Imágenes de páginas

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Edwards. Are there any questions?

Mr. Berts. May I ask one question ? The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Betts. Mr. BETTS. Briefly, how would you change the Casey bill? Mr. EDWARDS. I would provide for increments of 5 years for each offense and each time a person became a repeater it would be an additional 5 years, but I would leave it up to the judge or to the jury—to the jury if there was a jury, to the judge if he was tried without a jury-to find mitigating circumstances which would relieve the person of the harsh additional penalty, and that would relieve the severity of the bill.

It would shift the burden. As it is now, the State has to make a special charge under this mandatory provision. This would simply say that if he was convicted he would get the additional penalty unless the judge or the jury said he did not.

Mr. BETTs. That is pretty much the law now, isn't it?

Mr. EDWARDS. No, sír; in the District of Columbia there is authority to give the additional penalties, but I understand it is rarely used and they have to make out a special charge in the information or indictment.

Mr. BETTS. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you again, Mr. Edwards.
Mr. EDWARDS. Thank you.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Warren Page. Mr. Page, if you will identify yourself for our record by giving us your name, address, and capacity in which you appear, we will be glad to recognize you, sir.



Mr. Page. Chairman Mills and gentleman of the Ways and Means Committee, my name is Warren Page. I am shooting editor of Field & Stream magazine, located at 383 Madison Avenue, New York City.

For 70 years respected among sportsmen and presently delivering to them over 113 million copies monthly, our publication has strong interest in all firearms-control proposals.

Our basic philosophy and, we suspect, the philosophy of the roughly 50 million sportsmen of this country appeared in our April 1964 issue. Copies attached to the statement here are offered for the record.

Essentially we stand on it in any broad discussions of firearms control.

To the original administration proposals contained in S. 1592 and reiterated in H.R. 6628 and H.R. 6783 we offer strong general though not total opposition.

On the S. 1591 family of bills concerning destructive devices, your committee counsel has reported that Treasury Department testimony indicates intention of offering amendments that would exclude properly defined antique firearms and certain obsolete items, would clarify the situation of bona fide big-game rifles in caliber larger than .50.

Where directed against crew-served items of no sporting significance S. 1591 and its paired House bills seem to us in principle desirable legislation. If the reported alterations are included we would strongly support such a revamped bill.

We likewise feel that the exclusion of all ammunition sa ve destructive device material from either bill, a move echoing the earlier attitude of Treasury officials and certainly desired by all interested parties, is fitting and proper.

The same could be said in respect to the S. 1592 family, of Treasury acceptance of reasonable dealer fees if in the $10 to $25 area, since it has been clearly demonstrated that a $100 annual license would be both discriminatory and destructive. On any provisions for protective hearing procedures such as Treasury has mentioned, we prefer to reserve judgment pending inspection of their actual language.

There can be little doubt that S. 1592 and its companion bills offered excessive administrative freedom to the Treasury Department, with no clear statement of recourse truly practical for the individual citizen.

But if the concessions in the administration's proposals end there, if they avoid the nub of the matter, the effective ban on interstate sale and shipment to individuals of all firearms, save under circumstances ill defined or inimical to the legitimate sportsman, then everyone with shooting and hunting at heart must continue to register strong opposition. Of the objectionable areas only the least vital would have been cleared.

Sportsmen-hunters in these United States have in the past 22 years increased twice as rapidly as our whole population. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife figures for 1963 indicate 14,122,659 licensed hunters. For the 1965 season 15 million is a conservative projection. If we consider nonhunting target shooters and individuals like farmers who hunt their own properties—and it's a rare farm that is without rifle or shotgun in the back-door corner—there are certainly 25 million individuals owning firearms for sport or other legal use, and the total is possibly much greater.

Hunters and shooters are a peculiar breed. I might add here that I consider myself peculiarly equipped to make that comment since I correspond with some 10,000 shooters in the course of a year and spend at least half of each year myself hunting and shooting.

These people are by definition individualists. Rarely do they organize themselves around a common point of view where their sport and their sporting arms ownership are seriously threatened. Rendered touchy by seeing themselves grouped in our communications media with criminals, psychotics, or extremists, these responsible citizens know from bitter experience that firearms are not kept out of illegitimate hands by laws directed at such tools rather than at criminals.

They, not the hoodlums, always end up taking the rap. They view the administration proposals as a system of walling off each State, so that some individual States may be encouraged to set up, within their own borders, a maze of legalities perhaps as immoraí as the present Philadelphia law.

It has been said in hearings that sportsmen need have no fear of direct impingement on their proper sport by the ban on interstate shipment to individuals even of legitimate sporting shoulder arms. This is simply not realistic. I suspect New Yorkers were years ago told the same thing about the Sullivan law but consider the frustrating police rigamarole even a prominent physician, for example, must today go through to acquire or use in New York a handgun for target shooting recreation and in explanation of figures given earlier by Mr. Reisman, of New York, of 63,000 legal pistol permits in this city of 8 million, sportsmen possess only 224. That is from the New York Times of January 3, this year.

Either ignorance or misunderstanding of the legitimate sportsman's doings must be behind such "no-impingement” statements. No large local dealer, even as well stocked as Abercrombie & Fitch, can carry the gamut of shooting equipment to suit the wide range of shooterhunter preference. No smaïl shop can touch it. And multitudes of sportsmen seek sporting arms more individual than anything carried in Sears, Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalogs, even where order shops are reachable.

How, for example, would the connoisseur of sporting arms resident in South Carolina go about ordering and buying a custom-built sheep rifle from a down-cellar craftsman working in Idaho Falls? Under administration proposals it would be quite impractical if not impossible.

The sportsman bound for Wyoming to hunt antelope could forward his rifle to rancher or guide only under whatever to-be-specified redtape Treasury agencies might contrive. What paperwork will arise from a competitive shooter's indulgence in the ancient practice and it is an honorable practice of swapping guns at a championship held outside his own State?

What happens to the widow trying to liquidate her late husband's rifle collection among shooter friends scattered over the country? If his shotgun breaks down or he wants his rifle modified--and believe me they all do—the legitimate gun owner can under administration proposals ship it interstate to a gunsmith only under more Treasuryspecified rigamarole and for “authorized" repair, whatever Treasury may deem that to mean.

It has been said that such shipping services can be handled by a local dealer. But he may not exist. He certainly does not exist for the rancher of Rabbithole, Nev.--and that is an actual place on the map--wishing to buy a shotgun from Marshall, Field. Nor are dealers interested in this sort of fussy, unprofitable activity, even if their annual licensing is adjusted so they can stay in business. At very least the procedures required by the administration bills constitute harassment of legitimate sportsmen. At conjectural worse, under extremes of administration, there could under section 3(g) of H.R. 1592 develop de facto roundabout registration of new sporting arms.

But such proposals carry far greater destructive potential. From the sportsman-hunter come the funds which fertilize our conservation effort. Since 1932 he has paid an 11 percent excise tax on arms and ammunition, passed over in recent excise cuts because both industry and paying consumer want this one to continue, as has been already pointed out, since 1937 that tax has brought nearly some $250 million into the Federal Treasury.

The flow is now about $19 million a year. Under the PittmanRobertson Act those funds, met by state money on a 3-to-1 ratio, are earmarked for conservation projects and the acquisition of wildlife lands.

These the paying hunter uses for 2 or 3 fall months. The outdoorminded public, the birdwatcher or hiker, benefits the year round.

Ducks Unlimited, a sportsman's group, has in 28 years spent $12 million to develop waterfowl breeding areas in Canada. Our Federal duck stamps, bought largely by sportsmen, through fiscal 1964 has raised $84,829,655, nearer $90 million when we include this year, spent solely toward waterfowl-conservation ends in our own States. The Fish and Wildlife Service is now spending duck stamp funds on a 7-year program of wetlands acquisition to include 1.15 million acres.

Crib, cabin, and confine the legitimate sportsman-hunter by regulations that shrink his numbers or freedom of action, if not those of the criminal and what happens to such basic conservation income and activities Activities, I repeat, as vital to the red-winged blackbird and the thrush as they are to ducks or quail. How far might this disaster extend from administration proposals?

To take the point further-in the past decade our State fish and game departments took in nearly $650 million from the sale of hunting licenses alone. These funds are the lifeblood of State conservation. They provide State-owned lands for outdoor recreation adding up to 54 million acres, 30,950 public areas last year used by 403 million people. They support both administration and execution of State wildlife conservation policy, finance the State side of Pittman-Robertson projects, all certainly as valuable to other outdoor-lovers as to feepaying sportsmen. Cut this income by unwise restriction and this Nation's conservation programs are likewise cut.

State fish and game administrators are virtually unanimous on this point. I offer as exhibits for the record and they are included with the statement, letters from Director Melvin Steen of Nebraska, former Commissioner Harold Glassen of Michigan and Director Mert Golden of Pennsylvania, the latter two our leading hunting license income States.

Each has over a million hunters paying over $5 million annually. All these agree. The restrictions inherent in the administration proposals they expect to result in substantial slashing of license income, perhaps by 20 percent, with resultant disaster to basic conservation.

Other effects in terms of the general economy are equally evident, since hunters spend nationally well over $1.5 billion in their activities and the $1.5 billion is the figure from the official wildlife survey of 1960.

Other States from Colorado to Connecticut and beyond have expressed the same fear of S. 1592's, or like bills', end results.

It is impossible for sportsmen to grasp or to agree with a line of legislative reasoning which, under guise of lessening armed crime, strikes at them by harassment, might develop into a form of all-guns registration, can surely weaken our national conservation effort.

Yet all thinking sportsmen are aware of problems which, whatever their true social source, appear as involved with firearms, especially guns of the concealable sort.

We urge legislative attack offering reasonable prospect of success but adding no unwarranted restrictions on the legitimate citizensportsman.

We urge full enforcement by the policing agencies and by the judiciary of the 20,000 assorted gun laws now said to be on the books, up to maximum penalties and at all levels.

We urge that in any new legislation both language and reasoning be directed at the abuser of the gun, the incompetent, or the criminal, rather than at a chunk of metal or indirectly at the proper citizen-user.

If we must here confine ourselves to legislative action through the interstate commerce powers of Congress, we urge that such regulatory acts must be so written as specifically to exempt any elements of increased police control or of serial number registration not presently extant.

We believe that the now familiar system of affidavit forwarding, the system suggested in Senator Dodd's early S. 1975 and now presented in the King bill, H.R. 7472, will ultimately prove an effective restraint on interstate movement of concealable firearms for illegal purposes.

It will certainly be far more likely to receive the support of this Nation's body of sportsmen, and in matters of legal detail and wording I might add here that we would support the recommendations already given by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The entire question of imported arms, whether modern sporting or personal defense equipment, military surplus, outright trash, or meaningful antiques, we strongly feel is a complex area not to be confused with domestic controls whether on these arms or others.

All questions of imports, we feel, should be dealt with in entirely separate legislation.

We realize that there is no simple and sure approach to control of armed crime, certainly not by the interstate commerce clauses of our Constitution, but we urge you of the House in any or all such attempts to bear in mind the position of our body of citizens who are hunting-, shooting, and conservation-minded and in this connection I would like to close with a quotation from James Madison, writing in the Federalist in 1788. He said, “It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part."

I thank you.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Page, and without objection, the material referred to in your statement and appended thereto will be included in the record at this point. (Information referred to follows:) NEBRASKA GAME, FORESTATION, AND PARKS COMMISSION,

Lincoln, Nebr., May 4, 1965. Mr. WARREN Page, Field and Stream, 383 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y.

DEAR MR. PAGE: In its present form, S. 1592 is undesirable legislation that will do far more harm than good. It is unrealistic in relation to the heartland of the Nation, particularly the West and Midwest, where a shotgun and rifle is as important to the farmer and rancher as his spade or pitchfork. Many of these citizens live 200-300 miles from any source that under the provisions of S. 1592 will supply him with the firearms and ammunition needed.

In the State of Nebraska approximately 70 percent of all income to the game fund comes from hunting permits and related revenues. A large share comes from nonresident permits. The provisions of S. 1592 are such that we can expect substantial declines in revenue thereunder, with the net result that wildlife management will suffer seriously. This situation is duplicated throughout the West and Midwest, and in some States to a greater degree than in Nebraska.

There are not very many in this State who support S. 1592 but there are thousands who oppose it. In our view S. 1592 is unrealistic and detrimental, as well as an invasion of our constitutional rights. Very truly yours,

M. O. STEEN, Director. 51-635-65-pt. 27

« AnteriorContinuar »