May 2000

Monday, May 1st, 2000

In Washington, D. C., Congressman Bill McCollum of Florida, a CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Year Awardee, spoke out forcefully in support of his bill, H.R. 4051, to establish a grant program that provides incentives for states to enact mandatory minimum sentences for certain firearm offenses.

The measure, titled “Project Exile: The Safe Streets and Neighborhoods Act of 2000,” would provide $100 million in grants over five years to states imposing a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence, without parole, for anyone who uses or carries a firearm during a violent or serious drug-trafficking crime.

McCollum, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Crime Subcommittee, said the bill combined the proven approaches of enforcing gun laws already on the books and ensuring mandatory minimum sentences for criminals who break them.

The model for the bill is Project Exile, a gun crime mandatory sentencing program in Richmond, Virginia that supporters say is responsible, since its inception in 1997, for significantly reducing violent crime in a city that had one of the highest crime rates in the country.

Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, who last July signed into law a statewide “Virginia Exile” program, told a hearing of the Subcommittee on April 6 that H.R. 4051, in enacted into law, would show “how valuable Exile can be in assisting them in the link between guns, drugs and violent crime.”

Currently six states, including Virginia, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, South Caroline and Colorado, would qualify for the funding.

McCollum is a candidate this year for the U. S. Senate.

 Gun grabber Rosie O’Donnell of TV talk show notoriety was billed as a featured speaker for the May 14 anti-gun “Million Mom March” in Washington, D. C.

Promoters of the March urged America’s mothers to “gas up the minivans and carpool it” to the Nation’s Capital to shame Congress into enacting gun control laws.

Opposing this group is the Second Amendment Sisters (http://www.sas-aim.org), a grass roots self-defense advocacy organization that held an Armed Informed Mothers March as a counter to the Million Mom March.

 U.S. Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel III of Pennsylvania introduced H. R. 4137, a bill to make federal law apply to antique firearms in the same way as it applies to other firearms. It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Cosponsors include Reps. Robert A. Borski of Pennsylvania, Robert A. Brady of Pennsylvania, Julia M. Carson of Indiana, Eliot Engel of New York, Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, William O. Lipinski of Illinois, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Juanita Millender-McDonald of California, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Janice D. Schakowsky of Illinois, and Henry A. Waxman of California.
U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra of California introduced H.R. 4150, the proposed “Bullet Tracing Act to Reduce Gun Violence,” which would require ballistics testing of firearms manufactured in or imported into the United States that are “most commonly used in crime,” and to provide for the compilation, use, and availability of ballistics information for the purpose of “curbing the use of firearms in crime.”

Referred to the House Judiciary Committee, H.R. 4150 would require BATF to compile and cause to be published in the Federal Register, on an annual basis, a list of the 50 firearms, by manufacturer and model name, most frequently used by criminals in the United States.

It would provide that a licensed firearm manufacturer or importer shall not transfer to any person a firearm of a make or model that is on the most recently issued list before test firing the firearm, preparing ballistics records of the fired bullet and cartridge casings from the test fire, and making the records available to BATF for entry in a computerized database.

Early in 1999, U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas of Wyoming requested the General Accounting Office (GAO) to conduct an audit to examine whether the National Instant Check System (NICS) is designed efficiently and managed effectively by the FBI. The completed study indicates there are a number of significant problems with NICS, preventing it from operating as Congress intended.

Among them are that 1.2 million, or 28 percent, of all federal firearm checks were not instant; 1,505 individuals were denied the opportunity to purchase firearms as a result of FBI examiner error or misidentification; as of December 31, 1999, BATF reported that 3,353 prohibited individuals had obtained firearms, but only had active criminal investigations on 110, or only 3.3 percent of these individuals; NICS failed to meet its operating accountability standards two-thirds of the time between November 30, 1998 and November 30, 1999; and, although NICS has been operational for 15 months, it has yet to be authorized as secure in accordance with the FBI’s own routine requirements for computer security.

Sen. Thomas cautioned that “the new NICS report should weigh heavily in the President’s current push for additional laws to affect gun purchases and address violence.” He stated further “if during our oversight of current gun control laws it’s found that criminals still get guns and a high number of legal gun purchases are denied, you have to question the effectiveness of additional layers of gun regulation. We have got to get serious about targeting and prosecuting the criminals and addressing the drug trade that often precipitates violence.”