Washington Outlook

Senate Passes Gun Safety Resolution, But Legislation Remains Stalled

By Ed Somers
May 29, 2000

On May 17, following the Million Mom March in Washington, DC and in cities across the nation, the U.S. Senate narrowly passed a non-binding resolution in support of gun safety legislation.

The resolution, passed by a vote of 50-49, commends the Million Mom March and calls for Congressional action on gun safety legislation by Memorial Day.

At the same time, the Senate voted 69-30 for a non-binding resolution calling for more aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws, tougher penalties for gun-related crimes and protection for the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

The House-Senate conference committee on juvenile justice legislation (HR 1501) has not met this year and has not reported a final bill. The Senate version of the bill contains gun safety reforms supported by The U.S. Conference of Mayors, while the House version contains no such provisions.

Debate between the House and Senate centers on the issue of background checks at gun show. Under current law, non-licensed private sellers of guns are not required to conduct Brady background checks on purchasers of weapons at gun shows and other such venues. The Senate provision would require that all sellers of weapons at gun shows be required to conduct a background check, and would provide up to three business days to conduct the check if needed.

While 75 percent of all background checks are completed within 30 seconds and 95 percent within 2 hours, when a check cannot be completed within 24 hours, the individual being checked is nearly 20 times more likely to be a felon or other prohibited buyer than the average purchaser according to federal statistics.

The House negotiators are arguing for a gun show provision which would allow as little as 24 hours for background checks, and apply this limitation to both non-licensed and licensed dealers, which would be a major weakening of current law.

Also at issue in the conference committee is the minimum size of a gun show to be covered and procedures for maintaining records of those checks.

In addition to closing the gun show loophole, the Senate bill includes:

  • a ban on the importation of large capacity (more than ten rounds) ammunition clips;

  • strict penalties for juveniles who buy firearms to commit a felony and for adults who knowingly supply firearms to juveniles to commit crimes;

  • a ban on juvenile possession (under 18) of semi-automatic assault weapons;

  • a requirement that child safety locks be sold with every handgun sold in the United States;

  • establishment of a lifetime ban from owning a gun for anyone convicted of a violent crime while a juvenile, but only after extensive and complicated changes in state and local practices; and

  • a call for the Federal Trade Commission to study whether the firearms industry tries to market guns to children.

Return to Previous Page.


U.S. Mayor

Home Search jwelfley@usmayors.org