H.R. 297: Massive Brady Expansion


Gun Owners of America Legislative Alert
— Oppose McCarthy Gun Control Bill, H.R. 297

The first major anti-gun bill of the new Congress has already been introduced, and it could prove to be the most serious threat to the Second Amendment we face under the new congressional leadership.

On the first full day of the new Congress, anti-gun Rep. Carolyn McCarthy introduced H.R. 297, the most massive expansion of the Brady law since it passed in 1993. This is a bill you helped kill last year, but the new House leadership will be even more eager to pass it than were their predecessors.

This bill provides, in the form of grants, about $1 billion to the states to “provide the National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICS] with all records concerning persons who are prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm under subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code, regardless of the elapsed time since the disqualifying event.”

Covered under this bill are records pertaining to the Lautenberg misdemeanor gun ban, lists of persons under indictment, mental health records, records relevant to the identification of illegal aliens and other records.

NICS is the system used by the FBI to conduct a background check prior to a firearm sale by a federally licensed gun dealer. Most people are aware that NICS records include a list of convicted felons, but there are many other categories of persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms for which computerized lists may not be available. It is these categories that are targeted by this bill.

For instance, the bill expands upon the unconstitutional Lautenberg misdemeanor gun ban [922 (g)(9)]. This gun ban, passed as an amendment to a 1996 omnibus spending bill and signed into law by President Clinton, was originally introduced by leading anti-gun Senators Frank Lautenberg, Dianne Feinstein, and Edward Kennedy.

Under the Lautenberg ban, people who have committed very minor offenses that include pushing, shoving or, in some cases, merely yelling at a family member can no longer own a firearm for self-defense.

The Lautenberg gun ban should be repealed, not expanded.

The bill also seeks to computerize records of persons “under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” Such persons, though not even convicted of the crime in question, are prohibited from possessing a firearm.

The gun grabbers are seeking to force the states to provide the federal government all of these indictment records, updated quarterly. Given the maxim among those in the legal profession that prosecutors can get a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich,” this, too, is a gun prohibition that should be repealed, not expanded.

Mental health records are also covered under the McCarthy bill.

This could have a significant impact on American servicemen, especially those returning from combat situations and who seek some type of psychiatric care. Often, veterans who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder have been deemed as mentally “incompetent” and are prohibited from owning guns under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4). Records of those instances certainly exist, and, in 1999, the Department of Veterans Administration turned over 90,000 names of veterans to the FBI for inclusion into the NICS background check system.

Mental health records can also have a future impact on young people, as this country trends closer to mandatory mental health screening for students. In a 2003 report by a subcommittee of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, the author states that “The problem of emotional disorders in children is large — 20% of all children are affected — and it seems to be growing.” It is unknown how these people will be categorized in the future.

The fact that metal health ‘experts,’ a notoriously anti-gun community, would have a say in who is allowed to possess a firearm is, quite frankly, frightening. Many in the profession would just as soon consider anyone who owns a gun as ‘mentally incompetent.’

Another sobering thought is how computerized data are often mishandled. Consider the disturbing news reports that 25 million Social Security number records of veterans were hacked. The more that our private data gets added into government computers, the more likely we are to have our identity compromised.

Perhaps the provision that would lead to the greatest number of ‘fishing expeditions’ is that related to illegal aliens.

Federal law prohibits illegal aliens from owning guns. The bill requires all relevant data related to who is in this country illegally. But what records pertaining to illegal aliens from the states would be relevant? Perhaps a better question would be, what records are not relevant?

In order to identify illegal aliens, “relevant” records could allow the FBI to demand state tax returns of all citizens, employment records, library records (we’ve already seen how these have been deemed relevant to terrorism investigations), DMV and hospital records — all in the name of making sure that you’re not an illegal.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, is one of the most virulent anti-gunners in the entire Congress. Of the 32 cosponsors of the bill last year, 31 were GOA “F” rated, one was rated “D.” These representatives support the bill because it enhances their gun control agenda, not because they are concerned about protecting your Second Amendment rights.

Also among the bill’s supporters are anti-Second Amendment groups like the Brady Campaign and Americans for Gun Safety (AGS). In fact, the McCarthy bill is taken point by point from a 2002 ASG “report” entitled “How America’s Faulty Background Check System Allows Criminals to Get Guns.”

This bill was first introduced in 2002 by Rep. McCarthy and Sen. Chuck Schumer. It passed out of the House that year, and was only defeated by a GOA-supported filibuster by former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH). Since the bill has already been around for several years, look for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put this bill on the fast track as a way to thank Sarah Brady and her anti-gun cohorts.

The Brady law needs to be repealed, not expanded to allow anti-gun administrations to find new ways to strip citizens of their Second Amendment rights.

ACTION: Gun Owners of America is the only national pro-gun organization opposing the McCarthy bill, so it is imperative that you contact your representative immediately. Please take action today and spread the word about H.R. 297! We need all the help we can get.

You can visit the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center to send your Representative a pre-written e-mail message. And, you can call your Representative toll-free at 1-877-762-8762.

—- Pre-written letter to your Representative —-

Dear Representative: Gun Owners of America has told me that anti-gun Rep. Carolyn McCarthy is trying to expand the Brady Law via H.R. 297. Well, on behalf of those millions of Americans who:

* have had their gun purchases held up by the Brady background check system for no apparent reason;

* know of people who have been targets of stalkers or abusive husbands — and were killed (or simply forced to live in fear) while some bureaucrat in West Virginia fumbled around with their lives;

* have tried to buy a gun when the NICS system was shut down completely — thereby blocking gun purchases nationally;

* are just curious why the Brady Instant Check — which was billed as “the gun control bill that would stop future calls for gun control” — almost immediately became a stepping stone for gun control bills dealing with gun show background checks, private sale background checks, and more personal information for the NICS registration system;

* are wondering why the FBI brags about the number of sales blocked by the Brady check, but can produce no data showing that the Instant check system has any relation to crime reduction;

* are struck by the fact that the anti-gun Clinton administration tried to use the system — without further legislation — to impose onerous fees and to retain records forever; and

* are wondering why the folks responsible for Waco and Ruby Ridge should be put in charge of determining whether or not I can have a gun —

I would ask you to oppose H.R. 297, the anti-gun legislation sponsored by liberal Carolyn McCarthy. Thank you.



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