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Intent of gun bill in dispute

by James Fisher

REGIONAL WRITER

WESTON -- Petitions circulating throughout the area, asking for concerned gun owners to oppose a piece of gun legislation under consideration by the U.S. Senate's Finance Committee, are spreading misinformation about the bill, according to a spokeswoman in Sen. Jay Rockefeller's office.

The petitions, coupled with e-mails that have been received by numerous area residents, say that the proposed bill, S. 2099, will require gun owners to claim all guns on the 2000 federal 1040 tax forms and may require gun owners to submit fingerprints and pay a tax of $5 per gun.

According to a Web site of U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who introduced the bill into the Finance Committee in February, and the National Rifle Association Web site, the legislation deals only with handguns, does not require guns to be listed on federal tax forms and does not place a $50 tax on guns.

The e-mail also says that the bill will become public knowledge 30 days after it is voted into law and that the Finance Committee can pass the law without Congress and presidential approval.

This is also untrue, said Joy Sims, a press officer for Rockefeller, who serves on the Finance Committee.

"The bill is still in the committee," Sims said. "It's very unlikely that any action will be taken on it this year. Most likely it won't even make it out of committee this year. Like any legislation, after it comes out of committee, it would still have to be voted on by the full Senate and then be sent to the House (of Representatives) for a vote and then to the president."

According to the National Rifle Association Web site, S. 2099, also known as the Handgun Safety and Registration Act of 2000, is designed to enact handgun restrictions similar to machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, and other devices by amending the National Firearms Act.

The legislation proposes photographs, fingerprints and background checks on all transfers of handguns as well as registration of handguns by the owners. Each transfer will be assessed a one-time fee of $5 and manufacturers will be charged $50.

Registration forms would be available online and at any U.S. Post Office. Multiple handguns could be registered with a single form, unlike machine guns.

According to the NRA Web site, the legislation does not propose any involvement by the Internal Revenue Service. The bill seeks to amend the Internal Revenue Code because it includes the National Firearms Act, which is enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com.

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