I am writing to you today to express my opposition to H.R. 167, a bill proposed by Representative Al Green of Texas which would stretch beyond the Legislature’s constitutional authority by attempting to regulate intrastate commerce, violating both state sovereignty and the right of individuals to lawfully acquire and dispose of firearms.
H.R. 167 modifies 18 U.S.C. § 922 by making it illegal for individuals to transfer a firearm at a gun show unless they possess a federal firearms license. Prosecution and conviction under the revised statute would subject individuals to a $10,000 fine per firearm, one to two years in prison, or both.
To call H.R. 167 problematic would be an understatement. Congress plainly lacks the authority to regulate the intrastate sale of firearms, and to do so would violate the concept of dual federalism, which is the cornerstone of our republic. Criminal restriction of purely local activity violates the 10th Amendment by circumventing the authority of the respective jurisdiction to draft its own criminal code, something which many states have chosen not to do when it comes to the sale or transfer of firearms.
In addition to exceeding constitutional authority, this bill would have no practical impact on any firearms transfers intended to support criminal conduct; individuals would simply conduct private transactions at locations other than gun shows. Simply put, H.R. 167 is both unconstitutional and redundant — existing state and federal laws restrictions such as straw purchase statutes already institute sanctions on the transfer of firearms that legislators believe will be used in furtherance of other crimes. I therefore urge you to oppose H.R. 167 and to discuss amongst your esteemed colleagues the practical implications of wasting time supporting an unpopular bill that will have no impact on crime, restrict liberty, and will undoubtedly be struck down in the courts.
For all of these reasons, I urge you to join me in opposing House Resolution 167. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Greg Raven, Apple Valley, CA