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Gun Control Legislation

Gun Control Legislation

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Summary

Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms and

ammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. In the wake of the

July 20, 2012, Aurora, CO, theater mass shooting, in which 12 people were shot to death and 58

wounded (7 of them critically) by a lone gunman, it is likely that there will be calls in the 112

Congress to reconsider a 1994 ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity

ammunition feeding devices that expired in September 2004. There were similar calls to ban such

feeding devices (see S. 436/H.R. 1781) following the January 8, 2011, Tucson, AZ, mass

shooting, in which 6 people were killed and 14 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle

Giffords, who was grievously wounded. These calls could be amplified by the August 5, 2012,

Sikh temple shooting in Milwaukee, WI, in which six worshipers were shot to death and three

wounded by a lone gunman.



The 112 Congress continues to consider the implications of Operation Fast and Furious and

allegations that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms

and Explosives (ATF) mishandled that Phoenix, AZ-based gun trafficking investigation. On June

28, 2012, the House passed a resolution (H.Res. 711) citing Attorney General Eric Holder with

contempt for his failure to produce additional, subpoenaed documents related to Operation Fast

and Furious to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. On May 18, 2012, the

House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310),

which would amend a limitation on the Secretary of Defense’s authority to regulate firearms

privately held by members of the Armed Forces off-base. On May 10, 2012, the House passed a

Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill (H.R. 5326) that would fund ATF for FY2013, and on

April 19, 2012, the Senate Committee on Appropriations reported a similar bill (S. 2323).

On April 17, 2012, the House passed the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089), a bill

that would require agencies that manage federal public lands to facilitate access to and use of

those lands for the purposes of recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting with certain exceptions

set out in statute. Language to a similar effect was included in the FY2013 Interior, Environment,

and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 6091), which the House Committee on

Appropriations reported on July 10, 2012. On November 16, 2011, the House passed a bill (H.R.

822) that would establish a greater degree of reciprocity between states that issue concealed carry

handgun permits. On October 11, 2011, the House passed a Veterans’ Benefits Act (H.R. 2349)

that would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from determining a beneficiary to be

mentally incompetent for the purposes of gun control, unless such a determination were made by

a judicial authority based upon a finding that the beneficiary posed a danger to himself or others.

This report also includes discussion of other salient and recurring gun control issues that have

generated past or current congressional interest. Those issues include (1) screening firearms

background check applicants against terrorist watch lists, (2) combating gun trafficking and straw

purchases, (3) reforming the regulation of federally licensed gun dealers, (4) requiring

background checks for private firearms transfers at gun shows, (5) more-strictly regulating certain

firearms previously defined in statute as “semiautomatic assault weapons,” and (6) banning or

requiring the registration of certain long-range .50 caliber rifles, which are commonly referred to

as “sniper” rifles. To set these and other emerging issues in context, this report provides basic

firearms-related statistics, an overview of federal firearms law, and a summar
Summary

Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms and

ammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. In the wake of the

July 20, 2012, Aurora, CO, theater mass shooting, in which 12 people were shot to death and 58

wounded (7 of them critically) by a lone gunman, it is likely that there will be calls in the 112

Congress to reconsider a 1994 ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity

ammunition feeding devices that expired in September 2004. There were similar calls to ban such

feeding devices (see S. 436/H.R. 1781) following the January 8, 2011, Tucson, AZ, mass

shooting, in which 6 people were killed and 14 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle

Giffords, who was grievously wounded. These calls could be amplified by the August 5, 2012,

Sikh temple shooting in Milwaukee, WI, in which six worshipers were shot to death and three

wounded by a lone gunman.



The 112 Congress continues to consider the implications of Operation Fast and Furious and

allegations that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms

and Explosives (ATF) mishandled that Phoenix, AZ-based gun trafficking investigation. On June

28, 2012, the House passed a resolution (H.Res. 711) citing Attorney General Eric Holder with

contempt for his failure to produce additional, subpoenaed documents related to Operation Fast

and Furious to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. On May 18, 2012, the

House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310),

which would amend a limitation on the Secretary of Defense’s authority to regulate firearms

privately held by members of the Armed Forces off-base. On May 10, 2012, the House passed a

Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill (H.R. 5326) that would fund ATF for FY2013, and on

April 19, 2012, the Senate Committee on Appropriations reported a similar bill (S. 2323).

On April 17, 2012, the House passed the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089), a bill

that would require agencies that manage federal public lands to facilitate access to and use of

those lands for the purposes of recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting with certain exceptions

set out in statute. Language to a similar effect was included in the FY2013 Interior, Environment,

and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 6091), which the House Committee on

Appropriations reported on July 10, 2012. On November 16, 2011, the House passed a bill (H.R.

822) that would establish a greater degree of reciprocity between states that issue concealed carry

handgun permits. On October 11, 2011, the House passed a Veterans’ Benefits Act (H.R. 2349)

that would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from determining a beneficiary to be

mentally incompetent for the purposes of gun control, unless such a determination were made by

a judicial authority based upon a finding that the beneficiary posed a danger to himself or others.

This report also includes discussion of other salient and recurring gun control issues that have

generated past or current congressional interest. Those issues include (1) screening firearms

background check applicants against terrorist watch lists, (2) combating gun trafficking and straw

purchases, (3) reforming the regulation of federally licensed gun dealers, (4) requiring

background checks for private firearms transfers at gun shows, (5) more-strictly regulating certain

firearms previously defined in statute as “semiautomatic assault weapons,” and (6) banning or

requiring the registration of certain long-range .50 caliber rifles, which are commonly referred to

as “sniper” rifles. To set these and other emerging issues in context, this report provides basic

firearms-related statistics, an overview of federal firearms law, and a summar

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Published by: AmmoLand Shooting Sports News on Jun 24, 2013
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CRS Report for Congress
 Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Gun Control Legislation
William J. Krouse
Specialist in Domestic Security and Crime PolicyNovember 14, 2012
Congressional Research Service
7-5700www.crs.govRL32842
 
Gun Control LegislationCongressional Research Service
Summary
Congress has debated the efficacy and constitutionality of federal regulation of firearms andammunition, with strong advocates arguing for and against greater gun control. In the wake of theJuly 20, 2012, Aurora, CO, theater mass shooting, in which 12 people were shot to death and 58wounded (7 of them critically) by a lone gunman, it is likely that there will be calls in the 112
th
 Congress to reconsider a 1994 ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacityammunition feeding devices that expired in September 2004. There were similar calls to ban suchfeeding devices (see S. 436/H.R. 1781) following the January 8, 2011, Tucson, AZ, massshooting, in which 6 people were killed and 14 wounded, including Representative GabrielleGiffords, who was grievously wounded. These calls could be amplified by the August 5, 2012,Sikh temple shooting in Milwaukee, WI, in which six worshipers were shot to death and threewounded by a lone gunman.The 112
th
Congress continues to consider the implications of Operation Fast and Furious andallegations that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearmsand Explosives (ATF) mishandled that Phoenix, AZ-based gun trafficking investigation. On June28, 2012, the House passed a resolution (H.Res. 711) citing Attorney General Eric Holder withcontempt for his failure to produce additional, subpoenaed documents related to Operation Fastand Furious to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. On May 18, 2012, theHouse passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310),which would amend a limitation on the Secretary of Defense’s authority to regulate firearms privately held by members of the Armed Forces off-base. On May 10, 2012, the House passed aCommerce-Justice-State appropriations bill (H.R. 5326) that would fund ATF for FY2013, and onApril 19, 2012, the Senate Committee on Appropriations reported a similar bill (S. 2323).On April 17, 2012, the House passed the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089), a billthat would require agencies that manage federal public lands to facilitate access to and use of those lands for the purposes of recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting with certain exceptionsset out in statute. Language to a similar effect was included in the FY2013 Interior, Environment,and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 6091), which the House Committee onAppropriations reported on July 10, 2012. On November 16, 2011, the House passed a bill (H.R.822) that would establish a greater degree of reciprocity between states that issue concealed carryhandgun permits. On October 11, 2011, the House passed a Veterans’ Benefits Act (H.R. 2349)that would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from determining a beneficiary to bementally incompetent for the purposes of gun control, unless such a determination were made bya judicial authority based upon a finding that the beneficiary posed a danger to himself or others.This report also includes discussion of other salient and recurring gun control issues that havegenerated past or current congressional interest. Those issues include (1) screening firearms background check applicants against terrorist watch lists, (2) combating gun trafficking and straw purchases, (3) reforming the regulation of federally licensed gun dealers, (4) requiring background checks for private firearms transfers at gun shows, (5) more-strictly regulating certainfirearms previously defined in statute as “semiautomatic assault weapons,” and (6) banning or requiring the registration of certain long-range .50 caliber rifles, which are commonly referred toas “sniper” rifles. To set these and other emerging issues in context, this report provides basicfirearms-related statistics, an overview of federal firearms law, and a summary of legislativeaction in the 111
th
and 112
th
Congresses.
 
Gun Control LegislationCongressional Research Service
Contents
Developments in the 112
th
Congress ................................................................................................ 1
 
Background and Analysis ................................................................................................................ 6
 
Pro/Con Debate ......................................................................................................................... 6
 
Gun-Related Statistics ............................................................................................................... 7
 
How Many Guns Are in the United States?......................................................................... 8
 
How Often Are Guns Used in Homicides? ......................................................................... 9
 
How Prevalent Are Gun-Related Fatalities? ..................................................................... 11
 
How Often Are Guns Used in Non-Lethal Crimes? .......................................................... 13
 
How Often Are Firearms Used in Self-Defense? .............................................................. 13
 
What About the Recreational Use of Guns? ...................................................................... 14
 
Federal Regulation of Firearms ..................................................................................................... 14
 
The National Firearms Act (NFA) ........................................................................................... 14
 
The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) ...................................................................................... 14
 
Firearms Transfer and Possession Eligibility .................................................................... 15
 
Age Eligibility ................................................................................................................... 16
 
 Noncitizen Firearms Eligibility ......................................................................................... 16
 
Licensed Dealers and Firearms Transfers ......................................................................... 18
 
Private Firearms Transfers ................................................................................................ 19
 
Gun Trafficking and Straw Purchases ..................................................................................... 19
 
ATF Compliance Inspections ............................................................................................ 20
 
Anatomy of a Firearms Straw Purchase ............................................................................ 21
 
Federal Prosecutions under 18 U.S.C. §§922(a)(6) and 924(a)(1)(A) .............................. 23
 
Firearms-Related Amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines .......................................... 25
 
Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act ................................................................................ 25
 
Interim Provisions ............................................................................................................. 26
 
Permanent Provisions ........................................................................................................ 26
 
 National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) ............................................ 30
 
 NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP) .......................................................... 32
 
Background Check Fee and Record Retention .................................................................. 35
 
Overview of Legislative Action in the 111
th
Congress .................................................................. 37
 
Issues in the 112
th
Congress ........................................................................................................... 39
 
July 20, 2012, Aurora, CO ....................................................................................................... 39
 
Smith & Wesson AR-15 and Drum Magazine................................................................... 40
 
Internet-Based Ammunition Transfers under Federal Law ............................................... 41
 
August 5, 2012, Sikh Temple Shooting, Milwaukee, WI ........................................................ 42
 
Concealed Carry and National Reciprocity ............................................................................. 42
 
Firearms on Public Lands ........................................................................................................ 45
 
Armed Forces Members and Privately Held Firearms Off-Base ............................................. 46
 
ATF Southwest Border Gun Trafficking Investigations .......................................................... 46
 
Multiple Rifle Sales Report Proposal ................................................................................ 48
 
Operation Fast and Furious ............................................................................................... 52
 
ATF Firearms Tracing for Mexican Authorities ................................................................ 67
 
Veterans, Mental Incompetency, and Firearms Eligibility ....................................................... 71
 
ATF FY2012 and FY2013 Appropriations .............................................................................. 72
 
FY2013 Request ................................................................................................................ 73
 
FY2012 Request and Appropriation .................................................................................. 74
 

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