2nd Amendment Takes Another Hit In The Senate

2nd Amendment Takes Another Hit in U.S. Senate
— More gun control on the table for Tuesday

(Monday, May 17, 1999)– In an attempt to blunt the efforts of Democrats in the Senate, Republicans Orrin Hatch (UT) and Larry Craig (ID) offered a “Gun Control Lite” amendment that passed 48-47 on Friday. Better said, the amendment was gun control “lite” only when compared to more restrictive proposals offered by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and others. If the Hatch/Craig amendment were enacted into law, gun owners would see yet more erosion of their 2nd Amendment liberties.

The vote over the Hatch/Craig amendment was quite convoluted, as many anti-gun Republicans and Democrats voted against this alternative– it being slightly “weaker” than a Lautenberg-Schumer proposal. [Go to http://www.senate.gov/legislative/vote1061/vote_00118.html to see the full vote on Friday’s Hatch amendment.]

Of the Senators who voted against the Hatch/Craig gun control amendment, it appears that only Senators Enzi (WY), Bob Smith (NH), and Thomas (WY) voted against the amendment for the RIGHT reasons. [Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who cast a very principled vote against gun control last week, missed the vote on Friday due to a funeral.] Listed below is a summary of some of the proposals in the Hatch/Craig amendment:

1. Potential for registering private sales. This amendment will force the instant registration check system upon gun sales that occur between PRIVATE sellers and PRIVATE buyers at gun shows, a requirement that is unprecedented in U.S. history. 1 Of course, the number one danger here– besides being an infringement of the 2nd Amendment– is the threat of gun owner registration. Forcing gun buyers to send their names to the government always presents the opportunity for keeping (or registering) those gun buyers’ names. According to government studies from 1989 onwards, any background check can lead to registration, despite legal prohibitions. And the danger with registration is the possibility of future confiscation– an occurrence which has already happened in New York City and California. If the Hatch/Craig amendment is enacted into law, you can bet that politicians will spend 2000 talking about the “private sale loophole”– thereby trying to regulate all firearms transactions between individuals.

2. BATF harassment of gun owners. The Hatch/Craig amendment would assign one U.S. attorney in every district exclusively to harass gun owners. 2 It would spend $50,000,000 for that purpose. But of this $50 million, a full $40 million of it will go to increasing the presence of the BATF– not to pursue murder, mass murder, violent felonies, or crimes of violence, but to pursue “firearms” offenses (most of which will be recordkeeping and other innocuous errors by law-abiding Americans).

3. More and more 2nd Amendment infringements. In addition to the provisions above, the Hatch/Craig amendment would do the following:

* A lifetime gun ban for juveniles committing youthful indiscretions at a very young age [Section 441 on page S5310 of the Congressional Record, 5/13/99];

* Extending the arcane and confusing juvenile handgun ban to semi-autos, (3) which are used in less than 2% of serious crimes [Section 451 on page S5310-S5311 of the Congressional Record, 5/13/99];

* Increasing penalties for violating the almost incomprehensible regulations governing the circumstances under which you may legally take your kid hunting or target shooting with a handgun or semi-auto [Section 451 on page S5310-11 of the Congressional Record, 5/13/99].


1 Unumbered final section in the Hatch/Craig amendment on page S5313 of the Congressional Record, 5/13/99.
2 Sections 403-405 of the Hatch/Craig amendment on page S5309 of the Congressional Record, 5/13/99.
3 Under this provision, a juvenile may be sent to prison for five years for going target shooting with his friends, even though there is absolutely no unlawful intent. A parent and son will also be subject to long prison terms if they fail to comply with any of the dozens of arcane and labyrinthine rules dealing with permission slips, permissible activities, modes of transportation, etc. NO senator or law professor could state with certainty the parameters of these requirements; yet, a sixteen year-old boy or a parent who innocently violates them can be sent to prison for five years or more.