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H.R. 2324: Worse than S. 843?

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Castle gun show bill (H.R. 2324) shares many unacceptable provisions with S. 843, but in key areas goes even further. Despite changes from the Lautenberg juvenile justice amendment of 1999 that it is based on, this bill fails to address gun owners` most significant concerns--and in several areas is even more restrictive than Lautengberg`s current bill, S. 843.

  • H.R. 2324 creates federal gun registration of many firearms sold at gun shows. Unlike S. 843, H.R. 2324 requires that information on gun transactions between unlicensed persons that are assisted by a licensed dealer, be transmitted to the Attorney General within 10 days. Make, model and serial number of the firearm(s) sold is required, along with "such other information and be on such form, as the Attorney General shall require by regulation." This broad grant of power to the Attorney General will greatly facilitate the creation of a firearms registry by an anti-gun administration.
  • H.R. 2324 creates gun owner registration. "Special firearms event operators" would have to submit names of all "vendors" to the U.S. Justice Department both before and after the show--whether or not any of the vendors sold a gun. A private citizen who enters a gun show hoping to sell or trade a firearm, but who does not find a buyer and leaves with his own gun, would be on file with the Justice Department forever as a "special firearms event vendor." This gun owner registration provision is more restrictive than the Lautenberg amendment.
  • H.R. 2324 requires registration of gun shows. This bureaucratic requirement would allow an anti-gun administration to harass event organizers for paperwork violations. It would also allow government agents to harass gun owners who gather for purposes other than selling guns.
  • H.R. 2324 allows harassment of show organizers and vendors. The bill allows inspection, at a gun show, of a show promoter`s or dealer`s entire business records--including records of transactions that occurred at other shows or at a dealer`s licensed place of business. These inspections are time consuming for licensees and highly intrusive; conducting business at a gun show while simultaneously undergoing a compliance inspection would be impossible.
  • H.R. 2324 does not provide for true instant checks. The biggest controversy during the 1999 debate on gun show legislation was how long a "delay period" should be allowed for investigation of a questionable background check. Like S. 843, H.R. 2324 does not make allowances for the short duration gun show. Instead both bills provide the full 3 business day allowance for replies to instant check requests. This does not work for a 2-day weekend gun show.
  • H.R. 2324 gives no priority to gun show checks. Gun show checks should be expedited over others, simply due to the temporary nature of these events and the distances both sellers and buyers travel to attend them.

Most importantly, H.R. 2324 ignores the real problem--multiple government studies prove gun shows are not a source of "crime guns."

  • The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report "Firearms Use by Offenders" found that less than 1% of U.S. "crime guns" come from gun shows. This 2001 study was based on interviews with 18,000 prison inmates and is the largest such study ever conducted by the government.
  • The BJS study is consistent with previous federal studies. A 2000 BJS study, "Federal Firearms Offenders, 1992-98," found only 1.7% of federal prison inmates obtained their gun from a gun show. Similarly, a National Institute of Justice 1997 study, "Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities," reported less than 2% of criminal guns come from gun shows.
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