U.S. House Passes Measure to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Sex Offenders

For Release:   September 14, 2005

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed on a voice vote an amendment offered by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) to prohibit gun possession by individuals convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses against minors. The Nadler amendment to H.R. 3132, the “Children’s Safety Act of 2005,” will 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. H.R. 3132 is intended to make improvements to the national sex offender registration program.

Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “Guns in the hands of sex offenders are obviously dangerous and can intensify the trauma experienced by victims. Today, for once, the House of Representatives put the safety of children ahead of the special interests of the gun lobby.”

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. In 2002, misdemeanor domestic violence convictions accounted for more than 12 percent of rejections of firearm purchases by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The Nadler amendment will close the loophole in current federal law that 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 the 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.
  • Utah requires registration as a sex offender by persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of lewdness involving a child and enticing a minor over the Internet.
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Georgia Seltzer
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