Changes to Federal Gun Law

Gun Law Grows With No End In Sight

For four years (2005 - 2009), NRA has quashed bad laws and floated good ones,
not perfect perhaps, but where would we be otherwise.

 

Gun Laws of America • Edition 6
Supplement appearing in the 2009 edition

This plain-English supplement helps you navigate to new federal gun laws. The statutes are found at gunlaws.com using our National Directory feature. Any laws enacted after the publication of Edition 6 will be posted here as well.

P.L. 109-59, HR 3, Sec 11131, Custom Gunsmiths. 26 USC §4182 note. (enacted 8/10/05)
A person who manufactures, produces or imports less than 50 firearms in a calendar year is exempt from the excise tax due in the I.R.S. code. This is designed to relieve the paperwork and regulatory burden on small gunsmiths.

P.L. 109-92, S 397, Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act (enacted 10/26/05)
15 USC §7901: A statement of findings affirms the right of the people to keep and bear arms, that the right shall not be infringed, and that involvement in a militia or the military is not a prerequisite for this right; lawsuits have been commenced against the firearms industry, for misuse of their products by criminals and others; the industry is heavily regulated at the federal, state and local level, and should not be liable for criminal or unlawful misuse of products that work as designed and intended; imposing liability on an entire industry for harm caused by others abuses the legal system, erodes confidence in the law, threatens constitutional and civil rights, destabilizes industry and the free-enterprise system, and is an unreasonable burden on interstate and foreign commerce; lawsuits by private, city, state and federal players are based on theories “without foundation” in hundreds of years of law, are not bona fide, would require actions by “maverick judicial officers” never contemplated by the Founders, Congress or the states, and would deprive citizens of rights, privileges and immunities under the 14th Amendment; the lawsuits attempt to circumvent the legislature with the judiciary, threatening separation of powers, and undermining federalism, state sovereignty and comity between the states.

A statement of purpose asserts: This act is designed to prohibit such lawsuits; to preserve citizen access to arms and ammo for lawful purposes; to guarantee citizen protection under the 14th Amendment; to prevent such lawsuits from placing unreasonable burdens on commerce; to protect the 1st Amendment rights of the industry; to preserve and protect the separation of powers, federalism, state sovereignty and comity between the states; and to exercise congressional power under the Full Faith and Credit clause (Art. IV, sec. 1).

15 USC §7902: A frivolous lawsuit against the firearms industry, called a qualified civil liability action, cannot be brought in federal or state courts and any such suits pending as of this law are to be immediately dismissed.

15 USC §7903: The firearms industry, firearms, ammunition, components and persons are defined as found in other long-standing sections of firearms law. A qualified civil liability action against the firearms industry is defined to broadly include actions by anyone against the industry for relief from harm, “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party,” with exceptions, including specified felonies by the firms, negligence, knowing violations of state or federal law related to sale or marketing which are proximate cause of the harm claimed, knowing false record keeping or otherwise aiding such, knowingly cooperating with a straw purchase, breach of contract or warranty, defects in design or manufacture unless it occurs during a criminal offense, and certain proceedings by the U.S. attorney general.

The Child Safety Lock Act of 2005 is part of this law. In 18 USC §921 note, are findings that this law is intended to promote safe storage of handguns by consumers, to prevent access to or use of a handgun by unauthorized people including children, and “to avoid hindering industry from supplying firearms to law abiding citizens for all lawful purposes,” with a list naming hunting, self-defense, collecting, and competitive or recreational shooting.

18 USC §922(z) is added making it a crime for an FFL to transfer a handgun to a person without including a secure gun storage or safety device, commonly referred to as a gun lock (includes numerous devices for preventing a gun from firing). This is the eighth appearance of this term in federal law, first introduced under president Clinton. All government officials of every type are exempt from this requirement, along with all law enforcement personnel. Also exempt are rail police, curios and relics, and transfers made when locks are unavailable due to supply-chain problems outside the dealer’s control, as long as the dealer gets the customer a lock within 10 business days. Penalties for a dealer who doesn’t provide the locks include suspension or revocation of license and fines. This section does not create a basis for a lawsuit or establish a standard of care.

As an incentive to use the lock, you get immunity from a qualified civil liability action, which in this section (as opposed to the prior one) means, a civil action brought against you for harm caused by criminal or unlawful misuse of the handgun by a third party, who did not have your permission to use it, and which you had locked. There is no protection for negligence as defined.

This law amends 18 USC §922(a) by deleting paragraphs 7 and 8 (concerning making, importing, selling or delivering armor-piercing ammo) and replacing them with essentially the same conditions but slightly better grammar. It also amends 18 USC §924(c) to add a minimum 15-year prison sentence for a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime while possessing or using armor-piercing ammo. If murder of a government official results, the death penalty or life in prison apply, and penalties in the event of manslaughter are provided.

A study by the AG is required to see if standardized body-armor testing is feasible, which must include the effect of barrel length and the amount of powder used. The report, to the judiciary committee in the House and Senate, was due in two years (10/26/07).

P.L. 109-295, HR 5441, Department Of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007, 42 USC §5207, Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006 (enacted 10/4/06)
Any federal officer or employee, or anyone who gets federal funds, operates under color of federal law, or under control of a federal official, or who provides services to such people, in support of relief from a major disaster or emergency, may not temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize seizure of, any firearm that is legally possessed. Nor can the firearm be registered, or its possession be prohibited in any place not otherwise prohibited, and no rule, regulation or order can be made to ban such lawful possession. No person operating under federal authority in support of such relief efforts, who is authorized to carry a firearm, can be banned from carrying. Temporary surrender of a firearm can be required as a condition for entering a mode of transportation for rescue or evacuation, but it must be returned at the end of the ride. Any person who deprives you of the right to possess a firearm as described can be sued by you, and sued in district court for return of the firearm, including damages and attorney’s fees if you prevail.

P.L. 110-53, HR 1, Implementing Recommendations Of The 9/11 Commission Act Of 2007, Title XIII, Sec. 1309, Prohibition Of Issuance Of Transportation Security Cards To Convicted Felons (enacted 8/3/07)
A biometric transportation security card cannot be issued to a person with a specified felony firearm conviction, or a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity, within the prior seven years, or within five years of release from incarceration, for an offense involving unlawful possession, use, sale, manufacture, purchase, distribution, receipt, transfer, shipment, transportation, delivery, import, export, or storage of, or dealing in firearms or munitions, as defined. For persons with certain other serious felonies (espionage, sedition, treason, terrorism, explosives, murder, etc.) the ban is permanent.

P.L. 110-180, HR 2640, NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (enacted 1/8/08)
Definitions: Terms are tied to existing definitions: court order in 18-922(g)(8), adjudicated as a mental defective and committed to a mental institution as in 18-922(g)(4), and misdemeanor crime of domestic violence in 18-921(a)(33).

Records: A federal agency or department that has records of people who are prohibited possessors under 18-922(g) or (n) must submit those records electronically (not manually) to the attorney general at least quarterly.

Records Correction: If those agencies become aware that disqualifying information does not or no longer applies, they must update, correct, modify or remove the records from their files and tell the attorney general (who runs NICS), so NICS is kept up-to-date. The AG has 30 days to correct NICS with new information and must report compliance to Congress annually for every agency or department that maintains, submits and corrects such records. The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), formerly excluded from this process, must also comply with these rules (with no mention of the DHS “no-fly” list).

Illegal Aliens: DHS is also charged with removing illegal aliens from the NICS list (to reinstate their rights), if they gain citizenship. This applies to people “who have changed their status to a category not identified under section 922(g)(5) of title 18,” and would apply under a future amnesty bill.

Confidentiality: The AG is required to keep all this information accurate and confidential, and must remove and destroy obsolete and erroneous names and info in a timely way. The AG must work with states to develop computer systems to electronically provide information when court orders are issued, lifted or removed, and information about certifiable mental cases.

Only Valid Mental Records: The reporting agencies are forbidden from giving mental-health records to the AG if: a) the adjudication or commitment has been set aside, expunged, or the person is fully released or discharged from any mandatory treatment, supervision or monitoring; b) the person is found by any lawful authority to no longer suffer from the disqualifying condition; or c) the disability was based on a procedure that did not include an opportunity for a hearing by the person. Exceptions exist for a person who pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, is found unfit to stand trial, lacks mental responsibility, and for criminal cases under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Application for Relief: All agencies reporting mental-health records must establish procedures to allow people adjudicated or committed to apply for relief. Applications for relief must be processed within 365 days. If an agency fails to act for any reason, including because it has no money to do so, it is deemed to have denied relief without cause. This lets the applicant sue for relief. To clarify, the procedure for the suit is spelled out in 18-925(c), and attorney’s fees are awarded at the rate for local public-interest legal-aid organizations. If you get relief from disabilities under this law, the reason for the disability is deemed to have never occurred for purposes of the prohibited possessor statute. The agency that grants the relief must notify you of this, covering the “acquisition, receipt, transfer, shipment, transportation or possession of firearms.”

Advanced Warning Required: From 2/8/08, any federal department or agency that could certify you as a mental defective and hence a prohibited possessor, must now give you oral and written notice that this would remove your gun rights, inform you of the penalties for illegal gun activity, and describe how you can reclaim your gun rights under this law. Anyone already in NICS has all the new protections and rights-restoration options. A lengthy section (3,148 words) incentivizes state cooperation through funding and penalties, defines record-keeping requirements for the states, an annual report to Congress on progress and a GAO audit. The FBI is banned from charging a user fee for conducting background checks. The AG is not required to give NICS records on illegal aliens to immigration authorities, but may.

P.L. 111-8, HR 1105, Omnibus Appropriations Act 2009, “Tiahrt Amendment,” (enacted 3/11/09)
Prohibits disclosure of any contents of the Firearms Trace System database maintained by the National Trace Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or data required to be kept by FFLs, except for bona fide law-enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or for federal national security or intelligence purposes. The data is immune from legal process, subpoena or discovery, and inadmissible as evidence or testimony, in civil lawsuits or in federal courts, except for narrowly defined use by BATFE. Limited statistical information can be shared between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and as statistical aggregate data regarding firearms traffickers and trafficking channels, or firearms misuse, felons, and trafficking investigations, or annual statistical reports on products regulated by BATFE. Funding bans are set or continued for centralized recording of FFL inventories or A&D records, or electronic retrieval of gun buyer records by name or any ID code, changing the curios and relics list, processing applications for relief from disabilities under 18-925(c) (though corporations can be processed), moving BATFE duties to any other agency, or to deny or refuse renewal of an FFL license to a qualified applicant for lack of business activity.

P.L. 111-24, HR 627, Credit CARD Act of 2009, Sec. 512, 16 USC §1a-7b (enacted 5/22/09)
In findings, Congress for the sixth time in history affirms that the Second Amendment “provides that the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It then notes that the Code of Federal Regulations bans possession, carry, use and transport of firearms in National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, preventing people from exercising their 2A rights, and that differing laws in these places entrap law-abiding gun owners. Further findings preceding the operant part of this law lament that the ban was reinstituted by a judge after it had been lifted by president Bush, and president Obama might choose to alter the regulations again. It then expresses the need to “weigh in” and “ensure that unelected bureaucrats and judges cannot again override the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” on those lands.

The Secretary of the Interior (responsible for those lands) cannot make or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm (including an assembled or functional firearm, which fell under the ban) in the National Park or National Wildlife Refuge System if the person is not a prohibited possessor, and possession complies with the law of the State in which the land is located. The act takes effect on Feb. 22, 2010, nine months after enactment.

P.L. 103-55, 15 USC §5901, Armored Cars
Previously overlooked: Congress finds that a free flow of high-value items such as cash, gold, stocks and food stamps is important; the armored-car industry handles such goods with values that can exceed $1 billion; because armored cars are attacked by armed criminals, crew members must also be armed; state laws on weapons and licensing for such crews varies; and reciprocity is needed for armored-car crews to safely operate in interstate commerce.

15 USC §5902: States regulate armored-car companies and crews, and the weapons they can use, and if a bona fide crew member has met the state’s standards, then the person “shall be entitled to lawfully carry any weapon” the company can legitimately employ in any state while the person is acting for the company. The state’s standards must include: annual qualified class and range training in safety and marksmanship for each weapon the crew member will be licensed to carry; an annual background check for disqualifying records; continuing training in weapon safety and marksmanship; the receipt or possession of said weapons does not violate federal law; the member’s license is for not more than two years. In §5903 the feds declare that this law supercedes any state law to the contrary. §5904 defines terms in this law in a manner consistent with normal English.

Note: 42 USC §3760, Byrne grants, repealed, P.L. 109-162, 1/5/06; additional repeals and changes posted at gunlaws.com. Serious research should always include an online check for the latest version of any statute, which Congress can change at any time without notice. Please bring any discovered errors or needed updates to the attention of the publisher.

 

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