Since 1938, when the Federal Firearms Act was enacted, Federal
licenses have been required for all gun and ammunition dealers. The 1938
law also required the registration of guns and ammunition as the Secr etary
of the Treasury directed. Federal orders issued under the 1938 law contained
well over 100 detailed requirements covering the sale of guns and
ammunition including (1) a full and adequate description of each firearm;
(2) the manufacturer; (3) the manufacturer's serial number; (4) the caliber
or gauge; (5) the model and type; (6) the name and address of each person
from whom received together with (7) the date of acquisition; (8) the disposition
made including ( 9) the name and address of the person to whom sold
and (10) the date of disposition. Violators of the 1938 law could be jailed
for 5 years and fined $2,000.
An even earlier Federal gun control law was the National Firearms
Act of 1934. It imposed, among other things, registration and licensing
restrictions on persons possessing sawed-off shotguns or rifles, machine
guns, gun mufflers, or gun silencers.
So to repeat, the 1934 and 1938 laws were replaced and updated by
the law passed in 1968. In fact, the 1968 law removed some of the registration
features in favor of mail order bans and emphasized more effective action
at the State and local levels.
2. The Mansfield-Bennett Amendment struck down an ammunition regulation never
intended by Congress.
(A) In its application of the so-called ammunition provision, the
Treasury Department called for the collection of a great deal of specific data
covering each sale of ammunition. This was tantamount to registration and was
neither intended nor suggested by Congress. As a result, the law-abiding gunowning
public was burdened immensely in efforts to purchase ammunition. There
was little or no corresponding benefit. The Mansfield-Bennett Amendment repealed
this provision for long gun and shotgun ammunition. Such action should be taken
whenever the intent of Congress is not being served or when the law appears not
to meet the objectives sought.
(B) The McGee-Mansfield Amendment to cover twenty-two ammunition
and ammunition for other revolvers and pistols has been introduced and cosponsored
by twenty-nine other Senators to seek to do the same in this area
as the Mansfield-Bennett Amendment did in the long gun-shotgun area. It is
our hope that, like the Mansfield-Bennett Amendment, the McGee-Mansfield
Amendment will be passed by the Congress this year and enacted into law.
3· The Mansfield mandatory jail sentence bill is another tool in the fight against
crime and violence.
Almost three-fourths of the Senate supported the 1968 gun law revisions
to help the fight against crime and violence. The Mansfield gun bill
is another vital crime-fighting tool and if enacted will impose mandatory prison
sentences against those who commit crimes using a gun. This mandatory sentence
would be imposed separately and solely against the criminal for his choice to
use a gun. This bill--S. 849--has already passed the Senate unanimously.
Mike Mansfield Papers, Series 21, Box 51, Folder 21, Mansfield Library, University of Montana
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