For Release: Wednesday, June 9, 1999
NRA-Blessed Bill is Spin Control, Not Gun Control
The Violence Policy Center today denounced the gun control provisions in the House leadership’s new proposed juvenile justice bill as a tangle of loopholes designed by the National Rifle Association.
“This isn’t gun control, it’s spin control. The House leadership wants to appear concerned about guns but do nothing,” said VPC Director of Federal Policy Kristen Rand. “The House bill takes a giant step backwards from the Senate bill, on the direct orders of the NRA.”
The most dramatic weakening of the legislation came in the Senate-passed requirement for background checks on sales at gun shows. A new definition of a “gun show” sharply limits the number of sales that would be covered by the law. Under the Senate bill, any show where over 50 guns are sold would be subject to the background check requirement. The House adds a condition that at least 10 vendors must also be involvedï¿½potentially allowing organizers to exempt their shows by combining sellers together as “vendors.”
“You could be selling thousands of guns, but as long as there’s only nine so-called exhibitors in the room, there are no background checks required,” Rand said.
Other problems with the House gun show language include the elimination of the ban on interstate gun sales in many cases and greatly expanded immunity from civil liability for gun show vendors.
The House bill would also require that firearm dealers provide safety locks with new handguns, but sets no standards for the devices, allowing “junk locks” to qualify. At a press conference yesterday, Rand showed how one of the most common trigger locks can be smashed from a gun with one swing of a hammer, illustrating the bill’s shortcomings. The Senate bill also omitted standards.
“Even without the loopholes, this bill would be small potatoes, offering no regulation of the gun industry whatsoever,” Rand said. “With these NRA-designed loopholes, the modest Senate bill unravels completely.”