Thursday, February 15, 2024

Bills to Reform the Firearms Code on Address Pass House Committee on January 18

Congressman Dusty Johnson, (R) South Dakota, has introduced legislation to remove an infringement on Second Amendment rights currently existing as part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) paperwork requirements.  To purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer in firearms, a person is required to list a physical address. They are not allowed to purchase a firearm if they list a Post Office Box or a Private Mail Box (PMB) address on the form 4473.  A second bill authorizes Tribal Identification to be used when purchasing firearms from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder.



People who do not have a permanent physical address should not be denied their Second Amendment rights. Senator Mire Rounds, (R) South Dakota, introduced the legislation in the Senate.  From the press release by Representative Dusty Johnson:

 “Just because a law-abiding citizen relies on a P.O. Box as their primary address doesn’t mean their Second Amendment rights should be limited,” said Johnson. “South Dakota is home to many RV-ers and active-duty military who have this problem when trying to obtain a firearm. My bill seeks to correct that.”

“As a supporter of the Second Amendment, I am committed to protecting the rights of lawful gun owners,” said Rounds. “The Traveler’s Gun Rights Act removes an unfair prohibition facing Americans with unique living situations. This legislation will make certain that law-abiding citizens do not face a burdensome roadblock when trying to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

On  January 18, both bills, the Travelers Gun Rights Act and the Tribal Firearms Access Act passed the House Judiciary committee.  The next step is to have the entire House vote on the bills.

Here is some of the relevant language in the proposed Travelers Gun Rights Act: From

‘‘(B) For purposes of subparagraph (A)(i)—

‘‘(i) an individual resides in a State if the individual is present in the State with the intention of making a home in that State; and

‘‘(ii) an individual who maintains a home in more than 1 State is a resident of each such State during the time when the individual is present in that State.

‘‘(39) The term ‘resident’, with respect to a State, means an individual who satisfies clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of paragraph (38)(A) with respect to that State.’’; and

(2) by striking subsection (b).

(b) NATIONAL INSTANT CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM.—Section 922(t)(1)(D) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘‘transferee containing a photograph of the transferee.’’ and inserting the following: ‘‘transferee—

    ‘‘(i) containing a photograph of the transferee; and

‘‘(ii) containing—

              ‘‘(I) the address of the residence of the transferee; or

             ‘‘(II) the address for a private mail-box or post office box maintained by the transferee, if the transferee does not have  a physical residence in any State.’’. 

Until 1968, people in the United States were free to purchase firearms anywhere in the United States, if such purchases were not forbidden by state law. People routinely purchased firearms directly form manufacturers through the mail. Relying on the theory crime is caused by access to guns, the 1968 Gun Control Act was passed to restrict access to firearms. The act prevented dealers who did not have a federal firearms license, from acquiring firearms across state lines. Individuals were only allowed to purchase from dealers licensed by the federal government. Sales between individuals were not affected.

The law was later expanded, by interpretation, to affect individuals who were not dealers.  The law was interpreted to mean an individual could not purchase a firearm from another individual who did not have a federal firearms license, if the purchase was in a different state from the residence of the the person doing the purchasing.  The ban on individuals purchasing from individuals was not upheld in court case until 2010! The prohibition on individual to individual transfer between residents of different states does not apply to inheritance or to loans or rentals for lawful sporting purposes. Ban on Individual firearms transfers found in 2010 court case.

206 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(5). Exception is made for transfers to carry out a bequest or intestate disposition, as well as temporary loans or rentals for lawful sporting purposes. Id. The prohibition on out-of-state transfers may apply to transfers to citizens of other states or even to citizens of foreign countries. See United States v. Sprenger, 625 F.3d 1305, 1308 (10th Cir. 2010); but see United States v. James, 172 F.3d 588, 593 (8th Cir. 1999 (in dicta, characterizing statute as prohibiting transfer of firearms “to other unlicensed persons who reside in a different state”).

The power to regulate such individual activity has been justified by Progressive judges in a bizarre interpretation of the commerce clause. In the Progressive interpretation of the commerce clause, all economic activity is claimed to be interstate commerce. If all economic activity is interstate commerce, there is no reason for an interstate commerce clause.  The requirement to have a federal firearms license is not a longstanding, historical tradition in the United States. It only dates from 1938. The ban on individual to individual transfers between residents of different states is much more recent, occurring some time after 1968.  From Congressional Research Service:

Residents of the United States who do not reside in any state are prohibited from receiving any firearms other than for lawful sporting purposes. 

 210 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(3). The only other exceptions to this prohibition are for bequest, intestate succession, or transportation of firearms acquired prior to the statute’s effective date. Id. A separate provision prohibits any non-FFL who does not reside in any state from receiving any firearms other than for lawful sporting purposes. Id. § 922(a)(9).

The House is nearly evenly divided, with a slim majority of Republicans.  Passage of this commonsense bill is uncertain. Passage in a Senate with a Democratic party majority is less likely. To expect President Biden, the most anti-Second Amendment president since Lyndon Baines Johnson, to sign such a bill,  would be extremely optimistic.

©2024 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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