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Committee Reports

107th Congress (2001-2002)

House Report 107-193 - Part 1

House Report 107-193 - Part 1 1 of 1

This Report: To Accompany H.R.1007     Printer Friendly: HTML  |  PDF




{link: 'http://www.congress.gov:80/cgi-bin/cpquery?',title: 'THOMAS - Committee Report - House Report 107-193 - Part 1' }

JAMES GUELFF AND CHRIS MCCURLEY BODY ARMOR ACT OF 2001

89-006

107TH CONGRESS

REPT. 107-193

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

1st Session

Part 1
JAMES GUELFF AND CHRIS MCCURLEY BODY ARMOR ACT OF 2001

AUGUST 2, 2001- Ordered to be printed
Mr. SENSENBRENNER, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 1007]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

CONTENTS Page
The Amendment 1
Purpose and Summary 4
Background and Need for the Legislation 4
Hearings 5
Committee Consideration 5
Vote of the Committee 5
Committee Oversight Findings 5
Performance Goals and Objectives 5
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures 6
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate 6
Constitutional Authority Statement 7
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion 7
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported 9
Markup Transcript 10

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

SEC. 4. AMENDMENT OF SENTENCING GUIDELINES WITH RESPECT TO BODY ARMOR.

SEC. 5. PROHIBITION OF PURCHASE, USE, OR POSSESSION OF BODY ARMOR BY VIOLENT FELONS.

`Sec. 931. Prohibition on purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by violent felons

`931. Prohibition on purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by violent felons.'.

SEC. 6. DONATION OF FEDERAL SURPLUS BODY ARMOR TO STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES.

PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

H.R. 1007, the `James Guelff and Chris McCurley Body Armor Act of 2001,' amends title 18, United States Code, by establishing a prohibition on the purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by violent felons. Any person that is convicted of violating this prohibition is subject to a fine or imprisonment of not more than 3 years, or both. H.R. 1007 also directs the United States Sentencing Commission to provide an appropriate sentencing enhancement for any crime of violence or drug trafficking in which the defendant used body armor. It is the sense of Congress that any sentencing enhancement should be at least two levels.

In addition, H.R. 1007 authorizes the head of a Federal agency to donate body armor that is surplus property and in serviceable condition directly to any State or local law enforcement agency. The United States shall not be liable for any harm occurring in connection with the use or misuse of any body armor donated by the Federal agencies.

BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR THE LEGISLATION

H.R. 1007 is named for Officer James Guelff and Captain Chris McCurley who were both killed by gunmen wearing body armor. On November 13, 1994, James Guelff, a highly decorated 10 year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department, responded to a `shots fired' call. Officer Guelff, the first to respond to the scene, returned fire but the bullets could not penetrate the gunman's kevlar vest and bullet-proof helmet. Because of the body armor, this one gunman was able to fire in excess of 200 rounds of ammunition and hold off 120 police officers for over half an hour. Several officers actually ran out of ammunition in their attempt to stop the heavily protected gunman. Officer Guelff was shot several times and died the following morning.

Captain Chris McCurley of the Etowah County, Alabama Drug Task Force was murdered in much the same way as Officer Guelff. Captain McCurley was shot and killed by a drug dealer wearing protective body armor when he and another officer were trying to execute a search warrant on October 10, 1997.

Unfortunately, this scenario is not unique. There have been several other similar shootings across the country including the North Hollywood shootout in 1997 where eleven officers were wounded despite both perpetrators being hit a total of 33 times by police gunfire. Those two gunmen held off 350 police officers for over an hour before the shooting ended. In July of 2000, another shooting took place in Crandon, Wisconsin where Sgt. Todd Stamper lost his life to a gunman protected by a kevlar vest and helmet. Also, in August 1997, there was a shooting in Colebrook, New Hampshire where a gunman wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, shot and killed troopers Scott Phillips and Leslie Lord before killing two other civilians. These are just a few examples of many incidents where gunmen were able to prolong shootouts, fire more rounds of ammunition, and cause more devastation because they were shielded by body armor.

The Department of Justice has estimated that 25 percent of State and local police are not issued body armor. Furthermore, of the approximately 1,200 officers killed in the line of duty since 1980, more than 30 percent could have been saved by body armor. Also, it has been estimated that the risk of dying from gunfire is 14 times higher for an officer without the benefit of wearing a bulletproof vest. The FBI, DEA, ATF, INS, and U.S. Marshals are just a few of the Federal agencies that have surplus body armor and would be able to donate it to local jurisdictions to provide greater protection to our Country's law enforcement officers.

Body armor was created for one fundamental reason--to protect the individuals who risk their lives protecting the citizens of this country. Unfortunately, bulletproof body armor is finding its way into the hands of violent criminals, placing countless lives at risk. This equipment should be used to protect police officers as they perform their daily duties, not to protect violent criminals committing violent acts.

HEARINGS

No hearings were held on H.R. 1007 during the 107th Congress.

COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

On July 19, 2001, the Subcommittee on Crime met in open session and ordered favorably reported the bill H.R. 1007 with amendment, by a voice vote, a quorum being present. On July 24, 2001, the Committee met in open session and ordered favorably reported the bill H.R. 1007 with amendment, by a voice vote, a quorum being present.

VOTE OF THE COMMITTEE

1. An amendment in the nature of a substitute was offered by Mr. Smith. The amendment would change the short title of the bill to the `James Guelff and Chris McCurley Body Armor Act of 2001.' The amendment also amends the findings of Congress to include reference to the 1997 murder of Chris McCurley. This would conform H.R. 1007 to the Senate version of the bill, S. 166, which passed the Senate on May 14, 2001, by unanimous consent. The amendment in the nature of a substitute was agreed to by voice vote.

2. Final Passage. The motion to report favorably the bill, H.R. 1007, as amended by the amendment in the nature of a substitute, was agreed to by voice vote.

COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports that the findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the descriptive portions of this report.

PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

H.R. 1007 does not authorize funding. Therefore, clause 3(c) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives is inapplicable.

NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY AND TAX EXPENDITURES

Clause 3(c)(2) of House rule XIII is inapplicable because this legislation does not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax expenditures.

CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with respect to the bill, H.R. 1007, the following estimate and comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974:

U.S. Congress,

Congressional Budget Office,

Washington, DC, August 1, 2001.

Hon. F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The Congressional Budget Office has prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1007, the James Guelff and Chris McCurley Body Armor Act of 2001.

If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Mark Grabowicz (for Federal costs), who can be reached at 226-2860, and Paige Piper/Bach (for the private-sector impact), who can be reached at 226-2940.

Sincerely,

Dan L. Crippen, Director.

H.R. 1007--James Guelff and Chris McCurley Body Armor Act of 2001.

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 1007 would not result in any significant cost to the Federal Government. Because enactment of H.R. 1007 could affect direct spending and receipts, pay-as-you-go procedures would apply to the bill. However, CBO estimates that any impact on direct spending and receipts would not be significant.

H.R. 1007 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs on State, local, or tribal governments. The legislation would impose a private-sector mandate as defined by UMRA. CBO estimates that the direct cost of the mandate would fall well below the annual threshold established by UMRA for private-sector mandates ($113 million in 2001, adjusted annually for inflation).

H.R. 1007 would make it a Federal crime for most violent felons to purchase or possess body armor. The bill would direct the U.S. Sentencing Commission to consider increasing the recommended prison sentence for certain offenses involving the use of body armor. In addition, H.R. 1007 would permit Federal agencies to donate surplus body armor to State or local law enforcement agencies.

Because H.R. 1007 would establish a new Federal crime, the government would be able to pursue cases that it otherwise would not be able to prosecute. Based on information from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, CBO estimates that the bill's provisions would probably affect fewer than 10 cases each year. Because H.R. 1007 would apply to such a small number of offenders, any increase in costs for law enforcement, court proceedings, or prison operations would not be significant. Any such costs would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.

Because those prosecuted and convicted under H.R. 1007 could be subject to criminal fines, the Federal Government might collect additional fines if the legislation is enacted. Collections of such fines are recorded in the budget as governmental receipts (revenues), which are deposited in the Crime Victims Fund and later spent. CBO expects that any additional receipts and direct spending would be negligible because of the small number of cases involved.

Under current law, Federal agencies transfer body armor that is surplus to the needs of the Federal Government to the General Services Administration, which then donates the property to State and local agencies. Permitting Federal law enforcement agencies to donate surplus body armor directly to State and local agencies would not affect the Federal budget.

H.R. 1007 would impose a private-sector mandate as defined by UMRA on persons who have been convicted of certain violent felony offenses. The legislation would require such persons to obtain prior written certification from their employer indicating that their purchase, use, and possession of body armor are necessary for the safe performance of lawful business activity. The cost to obtain a written certification would be minimal. CBO estimates, therefore, that the direct cost of the mandate would fall well below the annual threshold established by UMRA for private-sector mandates ($113 million in 2001, adjusted annually for inflation).

On May 15, 2001, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for S. 166, the James Guelff and Chris McCurley Body Armor Act of 2001, as passed by the Senate on May 14, 2001. The two pieces of legislation are identical, as are the cost estimates.

The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Mark Grabowicz (for Federal costs), who can be reached at 226-2860, and Paige Piper/Bach (for the private-sector impact), who can be reached at 226-2940. This estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee finds the authority for this legislation in article I, section 8 of the Constitution.

SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION

Section 1. Short Title. The section states that the act may be cited as the `James Guelff and Chris McCurley Body Armor Act of 2001.'

Section 2. Findings. Congress finds that (1) nationally, police officers and ordinary citizens are facing increased danger as criminals use more deadly weaponry, body armor, and other sophisticated assault gear; (2) crime at the local level is exacerbated by the interstate movement of body armor and other assault gear; (3) there is a traffic in body armor moving in or otherwise affecting interstate commerce, and existing Federal controls over such traffic do not adequately enable the States to control this traffic within their own borders through the exercise of their police power; (4) recent incidents, such as the murder of San Francisco Police Officer James Guelff by an assailant wearing two layers of body armor, a 1997 bank shoot out in north Hollywood, California, between police and two heavily armed suspects outfitted in body armor, and the 1997 murder of Captain Chris McCurley of the Etowah County, Alabama Drug Task Force by a drug dealer shielded by protective body armor, demonstrate the serious threat to community safety posed by criminals who wear body armor during the commission of a violent crime; (5) of the approximately 1,200 officers killed in the line of duty since 1980, more than 30 percent could have been saved by body armor, and the risk of dying from gunfire is 14 times higher for an officer without a bulletproof vest; (6) the Department of Justice has estimated that 25 percent of State and local police are not issued body armor; (7) the Federal Government is well-equipped to grant local police departments access to body armor that is no longer needed by Federal agencies; and (8) Congress has the power, under the interstate commerce clause and other provisions of the Constitution of the United States, to enact legislation to regulate interstate commerce that affects the integrity and safety of our communities.

Section 3. Definitions. Section 3 of the bill defines the terms `body armor,' `law enforcement agency' and `law enforcement officer' as used in the bill.

Section 4. Amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines. Section 4 of the bill directs the United States Sentencing Commission to review and amend the Federal sentencing guidelines to provide an appropriate sentencing enhancement for any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime that provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) in which the defendant used body armor. This section also expresses the sense of Congress that any sentencing enhancement should be at least two levels.

Section 5. Prohibition of Purchase, Use, or Possession of Body Armor by Violent Felons. This section amends chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by violent felons. Specifically, this section would add a new Section 931 which would make it unlawful for a person to purchase, own, or possess body armor, if that person has been convicted of a felony that is a crime of violence or an offense under State law that would constitute a crime of violence if it occurred within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Anyone who knowingly violates this section shall be fined, imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both.

An affirmative defense to a violation of this section is provided if a defendant has obtained prior written certification from his or her employer that the defendant's purchase, use, or possession of body armor was necessary for the safe performance of lawful business activity and the use and possession by the defendant were limited to the course of such performance. The term `employer' is defined as any other individual employed by the defendant's business that supervises defendant's activity. If that defendant has no supervisor, prior written certification is acceptable from any other employee of the business.

Section 6. Donation of Federal Surplus Body Armor to State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies. This section allows the head of a Federal agency to donate body armor directly to any State or local law enforcement agency, if such body armor is in serviceable condition, is surplus property, and meets or exceeds the requirements of the National Institute of Justice Standards. The head of a Federal agency who donates body armor under this section shall submit to the Administrator of General Services a written notice identifying the amount of body armor donated and each State or local law enforcement agency that received the body armor. For the purposes of this section, the Administrator of the DEA, the Director of the FBI, the Commissioner of the INS, the Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Director of the ATF, the Commissioner of Customs, and the Director of the Secret Service may act as the head of a Federal agency.

This section also provides that the United States shall not be liable for any harm occurring in connection with the use or misuse of any body armor donated under this section.

CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

TITLE 18, UNITED STATES CODE

* * * * * * *

PART I--CRIMES

* * * * * * *

CHAPTER 44--FIREARMS

Sec.
921. Definitions.
* * * * * * *
931. Prohibition on purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by violent felons.

Sec. 921. Definitions

* * * * * * *

* * * * * * *

Sec. 924. Penalties

* * * * * * *

* * * * * * *

Sec. 931. Prohibition on purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by violent felons

* * * * * * *

MARKUP TRANSCRIPT

BUSINESS MEETING

TUESDAY, JULY 24, 2001

House of Representatives,

Committee on the Judiciary,

--Washington, DC.

The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:03 a.m., in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The Committee will be in order. A working quorum is present.

The next item on the agenda is H.R. 1007, the `James Guelff Body Armor Act of 2001.'

[The bill, H.R. 1007, follows:]

HR1007A.eps

HR1007B.eps

HR1007C.eps

HR1007D.eps

HR1007E.eps

HR1007F.eps

HR1007G.eps

HR1007H.eps

HR1007I.eps

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith, for purposes of a motion.

Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. Mr. Chairman, the Subcommittee on Crime reports favorably the bill H.R. 1007, with a single amendment in the nature of a substitute, and moves its favorable recommendation to the full House and asks unanimous consent to have my statement made a part of the record.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith follows:]

Prepared Statement of the Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas

Body armor was created for one fundamental reason--to protect the individuals who risk their lives protecting the citizens of this country. Unfortunately, bulletproof body armor is finding its way into the hands of violent criminals, placing countless lives at risk.

H.R. 1007 was named for San Francisco Police Officer James Guelff who was gunned down in 1994 by an assailant shielded by two layers of body armor, a cache of assault weapons and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition. James Guelff, a highly decorated ten year veteran, was the first to respond to the scene and returned fire, but the bullets could not penetrate the gunman's kevlar vest and bullet-proof helmet. Because of the body armor, this one gunman was able to hold off 120 police officers for over half an hour.

Unfortunately, this scenario is not unique. There have been several other similar shootings across the country including the North Hollywood, California shootout in 1997 where eleven officers were wounded despite both perpetrators being hit a total of 33 times by police gunfire. Those two gunmen held off 350 police officers for over an hour before the shooting ended.

Another problem facing our officers today is the availability of body armor for their own protection. The Department of Justice has estimated that 25 percent of State and local police are not issued body armor. Furthermore, of the approximately 1,200 officers killed in the line of duty since 1980, more than 30 percent could have been saved by body armor.

H.R. 1007 addresses these problems by prohibiting the purchase, ownership, or possession of body armor by convicted violent felons. The bill also directs the United States Sentencing Commission to review and amend the Federal sentencing guidelines to provide an appropriate enhancement for any crime of violence or drug trafficking in which the defendant used body armor. Furthermore, the bill seeks to provide additional protection to America's law enforcement officers by allowing the head of a Federal agency to donate body armor that is surplus property.

Body armor should be used to protect police officers as they perform their daily duties, not to protect violent criminals committing violent acts. I support the bill and urge my colleagues to support it as well.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection, the statements of all Members will be included in the record.

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection, the bill will be considered as read and open for amendment at any point.

The Subcommittee amendment in the nature of a substitute, which the Members have before them, will be considered as read and considered as the original text for purposes of an amendment.

[The amendment follows:]

amend.AAB

amend.AAC

amend.AAD

amend.AAE

amend.AAF

amend.AAG

amend.AAH

amend.AAI

AMENDJ.eps

Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The question is on the adoption of the Subcommittee amendment in the nature of a substitute.

Those in favor will signify by saying aye.

Those opposed, no.

The ayes appear to have it. The ayes have it, and the Subcommittee amendment in the nature of a substitute is agreed to.

The Chair notes the presence of a reporting quorum. The question occurs on the motion to report the bill H.R. 1007 favorably, as amended by the amendment in the nature of a substitute.

All those in favor will signify by saying aye.

Opposed, no.

The ayes appear to have it. The ayes have it, and the bill is favorably reported.

Without objection, the Chair is authorized to move to go to conference pursuant to House rules.

Without objection, the staff is directed to make any technical and conforming changes, and all Members will be given 2 days, pursuant to House rules, in which to submit additional dissenting supplemental or minority views.



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