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House rallies to pass NLC-backed Brady Bill.

The Brady Bill was passed by the House of Representatives last week, 238-189. The NLC-supported legislation requires a five business day waiting period for handgun purchases.

Minnesota Rep. Jim Ramstad (D) successfully offered an amendment which would require local law enforcement agencies to explain to a prospective handgun purchaser why he or she was denied the weapon. The amendment passed 425-4. Rep. George Gekas (R-Pa.) successfully offered an amendment which would sunset the waiting period after five years even if a computerized background check system is not yet operative. This amendment passed 238-193.

Florida Rep. Bill McCollum (R) offered an amendment to preempt all state and local licensing laws and waiting periods when the instant check system becomes operational.

Rep. Steve Schiff (R-N.M.) proposed an amendment to kill the bill by sending the it back to committee because, he said, "It is an unfunded mandate on state and local governments" because funds are not authorized for personal background checks. His amendment called on lawmakers to either remove the mandated provisions or provide federal funds to cover the costs. This move was rejected 229-200. Judiciary Committee chairman, Jack Brooks (D- Tex.), a vocal opponent of the Brady bill, opposed Schiff, as did Subcommittee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the sponsor of the House Brady bill.

The Senate is expected to take up the Brady bill immediately following the conclusion of the anti-crime bill. President Bill Clinton has vowed to sigh the Bradly bill into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

Senate Anti-Crime Bill

The long, often tense debate over S. 1607 continues into this week with a series of amendment over issues such as Habeas Corpus, access to medical facilities, and a continuation of the debate over an assault weapons ban. Further, amendments are expected on the death penalty, prisons, community policing, and "local law enforcement." Municipal elected officials can still expect an amendment to include a federally mandated police officers' bill of rights.

Last week ended with the adoption of a "Byrd amendment that doubled the authorization of the crime bill to $22.3 billion over five years. Responding to critics that programs were only authorized and that no actual funds were available through appropriations, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WVa), Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, proposed a "Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund". The amendment that passed 94-4, would be financed by reductions in discretionary spending limits potentially putting cities and towns the position of deciding what is more important, municipal programs such as CDBG, or drug abuse, anti- crime and violence programs.

The Byrd amendment would fully fund the anti-crime bill grants programs including funds for 100,000 additional state and local law enforcement personnel, the construction of jails, boot camps, and other minimum security State and local facilities, and the construction and operation of secure facilities to house juvenile violent offenders.

Also included in this package is the Violence Against Women Act that would authorize grants to states and localities to develop effective law enforcement and prosecution strategies to combat violent crimes against women and, in particular, focus efforts on those areas with the highest rates of violent crimes against women. Funds would also be available to prevent and punish domestic violence and provide family violence prevention and services. It would also increase security in existing and future public transportation systems.

While debate will continue this week on the assault weapons ban amendment offered by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D), former mayor of San Francisco, the outcome is questionable. The Senate had attempted to debate an anti-crime bill cleared of weapons provisions, choosing for example, to debate the Brady bill as a separate measure.

However, Feinstein insisted on offering the amendment which would ban the manufacture and sale of semiautomatic assault weapons and prevent the copy-cat models being sold while recognizing the legitimate use of sporting weapons.

The amendment lists 19 specific weapons, such as the Tec DC9 and AK-47, that would be banned. But also lists over 13 pages 650 weapons that would be exempted from the ban.

Several additional amendments were approved last week that are of interest to municipalities. They are:

* An Exon (D-Neb.) amendment that would prohibit payment of federal benefits to illegal aliens;

* A Mosely-Braun (D-Ill.) amendment to authorize that armed offenders 13 years old or older be prosecuted as adults;

* A Hatch (R-Utah) and Pressler (R-S.D.) amendment to establish a Rural Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force in each of the Federal judicial districts which encompass significant rural lands and provide for the training of law enforcement officers from rural agencies in the investigation of drug trafficking and related crimes;

* A Dole (R-Kans.) amendment to make grants to States for enforcement programs to reduce the participation of juveniles in drug related crimes, and establish penalties for persons involved in criminal street gang activities;

* A Roth (R-Del.) amendment to require state and local governments to cooperate with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) by providing information of aliens who are not lawfully present in the U.S.
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities
Author:Quist, Janet
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 15, 1993
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