Congressional Oversight Apparently No Longer An Issue

by Alan Korwin

For Publication, 454 Words, Monday July 12, 1999
One-time North American Serial Rights, Copyright 1999 Alan Korwin
Not-for-profit circulation approved.


In what seemed like an arbitrary and capricious attack on U.S. commerce, the FBI, without warning, closed gun shows and the firearms business in general on Sunday, by turning off its national instant background check system (NICS) for the day.

Touted as a crime-fighting tool by anti-gun-rights supporters, the NICS background check more closely resembled socialist control of a segment of the economy, at least for the day. Dealers at the sprawling Crossroads gun show in Phoenix reported being severely hurt by the FBI's move, which the Bureau characterized as routine maintenance.

Record-breaking crowds at the show, fearing more severe repression of gun-buying rights threatened by the Clinton administration, found that their only option for obtaining firearms was through private transactions, since dealers were totally shut down. The president, along with many members of Congress, are seeking total control over these private sales as well, calling such legitimate and legal activity "a loophole."

It's important to note that Brady Part 2, which authorizes NICS, only requires its use if it is up and running (18 USC 922 (t)(5)). But dealers, terrified of reprisals by BATF, are now afraid to sell merchandise to American citizens without a prior federal blessing. This gives the government lock-step control over a portion of the American economy and exercise of civil rights that were previously untouchable under constitutional guarantees, which now seem dead.

In other news, a detailed analysis of the 1999 Omnibus Funding bill has been completed for the upcoming third edition of "Gun Laws of America," the unabridged guide to federal gun law. It reveals that, although Congress says in a side note it provided $42 million in funding for the NICS system, NO ALLOCATION TO RUN NICS APPEARS IN THE FUNDING BILL. This means that, in addition to operating against explicit written law (18 USC 926(a)(3); 18 USC 922(t)(2); P.L. 103-159 Sec. 103(i)) by recording the names of all innocent retail gun buyers nationwide, the authorities are running NICS without any direct OK from Congress. Experts don't expect Clinton's administration to take action against the apparently flagrant abuse of power. The government is simply running regardless of its authority to do so.

Congress is reconvening this week following its Independence Day recess. Consideration of the juvenile justice bill, which is packed with gun-control laws that would only affect adults, is on the agenda of many legislators. Included is a provision that would outlaw legal private transfers of firearms between honest adult citizens, without prior approval by the FBI. Considering the Bureau's recent actions, such a law might be ill-advised. Permission to forward this report to your representatives is granted.


ALAN KORWIN is the author of the unabridged guide,
"Gun Laws of America--Every Federal Gun Law
on the Books, with Plain English Summaries,"
and state gun-law guides for AZ, CA, FL, TX, VA.

Contact: Alan Korwin
4848 E. Cactus, #505-440 • Scottsdale, AZ 85254
602-996-4020 Phone
602-494-0679 Fax
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