November 2000

Wednesday, November 1st, 2000

A retired Justice Department prosecutor said BATF agents “have sought to intimidate the author of a 1996 novel about a man fighting against corrupt ATF agents,” reported writer James L. Pate recently in The Washington Times.

“In a harshly worded letter to Director Bradley Buckles,” wrote Pate, “lawyer James H. Jeffries III said agents are attempting to ‘suppress’ the fictional account.

“‘Because the book, Unintended Consequences, is highly critical of the (BATF), it appears that some in your agency have undertaken to suppress it and to intimidate its author,’ wrote Mr. Jeffries, who worked almost 28 years as a federal prosecutor before retiring to enter private practice specializing in federal firearms law.

“‘It has long been clear, from repeated court decisions and congressional committee reports, that your agents have no familiarity with the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution,’ Mr. Jeffries stated in the three-page letter to Mr. Buckles. ‘Now it appears that they have not even been introduced to the very first article of the Bill of Rights.’

“John Ross, the author of Unintended Consequences, says ATF agents have harassed vendors of his book and have even tried to enlist his wife as an informant against him.”
“Smith & Wesson Corp.’s gun-safety deal with federal regulators appears to have misfired for the nation’s largest handgun manufacturer,” reports Gary Fields in The Wall Street Journal.

“The company’s chief executive officer, Ed Shultz,” he continued, “signed a code-of-conduct agreement with the Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in March, promising to equip firearms with trigger locks and accept an unusual level of government oversight into the way the company does business.

“For the company, a unit of Britain’s Tomkins PC, the agreement was supposed to allow it to escape government lawsuits being filed against the industry, but Smith & Wesson is still a defendant in all but one of the cases.

“Meanwhile, promises of preferential treatment in government gun purchases – a reward for the company’s commitment to gun safety – have been slow to materialize. In fact, even though HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo is the Clinton Administration’s point man on the matter, HUD’s Inspector General’s Office recently bought guns from Smith & Wesson rival Glock Inc.”
Gun grabbers in Washington, D. C. early last month announced the initiation of a two-year effort at 300 colleges and universities they said would bring new voices and ideas to the campaign for tighter gun control around the nation.

Coordinating the events, reported The New York Times, were the Alliance for Justice, a liberal group that monitors judicial selections, and Physicians for Social Responsibility, a doctors’ group that advocates stricter gun control laws.

The Million Mom March, the National Education Association and the American Bar Association were among the co-sponsors.

A spokeswoman for the alliance, reported the newspaper, said the campaign sought measures such as mandatory gun owner licensing, safety locks and firearms registration.

Nan Aron, President of the Alliance for Justice, said that the group hoped to put a “human face on the tragedy of gun violence.”

Attorney General Janet Reno appeared at an event in Baltimore, Maryland. The television talk show hostess Rosie O’Donnell and Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York participated in New York, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew M. Cuomo spoke in Washington.
The U. S. Supreme Court, in the case of Navegar v. United States, No. 99-1874, rejected without comment a constitutional challenge to the 1994 law that prohibits the manufacture, sale or possession of certain semiautomatic firearms. The makers of several such firearms, including the TEC-DC9 and TEC-22 semiautomatic handguns, challenged the law on the ground that it exceeded the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

The challenge, made by Navegar, Inc. and Penn Arms, Inc., was rejected by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which called the law a permissible “regulation of activities having a substantial effect on interstate commerce.”

One judge on that court, David Sentelle, issued a strong call for the case to be reheard because, he said, the Supreme Court had ruled in a 1995 case striking down the Gun-Free School Zones Act that possession of a gun did not have enough connection with commerce to come within Congress’ regulatory power.

The Clinton-Gore Administration, urging the justices to reject the appeal, said the ban was based on evidence that “the nationwide market for firearms renders purely local prohibitions ineffective” and was not invalidated by the 1995 decision in United States v. Lopez.