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Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027

Phone (262) 673-9745
Fax (262) 673-9746


January 6, 1998

To JPFO e-mail subscribers,

Below is the "proper" response to the BATF, regarding the BATF study of importation of firearms under the "sporting purposes" test. Please post this far and wide, being carefull to keep this entire e-mail intact.

We encourage every JPFO activist to write a letter to the BATF with a format as the one writen below:


January 5, 1998

Mr. John W. Magaw Director, BATF
Room 8000
650 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20226


Re: Comment on BATF study of importation of firearms under the "sporting purposes" test


Dear Director Magaw:

Jews for the Preservation of Firearms, Inc. (JPFO) respectfully submits this response to your December 10, 1997, request for comments from interested groups about the importation of certain semi-automatic rifles. JPFO strongly objects to any law or regulation that distinguishes between firearms based on their presumed "purpose." Such laws, employed to disarm civilians in Nazi Germany, illegitimately permit government officials to arbitrarily classify, and then eventually ban, firearms.

The "Gun Control Act" of 1968 (GCA) permits the importation of firearms that are "of a type ... generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes." 18 U.S.C. § 925(d)(3). The Nazi Weapons Law (18 March 1938) forbade importation of weapons under substantially the same test:"It is forbidden to manufacture ... and to import: Firearms which fold-down, break-down, are collapsible, or are speedily dismantled -- beyond the common limits of hunting and sporting activities -- ..." Id., § 25(1) (translated in full in "Gun Control:" Gateway to Tyranny 60-61, 90 (1992)(emphasis added). The Nazi Weapons Law, and the enforcing regulations, carved the "sporting use" exception also where they permitted licensed persons to carry "firearms, designed for -- and usually used for -- the hunting of fair game." Nazi Weapons Law, § 21; Implementing Regulations (19 March 1938), § 32 (in Gateway to Tyranny, at 88, 102)(emphasis added).

The GCA also purports to vest the power in the Secretary of the Treasury to determine whether a firearm has a "sporting purpose." 18 U.S.C. § 925(d). The Nazi Weapons Law vested the power to decide the fitness of weapons (and their owners) in the unelected bureaucracy and the Nazi courts. Nazi Weapons Law, §§ 15, 25, 26. Germany's constitution did not restrain its government from destroying fundamental rights. See Miller, Nazi Justiz: Law of the Holocaust 44-45 (1996). By contrast, the U.S. Constitution expressly restrains the federal government from infringing on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. U.S. Const. Amend II. BATF regulations that prevent the importation of firearms violate the Second Amendment by infringing on this right.

BATF regulations, which distinguish between firearms based on whether they are for "sporting purposes," must be arbitrary and capricious. Such regulations far exceed the power which the Founders' Constitution delegated to the federal government. See, e.g., The Federalist Papers, Nos. 41 & 45. What is a "sporting purpose" is wholly a matter of personal opinion, and surely not a matter for an unelected federal agency to decide. Indeed, the Second Amendment expressly forbids the government from making such a decision. To enshrine an agency's mere opinion into law is to make arbitrary law; such arbitrary power is the handmaiden of despotism. See Hayek, The Road to Serfdom 68-69, 71, 73-74 (Chicago Press: 1976 ed.).

Government agencies must themselves ask first whether their proposed regulations are constitutional. They must not enact regulations, hoping that a court does not strike them down. See The Federalist Papers No. 33. Regardless of whether a court would find the firearms import ban to be constitutional, one thing is indisputable: the import ban further expands federal control over firearms, and further infringes the right to keep and bear arms.

JPFO urgently asks that the BATF advise the Secretary of the Treasury and President of the United States that it cannot constitutionally enforce a ban of any firearm based on its presumed "purpose," because to do so would be to exercise BATF's authority arbitrarily, capriciously, and in derogation of the Second Amendment. To take this position would take courage; but it would be right.


Yours for liberty,
Aaron Zelman

Enclosures


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