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Justice Department proposals threaten gun dealers.

Despite President Clinton's claims about loving duck hunters, the true intentions of the Clinton Administration regarding gun owners - and dealers - become clearer by the day.

A January 1997 Department of Justice paper that has been leaked to the gun press contains proposals that threaten both America's gun dealers and owners as never before in the nation's history.

Indeed, it would seem their ultimate purpose is to make selling firearms - or even just owning them - so onerous, so burdensome that it would be better to change your occupation, give up your favorite sport and plan on trying to defend yourself and your family with a baseball bat or maybe a crossbow.

A high Justice Department source, who for obvious reasons wishes to remain unnamed, said these provisions would not be presented as one massive bill but introduced in Congress one or two at a time. In fact, some already are on the Hill.

Some of the proposals that would impact dealers are pretty much self-explanatory:

Prohibit persons from purchasing more than one handgun in any 30-day period.

Require background checks for gun store employees.

Require FFL cooperation for firearm traces by law enforcement.

Ensure that the sale of firearm ammunition is subject to the same requirements as the sale of firearms (e.g., prohibit interstate sale of ammunition, require proof of age, Brady check).

Require FFLs to sell a gun lock or similar device each time a firearm is sold.

Other proposals perhaps need some comment. For example, there's one to require gun stores to lock and secure firearms at closing to prevent theft. Many shops already do precisely that; but it should be remembered that when that became the law in Minnesota, there were a number of deadly daylight robberies of gun shops by criminals who knew that the guns would be locked up at night.

Another proposal would require multiple and/or internal security numbers on all firearms and require that firearms parts sold separately be subject to the same requirements. If dealers think 4473s are a bother, what would it be like to keep 4473s on all gun parts?

Then there's the proposal to prohibit the manufacture of "cop-killer" and "hollowpoint" ammunition. There's a lot of hollowpoint ammunition sold; it's not that exotic, except to the anti-gunners.

The fact that there's less chance of a ricochet or penetrating a wall and hitting an innocent person with hollowpoint ammo is not lost on many of America's police departments but ignored by the anti-gunners.

Plus, if all bullets capable of penetrating bulletproof vests are banned, the industry can kiss good-bye the sale of virtually all high power rifle ammo - and, of course, high power rifles since a gun is no good without bullets.

Another proposal would establish consumer safety standards for firearms (e.g., material construction, trigger resistance, standards for domestic and imported firearms).

While this could be used only to ban the so-called inexpensive Saturday Night Specials, it has the potential to ban just about any firearm - like the Massachusetts proposal that would ban firearms that don't contain devices that will allow only their owners to fire them. There currently are no such devices.

What about the proposal to establish private cause of action for persons injured by firearms which were not stored safely? How do you define safely? Is a locked gun cabinet good enough? If someone steals the guns from a safe, does that mean the owner should have had a better safe?

Another proposal would amend the current law making it unlawful to transfer a firearm "knowing" that it will be used to commit a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime where the person has "reasonable cause to believe" that the gun will be so used.

How law enforcement and the courts will interpret "reasonable cause" would be a major concern to all dealers. One proposal would establish per se civil liability for persons who sell guns illegally. There's no mention of intent.

Yet another proposal would increase the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony for gun dealers charged with aiding and abetting straw purchasers and providing other false statements. Depending on how this law would actually be worded, the matter of intent would again seem to loom very large.

Here's an interesting proposal: authorize the criminal forfeiture, of firearms used in the commission of any federal crime, including authorization to destroy such firearms upon forfeiture.

What if - as has happened - the accused is found innocent? The guns already have been destroyed. There's no word about compensation.

Another proposal is to establish a uniform national policy regarding the destruction of seized firearms by state and local authorities. Apparently, the national policy is to charge people, destroy their guns and then determine if they are guilty.

Then there's the one that would expand the already controversial domestic violence law by establishing firearms disability for all misdemeanor crimes of violence. We can assume this also would be applied retroactively.

Naturally, anti-gun forces want national gun registration, which is expressed in a proposal that would authorize ATF to computerize firearms records "to assist law enforcement in targeting persons who illegally transfer firearms to juveniles."

Notice the wording. Oppose national gun registration and you must favor the black market sale of guns to kids.

There's even a proposal to extend federal jurisdiction to all murders committed with a firearm. Here's a good excuse to drastically expand the federal police force while dramatically undermining local homicide departments.

Naturally, there's a proposal to eliminate the sunset provision on the assault weapons ban.

Gun sales and ownership also would be under financial pressure by proposals to "increase FFL fees to apply to firearms safety, injury and other firearms-related societal costs" and "raise the federal firearms and/or ammunition tax to support prevention, safety, victim or medical initiatives targeting gun violence."

In other words, the government wants a situation like they currently have in Australia, where the government pays the expenses of anti-gunners who travel around advocating that guns be banned for health reasons.

There are other proposals, but perhaps the greatest threat comes from two that appear under the "Gang Violence" section of the Justice Department paper.

They would amend the RICO statute to add certain federal offenses involving the illegal transfer of firearms to the list of RICO predicates, and increase the penalty for certain RICO violations. The proposals also provide that prosecutors need not prove that a defendant personally agreed to commit any acts of racketeering.

Well known Second Amendment scholar and lawyer Dave Hardy noted that RICO "is the government's neutron bomb" designed to take out Mafia bosses.

"You're going to turn that loose on the average FFL?" he asked. "You can confiscate all of his assets, tie everything up, massive penalties, civil liability.

"As I said, RICO is designed as the neutron bomb for the most serious of offenders. And they want to turn that loose on Joe Blow's Gun Shop."

Hardy concluded, "This list basically took every anti-gun proposal of the last five years and rolled them into one long list. Basically, this is a proposal to outlaw gun ownership through the means of making it so burdensome that no one can afford to own firearms." Or sell them!
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jun 1, 1997
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