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Keep and Bear Arms

NRA President's Testimony During Congressional Debate
of the National Firearms Act of 1934

Introduction by Angel Shamaya
Director@KeepAndBearArms.com
Transcript from U.S. Government Printing Office

March 4, 2004

KeepAndBearArms.com -- Congressional hearings over the National Firearms Act of 1934 (H.R.9066) took place April 16 & 18 and May 14, 15, & 16 of 1934. Then-NRA President Karl T. Frederick testified on behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA). His testimony is below and includes the text in full plus scanned images of each page.

Before you read the full transcript, your attention is drawn to a few of excerpts that might interest you as a friend of the original meaning, purpose and intent of the Second Amendment. Some NRA supporters are fond of saying that the NRA was not involved in gun-related legislative activities that far back. Somehow, they believe that repeating that myth often enough will make it true.

NRA President Frederick's testimony began by explaining that he had "been giving this subject of firearms regulations study and consideration over a period of 15 years" and that "the suggestions resulting from that study of mine...have resulted in the adoption in many States of regulatory provisions suggested by us." He later described his active role in helping pass D.C.'s then-recent, ultra-stringent gun controls. Having helped enact gun control legislation was a matter of pride for NRA's president -- as you shall see below. The D.C. gun controls of which he candidly boasted included the following provisions, among others:

  prohibited carrying a concealed pistol without a license -- with an exemption, of course, for law enforcement officers
 
justification for getting licensed to carry a firearm if "applicant has good reason to fear injury to his person or property" -- and the license application process included a mugshot, treating lawful gun owners like common criminals
  a two-day waiting period to purchase a handgun -- with an exemption, of course, for law enforcement officers -- even though violent stalkers don't tend to wait to attack
  required thorough record-keeping by gun dealers, of all transactions and every buyer
  required that the seller deliver all of a buyer's personal information to the police within hours of the transaction, including the make, model and serial number of the firearm
  mandated that gun dealers be licensed at the discretion of the police
  banned altering firearms' serial numbers or other identifying marks

The copy of the text of that law, which the NRA had helped enact, begins on page 45 below. Frederick described the law as "the uniform firearms act which we [the NRA] sponsored" -- and submitted the full copy to the congressmen debating the enactment of NFA'34. The Washington D.C. gun controls mentioned in brief above were approved on July 8, 1932 -- nearly two years before the NRA's President gave the following testimony. 

Mr. Frederick's testimony before Congress included a variety of questions from the elected officials present that day. The following question was asked by Congressman CLEMENT C. DICKINSON, Missouri, of the Committee on Ways and Means:

"Mr. DICKINSON. I will ask you whether or not this bill interferes in any way with the right of a person to keep and bear arms or his right to be secure in his person against unreasonable search; in other words, do you believe this bill is unconstitutional or that it violates any constitutional provision?"

Notice that Rep. Dickinson used the phrase "right of a person," as opposed to "right of a State." In 1934, it was commonly understood that the Second Amendment's right of the people meant just that: people. Person is the singular of people. The congressman's question was a natural one to ask.

Here is how the NRA's president responded:

"Mr. FREDERICK. I have not given it any study from that point of view. I will be glad to submit in writing my views on that subject, but I do think it is a subject which deserves serious thought." [emphasis added]

The National Firearms Act of 1934 was a virtual ban on machineguns, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles and sound suppressors -- a ban for commoners, that is. It ultimately placed a $200 transfer tax on these products (with the usual exception for law enforcement officers, of course). Only the well-to-do could afford that kind of money -- especially for shotguns that were going for five or ten dollars and sound suppressors that were even cheaper. At that time, you could get a brand new, high quality machinegun for around a hundred bucks and a worn one for cheaper. Tripling the price overnight put these already-expensive weapons out of reach for the average Depression Era gun owner.

A decade and a half devoted to the study of (and methodical, proud implementation of) gun control regulation, yet the NRA President had not given any serious thought to how the Second Amendment rights of NRA members and gun owners at large might be affected by a machinegun and short-barreled shotgun ban -- even though he knew he'd be testifying before Congress on the proposed legislation. Furthermore, as his testimony shows, he also believed that the States could ban firearms without violating the Second Amendment.

Before you dig in to the full transcript, here's another statement the NRA's President made that day:

MR. FREDERICK: ... "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. ... I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses" [emphasis added]

You'll find that section of his testimony on page 59, below.

But before you read on, take a moment and replace the words "weapons" and "guns" with "Bible" and "religious materials" in the above quote and see how it sounds. To save you the time in transposing the words yourself, here is the same quote with the words replaced as suggested:

"I have never believed in the general practice of carrying Bibles. I seldom carry one. ... I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of religious materials. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses"

Religious texts are covered by the First Amendment. Firearms are covered by the Second Amendment. The analogy seems quite fair.

NOTE OF HISTORICAL INTEREST:  As a matter of purely historical interest, Frederick's testimony took place on April 18, 1934 -- the exact same day Adolf Hitler named J von Ribbentrop as Germany's "Ambassador for Disarmament." See: http://www.hiphistory.com/e/1934/apr18.65305.html and http://www.hiphistory.com/d/apr18.html. That's not to suggest a relationship between the two events, of course -- that would be silly. But history buffs might find it rather intriguing. NFA'34 is the foundation for all federal gun control and has been used in courts to justify many state gun controls -- and gun control is clearly about disarmament. Odd timing. Almost as odd as the fact that the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968 was copied from the Nazi Firearms Act of 1938. But coincidences happen, and this is surely just another weird one.

Finally, if you've been misled to believe that the Second Amendment was not intended to protect the weapons affected by the National Firearms Act of 1934, do yourself a big favor and read: U.S. v. Miller and Short-Barreled Shotguns by Brian Puckett. If the U.S. Supreme Court ever decides to give a fair hearing to the Second Amendment grievances the people have been trying to bring in court, Puckett's article will be highly useful as evidence to undo the damage the oft-misapplied Miller case has wrought on gun rights. Miller challenged NFA'34 up to the Supreme Court, resulting in a truly bizarre ruling that has been used to abuse gun owners ever since.

--AS

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NATIONAL FIREARMS ACT
==========================

HEARINGS

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

SEVENTY-THIRD CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

on

H.R. 9066
__________

APRIL 16, 18, AND MAY 14, 15, AND 16, 1934

58278

UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON: 1934


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COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ROBERT L DOUGHTON, North Carolina, Chairman

SAMUEL B. HILL, Washington ALLEN T. TREADWAY, Massachusetts
THOMAS H. CULLEN, New York ISAAC BACHARACH, New Jersey
CHRISTOPHER D. SULLIVAN, New York FRANK CROWTHER, New York
MORGAN G. SANDERS, Texas JAMES A. FREAR, Wisconsin
JOHN W. McCORMACK, Massachusetts HAROLD KNUTSON, Minnesota
CLEMENT C. DICKINSON, Missouri DANIEL R. REED, New York
DAVID J. LEWIS, Maryland ROY O. WOODRUFF. Michigan
FRED M. VINSON, Kentucky THOMAS A. JENKINS, Ohio
JERE COOPER, Tennessee WILLIAM E. EVANS, California
ASHTON C. SHALLENBERGER, Nebraska THOMAS C. COCHRAN, Pennsylvania
CHARLES WEST, Ohio
JOHN W. BOEHNE, JR., Indiana
JAMES V, McCLINTIC, Oklahoma
CLAUDE A. FULLER, Arkansas

E. W. G. HUFFMAN, Clerk

 


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CONTENTS
_____________________

Statements of— PAGE
Allen, J. Weston, chairman National Anti-Crime Commission, Newton, Mass. 102, 127
Cummings, Hon. Homer S., Attorney General of the United States 4
Frederick, Karl T., president National Rifle Association of America 38
Gordon, Seth, president American Game Association 81, 161
Imlay, Charles V., representing the National Conference on Uniform Law 67, 137
Keenan, Hon. Joseph B., Assistant Attorney General, Department or Justice 26, 64, 82, 86, 133, 161
Nichols, Frank C., vice president Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Co. 151
Reckord, Hon. Milton A., adjutant general of the State of Maryland 33, 107
Ryan, W. B., president Auto Ordnance Co 66
Taylor, John Thomas, representing the American Legion 80

 


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NATIONAL FIREARMS ACT

MONDAY. APRIL 16, 1934

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS,
Washington, D.C.

The committee met at 10 a.m., Hon. Robert L. Doughton (chairman) presiding.

The CHAIRMAN. We have met this morning to consider several matters, one of which is H.R. 9066, to provide for the taxation of manufacturers, importers, and dealers in small arms and machine guns, and other weapons.

    The Attorney General of the United States is here and I understand sponsors and is very much interested in this or in some similar legislation. We will be glad to have him proceed to explain the bill and make any statement with reference to it that he may deem proper.

[EDITOR'S NOTE:  Below is the text of the bill being debated herein. It was supplied via the original Government Printing Office archives. Scanned images at the bottom of each page allow you to see the original document to confirm this for yourself.]

(H.R. 9066, 73d-Cong. 2d sess.)

A BILL To provide for the taxation of manufacturers, importers, and dealers in small arms and machine guns, to tax the sale or other disposal of such weapons, and to restrict importation and regulate interstate Transportation thereof

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That for the purposes of this act the term “firearm” means 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.

The term “machine gun” means any weapon designed to shoot automatically or semiautomatically twelve or more shots without reloading.

The term “person” includes a partnership, company, association, or corporation, as well as a natural person.

The term “continental United States” means the States of the United States and the District of Columbia.

The term “importer” means any person who imports or brings firearms into the continental United States, for sale.

The term “manufacturer” means any person who is engaged within the continental United States in the manufacture of firearms, or who otherwise produces therein any firearm for sale of disposition.

The term “dealer” means any person not a manufacturer or importer engaged within the continental Unites States in the business of selling firearms. The term “dealer” shall include pawnbrokers and dealers in used firearms.

The term “interstate commerce” means transportation from any State or Territory or District, or any insular possession of the United States (including the Philippine Islands), to any other State or Territory or District, or any insular possession of the United States (including the Philippine Islands).

Sec. 2. 

(a) Within fifteen days after the effective date of this act, or upon first engaging in business, and thereafter on or before the 1st day of July of each year, every importer, manufacturer, and dealer in firearms shall register with the collector of internal revenue for each district in which such business is to be carried on his name or style, principal place of business, and places of business in such district, and pay a special tax at the following rates: Importers or manufacturers, $_____ a year; dealers, $_____ a year. Where the tax is payable on the 1st day of July in any year it shall be computed for one year; where the tax is


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NATIONAL FIREARMS ACT

payable on any other day it shall be computed proportionately from the 1st day of the month in which the liability to the tax accrued to the 1st day of July following.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person required to register under the provisions of this section to import, manufacture, or deal in firearms without having registered and paid the tax imposed by this section.

(c) All laws (including penalties) relating to the assessment, collection, remission, and refund of special taxes, so far as applicable to and not inconsistent with the provisions of this act, are extended and made applicable to the taxes imposed by this section.

SEC. 3. 

(a) There shall be levied, collected, and paid upon firearms sold, assigned, transferred, given away, or otherwise disposed of in the continental United States a tax at the rate of $_____ per machinegun and $_____ per other firearm, such tax to be paid by the person so disposing thereof, and to be represented by appropriate stamps to be provided by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury; and the stamps herein provided shall be affixed to the order for such firearm, hereinafter provided for. The tax imposed by this section shall be in addition to any import duty imposed on such firearm.

(b) All provisions of law (including penalties) applicable with respect to the taxes imposed by section 800 of the Revenue Act of 1926 (U.S. C., Supp. VII, title 26, sec. 900) shall, insofar as not inconsistent with the provisions of this act, be applicable with respect to the taxes imposed by this section.

SEC. 4. 

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, transfer, give away, or otherwise dispose of any firearm except in pursuance of a written order from the person seeking to obtain such article; on an application form issued in blank for that purpose by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Such order shall identify the applicant by his name, address, fingerprints, photograph, and such other means of identification as may be prescribed by regulations under this act. If the applicant is other than an individual, such application shall be made by an executive officer thereof.

(b) Every disposing of each firearm shall set forth in each copy of such order the manufacturer's number or other mark identifying such firearm, and shall forward a copy of such order to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The original thereof, with stamps affixed, shall be returned to the applicant.

(c) No person shall sell, assign, transfer, give away, or otherwise dispose of a firearm which has previously been disposed of, (on or after the effective date of this act) unless such person, in addition to complying with subsection (b), transfers therewith the stamp-affixed order provided for in this section, or each prior disposal, and compiles with such other rules and regulations as may be imposed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of Treasury, for proof of payment of all taxes on such firearm.

SEC. 5. It shall be unlawful for any person to receive or possess any firearm which has at any time been disposed of in violation of section 3 or 4 of this act.

SEC. 6. Any firearm which has at any time been disposed of in violation of the provisions of this act shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture, and all the provisions of internal-revenue laws related to searches, seizures, and forfeiture of unstamped articles are extended to and made to apply to the articles taxed under this act, and the persons upon whom these taxes are imposed.

SEC. 7. Each manufacturer and importer of a firearm shall identify it with a number of other identification mark approved by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, such number or mark to be affixed or otherwise placed thereon in a manner approved by such Commissioner.

SEC. 8. Importers, manufacturers, and dealers shall keep such books and records and render such returns in relation to the transactions in firearms specified in this act, as the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, may by regulations require.

SEC. 9. 

(a) No firearms shall be imported or brought into the United States or any territory under its control or jurisdiction (including the Philippines Islands), except that, under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, any firearm may be imported or brought in when (1) the purpose thereof is shown to be lawful and (2) such firearm is unique or of a type which cannot be obtained within the United States or such territory.

(b) It shall be unlawful (I) fraudulently, or knowingly to import or bring any firearms into the United States or any territory under its control or jurisdiction


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3

NATIONAL FIREARMS ACT

in violation of the provisions of this act; or (2) knowingly to assist in so doing; or (3) to receive, conceal, buy, sell, or or in any manner facilitate the transportation, concealment, or sale of any such firearm after being imported or brought in, knowing the same to have been imported contrary to law. Whenever on trial for a violation of this section the defendant shown to have or to have had possession of such imported firearm, such possession shall be deemed sufficient evidence to authorize conviction unless the defendant explains such possession to the satisfaction of the jury.

SEC. 10. 

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person who has not first obtained a permit as hereinafter provided, to send, ship, carry, or deliver any firearm in interstate commerce. Nothing contained in this section shall apply--

(1) To any manufacturer, importer, or dealer who has complied with the provisions of section 2;

(2) To any person who has complied with the provisions of sections 3 and 4 in respect to the firearm so sent, shipped, carried, or delivered by him; 

(3) To a common carrier in the ordinary routine of its business as a common carrier;

(4) To an employee, acting within the scope of his employment, of any person not violating this section;

(5) To any person who has lawfully obtained a license for such firearm from the State, Territory , District, or possession to which such firearm is to be sent, shipped, or delivered;

(6) To any United States, State, county, municipality, District, Territorial, or insular officer or official acting within the scope of his official duties.

(b) Application for such permit may be made to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue at Washington or to such officers at such places as he may designate by regulations to be prescribed by him, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, for the issuance of such permit. Such regulations shall provide for a written application containing the photograph and fingerprint of the applicant, or employee, the serial number an description of the firearm to be transported, and other information requested by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue or his agent.

(c) Such permits shall be issued upon payment of a fee of $_____, provided the Commissioner of Internal Revenue is satisfied that the proposed transaction is lawful.

(d) Any person found in possession of a firearm shall be presumed to have transported such firearm in interstate commerce contrary to the provisions hereof, unless such person has been a bona fide resident for a period of not less than sixty days of the State wherein he is found in possession of such a firearm, or unless such person has in his possession a stamp-affixed order therefor required by this act. This presumption may be rebutted by competent evidence.

SEC. 11. The Commission of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, shall make all needful rules and regulations for carrying the provisions of this act into effect.

SEC. 12. This act shall not apply to the sale, assignment, transfer, gift, or other disposal of firearms (1) to the United States Government, any State, Territory, or possession of the United States, or to any political subdivision thereof, or to the District of Columbia; (2) to any peace officer or any Federal officer designated by regulations of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

SEC. 13. Any person who violates or fails to comply with any of the requirements of this act shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $_____ or be imprisoned for not more than _____ years, or both, in the discretion of the court.

SEC. 14. The taxes imposed by paragraph (2) of section 600 of the Revenue Act of 1926 (U.S. C., Supp. VII, title 26, sec. 1120) and by action 610 of the Revenue Act of 1932 (47 Stat. 169, 264), shall not apply to any firearm on which the tax provided by section 3 of this act has been paid.

SEC. 15. If any provision of this act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, the remainder of the act, and the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected thereby. 

SEC. 16. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after the date of its enactment.

SEC. 17. This act may be cited as the "National Firearms Act."


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NATIONAL FIREARMS ACT

...

General RECKORD.   Mr. Doughton, if I may, I would like to present Mr. Karl Frederick, who is the President of the National Rifle Association of America. He is the vice president of the United States Revolver Association. He is a member of the Campfire Club. He is also a member of the New York Fish, Game, and Forest League and is vice president of the New York Conservation Council, Inc.; a former member of the Commission on Fire Arms Legislation of the National Crime Commission.

The CHAIRMAN.    Mr. Frederick, will you please come forward and give your name and address to the reporter, for the record?

STATEMENT OF KARL T, FREDERICK, PRESIDENT NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, 128 BROADWAY, NEW YORK CITY

Mr. FREDERICK.    My name is Karl T. Frederick, 128 Broadway, New York.

     I think the General has sufficiently indicated, unless some of you wish me to elaborate upon it, my representation and background. I have been giving this subject of firearms regulations study and consideration over a period of 15 years, and the suggestions resulting from that study of mine and the people with whom I have been associated, such as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform Laws, have resulted in the adoption in many States of regulatory provisions suggested by us.  [emphasis added]

     As General Reckord indicated, the national act for the District of Columbia is the uniform firearms act which was first drafted by me about 14 years ago, and which was, in that early time, brought to the attention of the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform Laws, who appointed a subcommittee under the chairmanship of Mr. Imlay, who is here, and which gave about 7 years of study to the matter; which produced the most extensive and thoroughgoing investigation of the subject of firearms control that has ever been made by anybody in this country; and resulted, after successive


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NATIONAL FIREARMS ACT

revisions, in the final form of the uniform act which has been, as I say, adopted by the Congress for the District of Columbia.

         It is the law in Pennsylvania. It has been the Law in California for many years. Portions of it are to be found in New York, New Jersey, Indiana, New Hampshire, and many other States.

        This subject is a subject to which a large amount of careful and intensive thought has been given. I must, however, apologize to your committee if, as I anticipate, the remarks which I have to make with respect to this particular bill appear to be somewhat disconnected and not presented with the logical form with which I would otherwise desire to present them. The reason for that is that since I arrived this morning on the night train I have for the first time seen the bill. I have had earlier bills which were first presented in the Senate and I have had some typewritten notes with respect to some prospective contents of a bill which was supposed or expected shortly to appear in the House.

        My consideration has, therefore, been almost wholly based upon that earlier and somewhat scrappy information which has come to me; because, as I say, this printed bill I have seen for the first time this morning.

        As General Reckord said, we regret that we are forced to appear without having had an opportunity to completely formulate our views. We had expected that we would be, as he said, informed as to the proposals emanating concretely from the Attorney General's office. But, apart from the conference which I had with General Reckord and with Mr. Keenan about 2 1/2 months ago, and apart from a courteous letter of acknowledgement of certain information which I sent to him about 6 weeks ago, I have had no information whatever with respect to their proposals from the Attorney General's office.

        I will come immediately to certain concrete criticisms which I think should properly be made of this bill, and in the course of my remarks I shall be glad to attempt to answer any questions any of you desire to address to me, and I may from to time branch out a little bit into consideration of the more general features of such legislation which underlie the entire subject.

        The first criticism that I have to make is on page 1, lines 8 to 10. The definition of the term "machine gun" I think is wholly inadequate and unsatisfactory. A gun which fires automatically or semiautomatically less than 12 shots is not under this definition a machine gun. And yet, in my opinion, it is in fact a machine gun and should be so classified.

        The well known Thompson submachine gun which has figured in the papers extensively; the so-called "Browning" automatic rifle or the Monitor rifle, which is a somewhat similar weapon designed for police use, are both in fact capable of being operated automatically and semiautomatically. The number of shots which they may discharge is dependent solely on the size or the content of the magazine and if you use those guns with magazines holding only 11 shots they would not be, within the terms of this bill, a machine gun.

Mr. WOODRUFF. Will you yield for a question there?

Mr. FREDERICK. Certainly.

Mr. WOODRUFF. As a matter of fact, the only thing that controls or limits the number of shots that an automatic rifle or shotgun can fire is the magazine itself, is it not?


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NATIONAL FIREARMS ACT

Mr. FREDERICK. I think that is correct.

Mr. WOODRUFF. That is the only way in which you can limit the number of shots that can be fired. And it is a very simple matter, is it not, to change the magazine or the clip or whatever they use to hold these cartridges, to meet any restrictions, particularly restrictions such as are proposed in the paragraph at the bottom of the first page of this bill?

Mr. FREDERICK. In general, that is true. I propose, however, to suggest a definition of machine gun which I think obviates your objection.

Mr. WOODRUFF. I will say that my position is exactly the same as the gentleman's in regard to this paragraph. I am in perfect harmony with you on this.

Mr. FREDERICK. And which I venture to suggest will lay before you a more concrete definition of what is a machine gun.

Mr. FREAR. Will you please give it? That is what we trying to get.

Mr. COOPER. Mr. Chairman, may I ask a question before the witness proceeds to do that?

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Cooper.

Mr. COOPER. The guns to which you have referred, how many of those are now manufactured with the type of magazine mentioned by you, firing less than 12 shots?

Mr. FREDERICK. I cannot answer your question, I do not know. But I say that it would be a perfectly simple thing for smaller magazines to be prepared.

Mr. COOPER. I understand you say that it is possible for such type of a weapon to be constructed, but I am asking you what the situation is now with reference to the manufacture and sale of the type of weapon to which you refer.

Mr. FREDERICK. I cannot answer that, because I do not know. The definition which I suggest is this:

[“]A machine gun or submachine gun as used in this act means any firearm by whatever name known, loaded or unloaded, which shoots automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.[”]

    The distinguishing feature of a machine gun is that by a single pull of the trigger the gun continues to fire as long as there is any ammunition in the belt or in the magazine. Other guns require a separate pull of the trigger for every shot fired, and such guns are not properly designated as machine guns. A gun, however, which is capable of firing more than one shot by a single pull of the trigger, a single function of the trigger, is properly regarded, in my opinion, as a machine gun.

Mr. HILL. May I ask you a question there?

Mr. FREDERICK. Yes, sir.

Mr. HILL. Suppose your definition were adopted. Would it be practicable to manufacture a gun that would be classed either as an automatic or semiautomatically operated gun, even with more than one function of the trigger, and still answer the purpose, in a large way, of a machine gun which requires only one function of the trigger?

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not think so. For purposes of example, you may look at the automatic pistol which is the standard weapon of the United States Army. That has an automatic discharge of the empty cartridge and a reloading principle which is operated by the


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NATIONAL FIREARMS ACT

force of the gas from the exploded cartridge. But with a single pull of the trigger only one shot is fired. You must release the trigger and pull it again for the second shot to be fired. You can keep firing that as fast as you can pull your trigger. But that is not properly a machine gun and in point of effectiveness any gun so operated will be very much less effective than one which pours out a stream of bullets with a single pull and as a perfect stream.

Mr. HILL. In one sense you are limiting the scope of this definition and in another you are broadening it. When you say that any weapon or any gun that will shoot more than once is a machine gun, you are broadening the definition. But when you say "one operation of the trigger" you may be limiting the definition as it is in this bill, as I see it, because this says nothing about what operation of the trigger is necessary to constitute the machine gun.

Mr. FREDERICK. If I understand your remark, Mr. Hill, I think that is quite true. I am including within the definition, however, everything that I think is a machine gun instead of including only those machine guns which fire 12 or more shots without reloading.

Mr. HILL. The point I am making is, why include in your definition the phrase, "with one function of the trigger"?

Mr. FREDERICK. Because that is the essence of a machine gun. Otherwise you have the ordinary repeating rifle. You have the ordinary shotgun which is in no sense and never has been thought of as a machine gun.

Mr. FREAR. You are attempting to cover more than is embodied in this bill?

Mr. FREDERICK. I am trying to bring within this everything that in my opinion should be included under the term "machine gun."

Mr. FREAR. That would he desirable.

Mr. FREDERICK. I should not like, if there is to be legislation with respect to machine guns, to have machine guns capable of firing up to 12 shots exempted from the operations of this bill.

Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. Frederick, under your proposed definition, would the Colt automatic pistol be a machine gun?

Mr. FREDERICK. No, sir. I do not think that in the eyes of any ballistic engineer it would be so regarded. I do not think it should be so regarded.

Mr. COCHRAN. Does not the Colt automatic pistol continue to shoot as long as you exert pressure upon the trigger?

Mr. FREDERICK. No, sir. It requires a separate pull of the trigger for every shot fired.

Mr. HILL. If the Colt automatic pistol could fire 12 times, would it be a machine gun under this definition in the bill?

Mr. FREDERICK. Under the definition as printed in the bill?

Mr. HILL. Yes.

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not know what the language means, "automatically or semiautomatically." The language is not, as I read it, and from my limited knowledge of firearms and ballistics - which has some scope, but I do not pretend to be a finished master in that; I am a lawyer, I am not a firearms manufacturer - I do not know what “automatically or semiautomatically" means. There are automatic features about the Colt pistol in the sense that when a shot is fired the action of the gas not only expels the bullet from one


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end of the barrel, but it expels the empty shell from the other end, and it is so devised that upon the return of the carriage through a spring, it puts another shell in place of the old one. That is in a sense automatic, and that principle is found in machine guns. But that is not the distinguishing features of a machine gun.

Mr. FREAR. The question in my mind and I think in the majority of the committee is what we can do to aid in suppressing violations by such men as Dillinger and others. Do you think that by your proposed amendment you have aided in that result?

Mr. FREDERICK. I believe so.

Mr. FREAR. Then what is the purpose of any longer discussing that? Why not go on to something else?

Mr. FREDERICK. If none of you gentlemen desires to discuss that particular feature –

Mr. FREAR. You are a lawyer, you are not a firearms manufacturer, as you have said. Let us assume that we accept your proposed suggestion. I suggest that we pass it and get to the other serious questions that are involved in the bill.

Mr. FREDERICK. Another objection which appears to me to be serious is that there appears to be no distinction - I do not know what figures it is intended to insert on page 3 in the matter of taxes or licenses, but it would seem that it was intended to insert a single figure.

Mr. HILL. What line?

Mr. FREDERICK. I am speaking of line 5, page 3.

Mr. HILL. It has been suggested that in the first blank you insert $5,000 and in the second blank $200. That is only a suggestion.

Mr. FREDERICK. There is, as I see it, no provision made in the act for the jobber, who is the general distributor to dealers of pistols. It seems to me that from the little I know of the manner in which the business is conducted, because I have not and never have had any connection with the business of firearms - as I understand it, the jobber plays an essential part in the firearms business. I understand that it would be quite impossible for the manufacturer to pass upon the credit questions and the other matters which arise, as between the ultimate dealer and his supplier. It has suggested itself to my mind that one of the purposes of this bill was to destroy the jobber and to eliminate all but the largest and the wealthiest and the strongest individual dealers.

The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean dealers or manufacturers?

Mr. FREDERICK. I mean dealers. I think an annual fee of $200 a year will eliminate 95 percent of the dealers in pistols.

Mr. LEWIS. What is your definition of dealer? What does it include? Does it include the village storekeeper who sells pistols?

Mr. FREDERICK. Yes, sir.

Mr. HILL. The definition is on page 2, beginning with line 11: “The term dealer means any person not a manufacturer or importer engaged within the continental United States in the business of selling firearms. The term ‘dealer’ shall include pawn brokers and dealers in used firearms.” That would include jobbers, I take it.

Mr. FREDERICK. It is possible, but the jobber does not fit very logically into the picture that is here define.

Mr. FREAR. If we insert that, would that be sufficient to meet your objection? That is, after the words "pawn brokers and dealers" add


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Mr. FREDERICK. I would have to examine the bill in order to give a really intelligent answer to your question.

Mr. FREAR. Can you give us a constructive amendment?

Mr. FREDERICK. I must again refer you to the fact that this is the first morning I have seen this particular bill, and I am not prepared to give you that particular suggestion. But I think that provision ought to be made for the jobber and I think that provision ought to be made so that this will not destroy 95 percent of the small dealers throughout the country.

Mr. FREAR. On what do you base that statement?

Mr. FREDERICK. A tax, I say, of $200 per year will eliminate 95 percent of the dealers, in my opinion.

Mr. FREAR. On what is your opinion based?

Mr. FREDERICK. My general experience and practical contact with dealers, and observation of those who deal in firearms and such things, over a good many years.

Mr. HILL. What figure would you suggest?

Mr. FREDERICK. That takes me into the purposes of this bill. This bill, as I see it, is intended to be a bill for the suppression of crime and is proposed to the United States Congress which ordinarily has no power in such matters, under the guise of a revenue raising bill.

Mr. FREAR. May I ask a question? Are you interested at all in arms manufacturing or anything like that?

Mr. FREDERICK. Not at all, in any way.

Mr. FREAR. They why not offer some constructive criticism? You are complaining about the character of the bill, suggesting what is behind it, the motives behind it, and so forth. Why not offer something constructive that will be helpful to us anywhere along the line?

Mr. FREDERICK. I am try to do so, as rapidly as I can.

Mr. FREAR. If you will read your record, you will find, I understand, that you are attacking the motives generally.

Mr. FREDERICK. Not at all. I am saying that this bill, practically speaking, destroys the business in firearms of 95 percent of the dealers.

Mr. FREAR. Then why not recommend something, as Mr. Hill has suggested?

Mr. FREDERICK. I shall be glad to submit a recommendation in that respect, as soon as I have had a chance to examine it.

Mr. FREAR. Yes; but do not attack the motives for its introduction. We are not interested in that at this time.

Mr. FREDERICK. I think that the result of this provision here will be to deprive the rural inhabitant, the inhabitant of the small town, the inhabitant of the farm, of any opportunity to secure a weapon which he perhaps more than anyone else needs for his self-defense and protection. I think that it would be distinctly harmful to destroy the opportunity for self-defense of the ordinary man in the small community, where police forces are not adequate.

Mr. HILL. Just tell us how this bill does that.

Mr. FREDERICK. It does it in two or three ways, as I see it. In the first place, it requires Federal documents to be filled out, procured from Federal officials, before a pistol can be purchased. It requires


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that pistol to be purchased from a licensed deader. Now, if the largest and most important and wealthiest dealers, those in the larger cities, are the only dealers to exist who can handle firearms, and if it is required to go to a Federal official who is not to be found readily in rural communities, in the country, in any except the larger communities - if they only are allowed to handle firearms, it seems to me that the practical result will be that the countryman absolutely will be unable, in a practical sense, to obtain any firearm. There are so many impediments put in his way. He will be unable to secure a weapon that he needs for his own defense and the defense of his home and family.

Mr. HILL. Do you have reference to the large license fee of $200 as suggested in line 51?

Mr. FREDERICK. I have at this moment, yes.

Mr. Hill. Suppose you made that fee $5, what would be the situation?

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not think that that would be as bad. I think it would be somewhat serious, but I do not think it would be very serious. I will tell you why I say that. The uniform firearms act which we sponsored and which was adopted in Pennsylvania had a provision for $10 license fee for dealers in that State. That law has been in effect in that State for 3 or 4 years. I am told that the practical result is that most of the small dealers, country hardware merchants, and so forth, refuse to take out a license and pay $10, because they say it just is not worth it. They sell maybe three or four guns a year and it is not worth $10 to get the privilege of selling three or four guns. I think that any substantial license fee will destroy the small dealer in the small community.

Mr. HILL. That is, any appreciable license fee?

Mr. FREDERICK. Any appreciable license fee for dealers.

Mr. HILL. Would the requirement for a license itself do that?

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not think so. I think if it were a negligible fee - and as I see it, inasmuch as I believe the main purpose behind this bill is a police purpose and not a. revenue purpose, it seems to me that that charge should be made quite nominal; it should be made so small that you get actually the police result that you want, namely, the registration of the dealer and the issuance of a license to him, but that should not be made a burden to him in point of dollars and cents.

Mr. HILL. If that should be corrected - it is not really a correction, because there is no sum in there now; any amount that has been spoken of here is merely tentative. There is no determination as to what that fee shall be. But if we met the objection on that particular phase, you would be ready to pass on to something else, would you not?

Mr. FREDERICK. Yes. I want to say one word with respect to the manufacturers.

Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. Chairman, before the witness gets to that, I desire to ask if he will at this point in his remarks insert a copy of the uniform firearms bill which his association has sponsored and which has been adopted in various States?

Mr. HILL. How voluminous is that document?

 


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Mr. FREDERICK. It is about four pages. It is practically the law as it stands in the District of Columbia. I have a copy of it here. There are five pages.

The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, it will be inserted in the record.

Mr. FREDERICK. It is substantially the uniform act.

(The act referred to is as follows:)

[EDITOR'S NOTE:  Emphasis in the text of D.C.'s gun law, below, was added to draw your attention to those portions.]

[PUBLIC-NO. 275-72D CONGRESS]

[H. R. 8754]

AN ACT To control the possession, sale, transfer and use of pistols and other dangerous weapons in the District of Columbia, to provide penalties, to prescribe rules of evidence, and for other purposes

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

DEFINITIONS

SECTION 1. “Pistol,” as used in the Act means any firearm with a barrel less than twelve inches in length.

“Sawed-off shotgun,” as used in this Act, means any shotgun with a barrel less than twenty inches in length.

"Machine gun," as used in this Act, means any firearm which shoots automatically or semiautomatically more than twelve shots without reloading.

"Person," as used in this Act includes, individual, firm, association, or corporation.

"Sell" and "purchase" and the various derivatives of such words, as used in this Act, shall be construed to include letting on hire, giving, lending, borrowing, and otherwise transferring.

"Crime of violence" as used in this Act, means any of the following crimes, or an attempt to commit any of the same, namely: Murder, man slaughter, rape, mayhem, maliciously disfiguring another, abduction, kidnaping, burglary, housebreaking, larceny, any assault with intent to kill, commit rape, or robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, or assault with intent to commit any offense punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary.

COMMITTING CRIMES WHEN ARMED

SEC. 2. If any person shall commit a crime of violence in the District of Columbia when armed with or having readily available any pistol or other firearm, he may, in addition to the punishment provided for the crime, be punished by imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; upon a second conviction for a crime of violence so committed he may, in addition to the punishment provided for the crime, be punished by imprisonment for a term of not more than ten years; upon a third conviction for a crime of violence so committed he may, in addition to the punishment provided for the crime, be punished by imprisonment for a term of not more than fifteen years; upon a forth or subsequent conviction for a crime of violence so committed he may, in addition to the punishment provided for the crime, be punished by imprisonment for an additional period of not more than thirty years.

PERSONS FORBIDDEN TO POSSESS CERTAIN FIREARMS

SEC. 3. No person who has been convicted in the District of Columbia or elsewhere of a crime of violence shall own or have in his possession a pistol, within the District of Columbia.

CARRYING CONCEALED WEAPONS

SEC. 4. No person shall within the District of Columbia carry concealed on or about his person, except in his dwelling house or place of business or on other land possessed by him, a pistol, without a license therefor issued as hereinafter provided, or any deadly or dangerous weapon.

EXCEPTIONS

SEC. 5. The provisions of the preceding section shall not apply to marshals, sheriffs, prison or jail wardens, or their deputies, policemen or other duly appointed law enforcement officers, or to members of the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps of


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the United States or of the National Guard of Organized Reserves when on duty or to the regularly enrolled members of any organization duly authorized to purchase or receive such weapons from the United States, provided such members are at or are going to or from their places of assembly or target practice, or to officers or employees of the United States duly authorized to carry a concealed pistol, or to any person engaged in the business of manufacturing, repairing, or dealing in firearms, or the agent or representative of any such person having in his possession, using, or carrying a pistol in the usual or ordinary course of such business or to any person while carrying a pistol unloaded and in a secure wrapper from the place of purchase to his home or place of business or to a place of repair or back to his home or place of business or in moving goods from one place of abode or business to another.

ISSUE OF LICENSES TO CARRY

SEC. 6. The superintendent of police of the District of Columbia may, upon the application of any person having a bona fide residence or place of business within the District of Columbia or of any person having a bona fide residence or place of business within the United States and a license to carry a pistol concealed upon his person issued by the lawful authorities of any State or subdivision of the Unites States, issue a license to such person to carry a pistol within the District of Columbia for not more than one year from the date of issue, if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to his person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol and that he is a suitable person to be so licensed. The license shall be in duplicate, in form to be prescribed by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia and shall bear the name, address, description, photograph, and signature of the licensee and the reason given for desiring a license. The original thereof shall be delivered to the licensee, and the duplicate shall be retained by the superintendent of police of the District of Columbia and preserved in his office for six years.

SEC. 7. No person shall within the District of Columbia sell any pistol to a person who he has reasonable cause to believe is not of sound mind, or is a drug addict, or is a person who has been convicted in the District of Columbia or elsewhere of a crime of violence or, except when the relation of parent and child or guardian and ward exists, is under the age of eighteen years.

TRANSFERS REGULATED

SEC. 8. No seller shall within the District of Columbia deliver a pistol to the purchaser thereof until forty-eight hours shall have elapsed from the time of the application for the purchase thereof, except in the case of sales to marshals, sheriffs, prison or jail wardens or their deputies, policemen, or other duly appointed law-enforcement officers, and, when delivered, said pistol shall be securely wrapped and shall be unloaded. At the time of applying for the purchase of a pistol the purchaser shall sign in duplicate and deliver to the seller a statement containing his full name, address, occupation, color, place of birth, the date and hour of application, the caliber, make, model, and manufacturer’s number of the pistol to be purchased and a statement that he has never been convicted in the District of Columbia or elsewhere of a crime of violence. The seller shall, within six hours after such application, sign and attach his address and deliver one copy to such person or persons as the superintendent of police of the District of Columbia may designate, and shall retain the other copy for six years. No machinegun, sawed-off shotgun, or blackjack shall be sold to any person other than the persons designated in section 14 hereof as entitled to possess the same, and then only after permission to make such sale has been obtained from the superintendent of police of the District of Columbia. This section shall not apply to sales at wholesale to licensed dealers.

DEALERS TO BE LICENSED

SEC. 9. No retail dealer shall within the District of Columbia sell or expose for sale or have in his possession with intent to sell, any pistol, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or blackjack without being licensed as hereinafter provided. No wholesale dealer shall, within the District of Columbia, sell, or have in his possession with the intent to sell, to any person other than a licensed dealer, any pistol, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or blackjack.


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SEC. 10. The Commissioners of the District of Columbia may, in their discretion, grant licenses and may prescribe the form thereof, effective for not more than one year from date of issue, permitting the licensee to sell pistols, machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and blackjacks at retail within the District of Columbia subject to the following conditions in addition to those specified in section 9 hereof, for breach of any of which the license shall be subject to forfeiture and the licensee subject to punishment as provided in this Act.

1. The business shall be carried only in the building designated in the license.

2. The license or a copy thereof, certified by the issuing authority, shall be displayed on the premises where it can be easily read.

3. No pistol shall be sold (a) if the seller has reasonable cause to believe that the purchaser is not of sound mind or is a drug addict or has been convicted in the District of Columbia or elsewhere of a crime of violence or is under the age of eighteen years, and (b) unless the purchaser is personally known to the seller or shall present clear evidence of his identity. No machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or blackjack shall be sold to any person other than the persons designated in section 14 hereof as entitled to possess the same, and then only after permission to make such sale has been obtained from the superintendent of police of the District of Columbia.

4. A true record shall be made in a book kept for the purpose, the form of which may be prescribed by the Commissioners, of all pistols, machine guns, and sawed-off shotguns in the possession of the licensee, which said record shall contain the date of purchase, the caliber, make, model and manufacturer’s number of the weapon, to which shall be added, when sold, the date of sale.

5. A true record in duplicate shall be made of every pistol, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, and blackjack sold, said record to be made in a book kept for the purpose, the form of which may be prescribed by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia and shall be personally signed by the purchaser and by the person effecting the sale, each in the presence of the other and shall contain the date of sale, the name, address, occupation, color, and place of birth of the purchaser, and, so far as applicable, the caliber, make, model, and manufacturer’s number of the weapon, and a statement signed by the purchaser that he has never been convicted in the District of Columbia or elsewhere of a crime of violence. One copy of said record shall, within seven days, be forwarded by mail to the superintendent of police of the District of Columbia and the other copy retained by the seller for six years.

6. No pistol or imitation thereof or placard advertising the sale thereof shall be displayed in any part of said premises where it can be readily seen from the outside. No license to sell at retail shall be granted to anyone except as provided in this section.

FALSE INFORMATION FORBIDDEN

SEC. 11. No person, shall, in purchasing a pistol or in applying for a license to carry the same, or in purchasing a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or blackjack within the District of Columbia, give false information or offer false evidence of his identity.

ALTERATION OF IDENTIFYING MARKS PROHIBITED

SEC. 12. No person shall within the District of Columbia change, alter, remove, or obliterate the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other mark or identification on any pistol, machine gun, or sawed-off shotgun. Possession of any pistol, machine gun, or sawed-off shotgun upon which any such mark shall have been changed, altered, removed, or obliterated shall be prima facie evidence that the possessor has changed, altered, removed, or obliterated the same within the District of Columbia: Provided, however, That nothing contained in this section shall apply to any officer or agent of any of the departments of the United States or the District of Columbia engaged in experimental work.

EXCEPTIONS

SEC. 13. This Act shall not apply to toy or antique pistols unsuitable for use as firearms.


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SEC. 14. No person shall within the District of Columbia possess any machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slung shot, sand club, sandbag, or metal knuckles, nor any instrument, attachment, or appliance for causing the firing of any firearm to be silent or intended to lessen or muffle the noise of the firing of any firearms: Provided, however, That machine guns, or sawed-off shotguns, and blackjacks may be possessed by the members of the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps of the United States, the National Guard, or Organized Reserves when on duty, the Post Office Department or its employees when on duty, marshals, sheriffs, prison or jail wardens, or their deputies, policemen, or other duly appointed law-enforcement officers, officers or employees of the United States duly authorized to carry such weapons, banking institutions, public carriers who are engaged in the business of transporting mail, money, securities, or other valuables, wholesale dealers and retail dealers licensed under section 10 of this Act.

PENALTIES

SEC. 15. Any violation of any provision of this Act for which no penalty is specifically provided shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

CONSTITUTIONALITY

SEC. 16. If any part of this Act is for any reason declared void, such invalidity shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this Act.

CERTAIN ACTS REPEALED

SEC. 17. The following sections of the Code of Law for the District of Columbia, 1919, namely, sections 855, 856, and 857, and all other Acts or parts of Acts inconsistent herewith, are hereby repealed.

Approved, July 8, 1932.

 

The CHAIRMAN. In what sense is the possession of a pistol essential to the self-defense of people who live in rural communities, as you have stated? Do you mean it is essential to the self-defense of an individual who is out on the highway, or in his home? In what sense is a pistol essential to the self-defense of an individual who lives in a rural community? Why is not a rifle or a shotgun, the possession of which would not be prohibited under this act, sufficient for the self- defense of an individual or an individual's home? In what sense did you mean that? You know, most of the States have laws against carrying concealed weapons.

Mr. FREDERICK. Exactly. I think those are quite proper laws and are the only effective laws.

The CHAIRMAN. Then it can be that you are referring only to the possession of a pistol in the home.

Mr. FREDERICK. No; because many people do find occasion to carry pistols, and do so under license.

The CHAIRMAN. That would not necessarily be a matter of self-defense, would it?

Mr. FREDERICK. Oh, yes, in many, many instances.

The CHAIRMAN. I never heard of it.

Mr. FREDERICK. I have heard of it in hundreds of instances.

Mr. FREAR. My experience is that the average person who carries a revolver is not one who lives in a rural district, but in New York or Chicago and such places that Dillinger and men of his type are found.


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Mr. McCORMACK. All of those fellows are country-born boys. They do not come from the big cities. I understand that most of them are country boys originally.

Mr. FREAR. The man against whom we are trying to legislate is Dillinger and men of his type.

Mr. FREDERICK. If there is any feasible way of getting that type of man, I would like to know it.

Mr. FREAR. We are trying to. In all of your experience in these matters, have you drawn a bill which had for its purpose that end?

Mr. FREDERICK. I have spent 15 years studying the subject and I have worked with the National Crime Commission. One of the results of my work has been a contribution toward the uniform act which, in my opinion, has made—

Mr. FREAR. Have you put it in force in New York?

Mr. FREDERICK. I have tried to.

Mr. FREAR. We are trying to put some law into effect.

Mr. FREDERICK. Several of the provisions have been adopted in the law of New York. I have conducted campaigns for two successive years—

Mr. FREAR. You said your experience covered 15 years.

Mr. FREDERICK. I said that in New York State I have conducted campaigns in support of bills which I have caused to be introduced in the legislature.

Mr. FREAR. We do not want to have to wait 15 years more, do we?

Mr. FREDERICK. Mr. Chairman, in respect to the manufacturer, the manufacturer's license is $5,000 a year, and that must refer solely to the big manufacturers, of whom there are four or five in this country. There are smaller manufacturers who would be put out of business completely by any such tax as $5,000 a year and yet who perform an extremely useful function, when looked at from a certain standpoint.

Mr. FREAR. Could we not base that on the amount of sales?

Mr. FREDERICK. Yes, I think that could be quite easily done. I am referring to the makers of handmade pistol barrels, of whom there are a number in this country. They make the finest and highest type of target weapons that are to be found and they do it entirely by hand; I mean, with a hand lathe. Their guns have been used for 25 years in both the National and the International shooting competition. I have myself been a member of five or six, international pistol teams and in every one of those I have used hand-made guns, hand-made barrels, because they were a little bit finer than any others that could be bought in my opinion.

    Every one of those barrels was made by a man who is a past master of that field of ballistics, and who can, in my opinion, make a finer barrel than any manufacturer in the business.

The CHAIRMAN. Does he make the entire gun or just the barrel?

Mr. FREDERICK. He makes the barrel.

The CHAIRMAN. He would not come under the provisions of this bill, would he?

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not know. He is a manufacturer. He goes over the whole gun, revises the trigger pull, changes the hammer and does a lot of things to it.


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The CHAIRMAN. But he is not a manufacturer of a gun. He assembles the parts and puts them together. He is not a manufacturer, is he?

Mr. FREDERICK. I suspect that he is.

The CHAIRMAN. I suspect that he is not. I do not see how he can be considered a manufacturer of a gun if he only makes the barrel.

Mr. FREDERICK. He might buy the action from one man. If he made the barrel and then put it together with the other parts, he would be a manufacturer of that gun, just as much as a man who bought automobile wheels from one place and a wiring system from another and a motor from another manufacturer and assembled them and sold them under his name--he would be a manufacturer.

The CHAIRMAN. If he bought all the parts and assembled them and sold the finished gun, I suppose be would be a manufacturer.

Mr. KNUTSON. This man to whom you refer, does he assemble the gun?

Mr. FREDERICK. He will take a gun, take off the old barrel and make a new barrel, put it on, make over the hammer, make over the trigger pull, make over the spring and do a variety of other things with it, so that the gun, you might say, was a reassembled gun after he was through with it.

Mr. KNUTSON. What we would call a rebuilt gun.

Mr. FREDERICK. It really is, I should say so.

Mr. KNUTSON. And you think he would be a manufacturer?

Mr. FREDERICK. I suspect that he would be a manufacturer within the terms of this act.

Mr. HILL. Assuming he is a manufacturer, of course in a small way so far as output is concerned, there has been a suggestion made here that the situation might be met by a graduated tax, depending upon the volume of the output.

Mr. FREDERICK. I think so.

Mr. HILL. If that can be done, the objection you make there does not go to the principle of the legislation, but simply to the particular provision as to license.

Mr. FREDERICK. That is quite true.

Mr. HILL. Your objection, then, is not to the principle, but simply to the prohibitive tax?

Mr. FREDERICK. It is to the prohibitive nature of the tax.

Mr. HILL. So that if we met that by a graduated tax on the manufacturer, your objection would be satisfied?

Mr. FREDERICK. I think so. I have no objection-to put it this way-to the principle of a Federal license designed not to destroy, but to secure a police registration of both manufacturers and dealers.

Mr. HILL. I think the committee would be very much interested in your directing our attention to the real objections to the bill. Of course, the suggestions you are making now are helpful.

The CHAIRMAN. May I ask, how long would it take you, if it were feasible, to prepare a bill better than you think the pending bill is, and one that would accomplish the purpose we have in mind, for the protection of society, to reach the end the Department of Justice has in mind, and submit it to the committee? That would be constructive, that would be practical, that would be helpful.

Mr. FREDERICK. In my opinion, the useful results which can be accomplished by firearms legislation are extremely limited.


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The CHAIRMAN. That means that there is little ground left upon which to legislate or very little necessity for legislation, that there is little to be accomplished by it? Is that your view? I am not arguing with you, you understand. I just want to understand your viewpoint.

Mr. FREDERICK. In my opinion, there is a small area in which legislation which is useful in its results can be prepared.

The CHAIRMAN. Why not submit a bill to us that in your judgment would accomplish all that is possible to accomplish or practical to accomplish along that line?

Mr. FREDERICK. I should be very glad to submit a written memorandum containing some concrete suggestions.

Mr. KNUTSON. Let me ask you a question right at that point. Do you know of many illicit manufacturers of firearms? I think I read in the paper last evening a statement to the effect that the Department of Justice had seized an arsenal largely made up of guns manufactured illicitly, or unregistered, however they term them.

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not know of any illicit manufacturers.

Mr. LEWIS. Why should there be any illicit manufacturers in the absence of all law that now prevails in this field? .

Mr. FREDERICK. I did not quite get your question.

Mr. LEWIS. I cannot fancy the motive for illicit manufacture of these things when we are almost without any laws on the subject whatever.

Mr. FREDERICK. I may say that a gun is a very easy thing to make, that a third-class automobile mechanic can make a pistol which will do deadly work, and can do it in an afternoon with the materials which he can find in any automobile shop. And I can say that it has been done time and time and time again.

Mr. LEWIS. What makes it illicit?

Mr. FREDERICK. I suppose what makes it. illicit is the purpose for which such guns are made. If it is not against the law to make a gun, then there is nothing illicit in connection with it. But when such a gun is manufactured in a State prison and is used by an inmate for the purpose of perpetrating his escape from jail, I think that is illicit manufacture, and such guns have been made in prison, in prison machine shops.

Mr. FREAR. It turns on the motive?

Mr. FREDERICK. Yes; it turns on the motive.

Mr. FREAR. How are you going to determine that in advance?

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not know of any way in which you can get at that. I am simply saying that the actual manufacture of pistols is an easy thing. It is not the extraordinarily complicated trick which many people think. In the same way ammunition can be easily made or easily procured.

Mr. COOPER. Mr. Frederick, I understood you to say that you drafted the act which was passed for the District of Columbia?

Mr. FREDERICK. I drafted the original act about 1922 and worked with the National Conference of Commissioners on uniform laws in making successive revisions and improvements of that act up until the time of the final adoption of their redraft of it. This act in the District of Columbia has a few minor changes from that standard form and I participated in the preparation of those changes. I do not want to say that I personally did it, because I did not. I helped.


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Mr. COOPER. The act passed for the District of Columbia was at least in part the product of your effort?

Mr. FREDERICK. I helped from the beginning.

Mr. COOPER. And had your complete approval?

Mr. FREDERICK. Yes, sir; And I helped from the very beginning.

Mr. COOPER. I understood you to criticize the definition of machine guns contained in the pending bill. I invite your attention to this provision of the District of Columbia Act, under the heading “definitions."

    “’Machine gun’, as used in this act, means any firearm which shoots automatically or semi-automatically more than 12 shots without reloading.”

    Then I invite your attention to the provision of the pending bill as to the definition of a machine gun.

    “The term ‘machine gun’ means any weapon designed to shoot automatically or semiautomatically 12 or more shots without reloading.”

    I will ask you to kindly point out to the committee the difference between those two definitions.

Mr. FREDERICK. I take it there is no essential difference. I may, however, answer what I take to be your suggested criticism, by saying that the uniform Firearms Act related exclusively to pistols and it had not any provisions whatever relating to machine guns which we regarded as proper subject for separate legislation; that this provision in the District of Columbia Act was added at the request of the police forces here in the District of Columbia. I had no part in the preparation of that definition or that part of the act, and I would not regard it as a proper definition of a machine gun.

Mr. COOPER. And yet that definition is contained in the act which you say had your approval.

Mr. FREDERICK. As a whole, it had my approval; certainly.

Mr. COOPER. And that was the definition that met your approval at the time the District of Columbia Act was passed by Congress, and it contains essentially the same definition as is contained in the pending bill?

Mr. FREDERICK. Quite true. My approval of that act was a general approval, of course, and I may very well have had one or two mental reservations as to minor portions of it. But as a whole I approved the act.

Mr. COOPER. Passing on to other phases of this bill, will you please point out the other objectionable features that you have, briefly, and without elaborating to such great extent? Just point out to us what you think the additional objectionable features are to the pending bill.

Mr. FREDERICK. The bill makes no provision whatever for an exception of antique or obsolete weapons. I happen, and there are thousands of other people who happen, to be the owner of obsolete weapons. They are pistols within the definition of this act. Theoretically, they might be used, but I have never heard of one being used in the perpetration of a crime. They are found in the museums and in the collections of private collectors. You cannot imagine a hold-up man using a flintlock, or a wheel-lock pistol.

Mr. LEWIS. How far back would you go in point of time to draw the line between antique and present-day weapons?

Mr. FREDERICK. I would say that we should except obsolete or antique pistols possessed as curiosities or ornaments.


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I think there should be an exemption relating to such collections, and I may suggest that if I had, as I have, 300 or 400 or 500 such old weapons, and if I happened to move my residence to New Jersey, under this bill I would have to get a separate license for every one of those 300 or 400 or 500 weapons, in order to legally transport them to New Jersey.

The CHAIRMAN. If that were taken care of, would that remove your objection?

Mr. FREDERICK. I may remind you that the business of numbering weapons is a modern device and it is not found in the older weapons. It is impossible in the case of many of the older weapons to comply with the terms of this bill by giving the descriptive numbers. I have dozens and hundreds of weapons and I cannot tell who made them There are no distinguishing marks upon them. They were made by hand up until a little more than a hundred years ago.

Mr. DICKINSON. I will ask you whether or not this bill interferes in any way with the right of a person to keep and bear arms or his right to be secure in his person against unreasonable search; in other words, do you believe this bill is unconstitutional or that it violates any constitutional provision?

Mr. FREDERICK. I have not given it any study from that point of view. I will be glad to submit in writing my views on that subject, but I do think it is a subject which deserves serious thought.

Mr. DICKINSON. My mind is running along the lines that it is constitutional.

Mr. MCCORMACK. You have been living with this legislation or following this type of legislation for quite a number of years.

Mr. FREDERICK. Yes; I have.

Mr. MCCORMACK. The fact that you have not considered the constitutional aspect would be pretty powerful evidence, so far as I am concerned, that you did not think that question was involved.

Mr. FREDERICK. No; I would not say that, because my view has been that the United States has no jurisdiction to attack this problem directly. I think that under the Constitution the United States has no jurisdiction to legislate in a police sense with respect to firearms. I think that is exclusively a matter for State regulation, and I think that the only possible way in which the United States can legislate is through its taxing power, which is an indirect method of approach, through its control over interstate commerce, which was perfectly proper, and through control over importations. I have not considered the indirect method of approach as being one which was to be seriously considered until the bill began to be talked about.

Mr. MCCORMACK. You would not seriously consider that there was
any constitutional question involved in this bill, would you?

Mr. FREDERICK. I think this bill goes pretty far for a revenue bill in the direction of setting up what are essentially police regulations.

Mr. MCORMACK. Congress possesses the power, if it is required, to exercise the taxing power for the regulation of social purposes.

Mr. FREDERICK. I know, and it has been frequently exercised, and I suppose that Congress can pass, under its taxing power, what are in effect regulatory statutes, as it has in many instances, such as the acts relating to oleomargarine and other things.

Mr. MCCORMACK. I quite agree with you. The thought in my mind was the fact that you had not considered the constitutional phase, and


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being the student you are, and following this particular type of legislation closely as you have, it would be a powerful piece of evidence, and at least I would draw the inference, that you did not think the question was seriously involved.

Mr. FREDERICK. I may say that approached as a taxing proposition I am personally of the opinion, as a lawyer, that Congress may legislate in the way of taxing certain transactions with respect to firearms. That, I think, is clear.

Mr. LEWIS. Mr. Frederick, the automobile is a dangerous, even deadly instrument, but never intentionally a deadly instrument, of course. States uniformly have taken notice of the danger to the innocent pedestrian and others involved in the use of the automobile. They have set up around the privilege of its ownership and operation a complete regulatory system consistent with reasonable rights to the use of the automobile. Approaching the subject of firearms, would you not consider that society is under the same duty to protect the innocent that it is with regard to the automobile and that with a view to the attainment of that result, the person who wishes the privilege of bearing firearms should submit to the same regulations as rigid as the automobile owner and driver is required to accept?

Mr. FREDERICK. You have raised a very interesting analogy, one which, to my mind, has a very decided bearing upon the practicability and the desirability of this type of legislation. Automobiles are a much more essential instrument of crime than pistols. Any police officer will tell you that. They are much more dangerous to ordinary life, because they kill approximately 30,000 people a year. The extent, so far as I know, to which the Government, or the Congress, has attempted to legislate is with respect to the transportation in interstate commerce of stolen vehicles, which apparently has accomplished very useful results. The rest of the legislation is left to the States, and in its effect and in its mode of enforcement, it is a wholly reasonable and suitable approach, because, if I want a license for my car I can get it in 20 minutes, by complying with certain definite and well-known regulations.

Mr. LEWIS. And qualifying.

Mr. FREDERICK. And qualifying, yes, sir. I do not have to prove I am a driver in order to get an automobile license. I do in order to get a personal driver's license, of course. Complying with the regulations, I get that automatically, as a matter of course. If I want a pistol license, and I have had one for a number of years in New York, it takes me 6 weeks to 4 months to get that license, and it costs me an enormous amount of personal bother and trouble. The difficulty in a sense is in the manner of administration and we know that that which is oppressive can be put into the administration much more effectively than into the law; it is the way the thing works. I have no objection, personally, to having my fingerprints taken, because my own fingerprints have been taken many times, but I do object to being singled out with the criminal element and having my fingerprints taken and put in the Bureau of Criminal Identification because I like to use a pistol or because I may need one for self-defense, whereas automobile owners are not fingerprinted and are, as a class, a much more criminal body, from the standpoint of percentage, than pistol licensees.

The CHAIRMAN. Do you make that statement seriously?


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Mr. FREDERICK. Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. That the ordinary man who owns and operates an automobile is more likely to be a criminal than the man who arms himself?

Mr. FREDERICK. You have not kept the sharp lines of distinction.

The CHAIRMAN. They are too sharp for me to grasp.

Mr. FREDERICK. I said pistol licensees, those who have gone to the trouble of securing a license to carry weapons, are a most law-abiding body, and the perpetration of a crime by such a licensee is almost unknown.

The CHAIRMAN. That has no analogy to your first statement.

Mr. FREDERICK. It is not by any means unknown for a person with an automobile license to commit a crime or to use that automobile in the perpetration of a crime.

The CHAIRMAN. But you say that the man who buys a pistol is much more likely to be a law-abiding citizen. On what do you base that statement? Have you any statistics upon which to base that, or is it a guess? My guess is as good as yours, but if you have any statistics we would like to have them.

Mr. FREDERICK. There are no statistics on these matters but I have tried my best to get such information as is available from the New York City police and from the records of other police authorities and from the State police, and my statement that automobiles are much more essential to crime than pistols is a statement that has been made to me by numbers of high police officials and I say that in licensing automobiles no such degree of care is taken as is exercised in giving licenses to carry pistols.

The CHAIRMAN. Then, if I understand you correctly, instead of further limiting or restricting the traffic in pistols, machine guns, and deadly weapons used by the criminals and racketeers, you object to the restrictions which now exist? I understood you to say that it is too difficult to secure a license to carry a pistol; that it takes 4 months to comply with the law, and I understand your position is that instead or having further restrictions and limitations, you think the restrictions are already too harsh?

Mr. FREDRICK. I think they are, so far as my experience goes in New York State, and I am referring to the New York statutes.

Mr. McCORMACK. You made an interesting remark in response to one of Mr. Lewis' questions when you said that weapons and automobiles are an interesting analogy. You recognize the clear line of distinction and demarcation between a weapon and an automobile, so far as its being inherently dangerous is concerned?

Mr. FREDERICK. I think the automobile is dangerous.

Mr. McCORMACK. I understand it is dangerous if it is negligibly operated. Would not the interesting analogy be more between a pistol and dope peddling? Would not that be a closer link than the link-up of a pistol with an automobile?

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not think so.

Mr. McCORMACK. The use of dope is recognized by mankind as inherently harmful to the human being.

Mr. FREDERICK. Except as prescribed by physicians.

Mr. McCORMACK. That is the exception but, as a general rule, it is recognized as inherently dangerous, The same applies to weapons; they are recognized as inherently dangerous.


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Mr. FREDERICK. I do not think so.

Mr. McCORMACK. What do people buy weapons for?

Mr. FREDERICK. People buy weapons for several purposes; one is for the protection of the person or property.

Mr. McCORMACK. That class of people have no fear about reasonable license requirements.

Mr. FREDERICK. Not reasonable requirements.

Mr. McCORMACK. They have no fear of reasonable regulations as to licenses, if the weapons are necessary to meet a challenge to organized society.

Mr. FREDERICK. They buy pistols also to use for the purpose of training, in the event of military necessity.

Mr. McCORMACK. Those persons need not fear reasonable regulations.

Mr. FREDERICK. I beg your pardon?

Mr. McCORMACK. Those persons need have no fear of reasonable regulations.

Mr. FREDERICK. I think our difference may turn entirely upon what is reasonable.

Mr. MCCORMACK. You are not opposed to regulation?

Mr. FREDERICK. Not at all; I have advocated it.

Mr. McCORMACK. You are not opposed to a Federal bill?

Mr. FREDERICK. Provided the bill will accomplish useful results in the suppression of crime, I am heartily in favor of it.

Mr. McCORMACK. You have given two groups who buy pistols.

Mr. FREDERICK. Another group is those who indulge in the use of pistols in connection with sports.

Mr. McCORMACK. That group need not fear any proper regulation.

Mr. FREDERICK. Any difference that we may have, and I do not know whether we have any, turns on the question of what is reasonable.

Mr. McCORMACK. I agree with you; you and I have a meeting of the minds on that. What other group is interested?

Mr. FREDERICK. At the moment I do not think of any.

Mr. McCORMACK. Then there is the criminal group.

Mr. FREDERICK. Yes; and that is the one group we are after.

Mr. McCORMACK. That is the only group who would object to regulations.

Mr. FREDERICK. Yes; and it is the only group that has never been touched.

Mr. LEWIS. In your study of the State regulatory systems have you found that they provide that men who have been convicted of crime shall not have licenses?

Mr. FREDERICK. They have, and that is a provision of the uniform bill.

Mr. FREAR. We have spent about an hour and a half on this matter and we have gotten only to page 3. We want your objections to the bill. All this discussion is very interesting, but why not point out the difficulties in the bill?

Mr. FREDERICK. I am afraid that merely running over a brief list of objections is not going to accomplish much.

Mr. FREAR. Do you not want to be heard by the committee?

Mr. FREDERICK. I am anxious to be heard.

Mr. FREAR. Can you point out, without interruption, the provisions to which you object?


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Mr. FREDERICK. In my opinion, the provision for fingerprints will not accomplish what is desired.

Mr. FREAR. Suppose we strike that out.

Mr. FREDERICK. I would like to mention that the bill relates to the taking of fingerprints and refers to corporations, associations, and partnerships. I do not know how the fingerprint of any officer of such an association or corporation can have value.

Mr. FREAR. Admitting your answer is correct, that is not serious. What is your next objection?

Mr. FREDERICK. I am quite concerned about the amount which is suggested on page 8, line 15, for a permit to transport in interstate commerce.

Mr. FREAR. What would you recommend for that?

Mr. FREDERICK. I think, inasmuch as I deem the primary purpose of this bill to be purely regulatory that that ought not to be burdensome. I should make it as nominal as possible. It seems to me that 25 cents is ample.

Mr. FREAR. Or 15 cents.

Mr. FREDERICK. Fifteen cents or 10 cents, or anything which will not prevent compliance with it because of its burdensome nature.

Mr. FREAR. What is next?

Mr. FREDERICK. There is no provision in the act covering the situation of an owner of a weapon who loses this stamped order. As I see the operation of the bill, it will mean this: When a manufacturer sells a weapon to a jobber, he gives a stamped order; when the jobber sells the weapon to the retailer, assuming we still allow jobbers to exist, he gives a second order together with the first. When the dealer sells to the buyer, he gives the third order and the two previous ones, and the buyer gets the gun and three pieces of paper. It is essential to him, in order to keep out of jail, to keep those together.

Mr. FREAR. How would you suggest having but one piece of paper?

Mr. FREDERICK. I think the only piece useful is a piece of paper where the transfer takes place between two persons, one of whom is not a licensed dealer. In other words, if I, as a private individual, sell a gun to a friend, a piece of paper is necessary there. Where a dealer sells to me as a buyer, a piece of paper should be useful. I do not think a string of prior papers are of value, running from the manufacturer who may be required to keep records. In the second place, when, as a matter of human experience, the owner of a gun is going to lose papers, they are going to get mislaid, they are going to get burned up, if he cannot turn them up when required to do so he is liable to go to jail. I think there ought to be a simple method of obtaining a copy of that paper from the authorities with whom the original was filed.

Mr. FREAR. We might attach a number plate to the pistol like we do to the automobile, as small as is necessary, and have that be evidence of the privilege of transfer. You only want one?

Mr. FREDERICK. I think the owner ought to be able to get one if it is lost. I think that machinery ought to be made simple. If not, in the actual operation, you are going to create criminals.

Mr. FREAR. What is the next objection?


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Mr. FREDERICK. On page 7 it says:

“Whenever on trial for a violation of this section the defendant is shown to have or to have had possession of such imported firearm, such possession shall be deemed sufficient evidence to authorize conviction unless the defendant explains such possession to the satisfaction of the jury.”

Mr. FREAR. That is taken from the other act.

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not understand why it should be necessary for such a person to go to trial.

Mr. FREAR. You think that language is too loose?

Mr. FREDERICK. Too loose and too drastic.

Mr. FREAR. You might write a substitute; we want your suggestions.

Mr. FREDERICK. I am skipping around somewhat, as I am sorry I have to do. On page 7, section 10, I do not know what that language “nothing contained in this section shall apply to any manufacturer, importer, or dealer who has complied with the provisions of section 2”, means. I suppose that means that he has taken out a license.

Mr. FREAR. That is satisfactory as far as it goes?

Mr. .FREDERICK. I should like very much to have the privilege of submitting some suggestions in writing, if I may.

The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, you may do so.

Mr. DICKINSON. Let me say that I have received numerous telegrams asking me to support legislation along the lines of the recommendations of the National Rifle Association. Your line of thought is in accord with the things advocated by the National Rifle Association?

Mr. FREDERICK. I am president of the National Rifle Association and I think I correctly voice its views.

Mr. DICKINSON. Your purpose is to submit to this committee recommendations desired by the National Rifle Association in connection with this bill?

Mr. FREDERICK. Among the other organizations whose views I voice.

The CHAIRMAN. When may we have your written suggestions?

Mr. FREDERICK. I will get at it this afternoon and try and let you have it as quickly as I can. As a lawyer, I know that the drafting of legislation is an extremely difficult job. You have to do a lot of checking, and it is a difficult piece of work.

Mr. HILL. When you do that, do not forget that we are after the gangster.

Mr. FREDERICK. You have put your finger on it. My general objections to most of the regulatory provisions are proposed with that in view. I am just as much against the gangster as any man. I am just as much interested in seeing him suppressed, but I do not believe that we should burn down the barn in order to destroy the rats. I am in favor of some more skillful method of getting the rats without destroying the barn. In my opinion, most of the proposals the regulation of firearms, although ostensibly and properly aimed at the crook, do not reach the crook at all, but they do reach the honest. man. In my opinion, the forces which are opposed to crime consist of two general bodies; one is the organized police and the second is the unorganized victims, the great mass of unorganized law-abiding citizens, and if you destroy the effective opposition of either one of those, you are inevitably going to increase crime, because as you


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destroy the forces of resistance to the human body to disease, you are going to increase disease. So, by destroying the resistance of any body which is opposed to crime, you are going to increase crime. I think we should be careful in considering the actual operation of regulatory measures to make sure that they do not hamstring the law-abiding citizen in his opposition to the crook.

Mr. KNUTSON. There is no opposition on the part of the victims?

Mr. FREDERICK. It is not a 100 percent effective. Of course, the right of self-defense is still a useful thing.

Mr. KNUTSON. It is a right, but an ineffective right under the present situation.

Mr. FREDERICK. I would be interested to show you a collection which I have made of newspaper clippings indicating the effective use of firearms in self-defense, as a protection against the perpetration of crime. Because of arguments which have been advanced by those who are against the use of guns, I have made it my business to clip from newspapers passing over my desk such cases as I run across of effective self-defense with pistols, most of them pistols. I have a scrap book two thirds full and I can show you dozens and hundred of cases happening every year.

Mr. FREAR. How many in this room have pistols in their pockets for self-defense?

Mr. FREDERICK. I doubt if any have.

Mr. FREAR. I doubt, unless a man anticipates danger, that he is going to carry a pistol. You have looked after the clippings of the man who has used a revolver in self-defense. How many men carry revolvers? What percentage of men carry revolvers?

Mr. HILL. Quite a few traveling in automobiles.

Mr. FREDERICK. There are a good many.

Mr. FREAR. I am asking under present conditions

Mr. FREDERICK. I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. I have when I felt it was desirable to do so for my own protection. I know that applies in most of the instances where guns are used effectively in self-defense or in places of business and in the home. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.

The CHAIRMAN. When did your association decide to call on Congress for legislation dealing with this subject? Judge Dickinson refers to telegrams urging him to support such legislation. When did you determine to come before Congress and ask for such legislation as you now have in mind?

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not understand that our association has decided to urge any national legislation by Congress, and if the telegrams or messages which may have come to Judge Dickinson indicate that the senders believe that we are sponsoring some particular bill in Congress, or intend to do so, they are based on a misapprehension.

The CHAIRMAN. Your only interest in the matter is created by the introduction and consideration of this bill? If it were not for this bill you would not be here, nor would you be taking any interest in the matter or bringing it to our attention; am I right?

Mr. FREDERICK. In our opinion, little of value can be accomplished by Federal legislation on this point.


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Mr. KNUTSON. Is it your thought to submit a substitute measure for H.R. 9066 and at the same time not infringe unnecessarily on the rights of law-abiding citizens?

Mr. FREDERICK. As I say, I have grave doubts as to the effectiveness of any such legislation.

Mr. HILL. You concede there is a necessity for something. In politics we have an old saying that you cannot beat somebody with nobody. You cannot hope to defeat or materially alter the legislation unless you submit to the committee something that is better or that will better attain the object that this legislation seeks to accomplish.

Mr. FREDERICK. I must differ with you in principle upon one point. I do not believe that Congress or the people back home want us to attempt miracles. In my opinion, based upon a rather extensive experience with this subject and study of it, very little of practical value can be accomplished by Federal legislation on the point.

Mr. HILL. I take it then that it is your opinion that the criminal is going to get firearms regardless of any laws.

Mr. FREDERICK. I think that is the opinion of any person who has knowledge of the subject. In most instances, the guns are stolen. They are not gotten through legitimate channels. Dillinger stole his guns. I have a half-dozen cases where guns have been used in prisons to effect a break; we have had that in New York, and all over the country. If you cannot keep guns out of the hands of criminals in jails, I do not see how you can keep them out of the hands of criminals walking about on the public highways.

The CHAIRMAN. If that be true, then the laws of the various States of the Union dealing with the subject, are not accomplishing a good purpose because they do not put them all out of business?

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not take that view of it at all. I believe in regulatory methods. I think that makes it desirable that any such regulations imposed should not impose undue hardships on the law-abiding citizens and that they should not obstruct him in the right of self-defense, but that they should be directed exclusively, so far as possible, to suppressing the criminal use, or punishing the criminal use of weapons.

The CHAIRMAN. You spoke of your experience, which we realize is valuable and extensive, in dealing with this matter. This bill contemplates the suppression of crime and the protection of law-abiding citizens. Do you consider that your experience and your knowledge of this subject is superior to that of the Department of Justice? Do you consider that your experience puts you in a better position to say what is necessary to accomplish the suppression of crime than the Department of Justice?

Mr. FREDERICK. I hesitate to set myself up in any comparative sense, because I recognize the prestige of the Department of Justice.

The CHAIRMAN. You recognize also their experience in dealing with this subject?

Mr. FREDERICK. Their experience, I think, has been comparatively recent. I think I may truthfully say this, and I think Mr. Keenan would agree with me, that I have given much more study to the problem of firearms regulations, extending over a longer period of time and going into far greater detail, than any man or all of the men in the Department of Justice.


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The CHAIRMAN. Has your experience been with the sole purpose of dealing with crime?

Mr. FREDERICK. I have never been a prosecuting attorney.

The CHAIRMAN. One of the purposes of the Department of Justice is to deal with crime.

Mr. FREDERICK. I have approached it as a citizen interested in the public welfare, and the subject of crime has been a matter I have been deeply interested in ever since my college days, 30 years ago.

Mr. HILL. You expressed the opinion that perhaps any legislation would not be effective to keep firearms out of the hands of the criminal element.

Mr. FREDERICK. I am quite sure we cannot do that.

Mr. HILL. Assuming that is correct, and I am sure a great many might agree with you, if the firearms are found in the possession of the criminal element, and they cannot, under the provisions of this act, or of some similar legislation, show that they are in lawful possession of those firearms, would that not be a weapon in the hands of the Department of Justice in enabling them to hold those criminals until further investigation might be made of the crime?

Mr. FREDERICK. I think so, and I made this suggestion to Mr. Keenan 2˝ months ago, that whenever a weapon, a firearm of any kind, and I would not limit it to pistols-I would say rifles or shotguns-is found in the hands of any person who has been convicted of a crime of violence, because there are many crimes which have nothing to do with the use of firearms and that is why I make the distinction; and I think he suggested that we add to that any person who is a fugitive from justice-that mere possession of such a weapon should be prima facie evidence of its transportation in interstate commerce, and that transportation in interstate commerce of weapons by those people be made a crime.

Mr. HILL. What do you do with a man who has never been convicted of a crime although he may be a criminal?

Mr. FREDERICK. I do not know of any way in which you can catch all the dirt in the stream no matter what kind of a skimmer you may use.

Mr. HILL. It is conceivable that some of the most desperate gangsters may never have been convicted because we have been unable to get the evidence.

Mr. FREDERICK. That will sometimes happen.

Mr. HILL. It might frequently happen.

Mr. FREDERICK. I suppose so, because there is a first time for every criminal. I do not know how you can get at that; if he is found carrying a gun, and it is in violation of the State law, that is a State matter; I do not see how it is practical, without doing an injustice to the much greater body of law-abiding citizens to form a statute-and I have not yet been able to think of any way-which would be effective in such a case as you put.

Mr. HILL. I take it that your objection to this character of legislation is that the restrictions which it would impose upon the law-abiding citizen in the matter of firearms outweigh the advantages which might be gained in the hunting down and catching of the criminal.

Mr. FREDERICK. In general, I think it is best for the public interest.


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Mr. FREAR. This suggestion has been made: Do you appear here representing any private manufacturing companies or anyone interested in the manufacture of firearms?

Mr. FREDERICK. You mean in the commercial sense?

Mr. FREAR. Yes, in a commercial sense.

Mr. FREDERICK. None whatever, nor have I ever been.

Mr. FREAR. And no compensation is being paid you?

Mr. FREDERICK. No, sir.

Mr. FREAR. I am glad to hear that, and I think you are entitled to have that in the record at this time.

Mr. FREDERICK. I have never, directly or indirectly, been interested commercially in firearms. I am engaged in the private practice of law. I have not anyone, among my clients, nor have I ever had anyone engaged in such enterprises. My expenses here and back and such incidental expenses as I incur are borne by the National Rifle Association of which I am president. Prior to 2 years ago, when they paid some expenses that I incurred in this connection, I bore all of my expenses out of my personal pocket, and no one has ever paid me anything for my services. I am entirely voluntary and this and other service has been a service pro bono publico. I might refer, if I may, to one more point.

Mr. McCORMACK. Who comprises the National Rifle Association?

Mr. FREDERICK. The National Rifle Association is an incorporated body organized, I think, in 1871. It comprises amateur rifle shooting in the United States and it is organized for the purpose of promoting small-arms practice; it works with the War Department, and, in conjunction with the War Department, until the depression, it conducted national matches for which the National Congress appropriated $500,000. It is composed of individual members and affiliate groups, that is, shooting clubs, etc. Our membership runs into the hundreds of thousands all over the country.

Mr. DICKINSON. I have a telegram, not from my own section, that indicates that it is sent by members of some hunting association.

Mr. FREDERICK. I may say that I am also interested in the subject of conservation of forests and wild life. I know the sportsmen of the country feel as I do.

Mr. McCORMACK. How did they know you were appearing before the committee today?

Mr. FREDERICK. How did those organizations with which I am connected know it?

Mr. McCORMACK. I am not criticizing; I am glad to have you appear before the committee, as I like to hear from those who are shooting at the bill. I value your contribution, whether I agree with you wholly or not at all. I am curious to know how these people knew that you were appearing here today.

Mr. FREDERICK. I have no idea. There is a bill in the Senate which was proposed by the so-called “racketeering committee.” I think it was proposed quite a long time ago. There has been a good deal of general excitement with respect to that bill. I do not know whether that is in any way responsible.

Mr. HILL. I have a telegram from the Pacific coast, received this morning, signed by a number of persons, which says: “We urge you to give all possible consideration to recommendations proposed by National Rifle Association in connect on with H.R. 9066 at committee meeting Wednesday morning.”


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Evidently they know that this hearing is taking place this morning.

General RECKORD. I am responsible for that information going out. Two days ago, when the chairman advised me of this hearing, I advised a number of people by wire that a hearing would be held on this bill.

Mr. McCORMACK. Did these people know that he was coming here?

General RECKORD. I do not know.

Mr. HILL. Is it propaganda, then?

General RECKORD. No.

Mr. McCORMACK. Do intelligent people in this country send telegrams on a subject they know nothing about?

General RECKORD. I think you will find they know a great deal about it. They do not know anything about the particular bill, because the bill has been printed less than. a week. We never saw the bill ourselves, until 2 or 3 days ago.

Mr. CROWTHER. For 2 months or more I have been receiving some telegrams, and a great many letters from rifle associations and gun clubs. One comes from a large association connected with the General Electric Co. They all relate to this general subject and refer to the McLeod bill, the Copeland bill, the Hartley bill, and so forth, and comment on them. So, it would appear that it is not a new matter before the gun clubs, because I know for at least 2 months I have been receiving letters and telegrams, and some lengthy letters, in which they have given the matter great thought and consideration, and they express the hope that this legislation designed to reach the criminal might not take such form as to place an undue burden on rifle clubs.

Mr. DICKINSON. It looks like the telegram which I received from Branson is from the South, where they do hunting; it is signed by 15 or 20 individuals; it must have been some rifle organization.

Mr. MCCORMACK. Have you had hearings on similar legislation before the Judiciary Committee?
General RECKORD. There was a hearing, but we were not advised nor did we attend. I think the Attorney General appeared in person and Mr. Keenan also. Answering the gentleman’s question, there was a Copeland bill which was introduced possibly 2 months ago.

Mr. CROWTHER. And a McLeod bill and a Hartley bill.

The CHAIRMAN. That does not account for this stream of telegrams in the last day or two.

General RECKORD. The only person who could possibly be responsible would be myself and after you told me you were giving us a hearing today—

Mr. McCORMACK (interposing). You have contacted such as you could and wired the members of the association?

General RECKORD. In each State, or practically every State, we have a State rifle association, and we advised a number of those people that the hearing would be held today. Nothing was said about Mr. Frederick or any particular individual being present.

Mr. MCCORMACK. Did you ask them to wire in here?

General RECKORD. I do not recall the exact language of the telegram; I would say yes, probably we did, or intimated that a wire to Mr. Lewis-I wrote Mr. Lewis myself, because he is from the Sixth District arid I particularly requested him to be present.


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Mr. McCORMACK. Did you wire the people telling them what the recommendations were going to be to the committee?

General RECKORD. No, except that the legislation is bad.

Mr. McCORMACK. And they blindly followed it?

General RECKORD. I would not say blindly.

Mr. McCORMACK. They certainly had no information as to what the recommendations were to be.

General RECKORD. They could not possibly have the information.

Mr. McCORMACK. They did not know when they sent the wires in what the association was going to recommend?

General RECKORD. Except that we were going to recommend legislation.

Mr. McCORMACK. Nobody interrupted you. I am going to conclude, not as a result of my friend's staetment, but because I have finished.

The CHAIRMAN. The Chair would like to make an observation. We have been in session 2 hours which is as long as the Department of Justice had the other day. It is requested that they have time for one witness to make a brief statement before this session adjourns today. If you are not going to conclude, we will have to come back.

Mr. FREDERICK. I shall be glad to conclude with one more observation.

The CHAIRMAN. We are very pressed for time, as we have other matters to consider.

Mr. FREDERICK. It seems to me that any provision regarding a permit such as that contained in section 10, page 7, to transport a weapon in interstate commerce should call for a permit good indefinitely, because it is in the nature of a restriction and I take it that is about the only purpose of it. If I should go to Camp Perry or Seagirt, or any other place where the pistol matches are held, it would be a veritable nuisance for me to get a permit to get there, and once there, to get home; it would be a nuisance to go to the country and be required to get a permit, and then be required to get another when you come back at the end of the summer. It seems to me that once a man has registered his weapon, and it is known that he has lawfully obtained a permit to transport it, that it should be good indefinitely, so far as he is concerned, and so far as the particular gun is concerned. I thank you for the privilege of appearing before you.

Mr. LEWIS. Mr. Keenan has stated that he would like to be heard for a few minutes.

The CHAIRMAN. We cannot stay in session more than 15 minutes.

STATEMENT OF JOSEPH B. KEENAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL

Mr. KEENAN. I will take less than 5 minutes. So that there will be no misunderstanding and that the record will be clear, the Department of Justice was not aware of any agreement, implied or otherwise, to hear further from Mr. Frederick or General Reckord, inasmuch as approximately 4 hours were devoted to hearing the analysis of the uniform bill which was advocated by them and their views as to what would or would not constitute unreasonable and unduly burdensome restrictions upon the obtaining of firearms. The view of the Depart-


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ment, briefly, was this: That the Department represented all of the people of the country, in response to demands that came in for a long period of time requesting that some effort be made to form some type of Federal legislation to curb the sale of firearms. At the beginning it was recognized that no criminal would go to the expense of taking the steps necessary to comply with the regulations.

    We cannot over-emphasize our views that we hope to get some good from this bill in its present form or some modified form. As Mr. Frederick stated to me in my office, and as it appears in the record, he spent 15 years of his life in the study of firearms legislation, and he said in the record that none of this legislation had ever reached or touched the criminal, and we approached it from that standpoint. We are fully alive to the grave possibility that we will not keep the criminal from getting firearms, but we do hope to make it a simple matter, when we do apprehend the criminals with firearms, that they will not be able to put up vague alibis and the usual ruses, but that it will be a simple method to put them behind the bars when they violate these regulations.

One word more. We discussed pretty generally the basic principles behind this legislation more than 2 1/2 months ago with General Reckord and Mr. Frederick, on the 20th day of February there were introduced two bills in the Senate, by Senator Ashurst, Senate Nos. 2844 and 2840, and I think General Reckord will admit that he had knowledge of the introduction of these bills shortly after they were introduced.

General RECKORD. Of those two.

Mr. KEENAN. And both of those bills are combined in this one bill, and there are no changes, excepting combining them in one bill, at the request of Senator Ashurst. So, if there is any suggestion that the Department of Justice has been unfair, and that these matters have not been known to those representing the rifle association, I say an examination of. the Senate bills, and the present bill will show the present bill to be a composite unit of those two bills, with their basic principles.

    Further, with no disrespect intended, we feel in the Department of Justice that we represent the people of the country who demand that some effort be made to reach the firearms evil. We have a tremendous amount of data and correspondence coming into our office. We have had meetings with the International Chiefs of Police Association of America, that represents the chiefs of police of practically every city in the United States of any size, and they have approved of this legislation. They have asked us for it. We have conferred with an executive committee that came from all parts of the United States to call upon the Attorney General and discuss it. Approximately 2 or 3 weeks ago General Reckord came into the Department and I was occupied, and Mr. Smith, my assistant, discussed with him the firearms legislation. At that time, it is my understanding, that General Reckord said that he would work with us if pistols and revolvers were excluded and that Mr. Frederick would work with us if we eliminated the registration feature. We did not see the problem eye to eye. We think every possible opportunity has been given to them. We think that those who have spent their lives in collecting a tremendous amount of data, and Mr. Frederick, who is the best shot in America, and the Olympic champion of America, might have


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