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

Gun laws and the need for self-defense : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, March 31, 1995 (Volume Pt. 1) online

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Y 4,J89/l:104/43/PT.l

9un Laus and the Heed for Self-Defe... J^Q







MARCH 31. 1995

Senal No. 43



fOt*^-' "



Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary

22-«97 WASHINGTON : 1996

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402

ISBN 0-16-052487-3


(PART 1)


jh Laus anil the Heei for Self-Uefe.. . ^Q






MARCH 31, 1995

Serial No. 43


Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary

22-897 WASHINGTON : 1996

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402

ISBN 0-16-052487-3


HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman

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


Wisconsin BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts


GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania HOWARD L. BERMAN, Cahfornia



STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico JACK REED, Rhode Island



BOB INGLIS, South CaroUna MELVIN L. WATT, North CaroUna




FRED HEINEMAN, North Carolina
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
BOB BARR, Georgia

AiAN F. Coffey, Jr., General Counsel / Staff Director
Julian Epstein, Minority Staff Director

Subcommittee on Crime

BILL McCOLLUM, Florida, Chairman


HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina ZOE LOFGREN, Cahfornia


ED BRYANT, Tennessee MELVIN L. WATT, North CaroUna

BOB BA^R, Georgia

Paul J. McNulty, Chief Counsel

Glenn R. Schmitt, Counsel

Daniel J. Bryant, Assistant Counsel

Tom Dl\z, Minority Counsel





March 31, 1996 1


McCoIlum, Hon. Bill, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida,

and chairman. Subcommittee on Crime 1


Bordua, David, professor of sociology, University of Illinois 76

Bridges, Todd, Wichita, KS 21

Joo, David, Los Angeles, CA 25

Klaus, Charmaine 29

McDermott, Mr 161

Murphy, Phil 38

Neel, Travis Dean 40

Ramboz, Sharon-Jo, Walkerville, MD , 10

Rigsby, Bryan, Newnan, GA 15

Steber, Mary 156

Steber, Mr 158

White-Bowden, Susan, Finksburg, MD 152

Wintemute, Garen J., M.D., M.P.H., director, violence prevention research

program, University of California, Davis 126

Wright, James D., professor of sociology, Tulane University 58


Bordua, David, professor of sociology. University of lUinois: Paper by Garry
Kleck and Marc Gertz entitled, "Armed Resistance to Crime: The Preva-
lence and Natiu-e of Self-Defense With a Gun" 77

Bridges, Todd, Wichita, KS: Prepared statement 23

Jackson Lee, Hon. Sheila, a Representative in Congress fix)m the State of

Texas: Prepared statement 7

Joo, David, Los Angeles, CA: Prepared statement 27

Klaus, Charmaine: Prepsired statement 32

Neel, Travis Dean: Prepared statement 42

Ramboz, Sharon-Jo, Walkerville, MD: Prepared statement 13

Rigsby, Bryan, Newnan, GA: Prepared statement 18

White-Bowden, Susan, Finksbiu^, MD: Prepared statement 154

Wintemute, Garen J., M.D., M.P.H, director, violence prevention research

program, University of CaUfomia, Davis: Prepsired statement 132

Wright, James D., professor sociology, Tulane University:

Memorandum dated April 6, 1995, concerning drug legalization 120

Prepared statement 64


Material submitted for the hearing 175



(Part 1)

FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 1995

House of Representatives,

Subcommittee on Crime,
Committee on the Judiciary,

Washington, DC.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room
2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Bill McCollum (chair-
man of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives Bill McCollum, Steven Schiff, Howard
Coble, Fred Heineman, Ed Bryant of Tennessee, Steve Chabot, Bob
Barr, Charles E. Schumer, Robert C. Scott, Sheila Jackson Lee,
and Melvin L. Watt.
Also present: Representative Helen Chenoweth.
Staff present: Paul J. McNulty, chief counsel; Glenn R. Schmitt,
counsel; Dan Bryant, assistant counsel; Aerin D. Dunkle, research
assistant; Audrey Clement, secretary; and Tom Diaz, minority


Mr. McCollum. This hearing of the Crime Subcommittee is
called to order.

Today, we begin the first of a series of hearings on Federal gun
laws. With these hearings, we mark a new chapter in the works
of this subcommittee.

Nearly 30 years ago Congress responded to the rise of violence
in America by enacting a comprehensive gun control act. Many
State and local governments followed suit and today we have more
than 20,000 laws which restrict access to or ownership of guns in
various ways.

What have we witnessed at the same time? We have seen the
rate of violent crimes skyrocket by more than 500 percent since the
early 1960's. We have seen the annual number of murders steadily
escalate to the current level of 24,000 per year. We have seen juve-
nile violence dramatically increase, particularly among 13- to 15-
year-olds at a time when the juvenile population has been declin-
ing. Drive-by shootings, carjackings, kidnapings and other acts of
violence, once rare occurrences not long ago, now have become com-

There is something else we have seen during this same period of
time. Violent criminals have been ignoring gun control laws. Any-


one whose moral nature allows him to brutalize other human
beings is certainly not bothered by laws related to the ownership
of guns. In fact, as we all know, the areas of this country where
there has been the greatest devastation from violence and gun traf-
ficking are the same areas there has been the most gun control.

But as we will learn at today's hearings, and in those that follow,
gun control does have a real and significant impact. Unfortunately,
the impact is on the wrong people. As legislative bodies have en-
acted more and more restrictions and prohibitions on gun owner-
ship, law-abiding citizens dutifully comply. Unlike criminals, who
by definition are law breakers, Ainericans who play by the rules
have been jumping through all the hoops set by policymakers. And
what has been the effects of these laws on decent Americans? The
ability to defend oneself and family from violent criminals has be-
come more difficult, if not impossible.

We have created a dependence on police officers for protection
that is not the slightest bit realistic for citizens, or even fair to the
police. We have turned law-abiding people into potential law break-
ers by arbitrarily declaring some guns to be good and some to be

So today we begin a process made possible by the voters last No-
vember. We begin to hear the voices of those seldom heard before
in these Halls of Congress, the voices of gun owners who obey the
laws and, in particular, those who have learned that gun owner-
ship can mean the difference between life and death.

My hope is that the testimony we will hear today will remind
lawmakers our actions will have a dramatic effect on the lives of
innocent people. The question of who will live and who will die is
often cited by who is armed and who is not. Many almost choose
not to own guns and that is their right but those who do feel the
need to protect themselves must have our support.

I look forward to hearing from today's witnesses. I must apolo-
gize for the fact that I will be leaving early as a result of a schedul-
ing conflict, but the gentleman from New Mexico, Mr. Schiff, has
agreed to chair and will be chairing after about an hour or so of
this hearing today.

I am going to now yield to my friend from New York, Mr. Schu-
mer, who is the ranking minority member on this subcommittee. I
know that a lot of members would like to make statements today,
but because we have a huge panel, I would like to ask that all of
them be as brief as possible or refrain from making a statement
so that we can get to our panel and let this hearing commence. But
certainly the ranking minority member on the committee, Mr.

Mr. Schumer. Thank you, Mr. Chairmafi. And, first, I would like
to compliment you on the fact that Chairman Brooks, whenever I
would have a hearing on guns, would never give me this big room
and you have already gotten it, so congratulations.

But, seriously, I would say, Mr. Chairman, that the subject of
guns demands blunt talk and I intend to do just that.

The American people have been told that the subject of this hear-
ing is the right of self-defense. But the truth is that this hearing
is a smoke screen for the NRA and the gun lobby. This is an ex-
tremist pro-gun agenda in congressional disguise. The American

people should know why we are having these hearings today. This
is the first step toward an attempt to repeal the Brady law and the
assault weapons ban. This is the gun lobby's opening salvo and,
mark my words, there will be more to come.

This hearing has the trappings of a circus. If it were the only
thing on the gun lobby's agenda we could sit back and chuckle. Un-
fortunately, the joke is on the American people, because the NRA's
next act will be to try to repeal or gut every rational gun law in
this land.

We are here today because the NRA and the gun industry spent
a lot of money in the last election and now it is payback time. This
hearing is about the power of the gun lobby to break a contract
with the American people, a contract to take the AK-47's, the Uzis,
and the street sweepers off our streets.

Again, to repeat, if the NRA, the extreme wing of the Republican
leadership, and the right wing extremists in America have their
way, every rational gun law in this country will be repealed or gut-
ted, and that means that the lives of millions of ordinary Ameri-
cans are at risk.

Let us be clear. Except for the hidden agenda of repealing Brady
and assault weapons, this hearing is about a nonissue. We all know
this fact. There is not a single Federal law on the books today that
interferes with the right to buy a gun for self-defense in any but
the most trivial way. The Brady law does not stop law-abiding citi-
zens from buying guns to protect themselves. The assault weapons
ban does not stop law-abiding citizens from buying any of an infi-
nite variety of guns for self-defense.

America's firearm factories turn out millions of new guns each
year. No Federal law interferes with the right of self-defense. And
does anyone really believe that giving every American an Uzi will
make our streets safer; that by turning our towns into Dodge Cities
we will be making life safer? This is pure pulp fiction. Arming the
American people as a way to stop crime is like fighting drunk driv-
ing by giving every driver a drink. So self-defense is not the issue
here today.

Self-defense is simply being used here as a C3niical political thea-
ter. It is a puppet show being worked by the NRA, the gun lobby,
and Speaker Gingrich. The hearing is a crazed fantasy dream to
sell the loopy idea that guns are all good and gun laws are all bad,
and, of course, to allow the gun industry to sell more guns.

Well, I hate to spoil today's little love-in with the gun lobby, but
let me remind you how that phony fantasy plays out in real life.
Here is a real life story from my city if we want to have a battle
of anecdotes.

The headline is a simple one. It says: "Trying to Foil a Robbery,
a Store Owner Is Shot to Death." It is the story of Orville Thomas,
a hard-working immigrant who built his store up from nothing. He
bought a gun because he thought it would protect him from rob-
bers. Yes, when the time came, Orville Thomas drew his .9 mm pis-
tol. He thought he could foil the robbery but his fantasy went
wrong. Orville Thomas was shot once in the chest and killed before
he could fire a single shot.

The story of Orville Thomas is just a silent news clipping now,
but we ought to remember it when we glorify the value of guns for

Now, let me tell you about a few other lives, the lives of two peo-
ple who are in this room right now. I am going to ask these two
to stand up and be recognized as I tell you about them.

Burle Phillips Taylor is here today. Burle, would you please
stand up in the audience. Thank you.

Burle's 17-year-old son, Scott, was shot to death with an AK-47
assault rifle. The 18-year-old who literally executed Scott bought
the AK-47 because he was to young to buy a handgun and he
thought the AK-47 was cool.

Thank you, Burle.

Carol Lynn McCarthy is also here today. Carol Lynn, would you
please stand up?

Carolyn's husband, Dennis, was killed on the Long Island Rail-
road by Colin Ferguson, who was armed with a .9 mm Ruger pistol
and a 15-round, high capacity magazine now covered by the assault
weapons ban. Her son, Kevin, was also seriously wounded, but for-
tunately he survived.

Thank you, Carol Lynn.

Ultimately, it is these human beings, their loved ones and the
thousands like them that the assault weapons ban is all about. And
neither they nor I nor the American people will let the NRA or its
pals in Congress forget the fact that the fight over assault weapons
starts with this hearing today.

But if the pro-gun lobby believes they will repeal the assault
weapon ban and the Brady law without a fight, they have got an-
other thing coming. We are drawing a line in the sand today. We
will not sit on our hands while pro-gun extremists try to repeal the
laws that the overwhelming majority of American people demand.
Too many lives have been saved, too mahy felons have been caught
for us to turn back the clocks now. The American people are saying
move forward in the fight against crime, move forward in gun con-
trol and do not let the bullies in the gun lobby run you over.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. McCOLLUM. You are welcome, Mr. Schumer.

Before I move on, I want to make one comment, or two, very
quickly. One is that this chairman does not have any plans whatso-
ever to have legislation that would repeal the Brady bill. There will
be oversight hearings on how it is working and the identification
process, which all of us are concerned with, but the Brady bill is
not at issue here in this subcommittee at this time.

I am going to recognize other members very briefly. I would like
for any opening statements that you make to be submitted for the
record. Unginimous consent doesn't need to be asked. It is clear you
can submit those statements, and if somebody wants to take 30
seconds, literally, fine, but we have a lot that could be said here
this morning, but we have a huge panel, and three panels before
the day is out. So I will not gag anybody, but I will ask that of all
of the Members, both sides of the aisle. Mr. Schiff.

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I certainly have heard you now em-
phasize the need to get going, and I will be extremely brief. I just
want to say, however, that I think the issue before us should not

be whether the NRA, the gun lobby, or anyone else is for or against
a particular bill. The issue should be, is it a good bill or a bad bill,
is it a good law or a bad law. And that should be looked at on its

I think there has been considerable misinformation on these sub-
jects and I want to congratulate you on these hearings, which I
think this is the first of a series of hearings that will go into these
issues, and I will ask your indulgence just to give a couple of quick
examples of information which I think has been denied to the pub-
lic and which I think is very significant.

Now members of the public may not change their views if they
get additional facts. That is their free choice to continue to believe
in a certain position. But it should be pointed out, for example,
that what are called assault weapons are not military weapons
though they have been called that over and over again both in this
Congress and in the media. There is not one organized military
that distributes any of those weapons as a regular issue.

Second of all, whatever they are, they are not banned. I am get-
ting letters now saying, let us not put those weapons back on the
street. The law did not ban these weapons. Every weapon that was
on the street before remains on the street, perfectly legal to sell
and resell, quite inconsistent, I think, with the argument these
weapons have no place among legitimate citizens.

Finally, I have seen some outlandish claims of the effectiveness
of the Brady Act. I think once you peel back the figures you will
find everything from the fact that those fugitives who have been
stopped from bu3dng weapons under the Brady Act were in fact
wanted for not pa3dng a parking ticket. And, more important, the
Washington Post, not exactly a bastion of conservative thinking, re-
cently printed an article that said of the Brady checks that have
taken place, only 10 individuals in the United States of America
have been prosecuted for illegally trying to buy a weapon. That
means anyone who was in fact turned down to buy a weapon was
allowed to go free and get a weapon somewhere else if they wanted
to. So how can anyone claim they have prevented a single act of
violent crime?

Further the Brady Act has been declared unconstitutional in a
number of courts around the country not on the 2d amendment but
on the 10th amendment because we forced the States to run the
program and pay for it.

These are just some facts that should come and be part of the
debate. Again, I thank you for having these hearings.

Mr. McCOLLUM. Thank you for being brief. And I will encourage
each colleague to be very brief, if you have anjrthing to say. I prob-
ably should not allow opening statements this morning. Mr. Scott,
briefly, if you would.

Mr. Scott. I will do the best I can. Thank you very much, Mr.

The purpose of the hearing today is to determine whether or not
we will be safer if we turn the clock back and repeal the ban on
military style assault weapons. The question is whether we will be
safer if there are more military style assault weapons out on the
street. These weapons have one purpose and that is to kill many
people quickly. The overwhelming evidence is that they are very

unlikely to be used for self-defense, but very likely to be used for

The ranking minority member, Mr. Schumer, cautioned us
against using anecdotes, and I again want to remind people to be
cautious about anecdotes because we could prove that seat belts in
cars do not work and have a list of witnesses that come and say
that people were killed because they had their seat belt, on or sur-
vived because they did not have their seat belt on. However, we
know that the overwhelming evidence is that statistically you are
much safer with your seat belt. So we have to be cautious about
anecdotes, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to the evidence that
we hear today.

Mr. McCOLLUM. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Scott.

Again, I wanted to be very brief with anybody, and I hope some
will not take their time. I am going to encourage nobody taking it.

Mr. Coble, do you have anything you wish to say that you have
a burning passion about?

Mr. Coble. I have no burning passion.

Mr. McCOLLUM. All right. Ms. Jackson Lee, I knew you wanted
to take 30 seconds. You would like to say more, and I apologize,
but whatever you can do, please.

Ms. Jackson Lee. Yes, I do have a burning passion, and I clearly
believe that the hearing today may well be, Mr. Chairman, one of
the most important hearings during my short tenure in Congress.
The issue of guns and violence is an issue I have struggled with
as a member of the city council in the city of Houston and as a
former judge.

This hearing is so very important because we can lift up statis-
tics and emphasize one issue over another and what is more valu-
able, but I would say simply to you as a mother, as an American,
I believe life is valuable. I certainly can applaud those who have
come to acknowledge that they have defended themselves and I
would certainly not take that away from them. But my heart goes
out to those who have lost loved ones in this gun violence society.

And I would simply remind you the statistics dealing with chil-
dren are staggering. According to the National Center for Health
Statistics, in 1993, 247 children and teenagers were murdered;
1,436 children committed suicide with the use of a gun, and 551
children died due to an accidental shooting.

As a member of the city council in the city of Houston, I worked
very hard to get a gun safety and responsibility ordinance. I know
what it means to be safe with guns. And we saw a 50-percent de-
crease in accidental shootings.

But that is not the only issue, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate
this hearing. I hope that we will come this morning simply for the
facts, and that I will not have to read hearings and see in news-
papers in Houston one more child dead behind a gun and hear the
plea of a father who simply asked what are we trying to do with
a concealed weapons bill in the State of Texas, what do they think
will happen, just wait until that gets passed and see what violence
will come about. We know the States that have had it are not sim-
ply States free now because they have people walking around car-
rying guns.

I join in to simply say I am here to listen and to learn, and I
hope we will not match statistics and stories. I hope we will do
what is right for the American people, and certainly I believe that
we should draw the line and not repeal the assault weapons ban,
for we are a country of laws, and the Constitution and the right
to protect ourselves, but I think, truly, we must be a country that
advocates life.

Thsmk you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. McCOLLUM. Thank you.

[The prepared statement of Ms. Jackson Lee follows:]

Prepared Statement of Hon. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in
Congress From the State of Texas

This hearing today may very well be one of the most important hearings during
my short tenure in Congress. The issue of guns and violence is an issue that I have
struggled with as a member of the city council of the city of Houston and as a mu-
nicipal judge in Houston. This hearing is important because I believe that this may
be the first step in the 104th Congress in an effort to repeal the ban on assault
weapons that passed Congress last year.

Like all Americans, I believe that crime and violence is Uterally destroying the
social fabric of our society. However, I also believe that the prevalence of firearms
in our communities is helping to create this climate.

I am particularly concerned about the effect of guns on the lives of children. The
statistics are staggering. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in
1991, 3,247 children and teenagers were murdered, 1,436 children committed sui-
cide witJi use of a gun, and 551 children died due to accidental shootings. In Hous-
ton, I introduced the gun safety and responsibility ordinance and worked hard with
the mayor and my councU colleagues to get that ordinance passed. It resulted in a
50-percent decrease in accidental shooting deaths of Houston children.

As ovu" Nation has become increasingly violent, many adults have piu*chased guns
with the intent to defend themselves against this onslaught of crime and violence.
However, from many of the reports that I read, I am not sure whether the purchase
of a firearm makes individuals and families safer or increases their chances of being

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JGun laws and the need for self-defense : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, March 31, 1995 (Volume Pt. 1) → online text (page 1 of 27)