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presented to U.S. attorneys. Seven indictments were returned and six convictions resulted. All of these cases involve mailings made by one private person to another. In four cases either the sender or the addressee, or both, had criminal records.
Among other things, bills now under consideration include rifles and shotguns in their interstate provisions. In this connection perhaps the single most important contribution this service Postal Inspection Service-made to the overall investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 was to assist in establishing conclusively that the rifle and scope found in the sniper's nest at Dallas had been ordered by postal money order sent by mail to a firm in Chicago, Ill., in the fictitious name, A. Haidell. Further, that the rifle and scope was then mailed as directed to P.O. Box 2915, Dallas, Tex., a box rented by Lee Harvey Oswald.
Mr. May has fully discussed the postal restrictions on firearm shipments as announced by the Postmaster General on June 12, 1968, and I have nothing to add on that feature. I will try to answer questions the subcommittee may have of me.
Mr. Nix. Thank you Vr. Montague. At this time I would appreciate it very much if a copy of the Postmaster General's regulations are submitted for the record, and, without objection, they will be placed in the record at the end of the hearing.
Now, Mr. May, of course the object of the law-at least the requirement that names and addresses be given to local law-enforcement agencies is all a very good thing. It certainly is helpful. What I seek to do and what I think the law should do is to formulate regulations, enact them into law, that would prevent the shipment and as nearly as possible, except to certain people, the purchase of lethal weapons.
Now the basic concept of the law, of course, is not preventative. I realize that. What I am trying to do is what I hope we can do in the Congress of the United States, and that is to tighten the law.
Now you mentioned, on page 3 of your statement, that firearms will be delivered regardless of objections by police. That is true because you have no authority to refuse delivery.
Mr. May. That is right.
Mr. Nix. Don't you think we must, in the circumstances, pass some laws that restrict the sale of firearms?
Mr. May. Absolutely, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Nix. Do you feel, Mr. May, that the gun control law, at least that part of it that comes from the Judiciary Committee, adequately covers the subject?
Mr. May. It certainly goes a long way toward treating with the problem in that the bill pending in the Judiciary Committee right now would prohibit the interstate shipment of all firearms with some limited exceptions. It corrects the deficiency that exists presently in the law which permits long arms to move in interstate traffic without restrictions, that is both through the mails or by any other means of transportation in interstate commerce.
The one gap that it leaves in terms of movement of firearms is that it does not cover the intrastate shipment of firearms.
Now the bill you have introduced, Mr. Chairman, is a flat prohibition on the movement of firearms through the U.S. mails. It would include the intrastate shipment via the mails of firearms. I would point
isites d been
uted bs / exists.
QUE ement I see
out, however, that such a prohibition would simply divert the traffic
to a private express company. TOR or the
I don't mean to demean the contribution that such a prohibition imight make, but I believe that if in fact a State would have its own
adequate gun control laws, it would not be necessary to concern ourerhaps
selves with intrastate shipments. Historically and even today the great
concern has been that because of the interstate nature of gun control tion of
traffic, the States have been severely handicapped where they have wanted to do something about the gun control problem. They have the limited means of protecting against the introduction of firearms into the State through interstate commerce, both through the mails and by private carriers, and that this is the area where the greatest problem
I think to the extent that the bill pending in the Judiciary Comship
mittee comes to grips with that problem, that it is an adequate answer to that problem. However, as the chairman knows, the President has forwarded additional gun control legislation for the consideration of the Congress which covers other features that I believe need to be covered.
I think that the problem is rather multi-faceted and all we in the postal service can deal with, of course, is a little piece of the problem-that part of it which is moving in interstate commerce through the mails. The bill introduced by the chairman attempts to treat with part of the problem. Again that being the movement through the mails intrastate or interstate of guns. That is only a small part of the problem. I think it is laudatory that we do what we can and it is certainly helpful to do that, but it simply is no substitute for the overall series of statutory controls that are necessary if you are going to have an effective gun control structure Mr. Nix. You see, Mr. May, H.R. 17949 was never intended to displace the legislation coming from the Judiciary Committee. It was intended, and I still intend, to offer an amendment to that legislation. That is the reason why we are having this hearing. The amendment I propose to offer when the Judiciary Committee bill, H.R. 17735, is considered by the House will strike out the words "capable of being concealed on the person” from 18 U.S.C. 1715 so
that shotguns and rifles no longer can be sent through the U.S. mail els except for use by law enforcement personnel.
The form in which I propose to offer the amendment to H.R. 17735
3. On page 33, renumber section 5 as section 6 and add a new section 5 to read as follows:
Section 1715 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking out the words “capable of being concealed on the person".
in this country
cealed on person";
Would that amendment be acceptable to you?
Mr. Nix. We are, of course, in the subcommittee, restricted by the jurisdiction of the committee and I realize and have realized that the express is open to people who deal in lethal weapons, but I feel that that, too, that loophole also has to be closed.
I for one am going to support any legislation that adequately covers the field. I am going to offer this amendment to H.R. 17735 that comes out of the Judiciary Committee. Now I want to thank both you, Mr. May, and Mr. Montague for coming here today. I think it is absolutely necessary to give us the benefit of your views.
Thank you very much.
The National Rifle Association called the subcommittee and assured us that they would appear here, but as of this moment they have not appeared, and that is regrettable but I thought in justice to them, I should have made the announcement that they were to be here this morning and didn't appear.
They will present a written statement for the record. (The written statement referred to is as follows:)
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA,
Washington, D.C., July 3, 1968. Hon. ROBERT N. C. Nix, Chairman, Postal Operations Subcommittee, Committee on Post Office and Civil
Service, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. DEAR CONGRESSMAN Nix: We appreciate the opportunity to comment briefly, in writing, on your bill, H.R. 17949, to extend the scope of nonmailable matter to all firearms.
Since 1927, a federal statute (18 U.S.C. 1718) has prohibited the mailing of all concealable firearms, except to certain classes of persons and under certain circumstances. For the purpose of the private citizen, this law has operated as a ban on the mail shipment or receipt of pistols, revolvers and other concealable firearms.
Existing law on the mailing of concealable firearms apparently has not prevented the availability and accessibility of these weapons to criminals and other undesirable persons. This fact is borne out by an examination of the statistics which show that over 70 percent of the crimes committed with firearms involve concealable firearms. Now if a 40-year-old federal law has not had a marked effect on the "traffic" in concealable firearms to those who would misuse them, then we think that a law to ban all firearms would be of correspondingly little effect.
If all firearms were banned from the mails, they still could be shipped by Railway Express and other common and contract carriers. Even if these carriers were prohibited from transporting firearms, criminals could still obtain weapons by various means and from various sources: e.g., theft, private acquisition, blackmarket.
The objective of H.R. 17949 is now partially a reality because of the present law, mentioned above, and because of the recent approval into law of the Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, Title IV of which prohibits the mail-order sale of handguns. There appears to be a good likelihood that the mail-order ban will be extended to rifles and shotguns before the adjournment of this Congress.
Aside from the foregoing considerations, a compelling criticism of H.R. 17919 is that it contains no exceptions for federally licensed manufacturers and dealers. Clearly, the absence of such an exception for federal firearms licensees would be incongruous, to say the least. On the one hand, the Government authorizes their engagement in the business of a manufacturer or dealer; on the other, your proposal would prohibit their use of the postal service to make shipments between localities from one to the other. One of the practical consequences of this proposed prohibition would be the passing of the increase in shipping costs, because of the necessity of using other means of shipment than the mails, to the ultimate lawabiding consumer. Another consequence is that manufacturers and dealers may find themselves in situations and areas where a denial of postal shipment would impose a substantial burden on their marketing operations. Cordially,
FRANKLIN L. ORTH,
Executive Vice President. (The Postmaster General's regulations, which were ordered made a part of the record, are as follows:)
RULES AND REGULATIONS
Title 39--Postal Service
CHAPTER 1-POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Part 125—Matter mailable under rules
Prohibitions on Mailing Pistols, Revolvers and Other Concealable Firearms;
Sotice of Temporary Regulations A review of the regulations of the Post Office Department in the light of recent events has indicated that further definition is necessary in the terms used in its regulations issued to implement section 1715 of Title 18 United States Code which prohibits mailing of pistols, revolvers and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person, except when they are mailed to designated classes of persons. The absence of adequate definitions in the regulations creates a condition of uncertainty in the application of the law. Since the existing condition requires an immediate remedy, the Postmaster General has determined advance notice and public rule making procedure are impracticable and unnecessary. Therefore, the following temporary regulations are issued to supplement the regulations appearing in § 125.5 of Title 39, Code of Federal Regulations, and these regulations will be effective for 90 days following the date of publication of this document in the Federal Register.
$ 125.5 Concealable firearms.
(8) Antique firearms.---Antique firearms sent as curios or museum pieces mas be accepted for mailing without regard to the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (d) of this section and $ 125.9. The term "antique firearm" means ang firearm manufactured in or before 1898. The term “antique firearm” means any firearm manufactured in or before 1898 (including any matchlock, fintlock, percussion cap, or similar early type of ignition system), or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1898; and also any firearms using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States; and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade. ib) Nonmailable firearms.-(1) Pistols, revolvers, and other similar firearms capable of being concealed on the person, addressed to persons other than those indicated in paragraph (a) of this section, are nonmailable and shall not be receired or carried in the mails.
(2) The term “pistols” or “revolvers” means hand guns styled to be fired by the use of a single hand and to fire or otherwise expel a projectile by the action of an explosion, spring, or other mechanical action, or air or gas pressure with sufficient force to be used as a weapon.
(3) The term "firearm" means a device from which a projectile is fired or otherwise expelled by the action of an explosion, spring, or other mechanical action, or air or gas pressure with sufficient force to be used as a weapon.
(4) The phrase "all other firearms capable of being concealed on the person" includes, but is not limited to, short-barreled shotguns, and short-barreled
(5) The term "short-barreled shotgun” means a shotgiin having one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length and any weapon made from a shot. suh (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches. A short-barreled shot
gun of greater dimensions may also be regarded as nonmailable when they have characteristics allowing them to be concealed on the person.
(6) The term “short-barreled rifle" means a rifle having one or more barrels less than 16 inches in length and any weapon made from a rifle (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches. A short-barreled rifle of greater dimensions may also be regarded as nonmailable when they have characteristics allowing them to be concealed on the person.
In addition to these temporary regulations, the Postmaster General is today publishing a notice of proposed rule making proposing to incorporate these regulations in the Department's permanent regulations in order to give members of the public an opportunity to present written data, views, and arguments concerning adoption of these regulations as an amendment to $ 125.5 of Title 39, Code of Federal Regulations.
NOTE: The corresponding Postal Manual sections are 125.57 and 125.58, re. spectively. (5 U.S.C. 301 ; 18 U.S.C. 1715; 39 U.S.C. 501)
TIMOTHY J. MAY,
General Counsel. JUNE 11, 1968.
Part 125–MATTER MAILABLE UNDER RULES
DELIVERY OF FIREARMS; NOTICE OF TEMPORARY REGULATIONS
As recent events have so unfortunately demonstrated, the shipment of firearms through the mails under existing procedures seriously interferes with the enforcement of State and local laws designed to control these weapons. The national interest demands that activities of the postal service shall not hinder but rather aid in the effective enforcement of State and local gun control laws.
Since these existing conditions require an immediate remedy, the Department has determined advanced notice and public rule making procedures are unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Therefore, the following temporary regulations are made to Part 125 of Title 39, Code of Federal Regulations, by the addition of a new $ 125.9 to supplement the existing regulations and will be effective for 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. $125.9 Notice of delivery of firearms.
(a) Paragraphs (c) through (g) of $125.5 relative to Concealable Firearms shall apply to every mailing of a firearm without regard to whether it is capable of being concealed on the person. Firearm parcels not complying with this provision may not be admitted to or carried in the mails.
(b) The postmaster at the office of address shall not make delivery of any firearm without first notifying the chief law enforcement official for the community in which the addressee resides that delivery of a firearm to the addressee will be made in the ordinary course of the mails.
In addition to these temporary regulations, the Postmaster General is today publishing a notice of proposed rule making proposing to incorporate these foregoing regulations in the Department's permanent regulations in order to give members of the public an opportunity to present written data, views, and arguments concerning the procedures in $125.9 of Title 39, Code of Federal Regulations. (5 U.S.C. 301 ; 18 U.S.C. 1715 ; 39 U.S.C. 501)
TIMOTHY J. MAY,
General Counsel. JUNE 11, 1968.
PROPOSED RULE MAKING
Post Office Department
[39 CFR PART 1251 Prohibitions on mailing pistols, revolvers, and other concealable firearms Notice of proposed rule making
Notice is hereby given of proposed rule making consisting of proposed amendments to Part 125 of Title 39, Code of Federal Regulations. The proposed amend