United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Federal firearms licensing : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, June 17, 1993 online

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FEDERAL RREARMS UCENSING



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HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON
CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

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dent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-044182-X



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FEDERAL HREARMS UCENSING



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HEARING

BEFORE THE

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U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1994



7436
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1994



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
dent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-044182-X



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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY



Ma



DON EDWAF
JOHN CONY
ROMANO L.
DAN GLICKB
GEORGE E. ;
CRAIG A. Wy
DAVID MAN]



JACK BROOKS, Texas, Chairman
DON EDWARDS, California HAMILTON FISH, JR., New York

JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California

ROMANO L. MAZZOLI, Kentucky HENRY J. HYDE, niinois

WILLIAM J. HUGHES, New Jereey F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR.,

MIKE SYNAR, Okl»Hnm« Wi=/.nn««

PATRICIA SCH""
DAN GLICKM
BARNEY FR/
CHARLES E.
HOWARD L.
RICK BOUCl
JOHN BRYA
GEORGE E.
CRAIG A. W.
JACK REED,
JERROLD N
ROBERT C. ;
DAVID MAN
MELVIN L. ^
XAVIER BEC



HV^ 7435 .F31 1994
United States. Congress.
House. Committee on the
Federal fireanrs licensing



HAMPDEN LAW LIBRARY

50 STATE ST., BOX 559
SPRINGFIELD, MA. 01102-0559



DEMCO



CONTENTS



HEARING DATE



Page
June 17, 1993 1

OPENING STATEMENT

Schumer, Hon. Charles E., a Representative in Congress from the State
of New York, and chairman, Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal
Justice 1

WITNESSES

Abom, Richard M., president, Handgun Control, Inc., Washington, DC 68

Archer, Steven, Simke, Chodos, Silberfeld &. Anteau, Los Angeles, CA 58

Daily, Edward, accompanied by JefT Grabman, agent, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco and Firearms 8

Farley, William, Chesapeake, MD 55

Gardiner, Richard E., legislative counsel, National Rifle Association of

America, Washington, DC 71

Higgins, Stephen E., Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,

U.S. Department of the Treasury, accompanied by Brad Buckles, Deputy

Chief Counsel, and Gerald A. Nunziato, Special Agent in Charge, National

Tracing Center 14

Shaw, Bernard, first sergeant, Maryland State Police Licensing Division,

Woodlawn, Md 48

Travis, Jeremy, deputy commissioner, legal matters. New York City Police

Department, New York, NY 51

LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING

Abom, Richard M., president. Handgun Control, Inc., Washington, DC:

JanuaiT 29, 1993, letter to Congressman Lamar Smith 109

Archer, Steven, Simke, Chodos, Silberfeld & Anteau, Los Angeles, CA:

Prepared statement 60

Gardiner, Richard E., legislative counsel. National Rifle Association of
America, Washington, DC:

Prepared statement 75

Statement before the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Services, March

26, 1993 81

Higgins, Stephen E., Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,
UTS. Department of the Treasury:

Guns recovered from Branch Davidian compound 35

Information concerning the illegal gun market 31

Memoranda issued to all regional directors (Compliance) between

November 17, 1992 and June 16, 1993 38

Prepared statement 18

Response to Chairman Schumer's questions 40

National Alliance of Stocking Gun Dealers: Prepared statement 86

Ramstad, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from the State of
Minnesota: Prepared statement 8



(III)



IV

Page

Schumer, Hon. Charles E., a Representative in Congress from the State
of New York, and chairman, Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice:
A list of the "Dirty Dozen" rogue gun dealers and case summaries 3

Shaw, Bernard, first sergeant, Maryland State Police Licensing Division,

Woodlawn, MD: Prepared statement 50

Simon, Hon. Paul, a Senator in Congress from the State of Illinois: Prepared

statement 63

Travis, Jeremy, deputy commissioner, legal matters. New York City Police
Department, New York, NY: Prepared statement 54



FEDERAL FIREARMS LICENSING



THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 1993

House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice,

Committee on the Judiciary,

Washington, DC.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 12:09 p.m., in room
2237, Raybum House Office Building, Hon. Charles E. Schumer
(chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives Charles E. Schumer, Don Edwards,
John Conyers, Jr., David Mann, F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.,
Lamar S. Smith, and Jim Ramstad.

Also present: Andrew Fois, counsel; David Yassky, assistant
counsel; Rachel Jacobson, secretary; and Lyle Nirenberg, minority
counsel.

OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SCHUMER

Mr. Schumer. The hearing will come to order.

The Chair has received a request to cover this hearing in whole
or in part by television broadcast, radio broadcast, still photog-
raphy, or by other similar methods. In accordance with committee
rule 5, permission will be granted unless there is objection. With-
out objection.

This hearing will examine flaws in the regulation of gun dealers.
These loopholes have enabled criminals to arm themselves with
thousands upon thousands of guns. In the worst, most distressing
cases, it is actually the dealers themselves who are the criminals.

The regulations we have for gun dealers would be unthinkably
lax in any other context. Imagine a substance that is useful if han-
dled properly but can be highly dangerous, even deadly, in the
wrong hands — a new drug, a toxic chemical. Common sense would
dictate that we should regulate something like that, that it should
be sold only by responsible dealers who can be easily monitored by
a government agency. That indeed was the intent of the Gun Con-
trol Act of 1968. That law recognized that guns are highly dan-
gerous, and it set up a system in which only licensed dealers can
sell them, and these dealers are subject to rules forbidding them
to sell to felons or other dangerous people.

Well, it sounds great on paper, but in practice the system has
fallen into complete disrepair. The National Rifle Association, along
with compliant friends in Congress, has made a mockery of the sys-
tem. Now anyone who can afford the $10 a year fee can get a li-
cense. You don't have to actually operate a store. You don't have
to show that you are in compliance with State law or that the store

(1)



will keep the guns secure. You don't even have to be a human
being, as one journalist showed recently by getting a license for his
dog. The ATF, the agency in charge of monitoring gun dealers, is
prohibited by statute — if you can believe this — by statute, they
can't collect the gun records until after the gun dealer has gone out
of business. They can only go inspect the gun store once a year.

To get the license, all you do is send in this simple form. In the
box where it says, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?"
Check no. In the box where it says, "Are you a fugitive from jus-
tice?" Check no. Then attach your $10 by check or money order,
stick it in the mail, and the next thing you know, UPS is delivering
packages of guns directly to your doorstep.

Predictably, the number of dealer licenses has skyrocketed.
There are now 284,000 outstanding — more gun dealers than gas
stations, according to a recent study — and most of these licensees
do not actually operate storefront dealerships; instead, they sell
from their homes, even from their cars. This has made the task of
overseeing the dealers absolutely impossible. A dealer can expect to
see a Federal agent about once every 20 years.

Now, of course — and I want to underline this — most of the licens-
ees are perfectly law-abiding, but those who are not, the rogue gun
dealers, can literally flood the streets with illegal firearms. Just as
one thug can do a lot of damage if he has a gun, so too a single
trafficker can do a lot of damage with a Federal license. That li-
cense enables a trafficker to order weapons by the truckload di-
rectly from the manufacturer, obviously across State lines.

Now I have collected the worst cases I could find from the past
few years, a "Dirty Dozen" of rogue gun dealers. Most of these 12
men probably couldn't have qualified for a license to cut hair, but
they got a gun dealer's license from your Federal Government that
they could use to order guns by the truckload and sell them the
next day on the street. These 12 hoodlums — and they are simply
the tip of the iceberg — put more than 13,000 illegal guns on the
street alone. Here are some examples, and they are listed on the
chart over there.

John Zodda. Over 5 years, Zodda sold guns on the streets of New
York City, 2,400 weapons. He never got a city or a State license,
but the Federal license he got using a phony address allowed him
to order the guns right from the manufacturer and then sell them
to whomever.

John Adams had a gun for different purposes than his namesake.
His five misdemeanor convictions would have disqualified him from
selling guns in most States. It didn't stop him from getting a Fed-
eral license and selling more than a thousand firearms before the
police caught up with him.

Carroll Brown. He sold guns from his car in Baltimore, more
than 300. When several of his guns were used in homicides, the po-
lice finally tracked him down.

And I would like to make this actually a "Dirty Baker's Dozen."
The worst offender of all, whose name we can't use because he has
not yet been indicted, a gentleman from North Carolina, it is esti-
mated sold between 6,000 and 10,000 illegal guns in the last sev-
eral years.

[Tne chart follows:]



THE "DIRTY DOZEN" ROGUE GUN DEALERS ^




, , o 7„HH« New York, NY ...

0*^" l^°i^' Detroit, Ml

Larry Wilson '

Milton W. Massengale ?'"£»!: -rA

Gustavo Salazar Krf V

John A. Adams „** 7 .,J



Bronx, NY



David Taylor ..,. .

Richard Schert«rth Wisconsin and

Minnesota.



James M. Ryan 2 v^k ny"

George G. Woods New York NY

Donald Weiss Richmond, VA



Carroll L. Brown f^^'r^'ip? pa'

Charles MacDonald Los Angeles, CA



2,400
2,170
2,000
1,160
1,000
800
800

600
500
300

300

120



Awaiting sentencing.

N/A.

41 months.

1 year.

10 months.

5-15 years.

Awaiting sentencing.

4 years.

Fugitive.

Committed suicide prior to

sentencing.

21 months.

46 months.



'Ot the federally licensed gun



Crime and Criminal Justice as ^'"'^'^i^'^'^'^'l'^^^L^^^^^ and an indictment b apected shortly.

'X^\^^'^ :.taV,rrL^^';?:;^.o^:^'^X tTntorceme^n, Cl.als tamiliar w.h the case.

The "Dirty Dozen" Rogue Gun Dealers-Case Summaries

john r. zodda
Over a f.ve-year period Zodda P-^ased and distributed ove^^^^^^
eluding semi-automatie assault weapons. Zodda purchased '°™>p''pL bearing his
thrnugl falsified fensegw,th<^h^

I'^s^rn'^cid oi:;S!t iu'rand is currently awaiting sentencng.

LARRY WILSON
WUson sold 2,169 -au't rifles and hand^n^ in the -"{J^-j.'jf ^ ^ H^^^?^

MILTON W. MASSENGALE

•r^r,A ir. IQQO for aivertinc over 2,000 firearms into Mexico

Massangale was convicted in 19^/°'^iS7alsmed his r^ords to conceal diversion

duringthepenodbetweenl982to 1989 Heialsili^a^^^ trafficker. He was

?endSt%rrnlt%riSntl- -^ ^ ^^^'^^ '-'■

GUSTAVO SALAZAR
Salazar obtained a dealers 1^-^X^988 m^s Angers. ^yu^^^^ Ws.FFL. t.
purchase firearms from legitimate dealers, ba az ar was aoi y^ g ^^^^^ .

waiting period and background check and sell ^^e weagins me^^^ y p^^

chasef over 1,500 firearms from fj^^.^^ three major dis^^^^

l^aLt'hlt^enSvSfbTfa^^^^^^^ crimrincidents. Salazar

was sentenced to one year in prison and two years probation.

JOHN A. ADAMS

Adams used his license to buy w/>P»- *!-"|h ^ILrwhikfaktagTl^^^^^

irA"tl^T^2st"rwaiis;''ahtlh^r?r=ing a locally issued
dealer license.

DAVID TAYLOR



ing a New York gun dealers license, but it did not prevent him from obtaining a
federal license because he had no felony convictions. Taylor bought and sold over
800 guns from wholesalers across the country, who shipped the guns via the United
Parcel Service. Finally, an undercover operation was able to bring charges against
Taylor by selling guns to him through the disguise of a United Parcel Service vehi-
cle. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Taylor will be sentenced to 5 to 15 years
in prison on 17 counts of illegal weapons possessions and sales.

RICHARD SCHERBARTH

Scherbarth was a former firearms dealer in Wisconsin, yet he continued to use
his expired license to acquire 115 handguns between September 1991 and August
1992. An undercover Chicago ATF agent traced a purchase to Scherbarth, who con-
fessed to selling at least 120 guns per year to a non-licensee, who in turn resold
the guns at gun shows.

JAMES M. RYAN

Ryan was brought up on charges involving the selling of firearms to known con-
victed felons and failing to maintain records. Information later disclosed that Ryan
was plotting the murder of the government's chief witness and BATF agents in-
volved with the case.

GEORGE G. WOODS

Woods purchased over 500 handguns from a company in North Carolina within
a one-year period. ATF agents were able to trace Woods through an undercover pur-
chase of sixteen weapons at a barber shop that was selling his illegal guns. Woods
was scheduled to be sentenced April 14, 1993. He failed to show and is now listed
as a fugitive.

DONALD WEISS

Weiss and wife Hildegard were both officers at the Virginia Police Equipment
Supply Company. They both pleaded guilty to falsifying reports. Prior to sentencing,
it was discovered that over 300 guns recovered in New York were traceable to the
company. Weiss committed suicide before sentencing was announced.

CARROLL L. BROWN

Brown sold more than 300 guns in a 17 month period. Several of the guns were
subsequently used in crimes. Because he had been convicted of a misdemeanor as-
sault charge in 1983, an ATF agent did an on-site investigation in order to see if
Brown would quahfy for licensing. The agent eventually recommended Brown for
approval. It was later discovered that Brown only recorded about half of his sales.
Brown also sold to convicted felons by simply telling them how to answer the pur-
chaser questionnaire. ATF agents eventually caught up with Brown in December of
1990 through a trace. ATF agents arrested Brown a week after he sold an under-
cover agent a Clock 9mm out of the front seat of a 1989 Dodge. Some of Brown's
guns were later discovered to be involved in homicides.

CHARLE MACDONALD

For 10 years MacDonald occupied room 744 of the Frontier Hotel in downtown
Los Angeles. It was out of this room and on the street that MacDonald sold at least
122 guns. Although MacDonald was dishonorably discharged from the armed serv-
ices,convicted of theft and carrying a concealed weapon, and also suffers from psy-
chological disturbances, he was able to obtain an license from the BATF. Once he
received his license, MacDonald began selling guns to gangs, drug dealers, and con-
victed felons. MacDonald was finally arrested after he sold a gun to a felon who was
later arrested for attempted murder (using the weapon MacDonald sold him). Mac-
Donald said he felt no responsibility for any of the crimes committed as a result
of the guns he sold by stating, "Not my problem, I didn't shoot anybody".

Mr. SCHUMER. Well, you can see the problem.

Now gun control debates always get heated, but here, I think, is
one area where we can probably put aside the other differences we
have and just look at common sense. Everyone wants to keep guns
away from criminals, and I think it is clear that gun dealers should



be a key point of control, just as it is crystal clear that they have
ceased to perform this function up to now.

So I would like this hearing to explore some possible solutions,
but we can already sketch the basic framework of reform. First, we
have to do a better job of preventing fraud in dealer applications.
Every applicant should be personally interviewed by a BATF agent
and should get a fingerprint check. It sounds rudimentary; it is not
done now. Second, only genuine gun dealerships should get li-
censes. No more kitchen table or car seat dealers. And, third,
BATF must be given tools to enforce the law— more agents, free-
dom from the absurd restrictions like the statute limiting dealer in-
spections to one a year— and greater access to gun dealer records
so that crime guns can be traced easily and trends in gun traffick-
ing can be spotted quickly. All these elements will not do a thing
to harm the legitimate gun owner.

The bottom line is— and I would like to be working with all mem-
bers of this committee if they have ideas on how to deal with this—
now we can no longer tolerate city streets ruled by war lords armed
to the teeth. We are restoring order in Mogadishu; it is time to re-
store peace and safety here at home.
I yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin.
Mr. Sensenbrenner. Thank vou very much, Mr. Chairman.
Today the subcommittee will learn more about the supply of
guns, about dealers, both law-abiding, hard-working owners of
small businesses, and about illicit dealers. We will get closer to an-
swering how children are acquiring guns, guns which in many
cases they are bringing into their schools and classrooms, and
about how criminals are acquiring guns to use them in their nefar-
ious trade, and about what is the role of stolen firearms in the sup-
ply of guns to criminals.

Over the last 6 months there has been a repeated focus on sug-
gested gaps in the dealer licensing scheme; that is, loopholes in the
system of getting a license to collect, sell, import, or manufacture
firearms. In any event, it is unclear as to what extent any current
problems with the system of licensing and with the ensuing compli-
A^^^ ^^^5 ^^^^^^^ regulations are due to inadequate enforcement by
AIF or due to a lack of laws or loopholes or gaps in current law.
TIT? v:^' ^^°"S t^^ questions to be addressed at this hearing are-
Whether there are gaps or loopholes in the system of getting a
dealer s license? How easy is it to get the license? Is it too easy"?
Are licenses abused? And what is the ATF doing to address abuses
and to prosecute violations?

Under current law, an applicant is statutorily prohibited from re-
ceiving a dealer's license if less than 21 years old, a fugitive from
justice, a convicted felon, a drug addict, adjudicated mentally in-
competent, an illegal alien, or if the applicant has renounced U S
citizenship or has been dishonorably discharged from the Armed

• ^^^^^r^^t^ ^^^ ^^^^^ °^^^^ qualifications. Moreover, current law
gives ATF the right to inspect dealer records once every 12 months
or at any time during the course of a criminal investigation,
u ^kT?Jf ^^^^^ provisions of existing law being used and enforced
by All< .'' It is easy to see that the use of background checks by ATF
and actually doing such checks on each and every applicant is what



is envisioned by current law and could have the desired effect of
rooting out the bad apples before a license is issued.

I hope to learn more from this hearing about how many Federal
firearms licenses have been revoked, how many gun trafficking
charges have been prosecuted against firearms dealers, and what
sentences were received for those found guilty under current law.
In 1990, the ATF revoked only 3 of the 235,684 hcenses for gun
dealers, or roughly one-thousandth of 1 percent. ATF must more
thoroughly police the application process. Background checks are
not being done. .

One writer notes that 90 percent of all license applicants are not
visited or interviewed by an agency inspector before a hcense is is-
sued by ATF and that, on average, each year less than 6 to 8 per-
cent of all hcense holders are inspected. One writer notes that it
is much harder to get a license to operate a power boat on Chesa-
peake Bay than to get a Federal firearms license. When the writer
applied, no one from ATF called to verify the application; no one
interviewed him. Still other writers have succeeded in having h-
censes awarded to fictitious persons or even to their dogs, giving
the word "guard dog" a whole new meaning. . ^,

On the subject of background checks, I cannot fail to mention the
Brady bill. On May 8, 1991, H.R. 7, the Brady bill of the 102d Con-
gress, passed the House by a vote of 239 to 186. Since the bill was
first introduced in 1987, more than 75,000 Americans have fallen
victim to firearm-related homicides. Why must we wait for such
reasonable legislation? The current Brady bill proposal, H.R. 1025
introduced by Mr. Schumer and myself, creates a 5ybusiness-day
waiting period before a handgun can be obtained. During this time,
law enforcement officials can help prevent individuals who are pro-
hibited from owning a firearm under current Federal law from ac-
quiring a handgun. The only persons who will be denied a handgun
should the Brady bill become law are those who cannot legally own
firearms. The waiting period provisions will sunset as soon as a na-
tional instantaneous background check hotline is operational. H R.
1025 sets forth rules on timetables and accuracy requirements for
the establishment of such an instant check.

Ironically, current law gives the ATF up to 45 days to do a back-
ground check of the applicant, yet we are told this is not enough
time and that the 45 days should be extended and perhaps be open
ended or without limit. Why is a 5-business-day waiting period
enough for purposes of the Brady bill and 45 days insufficient here,
especially when the pool of license apphcants is far less in number
than the pool of prospective purchasers of handguns?

ATF has begun to increase compliance inspections and enforce-
ment. Since February 1993, ATF has been contacting every apph-
cant for a firearms license; yet, I am curious what kind of questions
were asked and whether ATF suggested or imposed restrictions not
enacted by Congress and not found in law. ^ j ^ r-

I have a copy of the application for a license, for a Federal tire-
arms hcense, here, and I see that Mr. Schumer has got one as well.
Mr. Schumer. We are not applying, either of us, or I am not.
Mr Sensenbrenner. Well, I am not applying either. But it is in-
teresting to note that in the instructions for filling out this apphca-
tion it says that you can't operate a firearms business out ot your



home if your home is not open to the public, and vet we hear story
after story that indicates that some people are doing just that or
selling firearms out of cars in the street. Now that is a per se viola-
tion of Federal law and a per se violation of the conditions on
which a license is issued, and a license would not been issued had
there been appropriate checks.

So it is my hope that all sides can work together to plug any
loopholes in the laws, to enact new laws where truly needed, and
to increase enforcement of existing law. As one witness will frame
the question, are we confusing a lack of enforcement power with a
lack of enforcement? There is a big difference there. I look forward
to hearing if there is a problem with current law and the proce-
dures now in place.

Mr. SCHUMER. Thank you, Mr. Sensenbrenner, for what I think
is a very well thought out statement.

Mr. Edwards.

Mr. Edwards. Mr. Chairman, I have no statement, other than to
compliment you and Mr. Sensenbrenner on your outstanding state-
ments, and I endorse every word you said, Mr. Chairman.

You know, I am an ex-FBI agent, and I carried a gun, and I
thought it was perfectly legitimate for me to carry a gun as an FBI
agent, and I think that policemen ought to be able to carry guns,


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