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Comparison of homicide rate per 100,000 population: Dallas, Tex., Phoenix, Ariz.,
and 5 selected cities
MURDER AND NONNEGLIGENT MANSLAUGHTER BY GUN AND REGION
Northeast (including New York City)
31 Percent of U.S. population.. Percent of U.S. inurders..
45 Percent of U.S. murders. Percent of U.S. murders by gun..
52 Percent of U.S. niurders by gun.... Sources: U.S. Bureau of Census; Federal Bureau of Investigation.
25 17 11
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions of Mr. Murphy? Mr. King. I want to compliment John Murphy, Mr. Chairman. Ile is one of the able young men of the House, and in the space of time he has been a Member I don't recollect any Member exceeding his popularity and the respect in which he is held, and his purposes as author of this bill are precisely the purposes that myself and others who have introduced variations of proposals seek to do.
I regret that there has been misunderstanding and little byplays. John, when you mentioned the abuse you and Senator Dodd, who, incidentally, is a good friend of mine, such as you are, have received in the press and so forth, I am an older man and I wish you had known what I have been putting up with the last 6 or 8 years as a result of my authoring the King-Anderson bill in the House. I have been called everything from dishonorable to an outright Communist, misled, sentimental, etc.
It upset my family at first. I am not one, fortunately, that becomes too upset at such things, but I have regretted and you have had no part in this, and I want the record to very explicitly show that-that a fine organization such as the National Rifle Association has also been abused.
It is true that there may have been a misstatement or two in their magazine. However, you and I, and every member of this committee, know that magazines, being a part of the press, are not entirely free from blame when it comes to exaggerating or stretching a point now and then. In this case, as the director of this fine organization has stated, it was a complete and inadvertent misstatement of facts. I think a rather amusing thing is the very same misstatement of the very same facts has been indulged, as I understand, by no one less than Senator Dodd himself. As a result, it irritated me a bit yesterday to have one or two witnesses devote a considerable amount of their time to this subject matter. One of them was no one less than the spokesman for the attorney general of the State of New Jersey, and I think he should have known better than to have devoted so much time to this matter and taken the time of this committee, in
being critical of this organization. You know and all of us know who have been privileged to serve as Members of the House that too much of this goes on. It offers nothing constructive, but merely adds to the ill feeling because one criticism generally begets a reacting one and usually Congressmen are the ones who benefit the least from such unnecessary exchange.
I am only relating this to you, John, for the reason that I had intended to deal a little bit in this matter with my friend, Senator Dodd. I understand he is not able to attend, so that is the only reason that I have chosen you.
It appears that you probably will be the last one of the important witnesses from either House, except our friend Congressman Sikes, who takes a different view from yourself. I wish to compliment you, first, for your interest in the matter, and the time you have spent, as many of us have, trying to do the best you know how to alleviate and eliminate some of the sins and ugly things that take place by the use of firearms.
Mr. Murphy. Thank you, Mr. King. In response to your statement about the National Rifle Association, I have been a member of the National Rifle Association and am an avid reader of their publications, the American Rifleman and I think the hundreds of thousands of Americans who read that book, and pass on the many fine ideas contained in it, certainly agree that it makes a great contribution to the country; I know that their attitude is certainly to control the felon, the criminal, the irresponsible people, particularly when it comes to the handling of weapons.
I certainly appreciate your comments.
Mr. MURPHY. I think when I became a regular commuter between New York and Washington my membership in many things lapsed.
Mr. King. I am going to get you back in. I will pay your first year's membership gladly. The magazine is better than it used to be,
will be proud of our new building and some of the officers of the organization and a fellow like you should belong.
Mr. BATTIN. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BATTIN. John, it is good to have you before the committee, and I echo the sentiments of Congressman King. I don't think anybody who knows you or has had an opportunity to deal with you would ever question your motives or intent in the legislation you
have introduced. I have some specific questions about it. I view Mr. King's bill, which was the Dodd bill of 2 years ago, as a more direct approach to the problem that you discussed with us this morning.
Being from New York you are undoubtedly well acquainted with the Sullivan law.
Mr. MURPHY. Yes.
Mr. BATTIN. And testimony that we have had from one of your commissioners of the police department, Mr. Reisman, I believe, indicated that this was probably the most stringent arms control law of any of the 50 States, but yet crime had been on the increase.
He blamed this to a certain degree upon shipments coming into the State. We never got by the question, however, of the Federal violation of somebody shipping into the State of New York a gun or a
weapon that was prohibited by the State law, which is a Federal crime. Do you have any specific knowledge on this point that might shed some light on the increase in crime by use of handweapons in the State of New York?
Mr. MURPHY. Yes. The Sullivan law has been attacked as being no preventive measure to a criminal getting his hands on a concealable handgun. That is why I attached this exhibit here, which shows a comparison of homicide rates per 100,000 population in the cities of Dallas, Phoenix, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Detroit.
It gives the population, the number of homicides, and the percentage, and I think it shows that the rate of crime or the incidence of crime isn't confined to the East, or to the West, or to the Southwest, or any specific portion of the country.
Then the exhibit shows murders and nonnegligent manslaughter by gun and by region. We find that in the South, including Texas, 52 percent of the U.S. murders are by gun and in the Northeast, including New York City, probably where New York statistics affect this overall statistic, 11 percent of U.S. murders by gun are committed here.
Of course statistics can be used to prove many things and often just what the person wishes to prove with them, but I think there is a clear indication in the minds of the police that the Sullivan law has been a deterrent to criminals, potential criminals, and irresponsible people and prevented them from getting their hands on a handgun.
Mr. Battin. We made a comparison, or tried to, comparing what the situation is like in the country today with almost all, if not all, of the States having laws against the use of narcotics and then having a very strong Federal statute against the use of narcotics.
To put it even more in context, before you can legitimately have a narcotic it has to come through a prescription of a licensed physician. Yet the incidence of the use of narcotics has been increasing in most all areas.
I have been trying in my own mind to relate where a Federal statute, such as the bill that you propose, is going to do the job when in fact in a comparable situation, where we have State laws and Federal laws, it doesn't seem to have been any deterrent at all.
Mr. MURPHY. I think in some instances we can say that statistically it is not a deterrent because the incidence increases. However, without the strong Federal regulations on narcotics I hesitate to think what the narcotic problem in this country would be were it not for these regulations.
Of course with every law it is a question of enforcement as well as strictly writing the law and having it available. In New York as far as law enforcement is concerned we have quadrupled our expenditure since 1946 for our police and law enforcement agencies and yet our crime has increased. Had we not quadrupled our expenditure there I hesitate to think of the amount of crime there would be in the metropolitan area.
Mr. BATTIN. Getting to another area then, I am sure you are aware that the Treasury Department has suggested amendments, quite a number of them, to the bill you and Senator Dodd have introduced.
Mr. MURPHY. Yes, I know.
Mr. BATTIN. Yet when they testified before the Dodd committee in the Senate they were all for his bill, but after a day or two of hearings before this committte they came in with a number of amendments. Then in getting into the technical aspect of what they meant, they talk about grenade launchers, mortars, and antitank guns, and things of this nature. When we get to definitions I made this point with one of the administration witnesses. You can take a hunting rifle and use it as a grenade launcher by using what is called a rod grenade. I then asked if this would come within the concept and definition? At this point they say, "Well, we don't know. This is something we would have to handie by rule and regulation."
This is the area that bothers a great many of us who are interested in doing whatever we can to regulate crime, but at the same time not put in the hands of an administrative agency the power to make unreasonable rules and regulations. This becomes the real question to
Mr. MURPHY. It is always a question of the rulemaking and the Federal regulations after a law is passed by the Congress, but I think that the executive has to have certain latitude, not only for the benefit of the Government, but also for the benefit of those being regulated.
I think experience in the past has shown that the Federal regulatory bodies are pretty reasonable with their interpretation and of course we always have the appellate machinery available to every citizen, every group, against the rulemaking procedure if they don't agree with it or feel that it is unjust.
Mr. BATTIN. Rather than belabor the point, I would ask you the same question that I have asked other proponents of the bill. Let me see if I get the same answer. Do you honestly believe that the passage of your bill or any similar bill would in fact keep a gun out of the hands of a professional criminal?
Mr. MURPHY. I think that a professional criminal who wanted to get his hands on a gun probably can under certain circumstances. However, with legislation such as this, we are moving in the direction of limiting the accessibility to criminals, felons, and the irresponsible people. I think we have to have this legislation.
We can't come up with the perfect solution and completely get rid of the menace of criminals who are able to obtain weapons. They can steal one. They can make one. But I think we have to take some step on the Federal level to limit the traffic interstatewise and to assist the States also in their own internal lawmaking and enforcement of those laws.
Mr. BATTIN. I am sure in your research prior to the introduction of your bill you came across the statistics dealing with problems that England is having in their crime increase.
I am sure you are aware that England has the most stringent laws of any country in the free world on ownership of any type of weapon. I haven't yet been able to relate in my own reasoning the proposition of prohibiting ownership of any kind of a shotgun, rifle, or handgun, and the reasons stated for support of the Dodd bill. England which has had stringent laws for a long period of years is having difficulty, and these bills before the committee are called mild and limited. What then can be accomplished?
Mr. MURPily. I think it is still a step in the right direction to assist the States in their own lawmaking processes and regulation within their own municipalities and within the States themselves.
As far as criminals in England acquiring weapons are concerned, I imagine a criminal, regardless of country, can acquire a weapon, as we acknowledged before, but I think the irresponsible elements and the juveniles in England probably are cut off from a source of supply or the easy accessibility to weapons.
Mr. BATTIN. Basically I would presume what you are really trying to get at is the use of handguns more than rifles and shotguns. Is that correct?
Mr. MURPHY. Yes. Of course, the bill is much more stringent in respects to concealable handguns and concealable weapons, but also, as in the two instances pointed out, rifles were used and who used them? Two irresponsible individuals just sniping at will in a community, and this legislation is aimed at limiting their access to all types of firearms.
Mír. BATTIN. At the same time, and I will just use my own State as an example, if a rancher or a farmer in Montana wanted to buy a rifle for control of predators, or hunting, which would be legitimate, through Sears, Roebuck under the bill you propose, couldn't order that directly from their supply house, say, in Chicago to be delivered to him on his farm or ranch.
Mr. MURPHY. He would probably have to go through their outlet somewhere in Montana, and I am sure all of these houses have their outlets in virtually every State in the union.
Mr. BATTIN. Thank you, John. ,
Thank you again, John, for coming to the committee and we appreciate it.
Mr. MURPHY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. KING. Mr. Sikes. We welcome you, Bob Sikes, to the committee. The chairman is aware of your longstanding interest in the matter before the committee and the committee appreciates your taking time out from your busy schedule to give us the benefit of your long experience on this subject.
STATEMENT OF HON ROBERT L. F. SIKES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. Sikes. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, I am pleased to appear before this distinguished committee in opposition to H.R. 6628, to H.R. 6783, and to S. 1592 to regulate the movement of firearms in interstate and foreign commerce.
Apparently, these bills reflect to a large extent the recommendations of the administration as part of its program to reduce crime in the United States.
Of course, nobody disagrees with the objective of reducing criminal activity and reducing the means of engaging in crime. However, the means toward achieving that purpose may be open to serious criticism. Such criticism is the case in the matter of H.R. 6628, H.R. 6783, and S. 1592 which are allegedly directed at the so-called mail-order firearms problem.