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Hearings Put Spotlight On Need For BATFE Reform

Friday, March 31, 2006

At back-to-back hearings on Tuesday, March 28, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, continued to focus on enforcement abuses at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), and also aired opinions about a new bill to correct several issues in federal firearms law.

First, the subcommittee heard testimony from people with first-hand experience dealing with BATFE.  Virginia lawyer Richard Gardiner, who has represented many gun owners and dealers, focused on the way BATFE handles cases against federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs)--often seeking to revoke FFLs for “trivial, immaterial violations” based on “undefined legal standards.”  Gardiner described one case where a dealer lost his license even though BATFE itself agreed his records were 99.96% accurate, and the few errors posed no threat to public safety. 

Next, Lt. Michael Lara of the Tucson Police Department recounted his personal horror story at the hands of BATFE.  After buying a gun as a gift for a friend, Lt. Lara found himself facing federal felony charges as a “straw purchaser.”  Lt. Lara lost his job, and didn’t get it back before a three-month legal nightmare cost him more than $200,000 in legal fees, lost pay and other costs.  BATFE never even interviewed him during its investigation, and the jury acquitted him in less than an hour.

At the second hearing, the subcommittee focused on H.R. 5005, Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) bill to make various technical changes and corrections in federal firearms law.  Anti-gun advocates have gone through the roof over one provision of H.R. 5005: a section that prohibits disclosure of firearms trace data outside of law enforcement investigations.  That language simply makes permanent a policy that Congress has enacted through annual appropriations riders for the past several years.  Yet at this hearing, anti-gun New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) hysterically denounced it as a “God-awful” bill that would “facilitate the shooting deaths of thousands of innocent Americans every year.”  Of course, Bloomberg’s real goal--besides publicity in the Big Apple media--is to use this confidential law enforcement information in the city’s suit against the firearms industry.  Attorney Gardiner took the opportunity to point out that “what the Mayor is saying about this bill simply is not true,” because the trace system is designed to help solve crimes, not to do statistical research.

Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-NC) and ranking member Bobby Scott (D-VA) agreed on the need to focus BATFE’s efforts on enforcing current laws against serious criminals, while not pursuing petty violations or undermining civil liberties.  To that end, the “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Modernization and Reform Act of 2006” will soon be introduced.  This bipartisan bill will update the legal standards for disciplining violations by FFLs.  It also calls for a review of BATFE’s enforcement practices, and clarifies BATFE’s responsibilities to keep the Bureau focused on its core mission.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Lawsuit Filed Against California's Assault Weapons Control Act

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today announced it is supporting, along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), an important Second Amendment lawsuit challenging California’s newly expanded Assault Weapons Control ...

Illinois: Senate Passes Legislation that will Close Gun Stores

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Illinois: Senate Passes Legislation that will Close Gun Stores

Today, the Illinois Senate passed an amended version of Senate Bill 1657 by a 30-21 vote.  As amended, SB 1657 would exempt big box stores from its restrictions.

Brace Yourself: ATF Reconsiders Obama-Era Policy on Stabilizing Braces

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Brace Yourself: ATF Reconsiders Obama-Era Policy on Stabilizing Braces

News broke this week that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has reconsidered and “clarified” its Jan. 6, 2015 Open Letter on the use of stabilizing braces as shoulder stocks.

“F” Stands for Fail: School Jeopardizes Student’s Future for Possession of Squirt Gun

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Second Amendment  

Friday, April 21, 2017

“F” Stands for Fail: School Jeopardizes Student’s Future for Possession of Squirt Gun

Public education’s long-running “zero tolerance” war against anything that suggests the idea of a firearm (including, for example, clothing, gestures, toys, food, computer images, and favorable opinions of self-defense) has claimed another victim. This time ...

Illinois: Anti-Gun Legislators are Attempting to Sneak their Agenda into Unrelated Legislation

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Illinois: Anti-Gun Legislators are Attempting to Sneak their Agenda into Unrelated Legislation

Yesterday, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton proposed Senate Amendment 1 to his shell bill, Senate Bill 233.

South Carolina: Senate Subcommittee to Hear Multiple Gun Bills Tomorrow

Monday, April 24, 2017

South Carolina: Senate Subcommittee to Hear Multiple Gun Bills Tomorrow

Tomorrow, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to discuss several firearm-related bills, and subcommittee members need to hear from you.

West Virginia: Governor Signs Pro-Gun Bills into Law

Thursday, April 27, 2017

West Virginia: Governor Signs Pro-Gun Bills into Law

Late yesterday, Governor Jim Justice signed two important pro-gun bills into law.

Rhode Island:  House Committee Will Hear Over a Dozen Gun Bills Tuesday Night

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rhode Island: House Committee Will Hear Over a Dozen Gun Bills Tuesday Night

On Tuesday, April 24, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a marathon hearing on several anti-gun bills.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

California: Open Carry Ban Passes in the Assembly

Friday, April 21, 2017

California: Open Carry Ban Passes in the Assembly

Yesterday, the state Assembly passed Assembly Bill 7 by a vote of 44 to 29.   AB 424 was not considered during yesterday’s floor session, however it remains eligible for a vote at any time.  

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NRA ILA

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.