Gun Industry Threatened Plus Bill Excerpts
Putting the Gun Industry Out-of-Business in the name of fighting terrorism?
The so-called anti-terrorism bill which is currently pending in Congress contains a provision which could, at best, severely punish certain law-abiding gun owners and, at worst, threaten the very existence of the gun industry.
This bill, H.R. 2768, is more aptly termed the “Government Terror Bill.” It will terrorize gun owners by severely punishing individuals (as well as gun dealers and manufacturers) for selling a gun to someone they should have known was going to use, or threaten to use, the firearm in a “crime of violence.” To punish the seller of a firearm under this standard is clearly ludicrous (unless all sellers are clairvoyant) and is a change in the current law, which requires that the seller “know” the gun will be used in a crime.
Putting a Gun to the Gun Industry’s Head
Section 102(a) could impose up to ten years imprisonment upon a dealer or manufacturer for selling a firearm to a member of an organization, if the dealer or manufacturer “should have known” that the organization was a “terrorist organization.” A “terrorist organization” must be a foreign organization, and it must be so designated by the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General. However, they may designate an organization a “terrorist organization” on the basis of an unlawful “threat” to “cause substantial damage to property” with a “firearm.”
Section 204 would impose a five-year MANDATORY MINIMUM sentence on an individual (or a gun dealer or manufacturer) who sold a firearm “having reasonable cause to believe” that the firearm would be used in a “crime of violence.”
The first problem with these provisions is that they will invariably lead to a “test case” in which a company like Intertech, whose products (some will claim) are used disproportionately by law-breaking elements, will be prosecuted because it had “reason to believe” that some of its firearms would be used in violent crimes.
The second problem is that every sale a gun dealer makes could be second-guessed by a court if the firearm ended up being used in a violent crime or terrorist act. If a gun dealer sells a firearm to his friend, who he knows is having marital difficulties, can he be sent to prison for five years because he should have known his friend would shoot his wife? Maybe. If a gun dealer sells a firearm to a person possessing a “drug courier profile,” can he be subjected to a mandatory minimum five year prison sentence because of the sale? Possibly.
The third problem is that the term “crime of violence” is defined rather loosely as a felony which “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another.”
So let’s say, for example, that you — as an individual — sold a firearm to your neighbor. If your neighbor, in a rage over his wife’s spending habits, threatens to shoot out the tires of her car — a crime of violence — you can face a FIVE YEAR MANDATORY MINIMUM PRISON SENTENCE for having sold him the gun. After all, prosecutors can argue, having known that your friend was upset with his wife’s spending habits, you should have known the person might threaten to use his new purchase.
Obviously, no American industry — including the gun industry — can function with this type of “sword of Damocles” hanging over its head.
Summary of Problems with H.R. 2768
H.R. 2768 punishes certain sellers of firearms (as mentioned above), orders a study on whether to ban even more “cop-killer” bullets (much ordinary hunting and rifle ammo could become suspect), orders a second study which could set a precedent for registering ammunition1, allows FBI “fishing expeditions” into your financial and travel records (without any evidence you’ve committed a crime), allows government officials to benefit from illegal wiretaps done in “good faith,” allows the government to use secret evidence in court in some circumstances, limits the right of gun owners to appeal bad court decisions, and much, much more.
Even if the House bill was perfect — and it isn’t — passing the bill would mean it would go to a conference committee to be melded together with the Senate version. As you will remember, the Senate version also makes a major assault our Second Amendment freedoms — such as giving the BATF a pay raise of $100 million, allowing the military to enforce the law against civilians, permitting more wiretaps, etc.
* Call and find out when your Congressman will be holding town meetings. (You can call the Capitol Switchboard at 1-800-962-3524, 1-800-872-8513, or 202-225-3121; or you can call his district office.) Wherever you call to get “town hall” information, be sure to register your opposition to the government terror bill — H.R. 2768. Please plan to attend one or more of the town meetings, and get your family and friends to go as well. Clearly, the best form of lobbying is when they can see with their own eyes, people’s fierce opposition to the bill.
* When you attend your Congressman’s town hall meeting, make sure you have a copy of the text printed below from H.R. 2768. It won’t hurt to have a copy of the language in hand so you can waive it at your Congressman. But remember, even without these provisions, H.R. 2768 is still a dangerous bill. Don’t leave them with the impression that removing Sections 102 and 204 means the bill will be O.K. The bill stinks, and they should be encouraged to oppose the entire bill.
* Call House Speaker Newt Gingrich (202-225-0600) or Majority Leader Dick Armey (202-225-4000). Tell them you oppose the terror bill and ask them to NOT even have a vote on the bill.
* You can send a Western Union mailgram opposing the terror bill to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Majority Leader Dick Armey and to your Representative (1-800-651-1GUN or 1486). Your phone bill will be charged for $8.95. (If your phone company does not participate with the Regional Bell Operating Companies — 10% of the phone companies do not — you will be charged or billed.)
* Still have some spare time? Call Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour (202-863-8700) and give him a message similar to what one gun owner told him in December: “Any contribution now, or in the future, hinges on a defeat of this bill by the Republicans. . . . If this bill passes, the Republicans are not better than the Democrats in my eyes. I really do feel that strongly about it.”
Selected text from H.R. 2768
SEC. 102. PROHIBITING MATERIAL SUPPORT TO TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS.
(a) IN GENERAL. — That chapter 113B of title 18, United States Code, that relates to terrorism is amended by adding at the end the following:
“Sec. 2339B. Providing material support to terrorist organizations
“(a) OFFENSE. — Whoever, within the United States, knowingly PROVIDES MATERIAL SUPPORT OR RESOURCES in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, to any organization which the person knows or SHOULD HAVE KNOWN is a terrorist organization that has been designated under section 212(a)(3)(B)(iv) of the Immigration and Nationality Act as a terrorist organization shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
[The definition of “MATERIAL SUPPORT OR RESOURCES” is contained in the next section — Section 103.]
SEC. 103. MODIFICATION OF MATERIAL SUPPORT PROVISION. . . .
“(b) DEFINITION.–In this section, the term ‘MATERIAL SUPPORT OR RESOURCES’ MEANS currency or other financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, WEAPONS, lethal substances, explosives, personnel, transportation, and other physical assets, except medicine or religious materials.”. . .
SEC. 204. MANDATORY PENALTY FOR TRANSFERRING A FIREARM KNOWING THAT IT WILL BE USED TO COMMIT A CRIME OF VIOLENCE.
Section 924(h) of title 18, United States Code, is amended–
(1) by inserting “or HAVING REASONABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE” after “knowing”; and
(2) by striking “imprisoned not more than 10 years, fined in accordance with this title, or both.” and inserting “subject to the same penalties as may be imposed under subsection (c) for a first conviction for the use or carrying of the firearm.”.
[With the above change, Section 924(h) of title 18 would read as follows: “Whoever knowingly transfers a firearm, knowing or HAVING REASONABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE that such firearm will be used to commit a crime of violence (as defined in subsection (c)(3)) or drug trafficking crime (as defined in subsection (c)(2)) shall be subject to the same penalties as may be imposed under subsection (c) for a first conviction for the use or carrying of the firearm (Editor: the penalty under subsection (c) is a FIVE YEAR MANDATORY MINIMUM sentence).]
1. The bill orders a study on whether taggants should be put in explosives, which would most likely include black powder. Once this study is completed, you can be sure there will be pressure to put taggants in handloading and over-the-counter ammunition. This would mean registering ammunition sales. After all, the whole purpose for putting taggants in explosives or ammunition is to “register” the purchaser, so as to help the authorities find the criminal by following the trace left by the taggant.