BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS, AND EXPLOSIVES MODERNIZATION AND REFORM ACT OF 2006 -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 29, 2006)
SPEECH OF HON. RUSH D. HOLT OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2006
* Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I oppose the ``Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Modernization and Reform Act of 2006,'' H.R. 5029. This bill would effectively gut the ability of the ATF to shut down rogue gun dealers who ignore or undermine federal law by selling guns to criminals. It literally protects the worst of the worst.
* We should be doing more to ensure that our communities are safe, by getting guns out of the hands of criminals. That is why we should make sure federal authorities have all the tools they need to go after criminal gun dealers.
* Yet, this bill would substantially undermine the ATF's ability to revoke federal firearms licenses and shut down corrupt gun dealers who have repeatedly violated the law. By redefining the burden of proof for violations of existing federal gun laws, this bill would make it essentially impossible to sanction, prosecute, or revoke the federal firearms license of corrupt gun dealers.
* The vast majority of gun dealers are honest hard-working business owners who play by the rules. Yet, their compliance with federal law is tarnished by the few gun dealers who are more interested in making a profit than following the law or protecting our children. Statistics show that 60 percent of guns used in crimes can be traced back to just 1% of the Nation's 80,000 gun dealers. This means that a tiny percentage of criminal gun dealers are responsible for the bulk of guns used in the crimes that terrorize our communities. Yet, this legislation makes it harder to shut down these criminal outliers.
* In 2003, the ATF issued only 54 notices of license revocation to shut down rogue gun dealers. That represents .06 percent of all gun dealers. Under the proposed legislation, this small group of dealers would be allowed to stay in business, and pay only a minor fine.
* This bill would also weaken the recordkeeping requirements that gun dealers must follow currently. This would allow criminal dealers to hide their illegal sales and missing firearms. Rather than being required to properly maintain their gun sale records, this legislation would simply allow them to keep such records in a box or a storage room, and would make it very difficult for the ATF to investigate and uncover dealer violations.
* I oppose this flawed legislation. I believe strongly that the ATF needs the authority to prosecute and eventually revoke the licenses of corrupt and criminal gun dealers. I am not alone in this view. This legislation is also opposed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, The American Bar Association, The Major City Chiefs, the International Brotherhood of Police, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, The Violence Policy Center, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Former Director of the ATF Rex Davis, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
* I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this dangerous bill.