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Corzine-Kennedy "Consumer Protection" Bills<BR> Poor Smokescreen For Back-Door Gun Prohibition

Friday, August 29, 2003

Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) and Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) have introduced S.1224 and H.R.2403, the "Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection Act," legislation that is not intended to increase "safety" or protect consumers.1 Instead it proposes to "expand the powers of the Attorney General to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and sale of firearms and ammunition." Translation: To empower a president, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives,2 to by-pass Congress and unilaterally prohibit the manufacture of firearms. The radical Violence Policy Center, which advocates banning handguns and supports the bill, has said, "we believe that ultimately handguns would be phased out through such an agency."3

There is nothing new in Corzine-Kennedy. Since most Americans oppose gun prohibition,4 prohibition advocates have been trying to by-pass Congress, state legislatures, and voters for years. They first believed they had a chance to have a federal agency banning guns when the Consumer Product Safety Commission was established in 1972. But in 1976, Congress voted 76-8 in the Senate, 313-86 in the House, that the CPSC "shall make no ruling or order that restricts the manufacture or sale of firearms, ammunition, including black powder or gun powder, for firearms."

Gun prohibitionists also try to circumvent the democratic and legislative processes with lawsuits premised on absurd legal theories, aimed at bankrupting gun manufacturers by holding them financially responsible for the acts of criminals. Such lawsuits have been thrown out of courts and prohibited by 33 states. The U.S. Senate is currently considering S.659, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, to end such lawsuits nationwide. The House has passed a similar bill.
Call your Senators at 202-224-3121 in support of S. 659.

Contrary to "Gun Control" Lobby Lies,
Guns Are One of the Most Highly-Regulated Products

A Washington Times editorial noted on Aug. 6, that guns "are already subject to plenty of regulation. At present, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is responsible for enforcing page after page of regulations governing the manufacture and use of firearms." Indeed, 20,000 federal, state, and local laws govern the manufacture, shipping, sale, purchase, possession, and use of guns. For example, under federal law, to buy a gun from a dealer you must be an adult (at least age 21 for a handgun) and pass a criminal records check. Even though the criminal records check is a national check, you may buy a handgun in only your home state. Multiple purchases of handguns are reported to the BATFE, and state or local police. Generally, you may not buy guns directly via the mail, Internet, or phone. Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers must keep records on every gun sold, and make them available to law enforcement officials during annual inspections and criminal investigations.

Additionally, guns are manufactured according to more than 700 pages of quality and safety standards, published by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI), which are reviewed by the FBI, the U.S. Customs Service, and other public and private agencies.

Against these facts, consider the anti-gun lobby`s absurd lies. The Brady Campaign asks, "What is the only unregulated product in the United States?" And it claims, "[T]here are more safety standards governing the manufacture of a toy gun or for a teddy bear than there are for a real gun." In support of the Corzine-Kennedy bill, the anti-gun group claims: "The Federal government regulates toys, appliances, cars, food and medicine and just about anything that can cause injury or death, but the extremist gun lobby has prevented Federal safety oversight of firearms."

Additional facts to consider:

    • Firearms are involved in only one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of fatal accidents nationwide, and they are decreasing in number every year. Even though the number of people and the number of guns in our country are at all-time highs, the annual number of gun-accident deaths is lower than anytime in the last century.

  • Virtually all injuries involving guns are attributable to deliberate misuse or negligence. Those that are due to failures on the part of a gun can be addressed in court. Legislation that exempts the firearm industry from lawsuits applies only to lawsuits that have no sound legal basis, such as those attempting to hold gun manufacturers financially responsible for the misdeeds of criminals. 

  • Guns should not be designed by federal bureaucrats who have little or no knowledge of how guns are made or used, and no regard for the preferences of consumers. Safety depends on the person handling the gun. Never rely on any mechanical device as a substitute for safe gun handling practices. 

  • BATFE has previously used its regulatory authority to ban guns for entirely political reasons. In 1989, years after approving numerous makes and models of semi-automatic rifles for importation, the agency reversed itself, declaring 43 rifles no longer importable, though the rifles and the federal importation standard had not changed in the interim. In 1998, at President Clinton`s request, it again changed its interpretation of the standard, and declared other rifles to be no longer importable.

  1. Gun control supporters describe themselves and their agenda with euphemisms. For example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) named her federal "assault weapons" ban (1994) the "Recreational Firearm Use and Protection Act." More relevant to Corzine-Kennedy, after a national survey commissioned by former Handgun Control board member Andrew McKelvey concluded that, for public relations purposes, "The term ‘gun control` should be dropped and replaced with ‘gun safety,`" McKelvey formed the anti-gun group "Americans for Gun Safety" and all anti-gun groups began referring to gun "control" proposals as gun or firearm "safety," as in the Corzine-Kennedy bill.

  2. BATFE`s regulatory functions are now under the Attorney General.

  3. VPC`s Tom Diaz, on National Public Radio`s "Fresh Air" program, Jan. 20, 1999.

  4. Nearly half of American households own guns. California and Massachusetts have rejected handgun bans by popular referenda. Since 1975, Gallup polls have shown the public opposed to a handgun ban. Handgun freezes exist only in Washington, D.C. (where it is being challenged in Congress and in court) and Chicago, and handguns are banned in several townships near Chicago.

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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.