AUGUST 1999

Sunday, August 1st, 1999

U. S. District Judge Harvey E. Schlesinger told Congress that the Judicial Conference of the United States believes judges need changes in gun laws to protect themselves, particularly when traveling interstate, reports Frank J. Murray in THE WASHINGTON TIMES.
“Clearly, if a judge is in danger, the fact that he or she is in one state or the other does not eliminate the danger,” Judge Schlesinger, of Jacksonville, Florida told the House Judiciary Subcommiitee on Courts. He spoke in support of a bill to give federal judges more latitude in traveling while armed.
One of the provisions in a federal courts bill, H.R. 1752 would require judges to pass a training program. Generally, it would exempt them from state and local firearms laws, allowing them to travel armed from state to state without breaking the law.
“A number of major gun manufacturers and wholesalers are boosting prices this summer,” reports Vanessa O’Connell in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL for July 2. “For the first time in about three years, gun companies are enjoying surging sales. But they are telling retail dealers and consumers to blame the antigun movement for higher prices – specifically the cost of defending lawsuits against the industry by a growing number of cities and counties…
“There may be another reason for the -price jump, however. In 1999, for the first time in several years, demand for guns has surged, and manufacturers and wholesalers appear to be taking advantage of the situation, according to industry officials…
“The municipal lawsuits, which seek to recoup the public costs of gun violence, combined with talk of tougher gun control laws in the wake of the Littleton, Colorado school massacre, have also caused people to buy firearms out of concern that it will be harder to do so in the future, retailers report.”
“A study performed for the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has found a compelling pattern of evidence demonstrating that guns used to commit crimes move quickly from manufacturers to juvenile offenders and older criminals through a relative handful of corrupt dealers,” reports Fox Butterfield in THE NEWYORK TIMES for July 1.
“The finding is particularly significant in light of the bitter gun control debate in Congress, suggesting that many of the proposed solutions – child safety locks, for instance, or a ban on the import of -high capacity ammunition clips – do not address the most important problem: some dealers’ repeated sales to criminals or to ‘straw purchasers’ buying on their behalf.
“The report found, for example, that a mere 389 federally licensed dealers, of 104,855 such dealers around the country, had sold half of all guns used in crimes in 1996 and 1997 that could be traced by law enforcement to their initial sale.
“It also found that more than a fifth of all guns recovered in crimes in those two years had been purchased from a licensed dealer less than a year earlier, and that almost half had been bought from dealers within three years.
“In addition, the study concluded that 49.1 percent of guns involved in crimes that could be traced to the original dealer were used in those criminal acts within 50 miles of the sale…
“What is unclear is whether the dealers with large numbers of crime guns traced to them are simply stores with a large volume of sales, or whether they instead are simply inclined to be involved in illegal activity. The report also does not distinguish between sales made by dealers in stores and at gun shows.”
Gun grabbers south of the border, way south of the border, in Brazil, are trying to ban legal private firearms possession in that country. Brazilian freedom-lovers tell POINT BLANK that they have just through this month to try to stop the gun grabbing measure.
As of June 21 of this year, it became illegal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to sell firearms, ammunition and related products to anyone except police, the military and private security forces. The antigun fanatics in Rio even are seeking to require current private owners of guns to turn them in within a year, maybe for nominal compensation.
The gun grabbers are trying for a similar law for the entire country, a national civilian disarmament law.
In Boston, Massachusetts the Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court, ruled that the state’s Attorney General has the power to regulate handgun safety under consumer protection laws.
“The unanimous ruling paves the way for the nation’s first consumer regulation of firearms, which are generally exempt under federal law from state health and safety standards that apply to products ranging from toasters to toy guns,” reports Pamela Ferdinand in THE WASHINGTON POST
The court “rejected arguments by the gun industry that former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger overstepped his authority and violated federal law when he issued regulations in 1997 mandating handgun safety devices and quality control standards,” writes Ferdinand.
“‘It’s a huge victory for gun control advocates and makes Massachusetts the first state to regulate guns as we regulate all other consumer products,’ said Kristen Rand, Director of Federal Policy for the Violence Policy Center, a gun control group in Washington.
“‘We hope it will spur state legislatures to enact similar laws and ultimately push the federal government to pass legislation to regulate the industry,’ Rand said.
“Attorney General Thomas Reilly, Harshbarger’s successor, said the ruling reaffirmed the authority of his office to crack down on unfair and deceptive trade practices. The regulations ban the sale of handguns with easily removable serial numbers, handguns made of inferior materials, and handguns prone to accidental discharge when dropped. Trigger locks and child-resistant devices are also required, among other measures…”