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H.R. 165`s Not-So-Deceptive Handgun Ban

Thursday, February 24, 2005

U.S. Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald represents California`s 37th Congressional District, in Los Angeles County. According to her website, Glamour magazine-a stridently anti-gun publication-has named her "one of eleven women who will change the world."

Whether Millender-McDonald will "change the world" remains to be seen. But, at the very least, she is determined to change how you live. Maybe even whether you live. On Jan. 4, 2005, she introduced legislation designed to end the manufacture, sale and use of the single product that gives people the best chance1 of surviving attacks by criminals: handguns. Misleadingly titled the "Child Safety Lock Act of 2005," H.R. 165:

  • Grants the Attorney General regulatory authority to ban handguns, by authorizing him or her to set standards for integral and externally attached handgun "locking devices" that dealers would be required to provide in or with handguns they sell. In describing the standards, the bill implies a preference for potentially expensive and yet-unproven "locking devices" that are built into a gun (e.g., those that are operated electromagnetically or with transmitters), rather than externally-attached cable locks and the like. One need only remember Janet Reno to envision how an Attorney General of the future could use such power to impose standards no manufacturer realistically could achieve.
  • Drives firearm manufacturers and dealers out of business, with the threat of severe criminal and civil penalties-2 years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine for each violation, and the loss of the firearm manufacturer or dealer license-for failure to provide approved "locking devices," or failure to comply with a myriad of prescribed regulations that would govern commerce in such devices.
  • Is an open invitation to bureaucratic abuse. It gives the Attorney General the power to require manufacturers to "submit to the Attorney General a satisfactory plan for implementation of any action required" by the bill. The Attorney General alone would be empowered to define "satisfactory" and failures to deliver a "satisfactory" plan would be punishable by two years in prison.
  • Authorizes searches of commercial carriers that ship "locking devices." Airlines, trucking companies and other carriers would be forced to stop transporting guns possessing integral "locking devices" and external "locking devices," or drastically raise fees for transporting such items to compensate for the increased expenses associated with the delays caused by such searches.
  • Intimidates private citizens into not keeping guns ready for personal protection, by requiring dealers to provide handgun buyers with the statement, "Failure to properly lock and store your handgun may result in civil or criminal liability under state law." H.R. 165 exempts federal, state and local governments and their law enforcement personnel.

Notes:

1. Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns, Aldine de Gruyter, 1997, p. 171: Defensive gun use surveys show, "Robbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection or those who did not resist at all."

2. http://thomas.loc.gov/ (enter "H.R. 165").

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