by Alan Korwin
Author, Gun Laws of America
May 22, 2001
Re: S. 890, The McCain-Lieberman Bill:
Mass media publicity on the newly proposed gun-show bill is grossly inaccurate.
The bill has almost nothing to do with what you've probably heard so far. The so-called "gun-show loophole" headlines are a minor detail and basically obscure what the bill really does.
I've just finished studying the eight pages of legalese. Here is it what it calls for:
1. Unprecedented federal control over gun shows nationwide — perfectly legal gun shows become strictly outlawed without prior federal approval, licensing and registration of each show;
2. Centralized federal licensing and registration of every gun-show promoter in the nation;
3. Centralized federal registration of every vendor — including non-gun vendors — at any gun show in the country. In order for me to sell my BOOKS at a gun show I'll have to pre-register and prove who I am, or face arrest; a private individual looking to sell a single gun would be treated as a vendor under this law and must be registered even if the gun isn't sold;
4. Centralized federal registration of EVERY PERSON who attends a gun show in America, whether or not they make purchases of anything at all — you won't be allowed in without registering;
5. Centralized collection of "any other information" on gun-show attendees, as determined solely by the Secretary of the Treasury;
6. Imprisonment for attending a gun show and failing to give up any information required by regulations of the Secretary of the Treasury;
7. Imprisonment of any gun-show promoter who fails to register a single vendor;
8. Imprisonment of gun-show promoters who cannot prove they notified every person attending a gun show of the new rules, and obtained from attendees any information the Secretary of the Treasury mandates by regulation;
9. Centralized collection of "any other information" the Secretary of the Treasury decides, by regulation, is necessary on vendors, attendees, and the gun show itself;
10. Submission by gun-show promoters of vendor registration logs a) 30 days before any gun show, and b) additional submission of updated vendor registration logs 72 hours before any gun show, and c) additional submission of vendor registration logs within five days of the close of any gun show, under penalty of arrest and imprisonment for non-compliance;
11. Identification of vendors only by use of federally approved photo ID that may include use of a social security number, electronically encoded data, or "biometric identifiers" such as fingerprint, voice print, retina scan, iris scan, or similar (as defined under 18 USC 1028(d)(2));
12. Creation of a new license (in addition to a gun-show-promoter license), similar to FFLs, for individuals who want access to the NICS national background check system for facilitating gun-show sales for private citizens;
13. Regulations to be issued by the Secretary of the Treasury on the procedures, data collections, methods and implementation of the entire process to federally control gun shows, in addition to the requirements made by the proposed statute; such regulations will not be known, drafted or even suggested, until after the McCain-Lieberman law is enacted;
14. The proposed bill also puts pressure on state governments to make at least 95% of their law enforcement records for the past 30 years openly available to the federal government; and
— makes unlimited funds available for the states to comply with these federal goals;
— requires annual federal review of states' compliance;
— increases penalties (up to ten years imprisonment) for record-keeping violations;
— grants states permission to make even more restrictive requirements without being out of compliance with these new federal laws (and by implication, puts states that resist these rules in federal trouble);
— provides hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for more law enforcement under numerous programs including project Exile and others;
— hires 200 more Federal BATF Agents;
— provides $10 million to the National Institute for Justice to give out for research on "technologies that limit the use of a gun to the owner"; and
— provides for annual reports (in great detail) by the Attorney General to Congress on whether the Brady law is working;
15. Enlargement of the federal bureaucracy and appropriation from taxpayers of "such funds as are necessary" to license, register and monitor an estimated ten million non-criminals who attend the thousands of gun shows held annually in America; and
16. Oh yes, I almost forgot about the so-called "loophole" part the media is so excited about — the McCain-Lieberman bill will make an honest private citizen a criminal for transferring a gun to another honest private citizen, without first registering the transfer with, and getting permission from, the federal government (represented by the FBI at its data complex in Clarksburg, West Virginia).
Transfer or possession of a firearm to or by a criminal (a "federally prohibited possessor") is completely unaffected by the McCain-Lieberman "loophole" bill, so I guess it's accurate to characterize it as a loophole bill.
To sum up: Perfectly legal gun sales — with no victims or criminal activity of any kind — are outlawed at gun shows by the McCain-Lieberman bill, unless the sale is pre-registered with the federal government; real crimes are totally unaffected; and your friends in the federal government take over full control of gun shows — which have been previously free of government infringement for more than 200 years.
Please write your local news outlet and politely request a correction.
Permission to circulate or use any or all of this report is granted, provided my credit and contact information is included.
Alan Korwin, Author Gun Laws of America
"We publish the gun laws."
Address to change on June 1, 2001 to:
GUNS STOP CRIME.
GUNS ARE FOR SAFETY.
GUNS SAVE LIVES.
1 june 2001