For Release: Wednesday, March 8, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today, Wednesday, March 8, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to consider a sex offender registration bill (H.R. 4472) that does not contain a provision that would prohibit gun possession by individuals convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses against minors. This is despite the fact that such a ban was included in the “The Children’s Safety Act of 2005” (H.R. 3132), a similar bill that was passed by the House in September 2005. The gun prohibition was added to H.R. 3132 as an amendment by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and passed on a voice vote. An anti-hate crime provision that was added as an amendment to H.R. 3132 is also not included in the new bill.
The omission in the current bill comes despite the fact that the Nadler amendment would keep guns out of the hands of dangerous, known sex offenders. Although current federal law prohibits the transfer to, or possession by, a person convicted of a felony sex offense, it is legal under federal law for persons convicted of misdemeanor sex crimes to buy, sell, and possess firearms. Yet H.R. 4472 does not contain the Nadler amendment. “It is simply unfathomable that anyone – even the gun lobby – would oppose a law to keep guns out of the hands of sex offenders, but clearly they do,” states Kristen Rand, Violence Policy Center legislative director.
The Nadler amendment is modeled on the highly successful Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, a provision added to federal law in 1996 that prohibits gun possession by persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses. Current federal law allows gun possession by persons convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses against minors despite the fact that many states require sex offenders convicted of such misdemeanor crimes to register. For example
- New York requires registration by sex offenders convicted of misdemeanor crimes including sexual abuse in the third degree, forcible touching, and sexual misconduct.
- Illinois requires registration by sex offenders convicted of misdemeanor crimes of indecent solicitation of a child, sexual exploitation of a child, criminal sexual abuse, and any attempt to commit any of these offenses.