June 17, 1968 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD- SENATE 87273
FIREARMS CONTROL LEGISLATION
Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. President, on
June 10, in a speech before the senate, I
set forth my views on my position on
firearms legislation. I stated at that time
what I thought should be done and what
I had consistently stood for. I ask unanimous
consent that the remarks I made on
June 10 be printed at this point in the
There being no objection, the speech
was ordered to be printed in the RECORD,
GUN CONTROl. LEGISLATION
Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. President, I ask
unanimous consent that I may proceed for
5 or 6 minutes.
The Pa>.SIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
The Chair bears none, and the
Senator from Montana Is recognized.
Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. President, there has
been a great deal of pressure for the passing
of antigun laws to preve~t violence and to
stop assasslnattons. I believe that It Ia imperative
for the American people to understand
that no type of gun law w!ll prevent
murder, and that any law passed will not
prevent persons who are bent on breaking the
law from acquiring guns or weapons of any
sort. I believe that most guns used In the
execution of a felony are bootlegged, stolen,
or guns bought under the counter. It Is my
further belief that the persons who WQuld be
most affected are those law-abiding citizens
who possess firearms for the protection of
their families, their homes, their possessions,
and their recrea. tlon .
I would point out that the Senate, on Its
own initiative before the assassination of our
late beloved and respected colleague, Senator
Kennedy, completed action on the safe streets
and crime control blll.
Tbe Congress completed action on this b!ll
which bans interstate mail order sales of
handguns and permits over-the-counter sales
of handguns within a. State only to residents
over 21. Incidentally, 44 percent of the
murders In this country were committed with
handguns and only 16 percent by other guns.
Rifles and shotguns are not covered by the
restrictions. The bill also outlaws possession
of any sort of firearms by persons convicted
of a felony, mental Incompetents, veterans
with anything leas than an honorable discharge,
Americans who have renounced their
cltlzep.ship and aliens illega.ll'y in this
Tbe action of the Senate, concurred In by
til£ HoUse, does not ban the mall-order sale
of rifles or shotguns, nor does 1 t fulfill many
of th¢ recommendations cited by the President's
Commission on Law Enforcement and
Admlnlstretlon of Justice. Th'at Commission
First. Tbe outlawing of prlva te possession
of such mllltary-type firearms as bazook~
s. machlneguns, mortars, and antitank
Second. Prohibiting S'lCh persons as habitual
drunkards, drug addicts, mentally incompetents,
mentally disturbed, and ex-convicts
from buying or possessing firearms. Tbls
ba.~ already been done by the Senate In the
safe streets and crime control bill.
Tblrd. Underscored the need for State registration
of all firearms, and State permits to
possess or carry handguns.
These requirements will not stop the killing;
they may help to discourage It, and personally
I would favor them.
The President and the people of this country
can be B.6SUred that the Chief Executive's
plea to close the "brutal loopholes" ln our
gun laws w111 be gl-:en every consideration.
I favor, and I have favored, the registration
of all firea.rrns, but I believe that lt Is
basically a. State function, and that the vartous
States should accept tbls respon~lblllty
and not place lt on the shoulders of the Federal
Government. It the States wUl not act,
then I think lt will be ihe duty of the Federal
Government to assume that responslb1llty, as
lt has all too often when the States refused to
As far as handguns are concerned, lt Is my
bel1ef that they should not only be outlawed,
as they are In the blll passed by the Senate,
but that the most serious consideration
should be given to restricting their use to
law enforcement a.uthorltles or other persons
qua!Uled to use them in the line of duty.
Again r want to ~epe" t, so that the Issue
can be set forth In perspective, that we can
pass all the gun Jaws ln the country and stlll
not prevent people from getting shot. Gun
laws no :matter how stringent are not the
answens and are not a cure-all, and we all
had better face up to tl at fact. Tbe answer
lies In a sense of respons1blllty, parental control,
more and better trained pollee, improvement
of environmental conditions, obedience
to the law, and Jess protection for the crlmlnal
and more protection for the Innocent.
There Is too much lawlessness, d!Brespect, and
lrre.sponslbil.ity today, and as far as guns are
concerned every weapon ln the country could
be seized and confiscated, but we would still
have the problem of guns of a crude type
which could be manufactured at home, could
be u.sed with deadly accuracy, and they could
It Ia Impossible to give total protection to
any public figure today, and wblle some
States, such as California, Mlcblgan, and
New York, have tight gun control laws, yet
In Callfornla a suspect possessing a gun llleg$
lly, carrying It Illegally, and using It Illegally,
took the life of our late colleague.
Any proposal on gun legislation will, I
hope, and I am sure, be given prompt conslclera.
tlon by the Jucllclary Committee or by
whatsoever committee lt may be referred to.
A.ny bill that Is rep,rted wlli be taken
up promptly by the Pol1cy Committee and
will be brought to the floor of the Senate
after that committee has acted.
We ought to think not only of public person:$-
aDd their deaths are, Indeed, t ragicbut
also of the ordinary people, such
as the two marine lieutenants, one of them
from Fishtail, Mont., who were shot In a
little hamburger stand m Washington durIng
the past week; Of the busdrl ver who was
held up and murdered; of the high school
boy !rom Wllson High School, who a. week
or 10 days ago was assaulted and murdered;
and of the thousands ot little people, who
are llkewlse entitled te just as much protection
as are public figures, although certain
public figures, because of thett partlcula.
r circumstances, need a great deal more. I
shall have more to say about that at a. later
Mr .. President, I conclude by stating again
that It was the Senate that Initiated a good
blll for the control of handguns, and that
the House also approved that bill. So far as
I am concerned, I hope that the President
wlll sign the sate streets and omnibus crime
control bill, because I think !t Is not only
needed, but is also long overdue.
Mr. MANSFIELD. On June 12 the distinguished
junior senator rrom Maryland
[Mr. TYDINGS] introduced a firearms
control bill, and during the course of that
speech I engaged in a colloquy with him
relative to its meaning and intent I ask
unanimous consent, Mr. President, to
have that colloquy printed at this: point
in the RE:C~RD.
There being no objection. the colloquy
was ordered to be printed in the
RECORD, as follows:
Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. President, wlll the Senator
from Maryland yield?
Mr. TYDINGS. I am glad to yield.
Mr. MANSFIELD. Following the distinguished
Senator's line of thought, I should like to
add the fact that two marine lieutenants who
had Just been graduated from Quantico were
shot In a hamburger shop In Washington last
week. One of them, 2d Lt. Thaddeus Lesnick,
was from Fishtail, Mont.
A Negro boy, a. graduate of Wilson High
School, aiso was shot and killed . He, llkewlse,
should be considered along with the others.
I am glad that the Senator from Maryland
Is emphasizing that this Ia a problem which
Is not only confined to great men or great
personalities, but Includes also the little people,
who cannot generate the type of support
the others can, but whose needs and considerations
are just as great. I feel, and I know
certain, that these examples could be multipiled
many times' over.
If I may, I should like to ask a question of
the dlstlngulabed Senator.
Mr. TYDINGS. Certainly.
Mr. MANSFIELD. Do I correctly understand
the Senator to say that the bill which he Is
Introducing today-I have not seen It; I am
looking at some statements concerning It-would
provide for the regtstra. tlon of all firearms
In the Unlted"States?
Mr. TYDINGS. The Senator is correct.
Mr. MANSFIELD. Is It the Senator's contention
that that would encoura.ge---
Mr. TYDINGS. This bill would In no way require
the turning In of weapons--! hope I
correctly judge the Import of the Senator•s
Mr. MANSFIELD. Yes, Indeed. Would It $lao
encourage States to provide for such registration,
among other things?
Mr. TYDrNGS. That is correct. It would be
my hope that the States would enact their
own registration laws. My bill provides that
lf a. State did act Its Jaw will automatically
preempt. It a. State does not act, the Federal
law would apply.
Mr. MANSFIELD. Very well. That Is what I
was trying to understand.
The Senator may or may not recall that on
Monday last I made a speech on the floor of
the Senate In which I stated that a number
of proposals had been made by the President's
Commission on Law Enforcement and
Administration of Justice, Including the outlawing
of the prtvate possession of such military
types of firearms as bazookas, machineguns,
mortars, and antitank guns; second,
prohibiting such persons as habitual drunkards,
drug addicts, mentally inc;,mpetents,
mentally disturbed, and ex-convicts from
buying or possessing firearms.
In my opinion, this has already been done
In title IV of the safe streets and crime control
blll in the section relating to handguns.
Mr. TYDINGS. One part of the National
Crime Commission's recommendations was
embodied In title IV. The Senator from Montana
brings up a. very good point. That is why
I included the entirety of the National Crime
Commission's recommendations In my own
remarks, because my blll Is really patterned
after and based on the recommendations
which the Senator bas read and wblch the
Senator has quoted.
Mr. MANSFIELD. The third recommendation
underscored the need for State registration ol
all firearms, and !or State permits to possess
or carry handguns. l\1y remarks follow:
"These requirements will not stop killing:
they may help to discourage Jt, and personally
I would favor them."
Further, I stated:
Mike Mansfield Papers, Series 21, Box 44, Folder 39, Mansfield Library, University of Montana
87274 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD- SENATE June 17, 1968
"I tavor, and I have ta.voreu, t..J .m ........ 0 &._. .. __
tlon of all firearms, but I believe that It Is
basically a State function, and that the
various States should accept this responsiblllty
and not place it on the shoulders of
the Federal GovernmenL. If the States will
not act. then I think It wlll be the duty of the
Federal Governmen~ to assume that responsibility,
as It bas all too often when the States
have refused to assume theirs."
Is that In accord with the Senator's
Mr. TYDINGS. That Is exactly the phllosophy
of the proposal. As a matter of fact,
we bad before us the Senator's speech and
his recommendatwns while we were draftIng
the proposed legislation. Unfortunately,
in the past 30 years the only one gun control
law which was able to pass any State legislature-
In New Jer&ey-and that was a far
weaker law than we propose, and that was In
New Jerr>ey. During that period, all attempts
to enac~ sane gun laws by State legislatures
have been vehemently opposed by the National
Rifle Assoclntlon and the gun lobby. So
we provide U1at our bill would take effect only
If the State failed to act. The State could
act and would tlms preempt the field at any
Mr. MANSFIELD. I suppose the Senator has
In mind California, Michigan, New York, and
New Jersey as States which have good gun
control laws at present.
Mr. TYDINGS. Yes. So far ru; registration IB
concerned, I think they accomplish what
My bill also requires that an Individual
must obtain a license in order to possess, purchase,
or transfer a firearm. Under the bill,
each State wlll set up Its own licensing procedure.
But If the State does not do that, then
the Federal law will apply. Under this bill, a
llcense will automatically be given to an
Individual who states truthfully, that he Is
not a convicted felon, IB not under indictment
!or a felony, has not been convicted o!
a m!sdeameanor Involving violence, haa never
been Institutionalized, under court order, !or
alcohollsm. drug addiction, or mental Incompetency.
Is over 18 years o! age, and Is a
In addition. fingerprints and a photograph
would be required, unless the Governor or a
State Indicates to the Secretary o! the Treasury
that obtaining fingerprints or a photograph
would not be practicable for residents
In his State. For example, If a ~te Is sparsely
populated or long distances must be traveled
to find people quallfied to take flngerprln
ts or to develop photographs, then the
Governor could get an exemption for his
State from this requirement.
If a license application Is submitted containing
all thls Information, and l! the Information
Is truth!ul, automatcally the firearms
license would be Issued. The Secretary
of the Treasury would have no discretion to
wl thholct the license.
Hopefully, the States would moye to set up
machinery for firearms licensing and !or reglstratloll.
It a State did act, then the Federal
law would not apply In tha.t State.
Mr. MANSFIELD I appreciate Lhe remarks
of t-he distinguished Senator. I assure hlm
that, I have followed his stat.ements with
Mr. TYDINGS. I thank the distinguished
major! ty leader. I hope he will agree that
my proposed leg!Blatlon IB bru;l<--a.lly within
the phllosophy and meets the objectives set
out In the remarks which he made earlier this
I should like to re-emphasle the point
made by the majority leader, that thls Is
not, a problem involving only public offichls.
This Is a probl~m Involving the people of
the United St.at<'s.
After the riots In Detroit, rioters were arrested
and guns were confiscated. It was
found that a substantial majority~ many
as 9 out or ten guru;.--confisca.ted could not
have bad firearms which they could not
have purchaaed under Michigan law. All they
dld WM sllp over the State line Into Toledo,
Ohio, and pick up those "Saturday
n1ght spec1a!B" for a few dollars and drive
back to Detro! t.
Last summer, at our hearings on gun control
the Governor o! New Jersey, after the
riots in Newark, pointed out that people who
were Ineligible to buy a firearm In N- Jersey
because or a crimlnn.l record woul:i hop
into their automobiles and drive into other
States and puroha.se all the guns they
wanted~nd drive back to New Jersey.
The entire thru.st of this blll is really to
protect the average citizen.
Mr. MANSFIELD. The Tydings bill
will place piimary responsibility on each
state to enact a strong gun law, but will
provide Federal Government protection
to the extent any state fails to act. This
bill is complementary to the gun law
Congress enacted as title IV of the omnibus
crime bill. The Tydings bill w111 require
registration of all firearms, and a
permit for the possession of any firearm.
Registration will provide a record of
every gun. Requiring a permit for the
possession or purchase of a firearm will
at last give the American public some
assurance that criminals, addicts, and
mental incompetents will not be able to
purchase, own, or even possess a weapon.
Indeed, unpermitted possession would be
This b!ll will not disarm any lawabiding
citizen or unreasonably interfere
with his right to own or obtain a
gun. In fact, ·it will require permits to be
issued for such meritorious reasons as
protecting one's home or property or for
sporting purposes, including hunting and
target shooting. The bill wm not preempt
States ri ~ht. It specifically provides
that a State law of equal force or
effect as the Federal law will control.
Where a State does not act, the Federal
law wlll apply simply to protect the
There is no person in this country
whose conscience has not been deeply
troubled by recent events; by the public
tragedies cove1ing the assassinations of
our late beloved President, John F. Kennedy,
o1 Dr. Martin Luther King, of
Mepgar Evers, and of our late beloved
and highly respected colleague, Robert
F. Kennedy. We have been troubled, too,
by the other murders, assassinations and
assaults--the private tragedies that have
received little in the way of publicity but
continue to serve as constant reminders
of the depth of violence in our everyday
lives. I speak of the murder of two young
marine lieutenants earlier this month,
one of them a young man from Fishtail,
Mont., and other incidents too numerous
to mention but all still alive in our
I have been thinking of all of these
people and what could be done, not as a
cure-all which no one should believe is
feasible or possible, but in alleviB~ting
crime, curbing irresponsibility and the
lack of respect which has become so
endemic in this Nation's history.
It is my belief that a sound gun 1aw is
a sane and rational approach; one that
can be of great help in bringing about a
reduCJtion in the murders caused by long
and short guns alike. I recognize, of
course, as I have stated on many occassions,
that there are legitimate, necessary,
and compelling reasons for lawabiding
citizens to possess guns. And the
Tydings bill will protect such citizens
just as car owners and others are protected
through registration from misappropriation
The Tydings legislation will not disarm
anyone of the right to own a gun.
It will strengthen the hands of pollee
officials in the tradng of murder weapons.
It will prevent the petty criminal
and others of like nature who· cannot buy
a gun over the counter from a licensed
dealer from buying one through the
I have also gone over the testimony of
Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the
FBI, who states:
There 1e no doubt In my mind that the
easy accessibl.llty o! firearms Is responsible
for many killings, _ both Impulse and premeditated.
The statistics are grim and real!
Btlc. Strong measures must be taken, and
promptly, to protect the pul>11c.
And also of Quinn Tamm who is, incidentally,
a former Butte, Mont., man
and is now the director of the International
Association of Chiefs of Pollee,
Law-abiding citizens and the pollee are
tlred of living In a country which Is becoming
a veritable armed camp, erupting too
frequently Into violence, bringing death and
destru.ctlon by firearms to Innocent citizens
... The ease with which a.n.y person
can acquire flreanns ... Is a significant
factor In the prevalence of lawlessness and
violent crime In the United States.
I have also gone over again the recommendations
of the President's Commission
on Law Enforcement and the Administration
of Justice and have come to
the conclusion, in line with my own conscience
and on my own responsibility,
that I will support the Tydings fireanns
control bill. It is in accord with the remarks
which I made in the Senate on
June 10. It will, in my opinion, help to
reduce gun crimes, and it will have my
I ask unanimous consent that I may
be listed as a cosponsor of the Tydings
firearms control bill.
The PRESIDING OFFICER CMr.
HoLLINGS in the chairl. Without objection,
it is so ordered.
Mike Mansfield Papers, Series 21, Box 44, Folder 39, Mansfield Library, University of Montana
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