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$750 FFL bill may change the face of the shooting industry.

A bill introduced by Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., may transform America's gun dealers into the greatest bunch of legal tightrope walkers in the nation.

The bill, designated SB-496 and co-sponsored by Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., drew national headlines for its provisions that would raise the annual fee for an FFL from the current $10 to $750 a year.

That provision itself would economically threaten small gun dealers, driving many out of business -- as is the expressed intent of the bill's sponsors. It is another section of the bill, however, that could threaten all gun dealers, including the largest and most profitable.

It declares, "It shall be unlawful for a person to sell or otherwise dispose of a firearm or ammunition to another person if the person who sells or otherwise disposes of it has reasonable cause to believe that the person is acquiring the firearm or ammunition with intent that it will be used by that person or any other person to commit a crime of violence."

Patrick O'Malley of the NRA-ILA noted, "A court could determine 'reasonable cause to believe' to mean about anything. Passage of the bill would place gun dealers in an incredibly difficult position."

At least one pro-gun black leader, General Laney of Detroit's Motor City Sportsman's Association (MCSA), has expressed concern that the bill could make many dealers reluctant to sell guns to blacks since FBI statistics show that there is a higher crime rate among blacks than among whites.

Thus, law-abiding blacks living in high-crime areas could be prevented from buying firearms they need for self-defense, while white gun dealers are forced to choose between facing liability lawsuits or charges of discrimination.

SB-496 also would allow the BATF to sit on an application for an FFL as long as it wants, instead of processing it within 45 days as is currently the law.

The measure would require that applicants meet state and local laws -- including zoning ordinances and sales tax requirements.

The BATF could conduct as many compliance inspections of a dealer as it desires, eliminating the current once-a-year limit except for criminal investigations. Dealers would be required to provide firearm trace information by telephone, and dealers would have to report the theft of any firearm to BATF and local authorities within 24 hours of discovering the loss.

The bill also would require fingerprints and photographs of individuals applying for a Class 3 license to sell machine guns and other NFA arms.

Finally, common carriers like UPS would be required to obtain identification from individuals who receive firearms shipments.

O'Malley summarized SB-496 as a "nightmare for gun dealers of all sizes."
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Title Annotation:Industry News; federal firearms industry
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:May 1, 1993
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