Section of Criminal Justice Law
Adopted by House of Delegates
August 11, 1975
I. RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association, recognizing the alarming increase in serious and violent crimes committed by those in possession of handguns, and recognizing inadequacies of existing federal and state legislation concerning firearms, and having considered the established policy of this Association which supports "the enactment of appropriate state and federal legislation providing effective control of the importation, sale, transportation and possession of firearms," reaffirms said policy and recommends these immediate actions, which are consistent with such policy, as minimum steps to more fully implement the Gun Control Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-618, 82 Stat. 1213) and to give effect to the mandate of the existing policy of the American Bar Association:
A. RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association recommends that the Gun Control Act of 1968 be amended so as to cure demonstrated, legal deficiencies, specifically,
- That Section 922(a) (1) of the Act, making it unlawful for any person, except a licensed dealer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed importer to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms or ammunition, be amended to provide that, "It shall be unlawful for any person, except a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer, to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms or ammunition, their parts or components..."
- That Section 921(4) of the Act, which defines a "destructive device" as not including any device not likely to be used as a weapon or which the owner intends to use solely for sporting purposes, be amended to define the term "sporting purposes" as, "The term, 'firearm for sporting purposes' any rifle, shotgun, long gun, or handgun appropriate for the purposes of hunting, trap shooting, target shooting, or organized competition shooting, meeting prescribed specifications, including barrel length, weight, type of sight, type of grip, caliber, safety mechanisms, and other factors as prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury."
- That Section 923 of the Act, providing for the licensing of dealers, manufacturers and importers, be amended to upgrade the standards of eligibility for licensing of dealers, importers and manufacturers specified within Section 923(a), and be further amended to make the conferral of such licenses, pursuant to Section 923(c) and (d) a discretionary rather than a mandatory action, by amending these subsections to read, "(c) Upon the filing of a proper application fee, and payment of the prescribed fee, and upon completion of reasonable investigation made to determine that the applicant is not an individual, as provided by Section 922(b) (1), 922(g) and (h) of this Act, for whom it is unlawful to ship, transport, receive or possess a firearm, the Secretary may issue to a qualified applicant the appropriate license..." "(d) (1) Any application submitted under subsection (a) or (b) of this section may be approved if --"
- That Section 922(c) of the Act, providing for the execution of a sworn statement, by the transferee of a firearm, to the effect that the transferee is not an individual, within the meaning of the Act, for whom it is unlawful to possess a firearm, be amended to include a procedure, such as a waiting period between purchase and transfer of possession during which time the transferor shall report the transfer of the firearm and the identity of the transferee, to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
- That Section 922 of the Act, specifying unlawful acts, be amended to include the provisions of Section 842(j) and (k) of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-452, 84 Stat. 922) and that Section 923 of the Gun Control Act, concerning licensing, be amended to include the provisions of Section 843(b) (4) of the Organized Crime Control Act; the effect of both proposed amendments being to require dealers, manufacturers, transporters, and importers of firearms, ammunition, their parts or components, to provide adequate and secure storage facilities for firearms, or ammunition within their possession, in order to reduce the incidence of theft of firearms and ammunition, and also to report any losses or thefts of such items, within their possession, to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
- That, insofar as the language of the Act has been construed in U.S. v. Bass 404 U.S. 336 (1971), contrary to the intent of the Congress, to require, after the effective date of said Act, a nexus of a transaction in interstate commerce, with proof of venue, in order for the receipt or possession of a firearm by a convicted felon to be a violation of the Act, that Section 1202 of the Act, providing "receives, possesses, or transports in commerce or affecting commerce," be amended to change the jurisdictional basis for prohibition of possession of a firearm, under the present statute, from reliance upon transport in interstate commerce to (1) constituting a burden on commerce, and (2) a threat to the effective enforcement of the Federal criminal laws, including those laws designed to protect the safety of the President.
RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association recommends that the Gun Control Act of 1968 be further strengthened by more effective implementation of existing firearms controls, specifically,
- That the Judiciary be encouraged to impose severe penalties, to the extent consistent with the American Bar Association Standards for the Administration of Criminal Justice, for the possession or use of a firearm or facsimile in the commission of a crime, as provided for by Section 924(c) of the Act.
- That the Congress and the Executive Branch, through the President, be urged to provide adequate appropriation and manpower resources to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and to other Federal law enforcement officials, both prosecutive and investigative, for the purpose of enforcing the Act.
- That periodic review be made of the eligibility of the possessors of handguns, consistent with the safeguards of due process.
II. RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association, recognizing the crisis created by the increase in serious and violent crimes committed by those in possession of handguns, recommends that additional legislation be enacted, specifically,
A. RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association, urges that Federal investigators and prosecutors should be directed wherever feasible, to assign a high priority and major importance to alleged firearms offenses, particularly those which are repeated offenses committed by previously convicted felons. To that end, the American Bar Association supports the objectives of the current Career Criminal Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, designed to target such offenses and criminals for rapid prosecution through the criminal justice system.
B. RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges effective cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting firearms offenses, and accordingly supports the objectives of the U.S. Department of Justice's Federal - State Law Enforcement Committees, which are now being established in each federal judicial district to foster such cooperation.
III. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the President of the Association or his designee be authorized to communicate the positions taken on these recommendations to the appropriate individuals or entities, including, where warranted, testimony before committees of the Congress.