First, the good news. Earlier this month the Senate passed H.R. 5552, the “Firearms Excise Tax Improvement Act of 2010,” which will allow firearms and ammunition manufacturers to pay excise taxes quarterly as opposed to the current bi-weekly schedule. The bill, also known as the FAET, was applauded by Second Amendment advocates and conservationists as a major piece of pro-sportsmen legislation that will help firearm and ammunition manufacturers grow business and strengthen wildlife conservation funding.
The bill, which passed the House in July by an overwhelming 412-6 vote, was sponsored by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus member and former Co-Chair Rep. Ron Kind.
The firearm and ammunition excise tax is the major revenue source for funding the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, also known as the Pittman-Robertson Trust Fund. Last year alone, firearm and ammunition manufacturers contributed approximately $450 million to wildlife conservation, shooting ranges, and hunter education programs through excise tax payments.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, hailed the passage of the FAET.
The NSSF has also issued an alert, warning sportsmen to be aware of new legislation passed in Massachusetts that will allow prosecutors to request “dangerousness hearings” for defendants charged with felony firearm offenses.
The bill, which also includes measures to reform the state’s Criminal Offender Record Information system, known as CORI, was passed on Aug. 6 and is expected to be signed by Governor Deval Patrick, who has called the dangerousness hearings “a critical tool” in helping law enforcement curb the use of illegal firearms.
The measure restores to prosecutors the opportunity to seek special hearings against defendants charged with gun felonies. If they are found to be dangerous, defendants can be held for 90 days without bail, which forces prosecutors to proceed with the trial within that time span.
The NSSF, Second Amendment advocates, and many legal scholars fear this “tool” could be easily abused by gun-control fanatics.
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