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CRS Gun Control Report

CRS Gun Control Report

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Published by dcodrea
Congressional Research Service Report for Congress: Gun Control Legislation/June 11, 2012
Congressional Research Service Report for Congress: Gun Control Legislation/June 11, 2012

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Published by: dcodrea on Jun 28, 2012
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03/02/2014

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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 Policy June 11, 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. Since March2011, much of the gun control debate in the 112
th
Congress has swirled around allegations that theDepartment of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)mishandled a Phoenix, AZ-based gun trafficking investigation known as “Operation Fast andFurious.” In the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55),Congress included a provision that reflects a Senate-adopted amendment that forbids theexpenditure of any funding provided under it to be used by a federal law enforcement officer totransfer an operable firearm to a person known or suspected to be connected with a drug cartelwithout that firearm being continuously monitored or controlled. The act, however, does notinclude language adopted during House full committee markup to prohibit ATF from collectingmultiple long gun sales reports in Southwest Border states.The 112
th
Congress continues to consider the implications of Operation Fast and Furious andseveral gun control issues. On June 20, 2012, the Committee on Oversight and GovernmentReform is scheduled to meet and consider a report and resolution to hold Attorney General EricHolder in contempt of Congress for his failure to produce subpoenaed documents related toOperation Fast and Furious. On May 18, 2012, the House passed the National DefenseAuthorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310), which amends a provision thatlimits the Secretary of Defense’s authority to regulate firearms privately held by members of theArmed Forces off-base. On May 10, 2012, the House passed a Commerce-Justice-Stateappropriations bill (H.R. 5326) that would fund ATF for FY2013 and, on April 19, 2012, theSenate Committee on Appropriations reported a similar bill (S. 2323). Both bills include severalgun control-related provisions, such as a ban on additional shotgun importation regulations.On April 17, 2012, the House passed the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089), a billthat would prohibit any federal agency from banning recreational shooting on federally managed public lands. On November 16, 2011, the House passed a bill (H.R. 822) that would establish agreater degree of reciprocity between states that issue concealed carry permits for handguns tocivilians than currently exists under state law. On October 11, 2011, the House passed a Veterans’Benefits Act (H.R. 2349) that would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs fromdetermining a beneficiary to be mentally incompetent for the purposes of gun control, unless sucha determination were made by a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority based upon afinding that the beneficiary posed a danger to himself or others. In May 2011, firearms-relatedamendments to bills reauthorizing the USA PATRIOT Act were considered (H.R. 1800, S. 1038,and S. 990), but they were not passed.The tragic shootings in Tucson, AZ, on January 8, 2011, in which 6 people were killed and 13wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, also generated attention. Several Membersintroduced proposals that arguably address issues related to the shooter’s mental illness and druguse (see S. 436/H.R. 1781) and his use of large capacity ammunition feeding devices (LCAFDs)(see H.R. 308 and S. 32), as well as a proposal to ban firearms within the proximity of certainhigh-level federal officials (see H.R. 367 and H.R. 496).In addition to legislative action in the 112
th
Congress, 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
 
Gun Control LegislationCongressional Research Service
lists, (2) combating gun trafficking and straw purchases, (3) reforming the regulation of federallylicensed gun dealers, (4) requiring background checks for private firearms transfers at gun shows,(5) more-strictly regulating certain firearms previously defined in statute as “semiautomaticassault 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 incontext, this report provides basic firearms-related statistics, an overview of federal firearms law,and a summary of legislative action in the 111
th
and 112
th
Congresses.

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