House Consideration of S.2414 and S. Con. Res. 152

Congressional Record -- House of Representatives

Proceedings and Debates of the 99th Congress, Second Session

Tuesday, June 24, 1986

[Begin vol. 132 Cong. Record, p. 15227]

AUTHORIZING CHANGES IN THE ENROLLMENT OF S. 2414 RELATING TO INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF FIREARMS

Mr. HUGHES. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to take from the Speaker's table the Senate concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 152) authorizing changes in the enrollment of S. 2414, and ask for its immediate consideration.

The Clerk read the title of the Senate concurrent resolution.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the right to object, but at this time I would not want to entertain an objection. This is a concurrent resolution which removes some doubt, as I understand it, regarding congressional intent of S. 2414 with regard to the effective date. Is that correct?

Mr. HUGHES. If the gentleman will yield, my request is that we consider this resolution and then immediately after its adoption consider S. 2414. This action will complete action on the Firearms Owners Protection Act.

On May 6 of this year, at the time the other body agreed to the House amendments to S. 49, it passed S. 2414 unanimously to accommodate a few of the most urgent concerns of the law enforcement community. However, the effective date of S. 2414 was not drafted to reflect the delayed effective date of S. 49. To correct the effective date, the other body this morning passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 152.

I am proposing that we first consider the technical correction to the effective date, Senate Congressional Resolution 512, and then consider the substantive measure, S. 2414 

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I have no problem with this resolution, in that case.

(Mr. MCCOLLUM asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.) 

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, this concurrent resolution removes any doubt regarding congressional intent on the effective date of S. 2414. The concurrent resolution clarifies that the effective date for S. 2414 is the same as the law which it amends. S. 2414 amends current law, Public Law 99-308 which President Reagan signed on May 19, 1986, and which becomes effective 180 days later.

I believe that this result is essential because without the adoption of this concurrent resolution, S. 2414 has no scope in which to operate without the same effective date as Public Law 99-308. I am grateful to all persons who have worked earnestly to clarify this important issue.

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

There was no objection.

The Clerk read the Senate concurrent resolution, as follows:

S. CON. RES. 152

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That the Secretary of the Senate, in the enrollment of the bill (S. 2414), to amend title 18 of the United States Code, shall make the following change:

At the end of the bill add the following:

This Act and the amendments made by this Act, intended to amend the Firearms Owners' Protection Act, shall become effective on the date on which the section they are intended to amend in such Firearms Owners' Protection Act becomes effective and shall apply to the amendments to title 18, United States Code, made by such Act.

The Senate concurrent resolution was concurred in.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

[Unrelated issue is raised here. Then deliberations resume, still on p. 15227]

RELATING TO INTERSTATE TRANSPORTATION OF FIREARMS

Mr. HUGHES. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to take from the Speaker's table the Senate bill (S. 2414) to amend title 18, United States Code, and ask for its immediate consideration.

The Clerk read the title of the Senate bill.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, reserving the right to object, I yield to the gentleman from Montana <Mr. MARLENEE>.

Mr. MARLENEE. Mr. Speaker, I have a series of questions regarding the interpretation of various provisions in this bill. Would a member of the Subcommittee on Crime, which has jurisdiction over the firearms issue, be willing to engage in a colloquy regarding the meaning of certain terms in S. 2414?

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to join with the gentleman in a colloquy in this important issue. As the gentleman from Montana knows, this measure was processed swiftly in the other body, and there is presently a dearth of information regarding congressional intent. So what are the gentleman's concerns? I will be glad to try to respond.

Mr. MARLENEE. Well, first, I have an issue that is relevant to the new law, Public Law 99-308 (S. 49), which the President just signed, as well as S. 2414, which is before us today. Both S. 2414 and Public Law 99-308 provide for persons wishing to travel with firearms in interstate commerce. The new law, which would be further amended by S. 2414, provides that if the firearm is unloaded and inaccessible, a person can travel through State and local jurisdictions with more restrictive laws than his State of residence, without violating those laws. Is the correct?

Mr. MCCOLLUM. That is correct. S. 2414 would modify the new law to require that the firearm be kept in a locked compartment, such as a trunk, outside of the passenger area. If there is no trunk, then the firearm must be in a locked compartment or in a locked case within the passenger area, but the glove compartment or a console will not suffice.

This section, however, is only available to persons who can legally own and transport firearms under the law of their home jurisdictions. People must comply with the laws of their own State and can avail themselves of this interest transportation provision, which is section 926A of title 18 of the United States Code, only after they leave the boundaries of their State or local jurisdiction.

Mr. MARLENEE. If the gentleman will yield further, are interstate travelers required to follow the procedures in section 926A whenever they travel in interstate commerce with firearms?

Mr. MCCOLLUM. This provision is designed to be a safe harbor for interstate travelers. No one is required to follow the procedures set forth in

 

[Begin 132 Cong. Record 15228]

 

section 926A, but any traveler who does cannot be convicted of violating a more restrictive State or local law in any jurisdiction through which he travels. Thus, section 926A will be valuable to the person who either knows he will be traveling through a jurisdiction with restrictive laws or is unfamiliar with the various laws of the jurisdiction he will be traversing. Many times people traveling in interstate commerce can unwittingly find themselves in violation of all kinds of technical requirements for possession of firearms. These laws and ordinances vary considerably.

Mr. MARLENEE. If the gentleman will yield further on his reservation of objection, many of my constituents farm or ranch on land in two or three different States. They travel with firearms because of their need to protect both themselves and their livestock

from predators. Do these farmers and ranchers have to comply with the requirements of section 926A as set forth in either S. 2414 or the new Public Law 99-308 if they can legally travel now in and out of several States with loaded firearms on their racks in the passenger compartments of their pick up trucks?

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Absolutely not. If these farmers are transporting in this manner legally now, they are not affected by the new section 926A.

Mr. MARLENEE. If the gentleman will yield further, I have an additional concern regarding the use of the word carry in the amendments of section 926A in S. 2414. What does the phrase any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm?

Mr. MCCOLLUM. The first phrase means that only persons able to lawfully possess firearms under Federal law can utilize the safe harbor provisions in 926A to transport firearms in interstate commerce for lawful purposes. The phrase you highlight also requires that persons must be allowed to possess and carry such firearms under his own State law too. The term carry is defined in my 1976 version of Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, as 1: to move while supporting (as a package). The term carry in this instance is intended to mean the ability to put the firearm in a vehicle and transport it to the place of destination.

Whatever State and local laws exist regarding transportation at the place of origin of the interstate travel must be satisfied by the person utilizing the safe harbor in section 926A. Further, the use of the word carry is not intended to mean and does not mean that a State license to carry a concealed weapon is a predicate to valid use of the safe harbor provision in section 926A, unless a permit to carry a concealed firearm is a prerequisite to legal transportation of an unloaded, inaccessible firearm in a given jurisdiction. The safe harbor provision itself does not modify the State or local laws at the place of origin or the jurisdiction where the trip ends in any way. Any traveler utilizing the safe harbor provisions must comply with the laws of his State of origin as well as the laws of the jurisdiction at his trip's end.

I thank the gentleman for making these clarifications.

Mr. MARLENEE. I thank both the chairman of the subcommittee and the ranking minority Member for the opportunity to clarify this under a colloquy under the gentleman's reservation.

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to pursue my reservation of objection.

(Mr. MCCOLLUM asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, the measure before us today is an important law enforcement initiative. S. 2414, which we affectionately refer to as son of gun, is an outgrowth of the tremendously complex Firearm Owner's Protection Act, which the President signed into law on May 19, 1986. The Senate, after adopting S. 49, but as part of its negotiations on that bill, also adopted S. 2414 to address three concerns raised by the law enforcement community.

First, son of gun clarifies the safe harbor provision for interstate travel with firearms. S. 2414 clarifies that the firearm must be in a locked compartment other than the passenger area, such as the trunk. If there is not trunk, then the firearm and ammunition must be in a locked compartment within the passenger area that is not the glove compartment or the console.

Second, son of gun amends the new law to delete a proof of profit motive in the definition of the term engaged in the business of dealing firearms for persons providing weapons for criminal purposes or terrorism.

Finally, son of gun requires dealers to maintain records of sales of firearms from their personal collections that are similar to the bound volume records they now keep for their business inventories. This provision will be of invaluable assistance to law enforcement in the effort to trace fireamrs used in crime.

S. 2414 is responsive to important law enforcement concerns. The distinguished chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary in the other body is to be commended for his fine and brave effort in forging this bill. The National Rifle Association has no objection to S. 2414, and I am very pleased to see the spark of cooperation between the law enforcement community and the NRA, which son of gun represents. There is a long history of friendship and cooperation between these groups. Perhaps son of gun signals the end of a damp and dingy period in this relationship.

I urge the adoption of S. 2414.

With this statement, I insert a letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms:

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, BUREAU OF ALCOHOL,

TOBACCO AND FIREARMS,

Washington, DC.

Hon. BILL MCCOLLUM,

House of Representatives

Washington, DC.

DEAR MR. MCCOLLUM: This is to comment on the proposed amendment to 18 U.S.C. s 926A which appears in S. 2414 pending in the House. Specifically, we would address the concern relative to the term carry as used in the bill.

In substance, this amendment would provide that, notwithstanding State or local law, a person may transport a firearm from one place to another if the person's possession and carrying of the firearm is lawful at the place of origin and destination. The bill also requires that the firearm be unloaded and inaccessible.

As we interpret the proposed amendment to section 926A, the use of the term carry means that the person's transportation of a firearm pursuant to the Statute complies with State and local law concerning the carrying of firearms at the place of origin and destination. Thus, a State permit requirement for carrying a concealed weapon on or about the person, e.g., where the weapon is accessible to the person, would not be applicable to the person lawfully transporting a firearm under the proposed amendment.

Furthermore, the term carry does not mean that a State or local license or permit to carry a firearm is a prerequisite to a person's right to transport firearms under the bill. In other words, the proposed amendment would create no Federal requirement relative to obtaining any State or local license or permit. On the other hand, it would not preclude a State or locality's right to regulate the carrying of firearms by its residents.

Please advise if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely yours, 

PHILLIP C. MCGUIRE,

Acting Director.

 

Mr. Speaker, before I yield to the distinguished chairman of this committee, I would like to compliment the gentleman on the hard work that has gone into all of this. We have struggled here mightily for legislation before and this is finally bringing to fruition the efforts the gentleman has made.

Mr. Speaker, under my reservation I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey < Mr. HUGHES>.

Mr. HUGHES. I thank the gentleman for yielding to me and for those very kind remarks. I have enjoyed working with the gentleman on this very tough and controversial issue.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to, if I could, under the reservation, take some time to explain what it does do.

Mr. Speaker, the bill we are now considering completes congressional action on S. 49, the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986. That bill passed the House on April 10. The other body passed the bill on May 6 with the House amendments. At that time, a second bill, S. 2414, passed the other body unanimously which would correct a couple of major concerns of the law enforcement community concerning S. 49, now Public Law 99-308.

As Members recall, S. 49 created a provision allowing for the interstate transportation of firearms in interstate commerce notwithstanding State or local laws. While the purpose which everyone supported was to allow travelers who lawfully possessed weapons to travel to hunting grounds in other States as drafted, it effectively preempted State and local law as it applied to residents of that State or local jurisdiction if the person was traveling in interstate commerce even if their possession of the firearm was in violation of the law or State in which they lived.

S. 2414 amends the interstate transportation provision to eliminate that particular result. It makes clear that one is only entitled to take advantage of this Federal preemption if the possession is lawful where the traveler starts and is lawful in the destination State.

It is also designed to protect law enforcement officers who may be making traffic stops by requiring that the weapon be unloaded and clarifying that it not be readily accessible.

The second provision of S. 2414 addresses a problem in the definition of engaged in business as it applies to firearms dealers. One who is in the business of dealing in firearms must have a license and record the firearms transactions. One is engaged in the business if, among other things, a person's transactions in firearms are with the principal objective of livelihood and profit.

It has been recognized that a person could have the objective of aiding a terrorist or criminal gang, for example, and not have an objective of profit and escape from the licensing and recordkeeping requirements of the law under this provision, even if one were engaged in an enormous volume of transactions. The second provision, therefore, eliminates this oversight.

The third provision of S. 2414 addresses one of the major potential threats to the integrity of law enforcement's Firearms Tracing Program. The program that saw us trace the Hinckley handgun in some 16 minutes.

S. 49 allows licensed dealers to sell firearms from their personal collections without competing the forms and maintaining the records required by sales from their inventories. That exception would result in sales for which no record at all would be maintained. In order for the law enforcement Firearm Tracing Program to operate, some minimal level of recordkeeping is required. Otherwise, we will not have tracing capability. This provision simply requires that a bound volume be maintained by the dealer of the sales of firearms which would include a complete description of the firearm, including its manufacturer, model number, and its serial number and the verified name, address, and date of birth of the purchaser. This is only a minimal inconvenience for the dealer, yet obtaining and recording this information is critical to avoid serious damage to the Firearm Tracing Program.

As the gentleman from Florida knows, we solve literally thousands and thousands of crimes every year because of our ability to trace a handgun used in the commission of a crime. For instance, somebody is stopped on the beltway and a police officer, seeing under the seat a weapon, it is traced to a burglary in Virginia, and we have a prime suspect for the burglary. We can only do that, however, through handgun tracing capability. These provisions passed the other body unanimously having been developed by Senators THURMOND, MCCLURE, HATCH, and METZENBAUM. They are important provisions and they are noncontroversial. I urge my colleagues to support this.

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, further reserving my right to object

The SPEAKER pro tempore. With the indulgence of the Members, the Chair is constrained to intervene. The understanding was that this item would be disposed of quickly, and the Appropriations Committee has been waiting patiently.

If there is going to be an objection, the Chair would appreciate knowing it so we could expedite the business which has to be taken care of.

Mr. McCOLLUM. I would inform the Chair that this gentleman is not likely and does not plan to object but one of the other members of the committee and subcommittee has asked to inquire on something and I would certainly appreciate just a moment to yield.

I do not know what the gentleman wishes to inquire about.

Mr. Speaker, under my reservation of objection, I yield to the gentleman from California <Mr. LUNGREN>.

Mr. LUNGREN. I thank the gentleman for yielding to me under his reservation of objection.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to address the Chair and say that I support this Son of Gun bill that is before us. It moves us slightly in the direction of the law enforcement considerations that some of us voiced on the floor when the original bill was before us. Even though it does not solve all of those considerations that some of us had, it is a good faith step in that direction.

I, for one, who supported the amendments that were presented on the floor do support this as a reasonable amelioration of the concerns that were expressed by law enforcement and others at that time. I support it very strongly.

Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

There was no objection.

The Clerk read the Senate bill, as follows:

S. 2414

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. (a) Strike out section 926A of title 18, United States Code, and insert in lieu thereof the following new section:

s 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: provided that in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver's compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

(b) Section 921(a)(22) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting before the period at the end thereof the following: : Provided, That proof of profit shall not be required as to a person who engages in the regular and repetitive purchase and disposition of firearms for criminal purposes or terrorism. For purposes of this paragraph, the term 'terrorism' means activity, directed against United States persons, which-

(A) is committed by an individual who is not a national or permanent resident alien of the United States;

(B) involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life which would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States; and

(C) is intended-

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping.

 

(c) Section 923(c) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding before the period at the end thereof the following: , except that any licensed manufacturer, importer, or dealer who has maintained a firearm as part of a personal collection for one year and who sells or otherwise disposes of such firearm shall record the description of the firearm in a bound volume, containing the name and place of residence and date of birth of the transferee if the transferee is an individual, or the identity and principal and local places of business of the transfer-

 

[Begin 132 Cong. Record p. 15300]

 

ee if the transferee is a corporation or other business entity; Provided, That no other recordkeeping shall be required..

The Senate bill was ordered to be read a third time, was read the third time, and passed, and a motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

[End 132 Cong. Record 15227]

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