Violence Policy Center
Applauds Introduction of Federal Legislation to Permanently Eliminate
NRA-Backed Federal Guns-for-Felons Program
New Jersey Senators
Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg Sponsor Bill to End Program that Rearmed
Thousands of Felons at Taxpayer Expense
Violence Policy Center (VPC) today hailed the introduction of legislation
to finally end the federal "relief from disability" guns-for-felons program,
which was operated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
the National Rifle Association-backed program in 1992 following release
of the Violence Policy Center study Putting Guns Back Into Criminals'
Hands. The study revealed that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars
had been spent to rearm thousands of convicted, often violent, felons�some
of whom went on to commit new crimes. Successful applicants included felons
such as Jerome Sanford Brower, who in 1981 pleaded guilty to conspiracy
to transport explosives in foreign commerce in furtherance of an international
terrorist plot. Brower's gun privileges were restored by ATF in 1985.
Each year since the release of the VPC study, Congress has renewed the
With the program de-funded,
some felons sought to use the courts to regain their gun privileges. In
2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in United States v. Thomas
Lamar Bean that the federal guns-for-felons program could not be revived
by federal judges. In the case, U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson filed
a brief with the Supreme Court opposing attempts by federal courts to
revive the program. In the brief, Olson stated, that if the program were
reinstated by the courts, that there would be "a significant risk that
persons who pose a real danger to public safety might be rearmed."
VPC Legislative Director
Kristen Rand states, "This program needs to be shut down once and for
all. Currently, Congress must renew the funding bar every year. The gun
lobby has made several attempts to revive this dangerous program. The
Supreme Court had to step in to quash attempts by federal courts to grant
felons `relief' under the program. It's time for Congress to eliminate
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Friday, October 8, 2004
Violence Policy Center