skip to main content

H.R. 4903 (103rd): Firearms Safety and Violence Prevention Act


The text of the bill below is as of Aug 4, 1994 (Introduced).


HR 4903 IH

103d CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4903

To expand the powers of the Secretary of the Treasury and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and sale of firearms and ammunition, and to expand the jurisdiction of the Bureau to include firearm products and non-powder firearms.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

August 4, 1994

Mr. OWENS introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To expand the powers of the Secretary of the Treasury and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and sale of firearms and ammunition, and to expand the jurisdiction of the Bureau to include firearm products and non-powder firearms.

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

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the ‘Firearms Safety and Violence Prevention Act’.

    (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS- The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

      Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

      Sec. 2. Purposes.

TITLE I--REGULATION OF FIREARM PRODUCTS

      Sec. 101. Regulatory authority.

      Sec. 102. Orders; inspections.

TITLE II--PROHIBITIONS

      Sec. 201. Prohibitions.

      Sec. 202. Inapplicability to governmental authorities.

TITLE III--ENFORCEMENT

Subtitle A--Civil Enforcement

      Sec. 301. Civil penalties.

      Sec. 302. Injunctive enforcement and seizure.

      Sec. 303. Imminently hazardous firearms.

      Sec. 304. Private cause of action.

      Sec. 305. Private enforcement of this Act.

      Sec. 306. Effect on private remedies.

Subtitle B--Criminal Enforcement

      Sec. 351. Criminal penalties.

TITLE IV--ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

      Sec. 401. Firearms violence information and research.

      Sec. 402. Annual reports to the Congress.

TITLE V--RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER LAW

      Sec. 501. Subordination to the Arms Export Control Act.

      Sec. 502. Effect on State law.

TITLE VI--DEFINITIONS

      Sec. 601. Definitions.

TITLE VII--EFFECTIVE DATE

      Sec. 701. Effective date.

SEC. 2. PURPOSES.

    The purposes of this Act are--

      (1) to protect the public against unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with firearms and related products;

      (2) to develop safety standards for firearms and related products;

      (3) to assist consumers in evaluating the comparative safety of firearms and related products;

      (4) to promote research and investigation into the causes and prevention of firearm-related deaths and injuries;

      (5) to restrict the availability of weapons that pose an unreasonable risk of death or injury; and

      (6) to restrict development of weapons that pose a threat to public safety.

TITLE I--REGULATION OF FIREARM PRODUCTS

SEC. 101. REGULATORY AUTHORITY.

    (a) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall prescribe such regulations governing the design, manufacture, and performance of, and commerce in, firearm products, consistent with this Act, as are reasonably necessary to reduce or prevent unreasonable risk of injury resulting from the use of such products.

    (b) MAXIMUM INTERVAL BETWEEN ISSUANCE OF PROPOSED AND FINAL REGULATION- Within 120 days after the Secretary issues a proposed regulation under subsection (a) with respect to a matter, the Secretary shall issue a regulation in final form with respect to the matter.

    (c) PETITIONS-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Any person may petition the Secretary to--

        (A) issue, amend, or repeal a regulation prescribed under subsection (a) of this section; or

        (B) require the recall, repair, or replacement of a firearm product, or the issuance of refunds with respect to a firearm product.

      (2) DEADLINE FOR ACTION ON PETITION- Within 120 days after receipt of a petition referred to in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall--

        (A) grant, in whole or in part, or deny the petition; and

        (B) provide the petitioner with the reasons for granting or denying the petition.

SEC. 102. ORDERS; INSPECTIONS.

    (a) AUTHORITY TO PROHIBIT MANUFACTURE, SALE, OR TRANSFER OF FIREARM PRODUCTS MADE, IMPORTED, TRANSFERRED, OR DISTRIBUTED IN VIOLATION OF REGULATION- The Secretary may issue an order prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transfer of a firearm product which the Secretary finds has been manufactured, or has been or is intended to be imported, transferred, or distributed in violation of a regulation prescribed under this Act.

    (b) AUTHORITY TO REQUIRE THE RECALL, REPAIR, OR REPLACEMENT OF, OR THE PROVISION OF REFUNDS WITH RESPECT TO FIREARM PRODUCTS- The Secretary may issue an order requiring the manufacturer of, and any dealer in, a firearm product which the Secretary determines poses an unreasonable risk of injury to the public, is not in compliance with a regulation prescribed under this Act, or is defective, to--

      (1) provide notice of the risks associated with the product, and of how to avoid or reduce the risks, to--

        (A) the public;

        (B) in the case of the manufacturer of the product, each dealer in the product; and

        (C) in the case of a dealer in the product, the manufacturer of the product and the other persons known to the dealer as dealers in the product;

      (2) bring the product into conformity with the regulations prescribed under this Act;

      (3) repair the product;

      (4) replace the product with a like or equivalent product which is in compliance with such regulations;

      (5) refund the purchase price of the product, or, if the product is more than 1 year old, a lesser amount based on the value of the product after reasonable use;

      (6) recall the product from the stream of commerce; or

      (7) submit to the Secretary a satisfactory plan for implementation of any action required under this subsection.

    (c) AUTHORITY TO PROHIBIT MANUFACTURE, IMPORTATION, TRANSFER, DISTRIBUTION, OR EXPORT OF UNREASONABLY RISKY FIREARM PRODUCTS- The Secretary may issue an order prohibiting the manufacture, importation, transfer, distribution, or export of a firearm product if the Secretary determines that the exercise of other authority under this Act would not be sufficient to prevent the product from posing an unreasonable risk of injury to the public.

    (d) INSPECTIONS- In order to ascertain compliance with this Act and the regulations and orders issued under this Act, the Secretary may, at reasonable times--

      (1) enter any place in which firearm products are manufactured, stored, or held, for distribution in commerce, and inspect those areas where the products are manufactured, stored, or held; and

      (2) enter and inspect any conveyance being used to transport a firearm product.

TITLE II--PROHIBITIONS

SEC. 201. PROHIBITIONS.

    (a) FAILURE OF MANUFACTURER TO TEST AND CERTIFY FIREARM PRODUCTS- It shall be unlawful for the manufacturer of a firearm product to transfer, distribute, or export a firearm product unless--

      (1) the manufacturer has tested the product in order to ascertain whether the product is in conformity with the regulations prescribed under section 101;

      (2) the product is in conformity with such regulations; and

      (3) the manufacturer has included in the packaging of the product, and furnished to each person to whom the product is distributed, a certificate stating that the product is in conformity with such regulations.

    (b) FAILURE OF MANUFACTURER TO PROVIDE NOTICE OF NEW TYPES OF FIREARM PRODUCTS- It shall be unlawful for the manufacturer of a new type of firearm product to manufacture the product, unless the manufacturer has provided the Secretary with--

      (1) notice of the intent of the manufacturer to manufacture the product; and

      (2) a description of the product.

    (c) FAILURE OF MANUFACTURER OR DEALER TO LABEL FIREARM PRODUCTS- It shall be unlawful for a manufacturer of or dealer in firearms to transfer, distribute, or export a firearm product unless the product is accompanied by a label that contains--

      (1) the name and address of the manufacturer of the product;

      (2) the name and address of any importer of the product;

      (3) a specification of the regulations prescribed under this Act that apply to the product; and

      (4) the certificate required by subsection (a)(3) with respect to the product.

    (d) FAILURE TO MAINTAIN OR PERMIT INSPECTION OF RECORDS- It shall be unlawful for an importer of, manufacturer of, or dealer in a firearm product to fail to--

      (1) maintain such records, and supply such information, as the Secretary may require in order to ascertain compliance with this Act and the regulations and orders issued under this Act; and

      (2) permit the Secretary to inspect and copy such records at reasonable times.

    (e) IMPORTATION AND EXPORTATION OF UNCERTIFIED FIREARM PRODUCTS- It shall be unlawful for any person to import into the United States or export a firearm product that is not accompanied by the certificate required by subsection (a)(3).

    (f) COMMERCE IN FIREARM PRODUCTS IN VIOLATION OF ORDER ISSUED OR REGULATION PRESCRIBED UNDER THIS ACT- It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, import into the United States, or export a firearm product--

      (1) that is not in conformity with the regulations prescribed under this Act; or

      (2) in violation of an order issued under this Act.

    (g) STOCKPILING- It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, purchase, or import a firearm product, after the date a regulation is prescribed under this Act with respect to the product and before the date the regulation takes effect, at a rate that is significantly greater than the rate at which the person manufactured, purchased, or imported the product during a base period (prescribed by the Secretary in regulations) ending before the date the regulation is so prescribed.

SEC. 202. INAPPLICABILITY TO GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITIES.

    Section 201 shall not apply to any department or agency of the United States, of a State, or of a political subdivision of a State, or to any official conduct of any officer or employee of such a department or agency.

TITLE III--ENFORCEMENT

Subtitle A--Civil Enforcement

SEC. 301. CIVIL PENALTIES.

    (a) AUTHORITY TO IMPOSE FINES-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall impose upon any person who violates section 201 a civil fine in an amount that does not exceed the applicable amount.

      (2) SCOPE OF OFFENSE- Each violation of section 201 (other than of subsection (a)(3) or (d) of such section) shall constitute a separate offense with respect to each firearm product involved.

    (b) APPLICABLE AMOUNT-

      (1) FIRST 5-YEAR PERIOD- The applicable amount for the 5-year period described in subsection (f)(1) is $5,000.

      (2) THEREAFTER- The applicable amount for any 5-year period described in subsection (f)(2) is the dollar amount in effect under this section for the 5-year period, rounded in accordance with subsection (e).

    (c) DOLLAR AMOUNT IN EFFECT UNDER THIS SECTION- The dollar amount in effect under this section for a 5-year period--

      (1) $5,000; multiplied by

      (2) the applicable inflation percentage.

    (d) APPLICABLE INFLATION PERCENTAGE-

      (1) FIRST 5-YEAR PERIOD- The applicable inflation percentage for 5-year period described in subsection (f)(1) is 1.00.

      (2) THEREAFTER- The applicable inflation percentage for any 5-year period described in subsection (f)(2) is the percentage (if any) by which--

        (A) the average of the Consumer Price Index (as defined in section 1(f)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) for the 5-year period ending on June 30 of the 5th year of the immediately preceding 5-year period described in subsection (f); exceeds

        (B) the average of the Consumer Price Index (as so defined) ending on June 30, 1995.

    (e) ROUNDING RULES-

If the dollar amount in effect under this section for a 5-year period is:

The dollar amount is rounded to the nearest multiple of:

Over $1,000 but not over $10,000

$1,000.

Over $10,000 but not over $100,000

$5,000.

Over $100,000 but not over $200,000

$10,000.

Over $200,000

$25,000.

    (f) 5-YEAR PERIODS- A 5-year period is described in this subsection if the period is--

      (1) the 5-year period that begins on January 1, 1996; or

      (2) a 5-year period that begins at the end of a 5-year period described in this subsection.

    (g) PUBLICATION IN FEDERAL REGISTER- Not later than December 1, 1995, and every 5 years thereafter, the Secretary shall prescribe and publish in the Federal Register the schedule of maximum authorized penalties that will apply for violations referred to in subsection (a) that occur during the 5-year period that begins on the next January 1.

SEC. 302. INJUNCTIVE ENFORCEMENT AND SEIZURE.

    (a) INJUNCTIVE ENFORCEMENT- Upon request of the Secretary, the Attorney General of the United States may bring an action to restrain any violation of section 201 in the United States district court for any district in which the violation has occurred, or in which the defendant is found or transacts business.

    (b) CONDEMNATION-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Upon request of the Secretary, the Attorney General of the United States may bring an action in rem for condemnation of a qualified firearm product in the United States district court for any district in which the Secretary has found and seized for confiscation the product.

      (2) QUALIFIED FIREARM PRODUCT DEFINED- As used in paragraph (1), the term ‘qualified firearm product’ means a firearm product--

        (A) that is being transported or having been transported remains unsold, is sold or offered for sale, is imported, or is to be exported; and

        (B)(i) that is not in compliance with a regulation prescribed or an order issued under this Act; or

        (ii) with respect to which relief has been granted under section 303.

SEC. 303. IMMINENTLY HAZARDOUS FIREARMS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding the pendency of any other proceeding in a court of the United States, the Secretary may bring an action in a United States district court to restrain any person who is a manufacturer of, or dealer in, an imminently hazardous firearm product from manufacturing, distributing, transferring, importing, or exporting the product.

    (b) IMMINENTLY HAZARDOUS FIREARM PRODUCT- As used in subsection (a), the term ‘imminently hazardous firearm product’ means any firearm product with respect to which the Secretary determines that--

      (1) the product poses an unreasonable risk of injury to the public; and

      (2) time is of the essence in protecting the public from the risks posed by the product.

    (c) RELIEF- In an action brought under subsection (a), the court may grant such temporary or permanent relief as may be necessary to protect the public from the risks posed by the firearm product, including--

      (1) seizure of the product; and

      (2) an order requiring--

        (A) the purchasers of the product to be notified of the risks posed by the product;

        (B) the public to be notified of the risks posed by the product; or

        (C) the defendant to recall, repair, or replace the product, or refund the purchase price of the product (or, if the product is more than 1 year old, a lesser amount based on the value of the product after reasonable use).

    (d) VENUE- An action under subsection (a)(2) may be brought in the United States district court for the District of Columbia or for any district in which any defendant is found or transacts business.

SEC. 304. PRIVATE CAUSE OF ACTION.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Any person aggrieved by any violation of this Act or of any regulation prescribed or order issued under this Act by another person may bring an action against such other person in any United States district court for damages, including consequential damages. In any action under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award to a prevailing plaintiff a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.

    (b) RULE OF INTERPRETATION- The remedy provided for in subsection (a) shall be in addition to any other remedy provided by common law or under Federal or State law.

SEC. 305. PRIVATE ENFORCEMENT OF THIS ACT.

    Any interested person may bring an action in any United States district court to enforce this Act, or restrain any violation of this Act or of any regulation prescribed or order issued under this Act. In any action under this section, the court, in its discretion, may award to a prevailing plaintiff a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.

SEC. 306. EFFECT ON PRIVATE REMEDIES.

    (a) IRRELEVANCY OF COMPLIANCE WITH THIS ACT- Compliance with this Act or any order issued or regulation prescribed under this Act shall not relieve any person from liability to any person under common law or State statutory law.

    (b) IRRELEVANCY OF FAILURE TO TAKE ACTION UNDER THIS ACT- The failure of the Secretary to take any action authorized under this Act shall not be admissible in litigation relating to the product under common law or State statutory law.

Subtitle B--Criminal Enforcement

SEC. 351. CRIMINAL PENALTIES.

    Any person who has received from the Secretary a notice that the person has violated a provision of this Act or of a regulation prescribed under this Act with respect to a firearm product and knowingly violates such provision with respect to the product shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.

TITLE IV--ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

SEC. 401. FIREARMS VIOLENCE INFORMATION AND RESEARCH.

    (a) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall--

      (1) maintain a Firearms Violence Information Clearinghouse to collect, investigate, analyze, and disseminate data and information relating to the causes and prevention of death and injury associated with firearms;

      (2) conduct continuing studies and investigations of firearm-related deaths and injuries and the resulting economic costs and losses;

      (3) compile an annual report detailing each case of criminal misuse of machineguns registered under the National Firearms Act that is known to the Secretary;

      (4) collect and maintain current production and sales figures for each person registered as a manufacturer under the Gun Control Act;

      (5) conduct research on, studies of, and investigation into the safety of firearm products and improving the safety of firearm products; and

      (6) develop firearm safety testing methods and testing devices.

    (b) AVAILABILITY OF INFORMATION- On a regular basis, but not less frequently than annually, the Secretary shall make available to the public the results of the activities of the Secretary under paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (4) of subsection (a).

SEC. 402. ANNUAL REPORTS TO THE CONGRESS.

    The Secretary shall prepare and submit to the President and the Congress at the beginning of each regular session of the Congress, a comprehensive report on the administration of this Act for the most recently completed fiscal year. The report shall include--

      (1) a thorough appraisal, including statistical analyses and projections, of the incidence of injury and death and effects on the population resulting from firearm products, with a breakdown, as practicable, among the various types of such products associated with the injuries and deaths;

      (2) a list of firearm safety regulations prescribed that year;

      (3) an evaluation of the degree of compliance with firearm safety regulations, including a list of enforcement actions, court decisions, and settlements of alleged violations, by name and location of the violator or alleged violator, as the case may be;

      (4) a summary of the outstanding problems hindering enforcement of this Act, in the order of priority; and

      (5) a log and summary of meetings between the Secretary or employees of the Secretary and representatives of industry, interested groups, or other interested parties.

TITLE V--RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER LAW

SEC. 501. SUBORDINATION TO ARMS EXPORT CONTROL ACT.

    In the event of any conflict between any provision of this Act and any provision of the Arms Export Control Act, the provision of the Arms Export Control Act shall control.

SEC. 502. EFFECT ON STATE LAW.

    This Act shall not be construed to preempt any provision of the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, or prevent a State or political subdivision thereof from enacting any provision of law regulating or prohibiting conduct with respect to a firearm product, except to the extent that such provision of law is inconsistent with any provision of this Act, and then only to the extent of the inconsistency. A provision of State law is not inconsistent with this Act if the provision imposes a regulation or prohibition of greater scope or a penalty of greater severity than any prohibition or penalty imposed by this Act.

TITLE VI--DEFINITIONS

SEC. 601. DEFINITIONS.

    (a) SPECIFIC TERMS- As used in this Act:

      (1) FIREARMS DEALER- The term ‘firearms dealer’ means--

        (A) any person engaged in the business (as defined in section 921(a)(21)(C) of title 18, United States Code) of dealing in firearms at wholesale or retail;

        (B) any person engaged in the business (as defined in section 921(a)(21)(D) of title 18, United States Code) of repairing firearms or of making or fitting special barrels, stocks, or trigger mechanisms to firearms; and

        (C) any person who is a pawnbroker.

      (2) FIREARM PART- The term ‘firearm part’ means--

        (A) any part or component of a firearm as originally manufactured;

        (B) any good manufactured or sold--

          (i) for replacement or improvement of a firearm; or

          (ii) as any accessory or addition to the firearm; and

        (C) any good that is not a part or component of a firearm and is manufactured, sold, delivered, offered, or intended for use exclusively to safeguard individuals from injury by a firearm.

      (3) FIREARM PRODUCT- The term ‘firearm product’ means a firearm, firearm part, nonpowder firearm, and ammunition.

      (4) FIREARM SAFETY REGULATION- The term ‘firearm safety regulation’ means a regulation prescribed under this Act.

      (5) FIREARM SAFETY STANDARD- The term ‘firearm safety standard’ means a standard promulgated under this Act.

      (6) MACHINEGUN- The term ‘machinegun’ means--

        (A) any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than 1 shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger;

        (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon;

        (C) any part or combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a device described in subparagraph (A) or (B), whether or not modification to the frame or receiver of the weapon is necessary to complete the conversion; and

        (D) any combination of parts from which a device described in subparagraph (A) or (B) can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

      (8) NONPOWDER FIREARM- The term ‘nonpowder firearm’ means a device specifically designed to discharge BBs, pellets, darts, or similar projectiles by the release of stored energy.

      (9) SECRETARY- The term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of the Treasury or the delegate of the Secretary.

    (b) OTHER TERMS- Each other term used in this Act shall have the meaning (if any) given such term in section 921(a) of title 18, United States Code.

TITLE VII--EFFECTIVE DATE

SEC. 701. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    This Act shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.