GUN C O N T R O L
ISSUE BRIEF NUMBER IB74011
T H E L I B R A R Y OF C O N G R E S S
CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
MAJOR I S S U E S S Y S T E M
DATE ORIGINATED 02/02/74
DATE UPDATED 08/11/82
FOR' A D D I T I O N A L I N F O R M A T I O N C A L L 287-5700
Supporters of more restrictive Federal controls on firearms have justified
their position principally on the grounds that such controls are needed to
curb access to these weapons by criminals, juveniles, and other "high risk"
It is argued that the violent crime rate (and also the fatal
accident rate) has a positive relationship to the availability of guns, and
that only Federal measures can be successful in reducing this availability.
Opposition to Federal controls (existing and proposed) varies widely i n both
nature and degree and may be based on constitutional
considerations of Federal-State relationships, or on the belief that gun
controls are not in fact a crime deterrent.
BACKGROUND AND POLICY ANALYSIS
. .. .
The attack on President Reagan
in late March, which
resulted i n the
wounding of the President and three others, has again revived the national
debate on gun control.
In the sense that it concerns a Federal role, this
debate began in the 1920s. Its early phase resulted in the enactment of two
Federal statutes designed to reduce the availability of guns to criminals and
to disclose to the government the ownership of especially lethal guns.
laws, passed in the 'Thirties, remained for the most part unchallenged
the early 1960s, when a Senate committee investigating
trade i n
turned its attention to the effects of a flourishing mail-order
firearms. This inquiry ultimately led to a major revision of the existing
statutes. The new law, enacted in 1968, was considered too moderate by
and too restrictive by Others, and both camps have regularly pressed
Only minor changes have won approval, however, and in the past
several years the issue has dropped from the forefront.
The attempt o n the
President's life has resurrected the calls for stronger controls, and the
debate has been rekindled.
Is gun control crime control? Would the stricter regulation of firearm
commerce and/or Ownership lower the Nation's rates of homicide, robbery, and
a s s a u l t ? , Would they stop the attacks on public figures?
Although firearms suicides and accidents are also advanced as reasons for
stronger controls, gun control advocates offer as their principal concern the
large number of violent crimes committed in this country each year.
to the generally
lower crime rates of other industrial nations, these
advocates contend that a strict curb on gun ownership and use is a major
factor in the difference.
In recent years, proponents of controls have usually
held that only a
Federal law will be effective in the United States.
Otherwise, they s a y , the
States with moderate restrictions will continue to feed black markets in the
They believe the Second Amendment to the Constitution,
which states that " A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security
of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be
(2) intended solely to guard against
suppression of State militias
by the central Government and therefore
restricted in scope by that intent, or (3) does not in any case guarantee a
right that is absolute, but one that can be limited by
requirements. They ask why a private citizen needs any firearm that has no
hunting or other sporting use.
Opponents of gun control vary in their position vis-a-vis
of control. but in general take the view that interdiction laws don't
accomplish what is intended.
It is just as difficult to keep weapons from
being acquired by "high risk" individuals, they argue, as it was to stop the
sale and use of liquor during Prohibition.
In their view, a regulatory
system designed to do this Only creates problems for law-abiding citizens and
possibly threatens their civil rights.
Moreover, they reject the contention
that the low crime rates of such countries a s England and Japan have anything
to do with gun controls, maintaining that multiple cultural differences are
Gun control opponents also reject the assumption that the only legitimate
purpose of ownership by a private citizen is recreational -- . e l hunting
They insist on the continuing need of people for
effective weapons to defend person and property.
They observe that the law
enforcement and criminal justice system in the United States has not
demonstrated the ability to furnish an adequate measure of public safety.
They further uphold the right to keep arms a s a defense against potential
To the supporter of restrictive controls, the opposition is out of touch
with the times, dogmatic about the Second Amendment, or lacking
sensitivity or concern for the problems of crime and violence.
supporter of the Natio'nal Rifle Association, the control advocate is naive in
his faith in the power of regulation to solve social problems, bent on
disarming the American citizen, or moved by hostility
to firearms and gun
enthusiasts instead of concern over crime.
SOME BASIC STATISTICS
In 1 9 6 9 , the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence
(Eisenhower Commission) reported that Americans owned some 9 0 million
Of these, approvimately 24 million were handguns, 35 million wer,e
rifles, and 31 million were shotguns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms estimates that as of 1980 these numbers had increased to roughly 5 2
A S a rule,
million handguns, 59 million rifles, and 5 4 million
about 2 million new handguns enter the domestic market each year, along with
1.8 million rifles and 1.3 million shotguns.
If Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics are to be accepted, the
number of violent crimes committed by or with the aid of a firearm has, on
the whole, increased through the past
In the case of
homicides, for example, 13,520 involved the use of a gun in 1 9 7 9 , compared to
4 , 7 6 2 i n 1963. Relative to population, both
total homicides and total
firearm homicides have increased steadily over the past
2 0 years, although
the 6.1 (per 100,000) rate for the latter in 1979 was below the high of 6.6,
recorded in 1974. In relation to total homicides, those involving a firearm
have consistently accounted for from 63% to 68% since 1967.
In 1979, 63.3%
of all murders were committed by gun -- 50% by handgun, 5% by rifle, and 8%
Robberies and aggravated assaults have also increased
U P D A T E - O ~ / ~ ~
the past 20 years. However, in the period since 1 9 7 4
the first year for
which specific robbery weapon data are available
the percentage of the
total that involved use of a gun declined.
From 45% in 1974, it fell to 40%
in 1979. Similarly, although rising during the period
1965 to 1973, the
percentage of aggravated assaults involving use of a gun decreased from a
high of 26 in the latter year to 23 in 1979.
Until 1968, the two basic Federal statutes regulating the manufacture and
distribution of firearms were the National Firearms Act of 1 9 3 4 and the
Federal Firearms Act of 1938. Both laws were products of a reaction against
the highly visible "gangsterN activities of the 1920s and 1930s.
The Federal Firearms Act prohibited the shipment or receipt of firearms i n
interstate ccmmerce by any manufacturer or dealer who had not been
Firearms could not be sent to persons who had been
(or indicted for) a felony or to fugitives from justice; and the transport of
stolen firearms, or firearms from which
the manufacturer's mark had been
removed, obliterated, or altered, was prohibited.
The National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. 5801 et seq.) was designed to make i t
difficult to obtain certain types of especially
particular machine guns and sawed-off long guns.
It places heavy taxes on
all aspects of the manufacture and distribution of such weapons.
~ l s o , the
Act compels the disclosure
of the production and
distribution system from manufacturer to eventual buyer.
In 1968, the Federal Firearms Act was repealed and the National Firearms
Act substantially amended.
The former was replaced by a statute containing
stricter and more detailed controls.
The new legislation, popularly known a s
the Gun Control Act, was the culmination of congressional activity beginning
in 1963. The assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert
Kennedy were clearly influential in the bill's passage.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 has two major titles.
Title I1 amends the
National Firearms Act to remove certain constitutional difficulties and to
extend the Act's provisions
Title I is a replacement for the'major part of Title IV of
the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act (P.L.
it extends to long guns the earlier law's restrictions on commerce i n
9 2 1 et seq.)
Title I of the Gun Control Act
persons dealing in firearms or ammunition to be
establishes more restrictive standards for licensing than those prescribed by
the old Federal Firearms Act, prohibits the interstate mail-order sale of all
firearms and ammunition, prohibits interstate sale of handguns generally,
prohibits the interstate sale of long guns except under certain specified
conditions, sets forth categories of persons to whom firearms o r ammunition
may not be sold (such a s persons under a specified age or persons with
the importation of non-sporting
firearms, and establishes special penalties for the use of a firearm in
perpetration of a Federal felony.
CONGRESSIONAL ACTION SINCE 1968
Since passage of the Gun Control Act, hundreds of bills to amend it have
been introduced in each Congress.
These have ranged from proposals for
including several for the outright prohibition
the private ownership of handguns -- to repeal of the 1968 legislation.
most cases, however, the proposals have been less sweeping in design, calling
for more limited increases in regulation or for the deletion of specific
provisions of existing law that are especially unpopular with gun owners or
the gun industry.
Only minor changes have been accepted.
It is the proposals for additional handgun controls that have received the
greatest attention in recent years.
In 1972, a bill that passed the Senate
would have extended the ban on importation of "non-sportingff handguns to the
domestic manufacture and sale of such weapons (S. 2507, 92nd Congress).
1976, a bill reported by the House Judiciary Committee contained the
following major elements:
Application of existing handgun importation
criteria (designed to implement the flsporting
purposes" test under GCA) to domestic industry,
thus banning further production and sale of an
estimated 54% of handguns being manufactured at
Requirement of prior police clearance of all handgun
purchases, to be accomplished during a 14-day
minimum, 28-day maximum, waiting period;
Ban on importation of any handgun part intended
for use in manufacture of a wconcealable"
Increase in annual fees for Federal firearms
Elimination of the possibility of probation or
suspended sentence in the case of the added
sentence mandated under existing law for a
first-time offender convicted of using or
carrying a gun in committing a Federal felony.
General concepts that have been reflected in other handgun proposals are:
(1) National registration of handguns.
(2) National licensing as a prerequisite to handgun ownership.
(3) Closer regulation of the gun industry--including measures
substantially reduce the number of licensed dealers.
( 4 ) Elimination of
cheap handguns by prohibiting the manufacture or
transfer of handguns made of metal that fails to meet
requirements, including an established minimum melting temperature.
( 5 ) Prohibition of the further manufacture or sale of
handguns (with definition of "concealability" varying from bill to bill).
(6) Prohibition of the further manufacture or transfer of any handgun.
(7) Prohibition of the private possession of any handgun.
During 1978, congressional interest in the gun control issue was centered
on regulations proposed by the Treasury Department on Mar. 2 1 , 1 9 7 8 under the
Gun Control Act.
Although several matters were covered by these proposals,
the most controversial was one requiring firearms dealers to submit quarterly
reports on gun dispositions, including the serial number of each gun
(but not the name of the buyer).
The National Rifle Association charged that
the move would be tantamount to imposing national gun registration by
"backdoor," or through administrative action, despite
hostility Congress has shown the concept in the past.
maintained that the new information required would be used
simply for the
purpose of speeding up its gun tracing operation and for better
the "flow" of gun commerce throughout the country.
introduced to express disapproval of the regulations, and both House and
Senate passed a Treasury Department appropriations bill that barred
funds to implement them.
The Department announced withdrawal of the proposal
on Feb. 27, 1979.
In contrast to proposals aimed at reducing gun availability are those
providing for added sanctions against persons who use a gun in committing a
crime. Many of the opponents of stricter gun controls have supported the
added gun-crime penalty bills, maintaining that present penalties o r Court
sentencing practices have failed to establish a proper deterrent to violent
Several national commissions have examined the question of gun controls
during the past decade.
In 1 9 6 7 , the President's Commission o n Law
Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended State licensing for
ownership or carrying of handguns and Federal prohibition of interstate
handgun commerce (the latter subsequently implemented by the Gun Control
Additionally, the Commission recommended
that each State require
registration of all handguns, rifles, and
shotguns and that i f , after 5
years, some States had not enacted
such laws, Congress pass a Federal
firearms registration act applicable to those States.
Commission on the Causes
reporting in 1969, reiterated the
recommendation and also backed Federal legislation requiring
universal licensing for handgun
Additionally, the Commission
called for eventual adoption of a Federal regulatory
system under which
minimum standards for State regulation of long guns would be established.
Among the principal questions posed by the general gun control issue are:
(1) Is availability of guns and/or
ammunition a major or substantial
factor in the violent crime rate? In the incidence of fatal or crippling
If added controls are desirable, which of
should they take?
Should such controls be Federal or State?
(4) Would certain of the proposed controls infringe on the police powers
that some authorities hold are reserved to the States under the Constitution?
Are there constitutional difficulties with
respect to the Second
Amendment, which states:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the
security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall
not be infringed"?
(6) Would the benefits of the controls
resentment they might cause?
Practically, can the controls be achieved (e.g., would it be possible
to gain public acquiescence to a law prohibiting private ownership of
What would be the cost?
(8) What have been the identifiable benefits of the 1968 legislation?
Specific proposals raise the following questions:
(1) Does the Gun Control Act's basic concept of regulation through
Federal licensing of persons involved in gun and ammunition commerce provide
a satisfactory framework for solving the gun-crime problem, or must
additional device be employed whereunder controls are achieved
direct Government relationship to the individual gun owner (such a s universal
registration or licensing for ownership)?
(2) To keep guns (handguns or otherwise) out of the hands of criminals
and irresponsible persons, is it necessary
availability, or would the restrictions provided
by a registration and/or
ownership licensing system be sufficient?
(The general counter-question
Would either approach accomplish the objective?)
(3 If the goal is reduction of gun availability, how far must a reduction
policy be taken and how is the reduction best handled?
prohibitions be limited to a class of handguns that causes the greatest
trouble (assuming such a class can be identified), or will it be necessary to
include all handguns in the prohibition?
(4) Should any handgun ban be directed at further manufacture and
transfer, or should it "reach into the homev and affect actual gun ownership
at the time the prohibition might become effective?
(5) Can the commerce in so-called "Saturday night specials" be curbed
without affecting availability of high quality handguns prized
and other citizens? Or, in order to get the cheap handguns off the market,
is i t necessary to adopt a measure that would restrict commerce in other
models a s well?
(6) If new controls make it hard for criminals to acquire concealable
weapons, will they revert to the sawed-off long guns of the Twenties and
With respect to the widespread use of handguns in the
crimes, is the primary reason their cheapness or their concealability,
combination of both?
(8) Are the Gun Control Act controls on ammunition serving a useful
purpose? Should dealer recordkeeping requirements on all or any ammunition
sales be eliminated? Would such a step simply remove a cumbersome and
annoying feature of the act which doesn't
contribute to its purposes, or
would i t be one in a series of steps to strip the legislation of its
(9) Are some existing provisions of Federal gun control law unnecessarily
burdensome to the firearms' industry and to consumers?
(10) Have Federal Government policies encouraged harassment of
collectors and gun industry licensees by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
97th Congress Legislation
4 5 9 , H.R.
27 ( ~ n d e r s o net al.)/S.
6 2 , H.R.
494 (Bumpers) (Related bills: H.R.
Increases mandatory minimum for a first offense, from 1 to 1 0 years, and
eliminates the possibility of suspended sentence or probation.
minimum for a second offense from 2 to 1 0 years, and the maximum from 25 to
Makes a first offender ineligible for parole for 5 years
and a second offender ineligible for 1 0 years.
H.R. 27 introduced Jan.
1981; referred to Committee on Judiciary.
S. 494 introduced Feb.
1 9 , 1981;
referred to Committee on Judiciary.
Prohibits the private possession of handguns except by authorized
Introduced Jan. 5 , 1981; referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H - R . 6 9 (Ashbrook)
Exempts ammunition from provisions of the Gun Control
Introduced Jan. 5 , 1981; referred to Committee on Judiciary.
5437 (Biaggi et al.)/S.
Limits availability and use of handgun bullets that are capable of
penetrating certain body armor.
H.R. 5437 introduced Feb. 3 , 1982; referred
to Committee on the Judiciary.
S. 2128 introduced Feb. 23, 1982; referred to
Committee on the Judiciary.
H.R. 5043 (Hughes, Rodino, McClory, Sawyer, and Sam B. Hall, Jr.).
Transfers certain firearm and explosive control functions from the
Treasury Department to the Justice Department.
1 9 , 1981;
referred to Committee on the Judiciary.
S. 9 7 4 (Kennedy)/H.R.
Handgun Crime Control Act of 1981.
(1) a ban on tha
domestic manufacture and transfer of handguns except for those found by the
Attorney General to be "generally recognized as particularly suitable for or
readily adaptable to sporting purposesw; (2) pre-purchase
both for commercial and private
waiting period, for handgun purchase
transfers; (3) encouragement of State requirement of permits to purchase and
permits to carry handguns; (4) a ban on intrastate mail-order
handguns; (5) tighter regulation of the firearms industry, with
fee increases; (6) additional recordkeeping and reporting requirement for t h e
firearms industry; (7) civil liability of a gun transferor
for death or
personal injury inflicted with the gun by the transferee; and (8) transfer of
some functions of the Bureau of Alcohol, ToBacco, and Firearms to the Justice
Department, specifically to a proposed new agency to be known as the Firearms
Safety and Abuse Control Administration.
S. 974 introduced Apr.
9 , 1981;
referred to Committee on Judiciary. H.R. 3200 introduced Apr. 9 ; referred to
Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1030 (McClure et al.)/H.R.
3300 (Volkmer et al.)
Amends the Gun Control Act of 1968 to (1) eliminate restrictions on the
Sale of firearms to out-of-State residents, providing that such sales must
nevertheless conform to the laws of the States of both
the buyer and the
seller; (2) require proof of "willfulness" to convict for violation
Act; ( 3 ) clarify requirements for obtaining manufacturer, importer and dealer
licenses; (4) exempt ammunition dealers from the Act's requirements;
restrict the right of inspection of licensees by Federal agents and the use
of license revocation authority; (6) eliminate Treasury Department authority
to require licensees to submit reports based on records kept pursuant to the
Act; ( 7 ) restrict the grounds for seizure of firearms involved in violations
of the Act; (8) prohibit the issuance of any regulations designed to create a
central registry of firearms transactions;
(9) require a 90-day comment
period with respect to any proposed regulation under the Act; (10) make any
regulation subject to congressional veto; (11) provide that the States may
not interfere with otherwise lawful interstate transport of
firearms; (12) nullify any regulations that might be issued with
the completion of forms or affidavits in connection with the retail sale of
black powder in quantities up to 50 pounds.
As reported by the Senate
Judiciary Committee, further provides that no handgun may be sold by a
licensed dealer until the expiration of 1 4 days after application.
ordered reported, increases the minimum penalty
for a first-time offender
convicted of using a gun in commission of a Federal felony, from 1 year to 2
S. 1030 introduced Apr. 29, 1981; referred to Committee
on Judiciary. Reported, amended, June 18, 1982. (S.Rept. 97-476) H.R.
introduced Apr. 29, 1981; referred to Committee on Judiciary.
petition filed July 1 3 , 1982.
S. 1387 (Thurmond)
Amends the Gun Control Act to make commercial handgun sales subject to a
21-day waiting period
requirement, during which time the FBI would be
notified of the application to purchase.
Introduced June 1 8 , 1981; referred
to Committee on the Judiciary.
S. 1630 (Thurmond, Biden et al.)
H.R. 1647, H.R.
Criminal Code Revision Act of 1981. Revises title 1 8 of the U.S.
(Crimes and Criminal Procedures).
Attempts to transfer all criminal penalty
provisions in the Code to the title and tie them to a general scheme of
sentences and fines within the limits of which the courts are to be guided by
policies and guidelines established by a Sentencing Commission.
substantive changes in existing provisions specifying added penalties for
using a gun in committing a Federal felony. S. 1630 introduced Sept.
1981; referred to Committee on the Judiciary.
S. 1 6 8 8 (Specter)
Career Criminal Life Sentence Act, 1981. Provides for life imprisonment
of any person convicted of committing a robbery or a burglary in violation of
either a Federal or State felony statute, while in possession of a firearm,
if such person has been convicted twice previously of a felony robbery or
Introduced Oct. 1 , 1981; referred to Committee on Judiciary.
S. 2572 (Thurmond, Biden et al.)/H.R. 6497 (McClory et al.)
Violent Crime and Drug Enforcement
Improvements Act of 1982.
(1) permit danger to
other things, amends the Bail Reform Act of 1966 to:
the community to be considered i n determining whether to release a defendant
pending trial, or, if release is appropriate, in determining conditions for
release (specifies a presumption that an individual is a danger to the
(2) establish a
community if he has used a firearm in a violent crime),
procedure for revocation of release, and contempt-of-court
committing a crime while on release;
(3) tighten the
postconviction release pending sentencing and appeal;
consecutive sentencing of persons convicted of crimes committed on pretrial
S. 2572 introduced May
release; and (5) increase penalties for jumping bail.
26, 1982; placed on the Senate calendar. H.R. 6497 introduced May 26, 1982;
referred to Committee on the Judiciary.
Committee on the Judiciary.
No. 5. Anti-crime program.
Hearings, 90th Congress, 1st
session, on H.R. 5037, H.R. 5038, H.R. 5384, H.R. 5385, and
Mar. 15-23; Apr. 5-27, 1967. Washington, U.S.
Govt. Print. Off., 1967.
Hearings concerned bills relating to firearm control as well
a s to other anti-crime legislation.
Gun control legislation.
Hearings, 92d Congress, 2d session,
on H.R. 8 8 2 8 and related bills.
June 27-29, 1972.
Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1972.
"Serial no. 33"
Committee on the Judiciary.
Hearings, 94th Congress, 1st
8 parts. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1975.
"Serial no. 11"
House. Committee on the Judiciary.
on the Constitution. Gun control and contitutional rights.
Hearings, 96th Congress, 2d session. Sept. 1 5 , 1980. Washington,
U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1981.
Senate. Committee on the Judiciary.
to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency.
Federal Firearms Act.
Hearings, 90th Congress, 1 s t session, on S. 1 , Amendment 9 0 to
S. 1 , S. 1853, and S. 1854. July 10-Aug. 1,'1967.
Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1967. 1186 p.
S. 3604, S. 3634,
U.S. Govt. Print.
legislation. Hearings, 90th Congress, 2d
to S. Res. 240, 90th Congress, on S. 369,
S. 3637. June 26-July 10, 1968. Washington,
Off., 1968. 9 1 8 p.
Hearings. 91st Congress, 1st session,
pursuant to S.Res. 4 8 on S. 100, S, 849, S. 9 7 7 , S. 2433, and
S. 2667. July 23-29, 1969. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
1970. 272 p.
Handgun crime control
1975 - 1976. Hearings, 94th Congress,
1st session. Apr. 23, July 22, Oct. 2 8 , 1975. 2 vols.
Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1976.
"Saturday night specialv handguns, S. 2507.
Congress, 1st session, pursuant to S.Res. 32, sec. 12. Sept.
13-Nov. 1 , 1971. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1972.
4 3 2 p.
REPORTS AND CONGRESSIONAL DOCUMENTS
Conference Committees, 1968.
Control Act of 1968; conference report to accompany
[washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off.]
1968. 35 p.
(90th Congress, 2d session. House.
Report no. 1956)
Committee on the Judiciary.
to accompany H.R. 6915.
Revision Act of 1980. Report
Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1980. 758 p.
2d session. House.
Report no 96-1396)
State Firearms Control Assistance Act of 1968; report to accompany
H.R. 17735 [washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off.]
(90th Congress, 2d session. House. Report no. 1577)
Committee on the Judiciary.
Federal Firearms Act of 1976; report to accompany
H.R. 11193 [washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off.] 1976.
1 1 4 p.
(94th Congress, 2d session.
Report no. 1103)
Senate. Committee on the Judiciary.
Code Reform Act of 1979; report to accompany S. 1722.
Nov. 1 5 , 1977. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print.
Off., 1980. 1,507 p.
(95th Congress, 2d session.
Criminal Code Reform Act of 1981; report to accompany S. 1630.
Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1982. 1569 p.
Federal Firearms Owners Protection Act; report to
accompany S. 1030. June 1 8 , 1952. Washington, U.S.
Govt. Print. Off., 1982.
(97th Congress, 2d session.
Report no. 97-476)
Federal regulation of firearms. Report prepared for the use
of the Committee...by the Congressional Research Service,
Library of Congress.
Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
1982. 267 p.
At head of title:
97th Congress, 2d session. Committee
Gun Control Act of 1968; report to accompany S. 3633 [washington,
U.S. Govt. Print. Off.] 1968.
(90th Congress, 2d session.
Senate. Report no. 1501)
Handgun Control Act of 1972; report together with supplemental and
additional views to accompany S. 2507.
Govt. Print. Off.]
1972. 44 p.
Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1967; report
together with minority, individual, and additional views to
accompany S. 917.
[washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off.]
284 p. (90th Congress, 2d session. Senate. Report no.
Subcommittee on the Constitution.
The right to keep and
bear arms. Report.
Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1982.
At head of title:
97th Congress, 26 session. Committee
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL ACTION
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
A petition was filed in the House to discharge
the Judiciary from further consideration of
H.R. 3300 (the wMcClure-Volkmer bill").
S. 1030 was reported to the Senate.
version included a provision for a 14-day waiting
period for purchase of a handgun, but omitted any
reference to a check by (or notification to) law
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary approved and
ordered reported the Hatch amendment to S. 1030,
the wKcClure-Volkmer bill."
The Committee accepted
an amendment offered by Senators Kennedy and
Dole, generally understood to require a
14-day waiting period and a check by the local police
for the purchase of a handgun through commercial channels.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury,
Postal Service, and General Government recommended
disapproval of the Administration's proposal to transfer
functions of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms (BATF) to other Treasury Department agencies.
The Subcommittee approved an alternative plan that
calls for the Bureau's continued existence and
retention of all its present functions except for
arson, bombing, criminal trafficking and explosives,
which would become the responsibilities of the
Secret Service. Under the Subcommittee plan, 717 BATF
agents would be transferred to the Secret Service.
House Committee on Appropriations disapproved the
Administration's plan to shift the functions of the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to other Treasury Department
agencies, extending the "freeze" on implementation of
such a move until June 30, 1982.
Senate Committee on the Judiciary commenced
discussion of the Hatch Amendment to S. 1030
The Administration endorsed S. 1688, a bill
that would make commission of a third armed robbery or
armed burglary a Federal crime, subject to a
minimum sentence of 15 years in prison without benefit
sf probation or parole.
S. 1630, to Codify, revise, and reform the Federal
criminal code, was reported in the Senate.
The President approved a joint resolution providing
for further continuing appropriations (P.L. 97-92).
The resolution specifically prohibited the use of
appropriated funds to implement the proposed
reorganization of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms before Mar. 30, 1982.
It further provided
that such a reorganization may be implemented after Mar. 3 0 ,
1982, unless disapproved by the House and Senate
Committees on Appropriations.
Notices were sent to field offices of the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms that the agency will be
eliminated. No effective date was set.
The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reported
that the Reagan Administration plans to disband the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Gun control functions
would be transferred to the Secret Service, according to
The final report of the Attorney General's Task Force on
Violent Crime was released.
(1) police clearance as a
prerequisite for commercial handgun purchase; (2) a ban
on the importation of unassembled parts of handguns, which
would be prohibited if assembled; (3) increased efforts to
prosecute convicted felons apprehended when i n possession of
a firearm; and ( 4 ) a mandatory sentence for the use of a
firearm in the commission of a Federal felony.
President Ronald Reagan and three other persons were
wounded by gunfire in an attempt on the President's
H.R. 6915, to revise the Federal criminal code, was reported
by the House Judiciary Committee.
Attempts in mark-up
to attach anti-gun control amendments were
The Senate Judiciary Committee reported S. 1 7 2 2 , a bill
for reform of the Federal Criminal Code.
Under the bill,
all penalty provisions of the Gun Control Act, the National
Firearms Act, and the explosives control title of the
Organized Crime Control Act would have been transferred to
title 1 8 of the U.S. Code.
Certain substantive changes were
The Treasury Department withdrew proposed regulations
requiring periodic reporting of gun sales by
licensed dealers along with a new firearm serial
Senate passed the Treasury Department appropriations
bill, keeping intact the House provisions relating to the
implementation of gun industry regulations; floor
amendments hostile to those provisions were voted down.
House passed a Treasury Department appropriations bill
with committee-recommended provisions (I) to ban the
use of funds to implement the gun industry regulations
proposed on Mar. 2 1 , 1978, and (2) to delete $4.2
million from the BATF request, the estimated amount
required for implementation of the proposed regulations.
Treasury Department (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms) proposed new regulations relating to the
manufacture and commercial sale of firearms
requirements for a new, unique serial number system,
the periodic reporting by licensed dealers on a l l
firearms dispositions (including serial numbers of all
weapons sold, but not the names of purchasers), and
mandatory reporting of thefts and losses.
Senate passed an amended version of S. 1437, for
reform of the Federal Criminal Code.
The President approved a bill containing a provision
that excludes firearm ammunition from the items over
which the Consumer Product Safety Commission has
jurisdiction (P.L. 94-284).
House Judiciary Committee reported a bill for added
handgun controls under the Gun Control Act (H.R. 11193;
Similar to a Ford administration
bill and to a bill previously approved by a Senate
subcommittee, the measure provided for a ban on the
manufacture and sale of non-sporting handguns, prior
police clearance of handgun purchases, and increases
in the annual fees of gun industry licensees.
failed to get a rule.
The-President signed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe
Streets Act, containing two gun Control titles.
Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated by gun.
Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated by gun.
The Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency
approved a measure providing for added handgun controls
under the Gun Control Act.
The Senate rejected two floor amendments (to S. 1401)
(1) an amendment
proposing further handgun controls:
containing provisions similar to those in the Bayh bill
that passed the Senate i n 1 9 7 2 , by a vote of 58 to 31;
and (2) an amendment requiring the registration of all
handguns, licensing of all handgun owners, and prohibition
of production of all handguns unsuitable for sporting
purposes, by a vote of 6 8 to 21.
The National Advisory Commission on Criminal
Justice Standards and Goals made recommendations for State
and local action to reduce crime, and proposed a ban on the
private ownership of handguns by 1983.
A House Judiciary subcommittee approved a handgun
Control bill almost identical to the one passed by the Senate
on Aug. 9 , 1972; however, the full committee failed t o act on
The Senate passed the Bayh bill to ban manufacture
and sale of non-sporting handguns, 6 8 to 25. Attempts
a t broadening the bill to include such measures as
registration, licensing of handgun owners, and prohibition
of handgun possession were unsuccessful.
The shooting of Governor George Wallace spurred the campaign
for added handgun controls.
The Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 was approved; it
contained a title providing for stricter regulation of
The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of
Violence issued a statement on firearms and violence,
calling for national handgun registration and Federal
legislation providing for eventual universal licensing for
The President signed the Gun Control Act, in part amending
legislation enacted 4 months earlier, Title I V of the
Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, and also
amending the National Firearms Act of 1934.
The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and
Administration of Justice issued a comprehensive report on
the Nation's crime problem after a 2-year study. Among
the recommendations was one for eventual national
handgun registration and Federal prohibition of interstate
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"Executive summary" (41 p.); "A literature
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