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Roll Call

The House : Weakened Gun Law

April 17, 1986

A bill to weaken the nation's gun-control law was passed by the House on a vote of 292 to 130. This was a victory for the National Rifle Assn. and a defeat for police groups such as the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police.

The bill softens the 1968 Gun Control Act. In part, it allows rifles and shotguns to be sold across state lines, makes it tougher for federal agents to inspect firearms sellers, allows dealers to make unrecorded sales from their private collections, eases other record-keeping requirements on them and drops the requirement that ammunition sellers be licensed.

The anti-gun lobby succeeded in keeping the existing ban on interstate sales of handguns. But the bill permits handguns and long guns to be transported from state to state. The measure (HR 4332) was sent to conference with the Senate.

Sponsor Harold L. Volkmer (D-Mo.) said his bill "represents the second-most important step in the history of American gun owners. The first was the Second Amendment to the Constitution," which guarantees the right to keep and bear arms.

Opponent Peter W. Rodino Jr. (D-N.J.) said police officers overwhelmingly opposed the legislation because "there were 700 or so killed in the last decade, and they wonder whether or not they might be next."

Members voting yes supported a top-to-bottom softening of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

How They Voted Yea Nay No vote Rep. Moorhead (R) x Rep. Roybal (D) x Rep. Waxman (D) x

Interstate Handgun Sales

An amendment to continue the existing federal ban on the interstate sale of handguns was adopted by the House on a vote of 233 to 184. This was the anti-gun lobby's only victory during two days of debate on legislation (HR 4332, above) to soften the 1968 Gun Control Act, enacted after the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

As later passed, the bill legalizes the interstate sale of rifles and shotguns.

Amendment supporter Bruce A. Morrison (D-Conn.) said of the proposal to permit interstate handgun sales: "The police have called this the 'cop killer' provision. It should be stricken."

Opponent Tommy Robinson (D-Ark.) called the ban excessive because "the bottom line is . . . most criminals in this country do not abide by the Gun Control Act of 1968."

Members voting yes wanted to ban the interstate sales of handguns.

How They Voted Yea Nay No vote Rep. Moorhead (R) x Rep. Roybal (D) x Rep. Waxman (D) x

Tough Gun Law

A sweeping amendment to preserve the tough nature of the 1968 Gun Control Act, a law seen as unconstitutional by the National Rifle Assn. and other lobbyists against gun legislation, was rejected by the House on a vote of 176 to 248.

Supported by most law enforcement lobbies, the amendment in part sought to outlaw the use of silencers, require that local police be notified of all sales of handguns, outlaw the interstate sale and transport of handguns, permit federal agents to make up to two unannounced inspections annually of gun dealers, retain a broad regulatory definition of "dealer" and prevent any softening of the legal test for prosecuting errant gun dealers.

Supporter Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.) said the amendment would "give America new freedom . . . to be free in our homes and of the fear of guns, free to walk our streets knowing that this proliferation of guns will stop."

Opponent John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) said the amendment would have little effect on criminals but "would seriously impair the rights of law-abiding citizens and sportsmen."

Members voting yes wanted to keep the 1968 Gun Control Act essentially intact.

How They Voted Yea Nay No vote Rep. Moorhead (R) x Rep. Roybal (D) x Rep. Waxman (D) x

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