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Standing Guard

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

"Gunrunning." It`s Chuck Schumer`s latest national media ploy and his biggest fraud yet.

The New York Congressman is yowling about what he calls "gun king-pins" and "gunrunners," whining that the nation needs his legislation outlawing interstate "gunrunning." Instead of headline-grabbing in his quest to be U.S. Senator with no apparent interest in truly solving America`s violent crime problem Rep. Schumer should bone up on existing Federal law on the gun-trafficking issue. He implied there is no existing Federal law on the subject, and that criminals can operate with abandon from state to state on what he calls the "Firearms Freeway." Schumer`s bill would allegedly create "new" penalties of 3-25 years in prison for criminal gun smugglers. Yet existing law already provides penalties of five years per gun illegally smuggled across state lines a penalty tougher than Schumer`s new proposal.

Either Rep. Schumer doesn`t know that we already have a tough law on the books that is not being enforced, or he does not care. Either way, it`s a disservice to his constituents and all Americans. Apparently, if you`re Chuck Schumer and running for the U.S. Senate, headlines for his political campaign are more important than the truth.

Schumer`s office released what the media called a "Congressional study" which he claimed showed a flow of guns from states with "weak" laws to states with "strong laws." The assertion that some states have weak gun laws and others have strong laws is patently false. All states when it comes to criminal commerce in firearms have the same law and it`s there in black and white for anyone to read, especially Chuck Schumer who ought to be demanding that the U.S. Justice Department do its job and enforce the law. It is a law which now today could be used to arrest, try, and convict armed criminal predators who crawl our streets. Chuck Schumer`s only mention of existing Federal law was in the statement:

"Twenty-seven states are rated `very weak` because they do not have meaningful restrictions on gunrunning beyond the Federal minimum."

Federal minimum? Pardon me.

Penalties under the existing Federal Gun Control Act apply equally to every state in the Union. You can`t make it any more unlawful for violent career criminals to possess or use or trade in firearms than it is now.

With his meaningless calls for new gun control, Charles Schumer would make it more difficult for peaceable people you and me to own and use firearms: Making the innocent pay the price for the guilty, when he won`t make the guilty pay anything.

If criminal sanctions under existing law were enforced, let me tell you about what would happen to a criminal we can call "Schumer`s gunrunner."

He`s a multi-convicted felon; a drug user; a fugitive from justice. He is a typical careerist.

His "customers" are also career criminals; all convicted felons, in the illegal drug trade; two are fugitives.

Before traveling to another state, he gets orders for firearms and ammunition from his "customers," and he obtains fraudulent identification.

Schumer`s gunrunner purchases five handguns from a Federally-licensed dealer. In purchasing the guns, he handles at least 15 different firearms. He fills out the Brady Act forms, swearing he is a lawful purchaser of firearms and a state resident. With his phony I.D., he clears the Brady Act background check, sits out the waiting period, and upon picking up the guns, fills out the necessary Federal form 4473, swearing he is in all ways a lawful purchaser under Federal law.

In addition, the dealer fills out Federal form 3310.4 reporting the multiple sales of handguns, which he then files with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and the state police or local law enforcement before the close of business that day. Law enforcement is clearly alerted and empowered to follow up immediately on that transaction.

Schumer`s gunrunner drives to New York City and transfers the guns to his drug dealer "customers," knowing that they will be used in crimes of violence involving the drug trade.

Let`s look at what Schumer describes as "the Federal minimum." It`s found in the United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 44 entitled, FIREARMS. I`ll total the "Federal minimum" as we go along. Call it the "Federal Minimum" Tab.

It`s a Federal felony for a resident of one state to purchase a firearm in another state, excepting under stringent Federal dealer requirements. Private interstate sales between individuals trading in any firearm is illegal (Sec. 922(a)(1)). The penalty: five years in jail each count.

Remember, each illegal gun involved in an illegal act is a count; so the gunrunner`s five guns are a multiple in every violation. Here it adds up to 25 years in jail.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 25 years.

It is a Federal felony for "any person" to "transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any person" who does not reside in the same state (Sec. 922 (a)(5)). The penalty: five years in jail each count. Five guns: 25 years in jail.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 50 years.

If an out-of-state resident buys from a dealer and makes a false or fictitious statement in purchasing a firearm, or exhibits false identification, those acts are Federal felonies, five years each count (Sec. 922(a)(6)). Falsely filling in the Federal form 4473 is a crime punishable by five years in jail. Since Schumer`s "gunrunner" used a fraudulent identification, lied, and swore falsely on his 4473s, three separate crimes occurred under this single section. Five guns: 75 years in jail.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 125 years.

It is a Federal felony for a person to move an unlawfully-purchased firearm in interstate commerce (Sec. 922(a)(5). The penalty: five years in jail each count. Five guns: 25 years in jail.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 150 years.

It is a Federal felony for a convicted felon to buy or receive or transport or possess any firearm or ammunition. Under Sec. 922(g)(1), each action mentioned purchase, receipt, transporting, or possession is a 10-year Federal felony each count. Possession means even touching a gun. If applied just to the five guns (not the 15 he`s handled), that`s 50 years in jail. Receiving the guns from the dealer amounts to 50 years in jail. Transporting the guns back to New York City is a 50-year jail sentence. These 922(g)(1) crimes, alone, call for 150 years in jail.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 300 years.

The exact same penalties apply for the same acts committed by a fugitive from justice (Sec. 922(g)(2)). Since Schumer`s "gunrunner" is a fugitive, that`s another 150 years in prison.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 450 years.

The same penalties up to 10 years apply to known drug users (922(g)(3)). Here again, Schumer`s "gunrunner" is a drug user, so he is subject to another 150 years in jail.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 600 years.

Since he has more than three felony convictions and is a drug user and a fugitive, he is subject to Sec. 924(e)(1) of Chapter 44, Title 18, United States Code, which provides for a 15-year sentence, each count, which is mandatory, with no possible suspension or parole. Schumer`s "gunrunner" here, alone, is subject to 75 years in a Federal penitentiary with no hope of getting back on the street.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 675 years.

Sec. 924(g)(4) provides additional Federal felony sentencing of 10 years on each count for whoever, in violating state or Federal drug laws, travels across state lines to acquire, or attempts to acquire, a firearm in another state. Five guns: additional 50 years in prison.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 725 years.

When Schumer`s "gunrunner" gets to New York City, he turns over his illegal handguns to his "buyers."

If a violator of the Gun Control Act can be shown as intending to commit a state or Federal felony involving the firearm, he has committed an additional Federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison each count (Sec. 924(b)). Five guns: 50 years in jail.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 775 years.

Under Sec. 924(h), "Whoever knowingly transfers a firearm, knowing that such firearm will be used to commit a crime of violence... or drug trafficking crime... shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years." Schumer`s "gunrunner" knows his "customers" are violent drug dealers. Five guns: 50 years in jail.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 825 years.

It is a Federal felony for any individual to sell or give a firearm or ammunition to a convicted felon (Sec. 922(d)(1)). The penalty: 10 years in prison each count. Schumer`s "gunrunner" knows his "customers" are convicted felons. Five guns: 50 years in prison.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 875 years.

It is a Federal felony for any individual to sell, or give a firearm or ammunition to a fugitive from justice (Sec. 922(d)(2)). The penalty: 10 years in prison each count. Two of his customers are fugitives: 20 years in jail.

"Federal Minimum" Tab: 895 years.

It is a Federal felony for any individual to sell, or give a firearm or ammunition to a person unlawfully using or addicted to a controlled substance (Sec. 922(d)(3)). The penalty: 10 years in prison each count. All of his customers are drug users: 50 years in prison.

"Federal Minimum"

Tab: 945 years.

If any violator of the Federal Gun Control Act provisions can be shown as intending to commit a state or Federal felony involving a firearm, that individual has committed an additional Federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison each count (Sec. 924(b)). So, here again Schumer`s "gunrunner" is subject to multiple counts of 10-year Federal felonies with his five guns, which will be used in numerous crimes by his customers, including mere possession by them as prohibited persons, and mere possession is an illegal act under New York law. This total would be, at the very least, another 50 years in prison.

"Federal Minimum" Grand Total Tab: 995 years.

Chuck Schumer calls this the Federal minimum! Today, under existing law, the typical gunrunner could be now subject to nearly 1,000 years in a Federal pen, and at least a lifetime of it is mandatory with no parole. That doesn`t count the fines!

That`s 14.4 human lifespans in a Federal prison for "gunrunning," under current law. Any reading of the Federal Firearms Law begs the question as to the total lack of enforcement by the U.S. Treasury Department and U.S. Department of Justice. So, why is it that U.S. Rep. Charles Schumer has never demanded that tough existing laws be enforced? Because like his anti-gun soulmate, Bill Clinton he knows the truth. Because if current Federal laws were enforced, and if the public knew that there were such laws, the call for gun control would be pointless. It would be an issue dead on arrival. Chuck Schumer, Janet Reno, Bill Clinton and their allies at the Washington Post and the New York Times and the national networks have to keep the lie alive. And every day they refuse to enforce the law every day they keep the lie alive innocent people suffer under the anvil of violent crime.

First Published in June 1997

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.