Rep. Steve Scalise Introduces Bill to Relax Restrictions on Interstate Firearm Sales

Rep. Steve Scalise
Rep. Steve Scalise
NRA - Institute for Legislative Action
NRA – Institute for Legislative Action

Fairfax, VA -( Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) has introduced a bill to modernize certain aspects of interstate firearms commerce.

The Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, H.R. 2246, would yield increased convenience and choice for consumers, while continuing to allow states to set their own policy regarding transfer and possession of firearms within their borders.

In 1968, when the federal Gun Control Act (GCA) was enacted, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and today’s sophisticated computer technology did not exist, and what background checks were run on gun sales occurred at the state or local level. Recognizing that state approaches to gun laws varied, Congress enacted a nationwide system of licensing for those engaged in the business of firearm commerce and generally prohibited licensed dealers from selling guns to out of state residents or shipping guns directly to unlicensed buyers.

The 1968 law contained limited exceptions for interstate sale of rifles or shotguns. Specifically, the buyer`s state had to have a law allowing such transactions. Second, the transaction had to comply with the state law in both the buyer`s and seller`s states. Third, the dealer had to notify the chief law enforcement officer in the buyer`s state, and wait for evidence that the officer had received the notification. Finally, the dealer had to wait seven days after receiving the notice before completing the transfer. These requirements were intended to keep buyers from leaving their home states to evade whatever sort of background check might be required under state law.

In the 1980s, the Congress revisited these restrictions during the debate over the Firearms Owners` Protection Act (FOPA). As the Senate Judiciary Committee`s report on FOPA put it, the 1968 interstate sales provisions were “so cumbersome that they [were] rarely used.” When the Congress passed FOPA in 1986, it did away with the state authorization, notification and waiting period requirements. Federal law now allows dealers to make interstate rifle and shotgun sales, as long as: (a) the buyer meets in person with the dealer, and (b) the transaction complies with the laws of both the buyer`s and the seller`s states.

Since 1998, however, all people buying firearms from licensed dealers anywhere in the U.S. have been subject to computerized background checks under the FBI`s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), either by the dealer contacting NICS (directly or through a state “point of contact” agency) or by the buyer presenting a state firearms permit issued after a NICS check. NICS, moreover, is a national system that collects records from every state and makes those records available to every other state. Thus, even if a person leaves a state where some disabling conviction, commitment, or order was entered, any records reported to the databases encompassed by the NICS system will show up through a NICS check in any other state.

This means that even if a person buys a firearm from an FFL out of state, that FFL’s NICS check will also be able to screen for disqualifying records from the person’s home state. This makes a limitation on buying only from FFL’s in one’s own state unnecessary.

Under H.R. 2246, FFLs could sell both handguns and long guns to unlicensed residents from other states, but the transfer would still have to occur in a face-to-face transaction (in other words, no mail order sales to non-licensees), and it would still have to comply with the laws of the state of the buyer’s residence. Thus, a buyer could not go out of a state to buy a firearm banned in the buyer’s state of residence, and any prohibited person provisions, waiting periods, or other requirements specific to the buyer’s state of residence would still apply.

The bill would also allow FFLs to sell firearms at gun shows in other states, so long as they complied with the laws both of the state of transfer and of the buyer’s state of residence. All other rules governing retail sales by FFLs – including the paperwork, identification, and NICS requirements – would continue to apply.

Finally, the bill would recognize the realities that military members face in having to make frequent moves to duty stations throughout the U.S. and abroad. It would clarify that service members and their spouses are residents, for purposes of the GCA, of their state of legal residence, of the state in which the member’s permanent duty station is located, and of the state in which the member maintains a place of abode from which the member commutes each day to the permanent duty station. Civilian employees of federal agencies such as the State Department who are stationed overseas for long periods would also benefit, as the bill would effectively allow them to buy firearms in the U.S. during trips back home to their U.S. state of residence.

It’s high time Congress recognizes that today’s systems of interstate commerce and information sharing are far more advanced and well-developed than in the late 1960s, and federal regulation of firearms sales (products that are legal and constitutionally-protected in every state) should keep pace with these developments.

The NRA thanks Rep. Scalise for his leadership in this important effort.

About the NRA-ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

For more information, please visit: Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.

  • 15 thoughts on “Rep. Steve Scalise Introduces Bill to Relax Restrictions on Interstate Firearm Sales

    1. I’m trying to start a grass roots movement regarding a number of current federal firearms laws that need to be eliminated from the books. I ask that everyone read this and approach it with an open mind and if you support this effort, contact your federal representative.

      There are basically two sets of firearms regulations currently in effect in the US, these being the Gun Control Act of 1934 and the National Firearms Act of 1968. Each of these “acts” were proposed and enacted by Congress and each has been amended numerous times by legislative action or direct intervention by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly referred to as ATF). Without boring you with more details on the acts, I want to immediately go to the substance of my movement.

      1. Suppressed or “silenced” weapons. First of all, contrary to what you have seen or “heard” on TV or movies, there is no such thing as a silenced weapon. Silence means the absence of sound and firearms, jet engines, jack hammers and a multitude of other items are ALL inherently noisy. In regards to firearms, the most effective suppressor available to the civilian market can quiet a modern pistol discharge to the level of a balloon popping. Please note that I said PISTOL, as again contrary to TV or movies, you cannot suppress a revolver due to the gap between the cylinder and barrel.
      If you think about it, our world is indeed a noisy place and we, as individuals, as well as our government, are constantly trying to make things quiet. We are not supposed to play our music too loud, our dogs shouldn’t bark and of course we cannot legally operate a motor vehicle without a muffler, yet due to FEDERAL REGULATIONS (and a few state or municipal regs), we must operate our firearms without any type of muffler or suppressor. Although it is now legal in forty states to own a firearm suppressor, the Feds still require a lengthy and expensive process to lawfully possess a suppressor. A “purchaser” must first contact a firearms dealer specifically licensed by ATF to sell NFA items such as suppressors. The purchaser then PAYS the dealer for the suppressor (usually $400-$1000), fills out a lengthy application, submits the application with a check made payable to, guess who, the federal government and then waits for 6-12 months for a criminal background check to be completed. Keep in mind that during this time, the dealer is holding your money and suppressor while waiting for ATF and the FBI to determine if you should be allowed to own a suppressor. If you are approved, you get your suppressor but you are then not allowed to sell or dispose of the suppressor without the purchaser going through all of these steps.
      I’d like to point out that in Great Britain (which has very strict gun laws), and the more liberal Sweden, suppressors or mufflers as they call them, are easily obtained by the general public after obtaining a simple permit from the local police. Firearm mufflers are highly encouraged on all weapons as it is the “polite” thing to do, a way to reduce noise pollution and avoid disturbing the neighbors. In Norway and New Zealand, suppressors are considered unrestricted accessories which can be purchased very cheaply over-the-counter as easily as you buy a jug of milk. And the Finnish Supreme Court has ruled that it is a constitutional right to make, buy, sell, trade and use gun mufflers in that country.

      There are many benefits to using a suppressor, including:
      1. HEARING PROTECTION: Noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common afflictions for recreational shooters and hunters. Everyone knows that gunfire is loud, but very few people understand the repercussions that shooting can have on their hearing until it’s too late. Suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by an average of 20 – 35 dB, which is roughly the same as earplugs or earmuffs. By decreasing the overall sound signature, suppressors help to preserve the hearing of recreational shooters, hunters, and hunting dogs around the world.
      2. NOISE COMPLAINTS: As urban developments advance into rural areas, shooting ranges and hunting preserves across the country are being closed due to noise complaints. Although it can still be heard, suppressed gunfire helps mitigate noise complaints from those who live near shooting ranges and hunting land.
      3. ACCURACY: Suppressors reduce recoil, and help decrease muzzle flinch. These benefits lead to improved accuracy, better shot placement, and more humane hunts.
      As of May 2015, forty US states now permit private ownership of suppressors.
      Isn’t it time for the federal government to repeal all registration, permits and fees regarding suppressors?

      2. Short Barreled Rifles and Shotguns. According to the ATF, all rifles (and I’m not referring to just assault-type rifles but any rifle whether it be semi-automatic or single shot, regardless of caliber) must have a permanent barrel length of 16 inches and an overall length of at least 26 inches while shotguns must have a barrel length of at least 18 inches. Anything less is considered a NFA restricted weapon. So lets say that your grand dad gave you an old Stevens youth model 22 bolt action rifle with an 18″ barrel and due to time, abuse or accident, the barrel and stock are in dire need of attention. You get out your hack saw and cut off the end of the barrel, let’s say 2-1/2″. YOU HAVE NOW COMMITED A FELONY because you have a rifle with a barrel of less than 16″. Mind you that the rifle is no more lethal or concealable but due to an arbitrary regulation enacted 81 years ago, you’ve broken the law. The same holds true for a shotgun if you were to shorten the barrel even 1/2″ to less than 18″, you again have committed a felony although this shortened shotgun is no more lethal than a full length version. In fact, extensive ballistic and accuracy tests have been conducted by every weapon and ammunition manufacturer, law enforcement agencies and the military and the results all show that the shorter a barrel is, lower projectile velocity and reduced accuracy are the result.
      Here are a few examples:
      1. . The Thompson Center Contender is simply a rifle receiver with interchangeable barrels. A major factor in the Contender’s success is that the break-action design does not require the barrels to be specially fitted to an individual action. Any barrel that is made for a Contender will fit onto any frame, allowing the shooter to purchase additional barrels in lengths of 6″ to 21″ and different calibers for a fraction of the cost of a complete firearm. Since the sights are mounted on the barrel, they remain sighted-in and zeroed between barrel changes.
      There is one more aspect regarding short barreled rifles and shotguns that causes great distress for gun collectors, of which I am one. Many historical weapons, especially those from WW1 and later were originally issued or purchased with short barrels and shoulder stocks. Although some of these weapons fall under the ATF classification of a Curio or Relic, most do not and are simply considered NFA items subject to registration or confiscation and destruction if unregistered.
      2. German P08 Luger and Browning Hi-Power models. Issued during WW1 and 2, both of these weapons are 9mm semi-automatic pistols with varying barrel lengths but not exceeding 12 inches. What brings these under the purview of GCA 34 and NFA 68 is that many of these were issued with a combination wood holster/rifle stock. Therefore, if the stock accompanies one of these pistols, it becomes a NFA weapon subject to all of the
      restrictions of a machinegun.

      2. M1 Carbine and Enforcer Pistol. U.S. law requires rifles to have a barrel length of no less than 16 inches and overall length of no less than 26 inches. The “Enforcer” model carbines fall short of both length requirements, making them pistols under federal law. Because carbines (rifles) chambered for the .30 cal. carbine cartridge use the same receivers as the Enforcer models, all of which were .30 caliber carbine, the Enforcer model receivers must be identified/marked by the manufacturer as pistol receivers. Using a carbine (rifle) receiver to construct a home made Enforcer or even using a full sized M1 carbine stock on a Enforcer pistol makes it a “short-barreled rifle” and a felony to manufacture or possess without the licenses to do so from ATF.
      Legal issues aside, the only difference between the carbine (rifle) and the Enforcer (pistol) were the barrel, barrel band, stock and hand guard.
      3. Thompson 1927A1 Semi automatic Rifle and Pistol. The original Thompson sub-machineguns came along in the 1920s and gained a reputation as the “gangster’s weapon of choice”. Due to the rarity and cost of an original Thompson, as well as the desire by collectors to own a Thompson, several companies began building semi-auto copies in the 1980s. Unfortunately, in order to avoid classification as a short barrel rifle, the original 10.5″ barrel had to be replaced with a 16″ barrel which totally ruined the authentic look that appealed to collectors. Additionally, as is the case with the M1 carbine and Enforcer pistol, installing an original style Thompson rifle stock to the Thompson pistol once again creates a weapon which violates ATF regulations, although there are no mechanical differences between the two and lethality has not been increased as both the rifle and pistol fire the same .45 caliber pistol cartridge.

      4. SIG SB15 and SBX pistol stabilizing braces.

      “As reaffirmed in an Open Letter by ATF’s Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division dated January 16, 2015, the Pistol Stabilizing Brace (SB15 and SBX) is legal to own, legal to purchase, and legal to install on a pistol. The PSB improves the single-handed shooting performance of buffer tube equipped pistols, and the product is offered both as an accessory and pre-installed on a number of pistols.
      “The Open Letter goes further regarding the ‘intent’ of the user of the pistol stabilizing brace. In the letter of January 16, 2015, ATF opines that a person’s actual use of the product as a shoulder stock can change the legal classification of the product. The letter explicitly states: “ATF hereby confirms that if used as designed—to assist shooters in stabilizing a handgun while shooting with a single hand—the device is not considered a shoulder stock and therefore may be attached to a handgun without making a NFA firearm.” However, ATF has further clarified that shouldering a pistol equipped with a SIG Brace “redesigned” the firearm into a unregistered short barreled rifle.
      If one were to follow this example of supposed intent and possible use, you could easily argue that although a coffee cup is intended to be used for a beverage, it could be considered a weapon of mass destruction if someone were to put gasoline in it and set a structure fire.
      Of course these are just a few examples of the ludicrous and outdated regulations regarding barrel length. The point that I wish to make is that in 1934, an arbitrary barrel length was established. The length could have just as easily been 10″ or 8″ or 30″ but instead was set at 16″ for rifles and 18″ for shotguns. Since these barrel lengths have no relation to the lethality or conceal ability of any weapon, one can only surmise that they were brought about by the crime sprees that were so rampant in America during the twenties and thirties. Those laws were based on a perceived need to regulate “concealable firearms,” (the original NFA bill included language regulating pistols the same) and we now live in a country where not one state lacks a law permitting carrying of concealed firearms. I.E. this law makes zero sense in the modern context (not that it made sense back then). In the modern world, these archaic regulations only make criminals out of individuals, mainly through ignorance of the law, who would otherwise never consider breaking the law.
      In light of budget constraints, prison overcrowding and manpower shortages suffered by most of our law enforcement agencies, shouldn’t we look at abandoning some of these nonsensical regulations that have absolutely no impact on crime in our country.
      I ask that you positively consider repealing these laws.
      Michael D. Pettit
      Montgomery Al 36116

    2. This bill, to update an antiquated law, makes absolute sense to open minded people who are capable of exercising common sense.
      Unfortunately, because of that fact, it will doubtless fall prey to those in congress who “know better” of what’s in the best interests of the populis they are supposed to be serving, have forgotten the “presumption of innocence” our laws were based upon, assume the worst of society and will do everything in their power to kill this bill.
      Every American who values their freedom and believes the Government works at their bidding and direction rather than visa versa, should contact their congressional representatives and voice their support for this bill and Russell should realize that the NRA is not an independent powerful bogey man, but rather represents the collective voice of their membership, which is made up of freedom loving Americans who are trying to protect their Constitutionally and God given liberties!

    3. Brady allows individual states to set their own terms for the purchase of handguns as long as those terms are at least as restrictive as Brady. MD is a state which has a convoluted procedure which was made more convoluted in 2013. This law sounds good, but I can’t imagine how anyone in any other state could apply it to a MD resident. It would benefit a MD licensee who wanted to sell at a show in another state. Part of the rub with this law would be the requirement that the licensee seller comply with the laws of the buyer’s state as well as the laws of the state where the sale occurs. How would he know?

    4. I see any thing that makes it easier for law abiding citizens to buy and sell guns and ammo a plus in my book. I had an ffl in the early 80s and have thought of getting it again so I could buy and sell again but avoided it because of all the gun restrictions. Might actually do it again now.

    5. I am for anything making the lawful sale and purchase more convenient. I just wish the system set up to verify criminals are not buying firearms would be unforced. As a past FFL holder I have discovered when an applicant is denied, that is the end of the investigation,which is a felony.
      If the anti second amendment folks could get behind requiring the Feds to enforce just that existing law, I bet it would go along way in getting the real criminals off our streets and communities.

      Just my 2 cents.

    6. This would really be great. I am an FFL and I and my wife would like to travel in retirement and do gun shows , and the way it is I can’t sell in another state but under these rules I may be able to ?

      Loydd Fones

      FFL 9-93-025-01-7G-04395

    7. I am a strong supporter of this bill…I work out of state and ran into a problem recently trying to purchase lower receivers for builds while working in Montana. I could surrender my home license and establish local residence, but I am very proud to call myself a Texan! The BATF regulations work against honest gun owners, but isn’t that what the system wants to accomplish? I am glad that someone is working to fix it!

    8. I can’t help but wonder, once we make interstate sales easier for us, and, in the process, drive the LGS out of business, if it wouldn’t be easier for the Feds to limit our ability to acquire firearms and ammo….

    9. The commie left perverted the meaning of the interstate clause to RESTRICT trade. In fact, the commerce clause was inserted into the Constitution to prevent states from setting tariffs from one another, thus PROMOTING trade. The use of the commerce clause to justify the need for “licensed dealers” is un-American. ANY American should be able to dispose of his or her property in ANY manner they see fit. This bill is good, but does not go far enough.

    10. Very sensible bill. Great job getting this on the agenda! I wish the bill would also address the public shipping firearms. This is still a tiresome business, with all the restrictions. UPS charges exorbitant amounts for “next day delivery service only” for handguns. Why can’t they go by Ground?

    11. This is just another example of a Louisiana legislator in the pocket of the NRA. Okay we need Federal Gun legislation. Only Federal that applies to all States. Even the redneck South. It’s just to confusing. This would be for all of America. It’s apparent that States are not competent to regulate laws in their own States. Especially Southern States are in the pocket of the NRA. The NRA should be illegal because they are a private political organization. They are not a sports organization anymore, only political.

      1. Excuse me, but your ignorance is absolutely astounding. The NRA is a group of activities. The political arm is the NRA/ILA. They are the watchdogs on federal, state and local legislation and alert their members to bills or policies that affect them. Much as the NAACP, NOW, CORE and numerous other similar groups do. The NRA also provides training to law enforcement officers, instructors in the shooting sports and safety training to schools. Firearms are a tool. Unfortunately it is a tool that is sometimes used by violent individuals. A hammer is a tool too and it can also be used to kill. Deal with the violent offender, not the tool. It is an inanimate object and cannot make choices or decisions.


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