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By the way, we will have public hearings on H.R. 6143 in this room tomorrow morning, and, in view of your answers, we would be delighted, of course, to have your testimony or the testimony of the Department regarding any ideas that you have.
This bill is a very comprehensive bill, which is the result of a dozen years of study all over the United States. We think we have some very good answers to this problem, and we shall consider, as Mr. Adams suggests, the idea of putting this maybe in, or in lieu of your section VIII. We will plan to recommend that to this committee, but we are open to suggestions. We are just trying to find the answers to this problem, as I know you are, and we would be delighted to have your comments in this hearing tomorrow.
Mr. VINSON. As I told Congressman Adams, we will be delighted to give you our views in a letter and, perhaps, we can get that in before you tomorrow morning.
Mr. Hagan of Georgia. I believe that Chairman McMillan has already requested a statement from the Department of Justice in regard to H.R. 6143.
Mr. Vinson. We can give it to you in short order. (See letter, p. 248)
Mr. GUDE. This title III would seem to be one of the main points of controversy in this area. You felt that title III by itself would have been vetoed.
Mr. Vinson. I have no idea, as I said, as to any particular piece of the omnibus bill. My own personal judgment is that we, in the Department of Justice, would have recommended against it.
Mr. GUDE. It seems to me that in this arrest without a warrant procedure, it is a situation where people are going to be arrested in a number of instances, and will get arrested, so to speak, something that we could possibly seek to avoid through some type of detention procedure. Is it possible or conceivable that a combination of that with a shorter period of detention be possible under the law, and the like, which could be followed by an arrest if necessary?
Mr. Vinson. It would seem to me that title III, basically, started out with a stop-and-frisk approach, and, of course, branched into the 4-hour detention.
There are a number of places that have stop-and-frisk laws. New York City is one of them.
I believe that early last month, the Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in a case to examine into the constitutionality of the New York stop-and-frisk law. That question should be resolved
-. for us in a matter of months.
Mr. GUDE. Does the New York stop-and-frisk law have a period of time specified?
Mr. Vinson. It does not. It really is a momentary thing. I am not sure whether the New York City ordinance or the regulation thereunder of the police department has a period of time.
Mr. Durham thinks it is 30 minutes, but I do not know whether it is by regulation or by ordinance. We examined into that in the operation of that law, and it is hard to tell how much it is.
The only meaningful figures they have are related to certain portions of the law, the search portions of the law. They have statistics relating to the frequency of the use where searches had occurred. Of course, that is the normal police practice here and there and everywhere, in stopping suspects.
Mr. Gude. Is a search made under the stop-and-frisk law?
Mr. Vinson. Not to my knowledge. Certiorari was granted last month in the first case that I know of.
Mr. GUDE. You spoke of the Wisconsin law, has that been upheld by the Supreme Court?
Mr. VINSON. I do not believe that it reached the Supreme Court. It is a matter that is handled by statute.
Mr. GUDE. Thank you.
Mr. STEIGER. You certainly are to be commended on your loyalty to the Department and to the position it takes; yet, my distinct impression is that the Department is engaged in picking daisies off the lawn while the house is burning down.
I think that you, as a representative of the Department, actually agree that the crime situation in the District is serious? Mr. Vinson. Unquestionably.
Mr. STEIGER. Am I to understand that the Department's desire to engage in combat over this bill is based, at least in overwhelming measure, on constitutional questions?
Mr. Vinson. In larger parts there are serious constitutional questions. I would say that, certainly, does not encompass all of our objections, but I would like to make one comment, that it is no strain for me to sustain this position of the Department, because I strongly feel that there are no legislative magic wands that you can wave that really get at the crime problem. We have to upgrade our police services; we have to hasten our court calendars. Right now, for the first time in history, last March, the backlog of felony cases in the District Court ran about 1,000. We have met with the judges, and we have put on additional judges to get that load back to a manageable proportion before the middle of the summer. I think that is where you can make a real step in the matter of serious felonies. We are establishing a system whereby more serious crimes of violence will get expedited action. If you could get people to trial faster, particularly in serious crimes, get them into court within 30 days, it would help, because if you do not have speedy justice, you are really in difficulty in criminal law.
Mr. STEIGER. This has to be a fact that the Department will recognize: I would like to see them put their thrust on the efficiency of the courts and on the entire posture of the courts.
I think that the Department of Justice, on what still seems to be a matter of judgment—it seems to me that it must be impressed upon the Department to establish a precedent that a matter of constitutionality can only be resolved by the Supreme Court, and it would seem to me to be far more important to get the omnibus bill on its way and get it working and then proceed with what you admit are the more essential elements of correcting the crime situation. It seems to me that while we are bogged down here as to the context of this matter, that we are not involving ourselves in the correction of what really is the problem. I think it is a problem that needs help very greatly.
Mr. Vinson. Let me respond to that, by one illustration, on the omnibus bill. In the District some years ago, there was a case resolved by the court of appeals which goes to the point of your com
That was the Durham rule on the insanity defense, which proved unworkable. The McDonald case, however, came along and gave the determination of insanity back to the jury where it belongs.
Then, the omnibus bill would substitute for the Durham-McDonald rule the ALI test. We have no quarrel with that test. It is a very effective test of criminal responsibility. However, we see very little difference between the present rule of insanity in the District and the ALI test. We think that they are both workable. However, in this circuit, over a period of time, the judicial decisions have grown around the Durham-McDonald rule, and we feel that the adoption of the ALI rule now would do exactly what you and I would wish to avoid. It would provoke more litigation, which, in turn, would create more uncertainty for a period of time.
Mr. STEIGER. Yet you say both programs are workable. You concede that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. WHITENER. Mr. Vinson, I notice that the first title in the administration bill is the so-called gun control proposal. Wherein does that change the law as it now exists, except to prevent minors from owning firearms, prevent them from having arms in their hands?
Mr. Vinson. It would prohibit the possession, as you say, by a minor. It would also prohibit possession by habitual drunkards, by drug addicts, and persons with mental illness. Mr. WHITENER. May I interrupt you there?
I The present law, D.C. Code, title 22, section 3203, provides that no person in the District of Columbia shall be in the possession of a gun if (1) he is a drug addict; (2) he has been convicted in the District of Columbia or elsewhere of a felony; (3) he has been convicted of violating section 22–2701 or 22–2722, which is unlawful, et cetera, and section 22-3302 to 3306.
Mr. Vinson. I believe that applies to vagrants. Mr. WHITENER. Section 3202 is re vagrants. Section 3303 deals with vagrancy further; section 3304 deals with conditions imposed by the courts; section 3305 deals with prosecutions; and section 3306 deals with the right to strike and picket.
There is really nothing suggested new in this bill about drug addicts or felons possessing guns, is there?
Mr. Vinson. Yes, sir, dangerous drug users as opposed to narcotics, such as LSD.
Mr. Vinson. Yes, sir, dangerous drug users as opposed to narcotics--addicts.
Mr. Vinson. I believe, ordinarily, our statutory authority seems to speak in terms of drug addicts being those who use the addictive drugs such as heroin, morphine, et cetera, and does not reach the dangerous drugs such as LSD, barbiturates, and the like.
Mr. WHITENER. I would be surprised, but that is a matter of opinion, and we can argue about that.
We also have in the present District Code, title 22, section 3204, a criminal penalty created if one carries a gun concealed about his person away from his dwelling house or place of business or land possessed by him.
Mr. VINSON. Yes.
Mr. Vinson. Yes, sir, it takes care of them, if you know someone has a concealed weapon.
The thrust of this law is to make a person who wants to possess a gun at home or in his store have a license for such possession.
Mr. WHITENER. You talk about the present law?
Mr. WHITENER. All right. In the present law-title 22, section 3206--- there is a provision made for the issuing of licenses to carry a pistol, and that says that the application of any person having a home residence or place of business or any person having a bona fide residence or place of business in the United States may secure a license to carry a pistol concealed about his personage, et cetera, et cetera, and that that license can be issued herein.
Then, you have another provision in the existing law, in section 3207, making it unlawful to sell pistols to a minor or a person not of sound mind or a person who is under the age of 21 years of age. So that takes care of that recommendation that you have in the gun bill, does it not?
Mr. Vinson. This particular gun bill incorporates many of the features of the present law and then goes several steps beyond that.
Mr. WHITENER. In the present law, in title 22, section 3208, there is a provision regulating the transfer of firearms from one person to another.
And in section 3209 there is a requirement as to the sale by dealers of pistols, machineguns, sawed-off shotguns, and blackjacks, that they must have a license, and that no wholesaler shall sell or have in his possession with the intention to sell to other than a licensed dealer such weapons.
In section 3210 of that title there is a provision set up for licensing of dealers under strict regulations as to who may be so licensed.
Then you have section 3212 which makes it a crime to alter identifying marks on weapons.
Section 3213 prohibits any person possessing a machinegun, sawedoff shotgun, or any instrument or weapon commonly known as a blackjack, a slingshot, a sand club, a sandbag, a switchblade knife, metal knuckles, or any instrument or appliance causing the firing of any firearm to be silent or tends to lessen the amount of noise of any firearm. There is a subsection of that section which says that no person shall
a have, with intent to use unlawfully against another, an imitation pistol, et cetera, or a knife with a blade longer than so many inches, and provides that anybody violating this shall be guilty of a felony.
It seems to me that, as to this proposal about gun control, about the only thing that you wind up doing is to prevent the homeowner, the law-abiding citizen, having possession of a weapon.
Mr. VINSON. Starting in the reverse order, of course, the sportsman knows
Mr. WHITENER. But if I lived here I could not do what I did with my 14-year-old boy for his last birthday, buying him a 22-caliber rifle, and carry out my plans on his next birthday to buy him a 410gage shotgun.
Mr. Vinson. There is absolutely no reason why you could not do that under this.
Mr. WHITENER. This bill prohibits it.
It says that a child cannot own a gun in the District of Columbia. I could buy it in my name and pretend that it was mine, and by subterfuge get around this provision.
Mr. VINSON. I believe that the bill in that regurd is directed only to pistols. I can assure you that under this bill, he could have a shotgun on his next birthday.
The only restriction that this bill would make would be to prohibit the carrying of a shotgun or a rifle in the District of Columbia except when it is unloaded and in its case.
Mr. WHITENER. I would like to have a report sent down here on this gun law which would give the private, law-abiding citizen the right to protect himself and his property and to cover sportsmen and not to prevent a father in encouraging his son in the use of anything that would tend to develop his love of the outdoors.
Mr. Vinson. I am aware that the Baumes law is in effect in New York.
Mr. WHITENER. That is the three-times-loser bill.
Mr. WHITENER. You mentioned the stop-and-frisk law in New York. You have given it a lot of credit for reduction of homicides. If they imagine that someone might have a weapon on them, they can search him, and that probably has a good effect.
Mr. VINSON. It could; yes, the way that they use the law. However, the frisk is very rarely used. It has caused some trouble, actually, in the frisk aspect. There is a serious question as to marijuana, heroin-there is a serious question as to whether the products of that search is admissible.
The basic purpose of the frisk is, as you recognize, for the protection of the police.
Mr. WHITENER. Your statement about the stop-and-frisk law as related to title III of the bill we passed last year, of course, is not correct, in that you said that we had considered it a stop-and-frisk law. This committee objected to that. Rather than to adopt that provision we went to the American Law Institute Uniform Arrest Act, to which the President and your Department expressed objection. There is a real difference between stop-and-frisk without limitation and the detention of those for whom the officer has probable cause to believe that he has committed or is about to commit a crime. There is nothing in the omnibus crime bill that would relate to the stop-andfrisk propositions.
Mr. Vinson. I did not have the benefit of the background that you, obviously, have in this. It appears to me that the first part of the predicate for the 4-hour detention was similar to that.
Mr. WHITENER. The stop-and-frisk proposal was very seriously proposed by some members of our committee, but it was put down, because we did not feel that you should stop someone on the street for frisking, in the presence of his fellow citizens and friends, even strangers. There is nothing in our bill about that.
You mentioned also, one objection that you have to title III in the omnibus crime bill, on insanity; namely, that it would prohibit comment by counsel or by the court, on the consequences of a jury