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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. V - Page 118« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of J. Edgar Hoover)

Mr. Hoover.
Speaker and President pro tempore, in other words, the line of succession under the Constitution but not below that.
(Discussion off the record.)
Mr. Hoover.
Second, furnish the Secret Service authority to request assistance and cooperation from other U.S. agencies including the military, particularly in connection with foreign travel.
Now, my reason for that is that sometimes requests for assistance have to clear through red-tape channels here at Washington through some high official of Government. If an emergency arises abroad, or even in this country, it may be of such character that you do not have time to telephone back to Washington or to telephone back to the Pentagon. Aid ought to be immediately available by calling on the local authorities and the nearest military authority.
Third, improve control of the sale of firearms requiring as a minimum registration of every firearm sold together with adequate identification of the purchaser. The problem of firearms control is under extensive debate, in both the House and Senate at the present time.
The gun that Oswald used was bought by mail order from a mail-order house in Chicago, no license for it, no permit for it, no checkup on it. The only way we were able to trace it was to find out where in this country that Italian-made gun was sold. We found the company in Chicago and later the mail-order slip that had been sent by Oswald to Chicago to get the gun. Now, there are arguments, of course----
Mr. Dulles.
In a false name.
Mr. Hoover.
In a false name.
There is argument, of course, that by passing firearms legislation you are going to take the privilege of hunting away from the sportsmen of the country. I don't share that view with any great degree of sympathy because you have to get a license to drive an automobile and you have to get a license to have a dog, and I see no reason why a man shouldn't be willing, if he is a law-abiding citizen, to have a license to get a firearm whether it be a rifle or revolver or other firearm.
It is not going to curtail his exercise of shooting for sport because the police make a check of his background. If he is a man who is entitled to a gun, a law-abiding citizen, a permit will be granted.
Of course, today firearms control is practically negligible, and I think some steps should be taken along that line.
Fourth, a ban on picketing within the vicinity of the White House as is now done at the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court. Some of these pickets are well-meaning and law-abiding individuals, some are for peace and some are more or less dedicated Communists.
Representative Boggs.
It is illegal to picket a Federal court now, Mr. Director, I happen to be the author of that law.
Mr. Hoover.
Yes; I am glad you had that law passed. Of course, they picket public buildings, they march around the Department of Justice Building, now and then, but the principal places they prefer to go are the Supreme Court Building, the Capitol and its grounds and the White House.
I think such picketing at the White House, of large or small groups, should be forbidden. I think at the White House they tried to get the pickets to walk across the street along Lafayette Park. That at least takes them away from being close to the gates at the White House. I think there ought to be some control. Picketing, of course, is legitimate if it is orderly. Many times it doesn't continue to be orderly, and sometimes pickets, as in this city, have thrown themselves on the pavement and the police have to come and pick them up or drag them away. Then, of course, the charge is made of brutality right away.
Delegations of colored groups have visited me and asked why I don't arrest a police officer for hitting some Negro whom he is arresting in a sit-in strike, lay-in strike or demonstration in some southern cities.
We have no authority to make an arrest of that kind. Under the authority the Bureau has we have to submit those complaints to the Department of Justice and if they authorize us to make an arrest we will do it.
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