Senators Feinstein, Durbin and Kennedy Introduce Legislation to Close Loophole in Federal Law and Prevent Foreign Convicts from Possessing Firearms in the United States
May 07 2007
Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation to prevent people convicted of felonies and domestic violence in foreign countries from possessing firearms in the United States.
The Firearms by Foreign Convicts Clarification Act closes a loophole that exists in current federal law. The loophole, created by a 2005 Supreme Court decision, allows foreign convicts to possess firearms in the United States even though current federal law restricts Americans convicted of identical crimes from possessing firearms.
“Most Americans would be surprised – as I was – to learn that foreign felons are allowed to buy firearms in the United States,” Senator Feinstein said. “America cannot continue to give convicted murderers, rapists and even terrorists an unlimited right to buy firearms in the United States – simply because they were convicted of their crimes in another country. We need to close this loophole to ensure that dangerous criminals, no matter where they were convicted of their crimes, are restricted from buying and possessing guns.”
The legislation was drafted to close a loophole created in a 2005 Supreme Court decision, Small v. United States, which declared that a 1968 federal law prohibiting felons from possessing firearms did not apply to foreign felony convictions.
The Supreme Court Justices warned in their dissent that the majority’s decision would allow “those convicted overseas of murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, terrorism and other dangerous crimes to possess firearms freely in the United States.” But the majority said that if Congress wanted to keep people with these foreign convictions from buying firearms, it needed to pass a new law and state that clearly.
The Firearms by Foreign Convicts Clarification Act would:
- Close a loophole created by a 2005 Supreme Court decision, Small v. United States, which declared that the law prohibiting felons from possessing firearms did not apply to foreign felony convictions.
- Treat foreign convictions the same as domestic convictions for purposes of purchasing firearms from licensed dealers.
- Provide an exemption only if a person can show that their foreign conviction is invalid because:
- the defendant was denied fundamental due process, or
- the conduct on which the foreign conviction was based would be legal if committed in the United States.