carry concealed in his state of residence — or has a concealed carry permit from any state — to carry a concealed firearm in all states. Unlike some reciprocity bills, it allows non-permit states like Vermont to benefit from its provisions and does not set “national standards” for carrying firearms.
S. 556 (Vitter): Current law allows long guns to be purchased in a face-to-face transaction with a gun dealer in a state outside the purchaser’s state of residence. This bill:
* extends that law to all firearms;
* allows the gun to be purchased at a gun show; and
* rescinds provisions that allow the state of residence to reach into another state and prohibit a transaction which has nothing to do with its jurisdiction.
S. 632 (Baucus et al.): This bill would provide that the manufacturer’s excise tax on recreational equipment be paid quarterly.
S. 669 (Burr): This bill would protect veterans by first requiring a finding by a judge or magistrate that an individual is mentally incompetent before his guns are taken away under laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This would replace the current method, which has resulted in the disarmament of more than 100,000 veterans by government psychiatrists, who have issued opinions claiming that PTSD symptoms require a returning veteran to get help to manage his financial affairs.
S. 816 (Crapo): This bill would codify the Bush Administration’s regulations concerning guns in National Parks.
S. 843 (Lautenberg): This bill is the standard biennial effort to effectively abolish gun shows. It would require registration (18 U.S.C. 932), unlimited inspection requirements (subsection (d)), unlimited
record-keeping requirements (18 U.S.C. 932 (b)(4) et al.), and an uncapped fee of potentially any amount (18 U.S.C. 932 (a)(2)). A gun that is merely mentioned at a gun show by a private individual to a private individual would probably be required to undergo a Brady check. And experience with Instantcheck has shown that system shutdowns can effectively bring a gun show to a halt. Perhaps most importantly, however, a promoter who fails to notify EVERY attendee of his responsibilities under the Brady Law under 18 U.S.C. 932 (b)(3) (because, e.g., the person responsible for that took a bathroom break) would be subject to two years’ imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. 924(a)(8)(B)(i). No rational person would sponsor a gun show under these circumstances.
S. 845 (Thune, Vitter): This is the GOA-supported “Vermont-friendly” concealed carry reciprocity bill.
S. 941 (Crapo, Leahy): This is the Senate counterpart to H.R. 2296 and is a reincarnation of a bill which contains a hodge-podge of relatively minor good things — and one really bad thing which was used to secure the cosponsorship of Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy. The bad thing is that the bill would allow BATFE to impose, for the first time, civil penalties on federal firearms licensees. Civil penalties could easily put a small licensee out of business, but can be imposed without the burden of proof, disclosure requirements, and other protections accorded criminal defendants. And, although proponents argue that civil penalties will allow BATFE to impose penalties short of license revocation, there is no requirement that license revocations be reduced commensurately — and it’s pretty clear (and GOA has in fact been told) that this anti-gun provision was added as an inducement for the support of Leahy and Obama. And, while GOA has pushed other provisions in the bill tightening state-of-mind requirements and gun definitions, these are not enough to offset giving the BATFE a tool which has served as the central engine for expanding the power and jurisdiction of other agencies (like the SEC).
S. 1317 (Lautenberg): This bill would allow the Attorney General to deny the purchase of a firearm pursuant to an Instantcheck (or a permit which would allow a person to by-pass the Instantcheck) if he “suspect[s]” that the person has been engaged in conduct “related to terrorism” and the Attorney General has a “reasonable belief” that the firearm might be used in connection with terrorism. The Attorney General is specifically permitted to withhold any information concerning his “reasonable belief.” Take into consideration, in evaluating the application of this bill, that DHS in 2009 circulated an advisory attempting to link mainline Second Amendment and pro-life groups to “terrorism” — and a number of recent newspaper commentaries have argued that groups like GOA and the NRA are, in some way, responsible for criminal acts recently committed in Pittsburgh and Wichita.