A bad gun bill

An aide to Congressman Peter Rodino voices the sentiments of many Americans when he says that the House should not be stampeded in holding hearings on a gun control law now working its way through the US Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved that legislation - the so-called McClure-Volkmer bill - by a 13-3 vote. The McClure-Volkmer bill does have some beneficial aspects. But it would also gut the landmark 1968 Gun Control Act.

On the one hand, the measure would provide for a 14-day waiting period during which a potential handgun buyer could be subjected to a criminal records check. The measure would also extend the minimum federal prison sentence for using a handgun in the commission of a crime from one to two years.

On the other hand, the Senate bill would:

* Allow mail order sales now barred.

* Allow for the private sale of handguns by dealers, now prohibited.

* Totally exempt many retailers and dealers from registration procedures.

A memo circulated within the Reagan administration reportedly argues that the bill would represent a ''serious setback for law enforcement and for the safety of our citizens. . . .'' The administration, however, continues to support the measure.

Surely, after all the tragedies of recent years resulting from gun misuse, is there any reason to emasculate the Gun Control Act of 1968? The House Judiciary Committee would be amply justified in proceeding very slowly in considering such a dubious measure.

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