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HR-4225 will restrict domestically manufactured weapons.

HR-4225 Will Restrict Domestically Manufactured Weapons

While all eyes were focused on gun control bills in the U.S. Senate in March, the real action was occurring in the House of Representatives.

Rep. William Hughes (D-NJ) introduced HR-4225 on March 8 and then pushed it through the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime by a 5-3 vote on March 21 without any hearings. One gun publication has referred to Hughes, the chairman of that subcommittee, as the anti-gunners' first-string quarter-back in the House. He certainly lived up to that billing with his latest effort.

HR-4225 is a draconian measure that would give enormous powers to the Secretary of the Treasury. Although supposedly intended to ban the sale of domestically manufactured firearms that already have been banned for import, the bill has the potential to go far beyond that.

Within 60 days of passage of the bill, the Secretary would issue a list of "restricted weapons" that could not be sold in this country. These "restricted weapons" are defined as "any semi-automatic rifle which is manufactured in the United States and not generally recognized as particularly suitable for, or readily adaptable to, sporting purposes; and any firearm the importation of which is prohibited...." The Secretary would revise the list from "time to time."

The original bill would have required the current owners of firearms on the "restricted weapons" list to register them. Registration was taken out in the subcommittee.

However, what if you want to transfer such a gun? The bill would give the Secretary the power to decide how future transfers could occur (possibly establishing registration).

What if you owned a firearm on the "restricted" list and a part broke? Unless you already owned the part before passage of the law, you could have a problem because you could not buy a new part. It might be possible to purchase another such gun and cannibalize it, depending upon what the Secretary has to say about transfers.

HR-4225 also bans the future sale of what it calls "large capacity ammunition feeding devices."

These are defined as "a detachable magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device which has, or which can be readily restored or converted to have, a capacity of more than seven rounds of ammunition; and any part or combination of parts, designed or intended to convert a detachable magazine, belt, drum, feed strip or similar device (into one capable of holding more than seven rounds).

Excluded from this definition is "any attached tubular device designed to accept and capable of operating with only .22 rimfire caliber ammunition."

An attempt to raise the magazine capacity allowed in the bill from seven to 11 rounds failed in the subcommittee mark-up.

Large capacity magazines, owned before the bill became law, could be kept and lawfully transferred. Any kind of replacement spring, etc., apparently could be obtained only through cannibalization because of the prohibition on new parts.

Another very open-ended provision of the law declares, "It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture a firearm to which a firearm silencer or bayonet may be directly attached without alteration of the firearm."

The potential effect of that section sends shivers down the spines of such pro-gun groups as the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.

When I talked with the NRA's Trey Hodgkins, he pointed out that, "Silencers are already heavily restricted, so they are not really the question. However, you can go and buy a bayonet lug that screws onto the end of the barrel of virtually any rifle without altering the gun itself. So technically speaking, this section makes it possible for them to ban any rifle."

John Snyder, the director of publications and Washington lobbyist for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Firearms (CCRKBA), has gained a well-earned reputation for issuing news releases that send the anti-gun media through the ceiling. He did so this time by noting that the subcommittee passed HR-4225 on the same day Lithuanians were ordered to turn in their firearms.

The reason for Hughes' haste is obvious. He wanted a vote before Rep. Charles Douglas (R-NH) could be formally made a member of the subcommittee. Douglas was named to the subcommittee to replace the late Rep. Larkin Smith (R-MS) who died in a plane crash last year.

Hughes knew that Reps. Bill McCollum (R-FL), George Gekas (R-PA) and Frederick Boucher (D-VA) would vote against his bill, which they did. Absent when the vote was taken was Rep. Michael DeWine (R-OH), who probably would have voted against the bill had been there. Had Douglas joined these four representatives in opposing HR-4225, it would have died in subcommittee on a 5-5 vote.

Voting with Hughes for passage were four other anti-gun members of the subcommittee, who also served as co-sponsors of the bill: Rep. Romano Mazzoli (D-KY), Lawrence Smith (D-FL), John Conyers (D-MI) and Edward Feighan (D-OH).

As this issue of Shooting Industry goes to press, HR-4225 is headed for the full House Judiciary Committee. What happens there will depend largely on committee chairman, Rep. Jack Brooks (D-TX).

On another issue of vital concern to gun dealers, Shooting Industry is picking up disturbing reports from around the nation that some gunsmiths who make small numbers of custom firearms (less than 50 per year) are being informed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that they owe excise tax on firearms built between 1983 and 1990.

Everyone thought this issue was settled in 1982 when a law was passed exempting the makers of less than 50 firearms per year from the excise tax. However, now the general counsel of the IRS is saying that the 1982 law applied only to that year (although it clearly was never repealed).

ATF, which will begin collecting that tax next year, accepts the exemption.

Jim Baker, director of the Federal Affairs Division of NRA-ILA, told me the NRA is actively looking into the matter.

There also are reports that some local agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) are telling these same types of gunsmiths they need a manufacturer's license (increasing their licensing fees and making their liability insurance prohibitively expensive).

How widespread these practices are remains to be seen. If you know of one of these cases, write: Legislative Update, Shooting Industry, 591 Camino de la Reina, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92108. We will review this development in the next issue.

PHOTO : (Above) Jim Baker, director of the Federal Affairs Division of NRA-ILA, said the NRA is

PHOTO : looking into reports that the IRS has told some gunsmiths who make small numbers of custom

PHOTO : firearms (less than 50 per year) that it considers an excise tax exemption passed in 1982

PHOTO : valid for that year only.

PHOTO : (Left) Rep. William Hughes (D-NJ) rammed HR-4225 through the House Judiciary's

PHOTO : Subcommittee on Crime on March 21.
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Title Annotation:gun control law
Author:Schneider, Jim
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:May 1, 1990
Previous Article:SI profile: Wilson's Gun Shop.
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