4/97 Representative Chenoweth Introduces Lautenberg Repeal
The Lautenberg gun ban disarms millions of citizens for having committed very minor offenses and prevents them from owning guns for life. Verbal shouting matches, spanking a child, a sibling fight on school grounds — all these offenses could result in one’s being disarmed forever.
“This law is one of the worst gun bans in years,” said GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt in a press release announcing the introduction of the Chenoweth repeal bill. “Millions of citizens have been disarmed for life, in many cases, for offenses so minor their offense did not even warrant a jury trial.”
The grassroots interest in repealing this law has been immense. Rep. Chenoweth’s office told The Gun Owners that they had received “lots of postcards” from GOA members asking her to introduce the bill.
Indeed, GOA members and activists have been instrumental already in getting the 11 original cosponsors on H.R. 1009. GOA sent out both fax and e-mail alerts to its members and activists in early March asking them to urge legislators to support a forthcoming Chenoweth repeal bill.
GOA members deluge Capitol Hill
The resulting deluge of phone calls had legislative offices asking, “Where are all those phone calls coming from?” Some offices reportedly received as many as 100 phone calls in support of the Chenoweth bill — even before the bill was introduced.
Startled by the outpouring of grassroots interest, Capitol Hill offices were contacting both GOA and Rep. Chenoweth’s office to get more information on the forthcoming bill.
By the time Rep. Chenoweth introduced her bill, there were 11 original cosponsors — a significant number indeed. Consider that the other leading bill to repeal the Lautenberg gun ban only had one original cosponsor when it was introduced earlier this year. That bill, introduced by Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), would only repeal the retroactive part of the gun ban, leaving the ban in place for the future.
H.R. 1009: a complete repeal of the gun ban
Rep. Chenoweth’s bill (H.R. 1009) repeals the entire Lautenberg ban. Entitled the “States’ Rights and Second and Tenth Amendment Restoration Act of 1997,” the bill lays out 16 findings that help advance the pro-gun cause. For instance, the bill states that,
* “Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year. Of these self-defense cases, as many as 200,000 are by women defending themselves against sexual assault.”
* “The Lautenberg Amendment oversteps federal authority, violating states’ rights . . . [and] violates all notions of constitutional Due Process and constitutes an ex post facto law.”
* “The Lautenberg Amendment does not deal with a subject delegated to Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States and is therefore unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, as interpreted by United States v. Lopez.”
With the introduction of H.R. 1009, Rep. Chenoweth has clearly established herself as one of the premier defenders of the Second Amendment on Capitol Hill. Her cogent arguments and commitment to principle have set her apart from most of her colleagues.
Republicans running from Second Amendment
Indeed, press reports have recently indicated how the Republicans as a Party are running from the gun issue. Even though President Clinton admitted in 1994 that gun control had cost his Party the control of the Congress, Republican leaders have apparently forgotten that lesson.
The Washington Times printed the Republicans’ “Wish List” items for this Congress in early March. None of the 13 items included Second Amendment issues. In fact, one of the items did include pursuing anti-gun crime legislation.
According to the Times, the retreat on several legislative fronts has been so pervasive, that many Republican activists have been wondering “if House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the hero of the 1994 GOP electoral revolution, is behaving more like the liberal enemy than the conservative icon.”
Consider how quickly the downward spiral has occurred. At the start of the last Congress, Speaker Gingrich promised that, “As long as I am Speaker of this House, no gun control legislation is going to move in committee or on the floor of this House.”
Gingrich supports gun ban
But by the end of the session, Gingrich was actually helping to pass the Lautenberg gun ban. The headline in the Marietta Daily Journal from last September 16 stated in bold letters that, “Gingrich supports gun ban.” After describing his support for the Lautenberg gun ban, Gingrich added, “I think that’s a very reasonable position” and predicted that the gun ban would “pass the House” in the closing weeks of the session.
Unfortunately, not one Republican leader even attempted to strip the Lautenberg gun ban out of the omnibus spending bill last year when it was in the conference committee. No effort was made, even though Congress often talks about keeping “legislation” (like the Lautenberg gun ban) out of spending bills.
As already mentioned, there are different bills repealing various aspects of the Lautenberg gun ban, but only Rep. Chenoweth’s bill would completely repeal the ban.
Rep. Bob Barr and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) have introduced the other “repeal” bills. While Barr’s (H.R. 26) only repeals the retroactive part of the ban, Stupak’s bill (H.R. 445) would only exempt police and military from being disarmed. Both bills stop short of a full repeal.
Rep. Barr shows support for Lautenberg ban
In early March, Rep. Bob Barr endorsed the concept of the Lautenberg gun ban, calling it “important and worthwhile legislation.” Barr’s comments appeared as an editorial in the March 6, 1997 issue of USA Today, where he called for only a limited repeal of the Lautenberg ban. While he opposed the retroactive part of the ban, Rep. Barr endorsed the underlying principle behind the Lautenberg gun ban, stating that,
This [Lautenberg gun ban] is important and worthwhile legislation, and we cannot allow its effectiveness to be reduced.
Unfortunately, this was not the first time that Rep. Barr has expressed his support for the underlying principle behind the Lautenberg gun ban. On September 28, 1996, Rep. Barr issued a memo on his Congressional letterhead stating that:
The Lautenberg amendment with the Barr language is strong protection for women and children. [Emphasis in the original.]
And then on October 12, 1996, Rep. Barr sent a letter to the editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, again saying that he had fought hard to “improve” the Lautenberg language. He noted that because of his amendment, the Lautenberg gun ban could now pass constitutional muster and not be struck down by the courts. Barr stated:
Under the Lautenberg language — which was cleared up through my amendatory language that was adopted — there was no consistent definition of “crime of domestic violence,” and therefore the entire provision would have been declared unconstitutional. My language corrected this deficiency by setting forth the common elements of the crime that would apply to everyone. [Emphasis added.]
Rep. Barr was also one of the Representatives who voted last September in favor of the Lautenberg gun ban as part of the omnibus spending bill (H.R. 3610).
The above statements would seem to indicate that Rep. Barr is content with only repealing the retroactive nature of the ban, and thus, leaving the gun ban in the federal code in perpetuity.
For all these reasons, it is imperative that the vehicle for repealing the Lautenberg gun ban should be H.R. 1009. GOA members are encouraged to quickly send in their postcards supporting the Chenoweth repeal. Look to future issues of TGO to get updates on the repeal of the Lautenberg gun ban.
Senate Crime Bill Threatens to Put Second Amendment Out of Business
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch has introduced what may be the most dangerous anti-gun legislation in the 105th Congress. Several anti-gun provisions, buried in his “crime bill” (S. 3) and his “juvenile justice reform bill” (S. 10), would treat gun owners and gun dealers who make more than one paperwork violation as though they were Mafia hit men.
It would do this by adding virtually all gun offenses, including record-keeping violations, to the list of serious crimes covered by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO). Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has a somewhat similar bill in the House.
The provisions in both bills (Section 1146 of S. 3, and Section 206 of S. 10) read the same. Under the section heading “Firearm Offenses as RICO Predicates,” both bills state that it is a federal felony to commit “an act or conspiracy to commit any violation of chapter 44 of this title (relating to firearms).”
What does this mean?
It means that, if you commit more than one record-keeping violation, your business can be treated like an organized crime syndicate.
Under the criminal RICO penalties, you can be sent away to prison for up to 20 years — and you will forfeit your business — plus your home, your car, and any other possessions you used in connection with your gun business.
But this is just the beginning.
This provision would allow organizations like Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI) to bring cases in federal court for “injured parties” (such as Bill Cosby or any other family that has suffered from a firearms related injury) and sue the manufacturer or the dealer that sold the gun. If successful, HCI — or its “prearranged plaintiff” — would recover three times the actual damages, plus attorney’s fees in each suit. HCI would only need to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the manufacturer, dealer or importer had committed more than one record-keeping violation, and that it supposedly led to the victim’s injury.
Obviously, it will not take many of these lawsuits and prosecutions against gun businesses before firearms manufacture, importation, and sales will come to an end in America.
In fact, you can bet that Handgun Control would focus its energy over the next few years on recruiting “victims” to use minor record-keeping violations to force gun manufacturers, importers, and dealers out of business.
Gun Owners of America has already given its analysis of this dangerous legislation to Senators on Capitol Hill. Please stay tuned for more details.
Instant Registration Check Bill Threatens Gun Owners’ Rights
A convicted armed robber has just been released form prison. He hits the streets, and immediately begins looking for a way to get some cash. He has a decision to make: legitimate work or go back to plying his old trade. He decides to knock off a 7-11.
Of course, he needs a gun, so before heading out to the store he stops by a gun dealer to have his background check done before he purchases a firearm. What’s wrong with this picture? Apparently nothing to some politicians in Washington.
Consider H.R. 102, the “National Instant Criminal Background Check” legislation introduced by Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA). This bill operates under the assumption that criminals willingly submit to police background checks. In reality, the instant check only harasses law-abiding citizens because they are the only ones honest enough to obey the law. Criminals are unaffected; there is no background check on black-market gun purchases.
The “instant check” is proving to be the downfall of the pro-gun movement. “Pro-gun” politicians and organizations have been duped into supporting this dangerous legislation, without investigating the inherent problems of a mandatory background check system.
Background checks are unconstitutional
The primary problem with the Barr bill, and other similar proposals, is that the Constitution does not delegate authority to Congress to legislate in this area. Of course, this argument is largely ignored on Capitol Hill, which views the Constitution as an antiquated, irrelevant document.
We must, however, continually remind the Congress that it is severely limited by the Constitution. Congress ought to be concerned with the national defense, coining money, etc. (pursuant to Article 1, Section 8), and then just go home.
Crime was always intended to be an issue handled at the state and local level. It is not a function of the federal government to mandate local law enforcement authorities to conduct background checks on gun purchasers. And now, thanks to the Lautenberg gun ban, police have to research even certain misdemeanor convictions of prospective gun purchasers. Thus, the time and cost for local law enforcement to meet federal requirements is mushrooming.
In addition, it is blatantly unconstitutional to require citizens to first have to receive the government’s permission before being “allowed” to exercise their Second Amendment rights. The instant check turns our “right” into a “privilege.”
Background checks don’t stop criminals
By definition, background checks are primarily going to impact law-abiding citizens and not criminals. Consider that of all people who own guns, criminals and law-abiding included, less than one percent will ever commit a crime with a gun. Yet, the gun control net of the instant check is cast over 100 percent of handgun purchasers. This simply can not be considered efficient crime fighting. But it gets even worse.
Of the less than one percent of criminal gun owners, the overwhelming majority of them get their guns through illegitimate means. For example, one Justice Department survey of incarcerated felons showed that 93 percent of handgun predators had obtained their guns “off the record.” Therefore, while citizens are being harassed and put through additional expense, the criminal on the street goes unscathed.
If government really wants to get serious about crime fighting, it should ease restrictions on gun ownership. It is an undisputed fact that areas with the least stringent gun control, like Vermont, Montana, and Wyoming, also have the lowest violent crime rates.
Conversely, areas with the most stringent gun control, such as New York City and Washington, D.C., are also the most dangerous places in America to live. If the gun control hypotheses were correct, New York City should be safer than Vermont.
Yet politicians want the rest of the country to follow the lead of the failed gun control laws of our inner cities. For instance, what was the response to the shooting at the Empire State Building? “We need more gun control!”
People need to be aware that the gun ban of New York City made mandatory victims out of the people on that observation deck. The worse crime was that those poor people had no legal means to defend themselves.
Computerized background checks lead to registration
As mentioned in the February 28 issue of TGO, the nature of computerized background checks makes registration of gun owners not only possible, but likely. It is simply nave to think that the government would routinely dispose of lists of gun owners, as is required by law.
For instance, the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League (ACSL) has uncovered evidence that the federal government is facilitating a central registry of gun buyers. As stated by Mike Slavonic, NRA Director and Chairman of the Legislative Committee for the ACSL:
What most Americans don’t know is that once the instant check goes into effect in 1998 the purpose of Brady could be used to set the stage for national confiscation. Instant check could eventually keep guns out of the hands of everyone by registering everyone who purchases a handgun, rifle and shotgun and who obtained concealed weapons permits in a computerized database like ‘FIST’ (Firearms Inquiry Statistical Tracking). The most difficult problem with a gun ban is locating the firearms. FIST [with the help of the instant check], over time, could solve that problem.
Once a registration list of gun owners is compiled, the potential for abuse is mind-boggling. For example, in the mid-1960s, New York City officials began registering long guns. They promised that they would never use such a list to take away the firearms from law-abiding citizens. In 1991, the city banned many of the registered guns. How did the police enforce the ban?
In 1992, a New York City newspaper reported that “Police raided the home of a Staten Island man who refused to comply with the city’s tough ban on assault weapons, and seized an arsenal of firearms….Spot-checks are planned [for other homes].”
Anti-gunners are fervent in their desire to register all gun owners, and in fact, several bills in Congress do just that to varying degrees. The pro-gun side is the unwitting accomplice to this registration agenda by pressing for the “instant registration check.” Rep. Barr should be encouraged to drop H.R. 102, a bill which would establish the national instant check system by November 28, 1997.
Instant Check Aids Illegal Gun Registry
by Georgia State Rep. Brian Joyce
Despite current law forbidding it, the BATF in Washington is keeping lists of state gun owners via registration data.
Milton “Buddy” Nix, Director of the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) was asked to provide data on Georgia’s new instant check to the Public Safety Committee. I was invited to participate because I led the opposition against the Georgia Brady check in 1995 and repeatedly warned about its potential abuse.
The data showed that the instant background check, while catching a small number of felons, mainly hinders law-abiding citizens buying pistols.
The real eye-opener came from Paul Heppner, who when asked about the flow of data to National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computers, mentioned that the computer knows that any given background check is for a gun purchase. A code is sent with the request for information… thus a list is being created.
Although backers of the recent law assures us that no records would or could be kept by the feds, it just ain’t so.
Some might as why this is important? Even a cursory look at history shows a disarmed public is prey to violent criminals, gangs, and abusive government. No other right found under the original Bill of Rights has been compromised and subverted as has the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Our free Republic rises and falls on this issue.
Parental Harassment Bill in Washington State
— ‘Lock Up Your Safety’ Law Would Imprison Parents for Accidents
The preferred tactic employed by the anti-gunners in pressing their agenda is the exploitation of tragedies. Their need to do this should come as no surprise considering that the law (Second Amendment) is not on their side, logic does not support their agenda (gun control only disarms the law-abiding), and the facts prove them wrong (firearms are used in successful self-defense cases in excess of two million times per year, meaning that this country grows less safe with each new gun control law).
Therefore, the gun grabbers must rely on emotionalism. Following every tragedy comes the inevitable cry for more gun control, as if passing yet more laws will somehow make all the bad people go away.
In Washington State, this anti-gun strategy has even gained a foothold in some parts of the pro-gun community. After a tragic shooting of one young person by another, a law has been proposed to punish parents with up to a year in prison if a child gains access to a firearm, and an accident or illegal activity ensues.
Some pro-gun folks seem to think that this is a good idea primarily because there are certain exceptions in the bill and because it is better than the alternative (mandatory trigger locks). In fact, Alan Gottlieb of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms even testified in favor of the bill. But people be warned: this is merely another step in the disarmament agenda.
It stretches credulity to suggest that the anti-gunners will pass such a law and be satisfied. It simply does not work that way. Our opponents will take what they can get, when they can get it. And any help they receive from the pro-gun side is an added bonus.
The gungrabbers in Washington want mandatory trigger locks on all handguns, but they know they cannot pass that right now. So they will settle, temporarily, for less. But the fact that they did not get all they wanted should not be considered a pro-gun victory.
To use a football analogy, our opponents would love to score a touchdown on every play. However, they will settle for six yards per down. If our strategy is to hold them to only six yards every play, there is no way we can keep them from scoring touchdowns. The pro-gun community must stand up and say NO to all gun control.
In Congress, a bill has already been introduced which goes further than the Washington State bill. H.R. 814, sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would impose even stricter penalties against parents whose children come into possession of a firearm, even if the ‘child’ is 20 years old!
Of course parents should act responsibly, especially gun owners. (Actually, gun owning parents are overwhelmingly responsible. Consider that about half the homes in this country contain firearms, and yet there are fewer gun related accidental child fatalities than child drownings.)
It is absurd to punish a person for an accident. After all, is it not punishment enough to lose a child? Furthermore, the gun banners do not apply the same logic to other types of accidents.
For example, suppose your 12-year-old is playing with a neighbor’s child in your home after school. While you have taught your child to respect electricity, your neighbor has not done the same. Should you be punished if your neighbor’s child sticks a fork in an electrical outlet to see what would happen? The answer should be obvious. Clearly, the proponents of this bill have an agenda that goes further than protecting children.
Gun owners should be aware of and expose the shameless tactics of the anti-gunners, who are hiding behind the tragic deaths of children. Thankfully, most gun groups in Washington State have spoken out against the parental harassment proposal, including the Gun Owners Action League, Washington Arms Collectors, and the NRA. We all must stake out firm ground in this “gun control in the name of child safety” battle.
It is easy for people to say they are concerned with the well-being of children; we all should be. But if gun control proponents were really concerned with children, they would be working for such things as firearms training in public schools, so that children are taught responsible gun handling.
Gun Owners Win First Round with BLM!
GOA members won an important victory in mid-March when Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, directed the Bureau of Land Management to halt action on proposed rules that would have greatly restricted people’s Second Amendment rights.
The powers of BLM law enforcement personnel would have been greatly expanded, especially as they relate to the use of firearms by law-abiding citizens.
GOA warned its members by fax and e-mail in January about the proposed danger, and urged members to submit comments to the BLM opposing the regulations. As a result, activists not only hounded their Congressmen, they blitzed the mailboxes at BLM headquarters as well.
Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) also led a congressional delegation in urging the BLM to clarify its position on the proposed regulations. Among her concerns was that the BLM “may be overstepping their authority,” she said.
In response to the Congressional and grassroots concerns, the BLM extended its comment period on the proposed rules twice.
Secretary Babbitt explained on March 11 that, “My decision to stop further action on this proposal is based on the confusion and misinformation [sic] about how these regulations would affect BLM’s law enforcement responsibilities under existing law, as demonstrated by the many public comments received.” [Emphasis added.]
Indeed, BLM Director Sylvia Baca acknowledged “widespread concern” among people in the West over the proposed changes.
The proposed rule, on page 57615 of the Federal Register for November 7, 1996, would have outlawed “[d]ischarging a firearm … within 150 yards of a residence, building, campsite, recreation site or occupied area….” This ineptly drafted rule could have effectively prohibited both hunting and the use of firearms for self-defense on public lands.
With respect to hunting, the proposed rule contained the following problems:
* It is, practically speaking, impossible for a hunter to determine with certainty that his activities are not within 150 yards of a small abandoned building, another hunter’s campsite, or an amorphously defined “recreation area.” Thus, discharging a firearm 149 yards away from an abandoned outhouse would subject the hunter to criminal liability.
* Hunters frequently hunt in groups. Would this make the hunting site an “occupied area?”
The second problem with the rule is that there was no exception for self-defense. Thus, gun owners could face arrest, and possibly prosecution, for using firearms to defend themselves from vicious attackers — whether human or wild beast. Most state laws have an exemption that would allow for self-defense; the proposed rule contained no such exemption.
Finally, the proposed rule would have allowed BLM to “[s]earch without warrant or process any person, place, or vehicle according to any Federal law or rule of law; and …[s]eize without warrant or process any piece of evidence as provided by Federal law.” [Emphasis added.]
While the victory is significant, BLM officials have made it clear that they are in no way acknowledging the rule itself was wrong in the first place.
In fact, the BLM has consistently denied that the proposed rule was expanding their authority. Their denials notwithstanding, the proposed rule would have given the BLM more power than they can currently wield. One can read the entire text of the rule on GOA’s Web page.
BLM officials have refused to promise they will not expand the scope of BLM’s law enforcement activity in the future. Thus, GOA will keep members abreast of any further developments in this area.
Ron Paul Announces Toll-free “Legislative Update” Line
(888) 322-1414 is Your Direct Line Into The 105th Congress
Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has introduced a legislative update line addressing legislative activity and issues critical to the nation.
“I’m very pleased to offer this special service to my friends [nationwide] and constituents in the 14th District,” said Rep. Paul. “Each week, I will leave a new message that can be heard 24-hours a day, on a subject or issue facing the Congress. This will give constituents yet one more way to stay as current as possible on events occurring in Washington which affect them.”
The following is an example of the Ron Paul Legislative Update, for the week of February 24, 1997:
“This week’s topic is concerning the police state.
“Centralizing power and consistently expanding the role of government require an army of bureaucrats and a taxing authority upon which a police state thrives. There are over 100 laws on the books permitting private property seizure without due process of law. We have made it easy to seize any property by absurdly claiming the property itself committed the crime. The RICO mentality relating to law enforcement permits even the casual bystander to suffer severely from the police state mentality.
“The drug war hysteria and the war on gun ownership, started by Roosevelt in 1934, have expanded federal police power to the point that more than 10% of all our police are federal. The Constitution names but three federal crimes, so where is the justification? Talk about ‘swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance!’ We have hovering over us daily the federal police from: EPA, PSJA, FBI, CIA, DEA, EEOC, ADA, FWL, INS, BATF, and worst of all, the IRS. Even criticizing the IRS make me cringe that it might precipitate an audit. It seems that all administration, to some degree, used the power of the agencies to reward or punish financial backers or political enemies.
“As so much that had its origin in the 1930s, it was then that the FBI’s role changed from friendly investigator helping local authorities to that of national police force. “We live in an age where the fear of an IRS registered letter bearing news of an audit surpasses the fear of a street mugging.
“The police are supposed to be our friend and the federal government the guarantor of our liberties. Ask the blacks in the inner-city of Los Angeles if they trust the police and revere the FBI and CIA. We should not have to cringe when a federal agent appears at the door of our business. We should not even see them there.
“A Congress sworn to uphold the Constitution ought to be protecting our right to our property, not confiscating it. Congress ought to protect our right to own a weapon of self-defense, not systematically and viciously attack that right. Congress ought to guarantee all voluntary associations, not regulate and dictate every economic transaction. We should not allow Congress to give credence to inane politically correct rules generated by egalitarian misfits. Setting quotas ought to insult each of us.
“We need no more centralized police efforts. We need no more wiretaps that have become epidemic in the last decade. We have had enough Wacos and Ruby Ridges!”
GOA’s Top 10 Gun Bills to Watch in the House
1. H.R. 27 (Bartlett): “The Citizens’ Self-Defense Act” would protect citizens, who use a gun in self-defense, from anti-gun prosecutors.
2. H.R. 1009 (Chenoweth): — The “States’ Rights and Second and Tenth Amendment Restoration Act of 1997” would repeal the entire Lautenberg gun ban. This bill goes much farther than the other half-baked “repeals” which still leave the Lautenberg ban in the federal code to apply for the future.
3. H.R. 339 (Stearns): This bill would establish concealed carry reciprocity, although as written, it does not grant reciprocity to citizens who come from genuine right to carry states. Thus, citizens who come from states where they can carry firearms as a matter of constitutional right (that is, without any government permission or tax) will not be able to carry out of state. This will put tremendous pressure on genuine right to carry states to adopt a permit system. Moreover, this bill will undermine GOA’s efforts in states around the country which are now trying to adopt permit-free carry legislation.
4. H.R. 12 (Schumer): This bill would impose a one-gun-a-month limit on handgun purchases.
5. H.R. 102 (Barr): This bill would require that the Brady Instant [Registration] Check System go into effect on November 28, 1997, which would be one year earlier than originally proposed. Government officials are already using background checks (like the instant check) to register gun owners in computer databases.
6. H.R. 116 (Conyers): This bill would outlaw so-called “junk guns” and would outlaw the manufacture or importation of any firearm that does not have certain “safety” devices with it (such as a trigger lock).
7. H.R. 186 (Hastings): This bill would establish a federal handgun registration system applicable to all states which do not have such a system. The state must subject a “non-serious violator” of the registration requirement to at least a one year prison sentence.
8. H.R. 492 (Schumer): This bill would outlaw what it refers to as “junk guns.” What would be classified as a “junk gun” would be almost exclusively the determination of BATF in regulations it issued to implement the handgun import ban in 18 U.S.C. section 925. But, at the very least, a handgun would be banned if BATF, in its own discretion, did not determine that it was “particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes….”
9. H.R. 787 (Owens): This bill would prohibit the possession of any handgun or handgun ammunition, unless they are used by the military, law enforcement officials, licensed security guard services, or licensed gun clubs. The Secretary of the Treasury (i.e., BATF) would license gun clubs and could revoke such a license for light and transient reasons. Police would be required to keep the handguns used by the club when they were not in use.
10. H.R. 788 (Owens, Schumer, et. al.): This bill would expand the powers of the BATF to further regulate firearms and ammunition. For example, the BATF will have the power to issue firearms recalls; to prohibit the manufacture and transfer of firearms or ammunition deemed as “unreasonably risky;” and to conduct inspections of dealers and manufacturers at “reasonable times” (i.e., at any time). The bill would impose a “civil penalty” (initially $5,000 “per gun”) for violation. This “civil penalty,” which would not require the standards of due process and proof applicable to criminal prosecutions, would, in most cases, put a manufacturer or dealer out of business. In addition, injunctions, seizure of firearms, prior restraint, and private harassment actions against firearms manufacturers, dealers, etc., would be authorized.
Three more bills that could either negatively affect your rights or otherwise demonize firearms ownership deserve “honorable mention:”
* H.R. 361 (Towns): This bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban toys which in size, shape or overall appearance resemble real handguns.
* H.R. 810 (Schumer): This juvenile crime control bill would impose a lifetime gun ban on a person who committed “an act of juvenile delinquency;” require locking devices on firearms; create an across-the-board crime of “conspiracy” to commit a firearms violation — including record-keeping violations — which would be punished at the same level as the underlying crime; apply RICO to most firearms violations; give BATF comprehensive authority to make regulations governing the storage of firearms inventories; create a $10,000 per firearm civil penalty, plus a potential FFL suspension, for any willful violation of any firearm rule or regulation; establish five-year prison sentences for the negligent sales of firearms which are subsequently used in serious crimes; and create expanded “civil forfeiture” provisions for guns used in crime.
* H.R. 814 (Blumenauer): This bill would impose a civil penalty for knowingly or negligently leaving a firearm and ammunition where a juvenile might get hold of them. Every dealer selling a firearm would be required to offer to sell a trigger locking device to go with the firearm. For a complete listing of all the gun bills introduced in Congress, see Analysis of Bills Before Congress.