Anti-Brady Bills Introduced In Congress
Sen. Smith and Rep. Coburn Introduce Anti-Brady Bills
— Measures will rein in FBI’s plans to register gun owners
(Friday, March 12, 1999) — One of the highest agenda items at Gun Owners of America is to roll back the unconstitutional Brady law. Taking a major stride toward that goal, Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) told GOA yesterday that he was reintroducing his bill to keep the FBI from taxing and registering gun purchases. That was the first bit of good news. Then late in the day, GOA was notified by Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that he would introduce identical language.
GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt praised the actions of both men. “Last year’s Smith amendment was a good first step,” Pratt said. “Unfortunately, the restrictions the Senate passed on the FBI were watered-down by a conference committee at the last minute, and the restrictions that did remain will expire later this year. Congress must put FBI back in its cage.” 1
Smith took to the floor yesterday to denounce the Clinton Administration’s “insistence” upon keeping gun owners’ names. “There is no reason why such private information on law-abiding gun owners should be retained,” Smith said.
Moreover, Smith told Senators that his bill (S. 597) will keep the FBI from unilaterally taxing gun owners: “With [my last year’s] amendment, we told President Clinton ‘no’ to the gun tax. Let us tell him ‘no’ again, once and for all, by enacting the Second Amendment Rights Protection Act.”
Like last year’s Smith amendment, this year’s Smith-Coburn bills contain some teeth: private individuals will be specifically authorized to sue the FBI for any violations of privacy under the Brady Law. The Coburn companion bill to S. 597 should be assigned a number next week. Please stay tuned.
FBI Violating Federal Law. In related news, the FBI is, perhaps, becoming the best argument for passing the Smith-Coburn bill. On March 3, the FBI submitted proposed regulations showing that they intend to violate the very spirit of last year’s Smith amendment. Gun owners have until June 1, 1999 if they wish to introduce their own comments.
In its new regulations, the FBI is seeking to do the following:
* Allow information concerning gun buyers which is obtained by the unconstitutional Instant Check system to be retained for ninety days (a reduction from its current illegal retention period of six months);
* Specifically allow the FBI to share its illegally retained information with BATF for the express purpose of allowing BATF to conduct unrelated inspections of federal firearms dealers; and
* Specifically allow information concerning gun buyers to be retained without a time limitation if deemed necessary to “pursue cases of identified misuse of the system,” even if the person whose privacy is abused is not suspected of being a culpable party.
ACTION: Gun owners can read the March 3, 1999 regulations (Vol. 64, No. 41) promulgated by the FBI at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aces140.html (Inactive link) on the web, using “Page 10262-10265” as the search term. Activists who wish to submit comments can write to Mr. Emmet A. Rathbun, Unit Chief, FBI, Module C-3, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306-0147. You can also call (304)625-2000 for more information.
1 The mandate for the FBI to “immediately” destroy gun owners’ names was deleted from the Smith amendment by a House-Senate conference committee. To no one’s surprise, the FBI responded by saying they would not immediately destroy records, but would keep information on gun buyers for up to six months. Gun owners should note that passing the Smith-Coburn bills would invalidate any and all illegal FBI regulations of this type.