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Unfortunately, such a comprehension is not easily achieved.FOPA reflects not a simple, single legislative decision, but a complex series of compromises, many of which are only partially reflected in the record. Even where the record is complete, it is rarely clear.The first American handgun ban was enacted in 1837, restrictions on sale or carrying of handguns were commonplace by the turn of the century, and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws spent seven years in the 1920s preparing a uniform state act on the subject. Nonetheless, prior to 1934, the sole federal statute on the subject was a 1927 ban on use of the mails to ship firearms concealable on the person. The late 1920s and early 1930s brought, however, a growing perception of crime both as a major problem and as a national one. Public officials did much to support the perception; Attorney General Homer Cummings, for instance, publicly estimated that America was being terrorized by half a million armed thugs, a force larger than the contemporary United States Army. The mobility of the automobile enabled criminals, in those pre-police radio days, to move between jurisdictions before police units could generally be alerted; such criminal gangs found the submachinegun (a fully automatic, shoulder-fired weapon utilizing automatic pistol cartridges) and sawed-off shotgun deadly for close-range fighting.The resulting quest for law enforcement solutions approached the incredible.Copeland permitted an ad hoc committee of staff, National Rifle Association representatives, and Department of Justice representatives to prepare an improved draft. Early in the Seventy-fourth Congress, Copeland (noting, "I am always amazed when people agree" ) introduced the result as S. 3 was based squarely upon the interstate commerce clause. It would have required any "dealer" (defined as "any person engaged in the business of selling firearms" or repairing them) to obtain a one dollar license from the Secretary of Commerce before transporting, shipping, or receiving any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce.The license could be revoked upon criminal conviction for any violation of the bill.By expressly exempting interstate transportation of firearms from the reach of many state firearm laws, it affects state proceedings as well.
1975, was introduced in August 1963 and had extremely limited scope. 1975 would have required mail-order purchasers of handguns to provide the seller with notarized affirmations that they met certain age and other requirements.At one 1933 hearing, for instance, a Senate subcommittee heard, with no recorded skepticism, calls for a ban on felons riding in automobiles, universal fingerprinting of all citizens, mandatory "papers" for interstate travel, and enactment of national vagrancy laws authorizing warrantless search and arrest of anyone "reputed" to "habitually violate" the laws (with law enforcement officials to testify as to the arrestee's reputation). On a more practical plane, the Department of Justice proposed what became the National Firearms Act of 1934. 9066 would have applied to any "firearm," a term defined to mean "a pistol, revolver, shotgun having a barrel less than sixteen inches in length, or any other firearm capable of being concealed on the person, a muffler or silencer therefor, or a machine gun." "Machine gun" was in turn defined as any weapon capable of firing twelve or more shots without manual reloading. All persons engaged in the business of selling such "firearms" were to register with the Collector of Internal Revenue; all sales were subject to a special tax and were to be made pursuant to a written order form.The constitutional basis for federal intervention, very much an issue in 1934, was resolved by patterning the firearm legislation after the Narcotic Drug Act of 1914. The Narcotic Drug Act used the taxing power to support distributor licensing, requirements that sales be accompanied by a "written order" preserved by the seller and subject to inspection, and a ban on interstate shipment by unlicensed persons. Absent payment of the tax, a firearm could not be shipped in interstate commerce; moreover, knowing possession of a firearm transferred in violation of these requirements was itself a crime.Among the changes were elevations of the intent which must be proven to establish a violation (pp.646 ff.), a narrowed definition of who must obtain a dealer's license (pp.
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As the Narcotic Drug Act had survived legal challenge, albeit narrowly, it was consciously employed as a model for the new firearm legislation. What became the National Firearms Act was introduced as H. During committee consideration, a substitute bill was prepared by the Justice Department. 9741, the substitute embodied two additional and significant changes to the definition pistols and revolvers. Second, the definition of "machinegun" was changed to cover firearms that fired more than once for each pull of the trigger, regardless of how many shots they might fire before reloading was necessary.