Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Revised S. 374 - Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013

Today in the Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) submitted a substitute amendment for S. 374. This substitute not only changed the name of the bill from the Protecting Responsible Gun Owners Act of 2013 to the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013 but it also provided that action component that had been missing from the earlier version.

Title I of the bill deals with records submission by the states to the Federal government for purposes of integrating that information into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This section provides a carrot and stick approach to getting the states to submit data. It provides for a $100 million appropriation for grants to the states to improve their databases and to help them submit the necessary data to the FBI for NICS check. Up to 10% of this money could be used for a relief from disabilities program. That is, a program to report those to whom firearm rights are restored. I must say this would be a change coming from Chuck Schumer who has stymied the relief from firearms disabilities for years.

The improved data that the bill concerns would be the court records of  those convicted of a felony and those under either a court order or convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as well as the mental health adjudications that would cause the loss of firearms rights. The stick component that goes with the grants from Attorney General would be a reduction in monies from the grants under Section 505 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. The states would have two years to bring the records submitted to the 50% or greater level or lose 3% of the Federal monies. It goes up to a 4% reduction after three years if the state didn't submit at least 70% of the required records. Finally, after the third year there would be a mandatory 5% reduction for any state at less than 90% compliance.

All in all, I can't argue too much about the intent of Title 1. It is in the interest of everyone to have the records at state level be as accurate as possible and it is also in the interest of everyone that the records in the NICS check system be accurate.

Title II of the S. 374 is a gun controller's wet dream.

First, Section 202 makes it illegal for a firearm transfer to be made between unlicensed persons. It would required a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer to first take possession of it, enter it in their bound book, perform a NICS check, fill out a Form 4473, and then and only then, complete the transfer.

The exceptions include:
  • Bona fide gifts between spouses
  • Bona fide gifts between parents and children
  • Bona fide gifts between siblings
  • Bona fide gifts between grandparents and grandchildren
  • Transfers made from a decedent's estate by will or operation of law
  • Temporary transfer between unlicensed persons if
    • It occurs in the home or curtilage (adjacent property) of the transferor
    • The firearm is not removed from the home
    • And the duration is less than 7 days.
  • Temporary transfers in connection with lawful hunting or sporting purposes
    • At a range if kept within the premises of the range at all times
    • At a "target firearm shooting competition" under the auspices of a State agency or non-profit organization and the firearm is kept within the premise of the shooting competition.
    • If while hunting to a person with the requisite hunting license during a designated season for a legal game animal.
Section 202 would set a maximum fee for doing the paperwork. It would also require the Form 4473 be kept by the FFL doing the transfer.

The penalty for violating this section is not at all clear. However, it seems to fall upon the FFL who would be liable for a $5,000 civil fine and an up to six months suspension of his or her license. (If you can find another penalty for violating Section 202, please let me know.) Sec. 202 become 18 USC 922 (s) which under 18 USC 924 (D)(5) stipulates a year's imprisonment and a unspecified fine.

Section 203 is equally egregious. It mandates the reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours of discovery to the "Attorney General and to the appropriate authorities." More importantly, the penalty for knowingly violating this provision is 5 years imprisonment!

If passed, the law goes into effect in 180 days from passage. So far, it has passed out of the Judiciary Committee on a 10-8 party-line vote.

While the gun prohibitionists would like to have bans on standard capacity magazines and semi-automatic firearms with ugly cosmetics, universal background checks is what they really want because the only way to make enforcement of them possible is a national firearms and firearm owners database. As Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel Corporation, famously said, only the paranoid survive.


  1. This is apparently word for word the Colorado law that passed...

    Michael B

    1. @Michael: Then we know where it came from, don't we. Michael "No Big Gulp" Bloomberg.

  2. Commerce clause be damned apparently...

  3. Well, 6-12 months after it is enacted, it will be declared "a failure" because there is no database of who has what. Then there will be a "universal registration" bill because "children".

  4. If you can find another penalty for violating Section 202, please let me know.

    Wouldn't SEC. 202 fall under 18 USC 924 (D)?

    (D) willfully violates any other provision of this chapter, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

    1. After reading it again, I think the penalty would come under 18 USC 924(D)(5) since Section 202 becomes 18 USC 922 (s).

      (5) Whoever knowingly violates subsection (s) or (t) of section
      922 shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 1
      year, or both.

    2. Ah, yes, that's it, except it's (a)(5). (D) is under (a)(1).

  5. Does it actually specify game animals? That would be pretty bad as a lot of the most popular hunting these days is for non-game animals, ie. predator and varmint.

  6. Sebastian says that there are no exceptions for state permits. All transfers go to a dealer or 5 years in prison. Do you read that, too?

    Sebastian's piece is here

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