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S. 1592

FEDERAL FIREARMS ACT

THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 1965

U.S. SENATE,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee (composed of Senators Dodd, Hart, Bayh, Burdick, Tydings, Hruska, Fong, and Javits) met, pursuant to recess, at 10:10 a.m., in room 318, Old Senate Office Building, Senator Thomas J. Dodd presiding.

Present: Senators Dodd, Tydings, and Fong.

Also present: Carl L. Perian, staff director, and William C. Mooney, chief investigator.

Senator DODD. I call the hearing to order.

We are glad to have here Mr. James V. Bennett, presently consultant to the Bureau of Prisons, and for many years Director of the Bureau of Prisons, as a matter of fact, Director from 1937 to August of 1964, an outstanding public official. I was privileged to know him for a great many years. I consider him one of the outstanding men I have had an opportunity to know in the Government, anywhere, any time. He knows what high respect I have for him and how much I value his views on this subject.

I welcome him here.

Senator TYDINGS. Mr. Chairman, since the distinguished witness is also a constituent of mine, as well as an old colleague—we were both in the Justice Department together-I would like to echo your sentiments and welcome him this morning.

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STATEMENT OF JAMES V. BENNETT, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S.

BUREAU OF PRISONS

Mr. BENNETT. Thank you, Senator Dodd. Thank you, Senator Tydings.

Gentlemen of the committee, Mr. Chairman, I am happy to appear again in connection with support of this bill. I have been here, as you know, on several previous occasions because I am convinced that this is a practical way of going about making some reduction in our high crime rates. I submitted to the committee on previous occasions detailed information concerning and supporting my views, and I doubt that it is useful to go over them in detail. Perhaps I can be of more use by commenting on some of the testimony that has been given to your committee.

Senator DODD. Go right ahead.

Mr. BENNETT. First of all, I want to express, Senator Dodd, and gentlemen of the committee, my admiration for your efforts and for the efforts of your able staff to inform the American people of the need for this bill, what it does and what it does not do. As I have listened here to the testimony, I marvel at your patience and long-suffering tolerance toward witnesses who have come before you in opposition of this bill. They give the same old timeworn and tired arguments that have been raised against bills of this type since the hearings Senator Copeland of New York held on the original Federal Firearms Act some 30 years ago.

Senator, as the French proverb has it, the more things change the more they remain the same so far as the arguments of the NRA and the opponents of this bill go. They come here mouthing sweet nothings about how objective they are and how they want to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. They repeat twice-told tales about the causes of crime and how to prevent it by being tougher on persons convicted of crimes and by almost every other way than by making an honest, realistic beginning at stopping criminals, drug addicts, immature youngsters, and mentally disturbed persons from acquiring lethal weapons with no trouble. They really know little about how our increasing and growing problem of crime can be stopped or where to begin. They pay scant heed to the significant facts presented by our principal law enforcement officers concerning the crime problem and the relationship of the ease with which anyone can acquire a firearm to this problem. They probably never met a real, tough trigger man who is utterly without the slightest regard for the life of anyone who stands in his way. Well, I have, and so have you. Senator Dodd, and so has Senator Tydings. I know how a gun gives an otherwise cowardly crook or mental defective false courage. I

I ! know from being familiar with your splendid record, Senator Dodd, as U.S. attorney and as an assistant prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, and yours, Senator Tydings, that you do also.

If time permits, Senator Dodd, I will illustrate these actual killers with actual cases, for the moment, I will take only one, one Albert Lee Nussbaum. He has always been fascinated by firearms. In 1952. when he was 18, he was arrested for stealing a gun, and in 1957 he was given a 5-year sentence for transporting an unregistered machinegun in interstate commerce.

Thereafter it would be a violation of the Federal Firearms Act for a licensed dealer to sell him a firearm.

Nussbaum was released from prison early in 1960. Between De cember 1960 and June 1962 he led the robbery of eight banks, obtaining a total of about $250,000. The robberies were highly organized. involving walkie-talkies and an array of weapons.

. Incidentally, Senator, I am not sure that that button you have our there was made by Nussbaum, but if it was not, he made others like it. He was an excellent mechanic and an excellent gunsmith. He ued those guns ruthlessly.

During one of these robberies a bank guard was shot to death and a policeman escaped death only when the bullet lodged in his metal shield.

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In February 1962 an arsenal of weapons belonging to Nussbaum and his two companions was captured in a farmhouse raid. The arsenal included bulletproof vests, several thousand rounds of ammunition, an automatic carbine rifle, a dozen semiautomatic and submachineguns, 17 revolvers and hand grenades, and two 10-foot-long antitank guns.

Nussbaum purchased nearly all of these weapons from what were alleged to be legitimate sources. Clearly the Federal Firearms Act didn't work. No questions were asked. "None are really required by the law.

It is obvious, when such individuals can acquire firearms, that something must be done to put some brake upon the ease with which they acquire them. Your bill proposes to strengthen the Federal Firearms Act in a number of ways. One of these is by requiring licensed dealers to ask questions.

Nussbaum is opposed to firearms controls. As he told me, personally, he doesn't believe that they will work. He shares the arguments of the National Rifle Association.

Senator Dopp. That is very interesting. Mr. BENNETT. He was, as a matter of fact, once a member of the National Rifle Association. One reason may be that he was once a member of the National Rifle Association and several other gun clubs.

What gets me is how representatives of the National Rifle Association can come here with tongue in cheek and talk about how our security is being protected by an armed citizenry. That's pure humbug, as the Secretary of the Army's testimony showed, and they know it, and so do the 8 out of 10 American citizens who believe something is needed to curb the indiscriminate sale of firearms.

And when they get away from these and a dozen other similar specious arguments they begin to nitpick at minor and inconsequential provisions of the bill, to argue over the meaning of words about statistics, and even to complain about provisions which, in fact, are not in the bill at all. You know, Senator, that some lawyers, when they cannot make a valid case, or when defending a guilty client who has no real defense, undertake to obscure and becloud the fundamental issue, confuse and confound the jury, raise unfounded fears, arouse emotion and prejudice, and trump up irrelevancies or very remote possibilities. Several of these tax-exempt associations, federations, and foundations who regularly oppose firearms control legislation at the Federal, State, and local levels have become very proficient in these techniques.

Now take this argument that the bill places too much power in the hands of the Secretary of the Treasury and he will use it to harass legitimate sportsmen and hunters. Thomas L. Kimball, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation (p. 270 of the transcript), made much ado about the fact that there are seven places in the bill which give the Secretary of the Treasury authority to implement the statute by filling in specific procedural details by regulations, such as, for example, the information to be shown on the application for a dealer's license. Of course he didn't bother to say that the Secretary of the Treasury has had the authority under the Federal Firearms Act for 27 years to do precisely this, to prescribe the information on the license application form and that no evidence of abuse of the authority can be shown.

No more information than as shown on this form has been required of applicants on any such form in the past 27 years. Half of the questions on the form can be answered by merely placing a check mark in the appropriate box. All of the questions are clearly relevant to the obtaining of the license. The form is on one side of a regular-size sheet of paper, as you see. The average time which it should take to execute the dealers' license application form should not exceed 5 or 10 minutes. I have the form, Senator, which I shall file for the committee, a very simple little form. (The document referred to was marked "Exhibit No. 105," and is as follows:)

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5. Home address (No. ond street, city, county, Stote) (if o partnership, indicate address of eoch portner. If a corporation, indicate

address of principal place of business)

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10. Hemittance submitted by (make remittance payable to TREASURER OF

THE UNITED STATES)
11. Do you have a State or local license to engage in the Firearms

business?
If answered "Yes," ote type, serial number, and under what iurisdiction
issued; it ons wared "No, check appropriate box below:

NOT REQUIRED APPLICATION SUBMITTED

APPLICATION MELO PENDING ISSUANCE OF FEDERAL LICENSE [ OTHER (Explain in a separate attachment) 12. Are you registered as a manufacturer or dealer in Firearms under the

National fuearms Act? (United States Code, Title 26, Chapter 53)

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If ons wered "Yes," indicate class and special (occupational tax stamp number .....

13. Are you recistered as an importer or Exporter of arms under regulations
issued by the Department of State (Part 122 of Title 22, Code of Federal Yes

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No Regulations)?

Registry No.

Date to. If answered "Yes," indicate registry number and date of issuonce 14. Have you ever tat Permit or License to engage in the Firens business

dented, suster.de, et revoked by Federal, State or local authorities?

H answered "Yes" give full particulars on additional sheet The undersioned hereby applies for a license under the Federal Firearms Act (15 USC 903) to transport, ship, and recer and arr munition in Interstate and lotein commerce and states as follows: The applicant is not a fugitive trotstice

ar is not under indictment for, and has never been convicted of a crite punish.atlety imprison.

[ Yes

I No

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I declare that the above statements are true and correct. (Any person who makes any statement in applying the licer se ***** Act, knowing such statement to be false, shall upon conviction thereot, be fined not more than $2,000 or lit prisones lo not more than boty (15 US 905)) 15. Date of application 16. Signature

17. Title State whether individual ne, una

firm, or officer of corporakon!

INSTRUCTIONS

All questions must be answered fully. If additional space is re- S. A license shall not be issued to any person who is under qued, use additional sheets which must be identified as a part indictment for, or who has been convicted of a crime punishable of the application, properly signed by applicant, and securely by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, or who is a !! attached to application. Any person who knowingly makes a false gitive from justice", as defined in is USC 901 (6). staie aeri in applying for this license is subject to criminal prosecation (15 USC 905).

6. The license fee must be remitted with the application. Make ,

remittance payable to"TREASURER OF THE UNITED STATES''. Manufacturers and dealers desiring licenses shall make applicotico on this form to the District Director of Internal Revenue 7. The term "firearm'' means (1) any weapon, by whatever name 17 the district in which is located the applicant's place of busi- known, which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by ness. A separate application must be submitted for each place of action of an explosive; (2) any part or parts of such weapons; business. Each application shall be properly completed and and (3) a firearm muffler or firearm silencer. signed by the applicant.

8. The term "ammunition" means only pistol or revolver ammu2. Licenses are effective for a period of 1 year from the date nition; however, no distinction is recognized between "new" of 38uance.

and "reloaded" ammunition. It does not include shotgun shells,

metallic ammunition suitable for use only in rifles, or any .22 3. The term "manufacturer' means any person engaged-in the caliber rimfire ammunition. aan lacture or importation of firearms or ammunition or cartridge coses, primers, bullets of propellent powder for purposes of sale o distribution. A "manufacturer" must obtain a Federal Firearms 9. The license requirement of the Federal Firearms Act is in Act license as a manufacturer in order to lawfully transport, ship addition to, and not in lieu of the qualifying requirements of the o receive firearms, or any parts thereof, pistol or revolver ammu- National Firearms Act (United States Code, Title 26, Chapter 53). nition in interstate or foreign commerce. The license fee for On the other hand, special (occupational) taxes required under monuiacturers is $25.00 per annum.

the National Firearms Act are in addition to and not in lieu of

the license required under the Federal Firearms Act (United 4. The term "dealer" means any person engaged in the business States Code, Title 1, Chapter 18). of selling firearms of ammunition or cartridge cases, primers, builets or propellent powder at wholesale or retail, or any person 10. Under USC Title 15, Chapter 18, Section 902, penalties are engaged in the business of repairing such firearms or of manu

provided for the transportation, shipment, or receipt of firearms tacting or fitting special borrels, stocks, trigger mechanisms, or ammunition in interstate of foreign commerce by manufacturers * treech mechanisms to firearms. A "dealer" must obtain a

and dealers not licensed under the Act, and for other unlawful Federal Firearms Act license as a dealer in order to lowfully acts. transport, ship or receive firearms, or parts thereof, pistol or revolver ammunition in interstate or foreign commerce. The 11- 11. The exportation or importation of any arms or ammunition cerise fee for dealers is $1.00 per annum. A Federal Firearms caliber .22 or larger is subject to the requirement of a license Act license will not be issued to any person who is not engaged issued by the Secretary of State. For information concerning this in the firearms business, or does not intend to be engaged in the matter, contact the Office of Munitions Control, Department of firecres business. Persons who only intend to purchase firearms State, Washington 25, D. C. The State Department license is in oranuition for their own use and not for sale; to acquire such

addition to, but not in lieu of, the license required by the Fedcricles to further a hobby of gun collecting; or to rely on a Fed- eral Firestms Act, and the requirements under the National Fueeral Firearms Act license as authority for carrying a concealed arms Act. weapon as a Federal, state, or local permit, should not make application for a Federal Firearms Act license.

Mr. BENNETT. Now just exactly what is so burdensome or horrendous about this exercise of authority ?

This talk about "putting the regulations in the statute” is purely nonsense, as anyone knows who has drafted legislation. I think this approach is being used to confuse and befuddle the real issues. It is a stalling technique to delay action on this bill.

Mr. Orth, of the National Rifle Association, as I understood his testimony, said he had no intent to mislead his members when he filed that famous letter saying that the bill would give unlimited power to surround all sales with arbitrary and burdensome regulations and restrictions. How can he come here with a straight face and try to disclaim this, as unintentional, or weasel out of it on the grounds that the statement was prepared by a committee on which there were lawyers! I say in all sincerity this was sheer hypocrisy.

Certainly no objective or knowledgeable lawyer can believe the Secretary of the Treasury would issue regulations so arbitrary or capricious or complicated or impracticable or so burdensome that they would eliminate the private ownership of guns. There is nothing in the bill that would authorize this and if any attempt was made to do so there can be abundant appeal to the courts, the top administrative machinery of the Government and to Congress. Let them cite any case where the Secretary of the Treasury has abused the powers given him under the present Federal or National Firearms Acts to issue regulations.

Incidentally, there is seldom, as you know I could almost say never-a bill before Congress that does not vest large discretionary powers in a Government officer whether it's a voting rights bill, a tax

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