We need Universal Background Checks because there is a very large loophole in the existing federal law that allows dangerous people to obtain possession of a gun.

When the Supreme Court ruled that the possession of a gun for personal protection was a constitutional right under the Second Amendment, they also ruled that several classes of people could be denied this right. Among the prohibited classes of people are felons and the seriously mentally ill. Almost everyone agrees that these are limited and reasonable restrictions on the right to own a gun.

In order to ensure that these prohibited people cannot obtain a gun, the FBI maintains the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Before selling a gun, a Federally Licensed Firearm Dealer is required to check with the NICS to make sure that the buyer is not on the prohibited list. Filling out the paperwork and checking with the NICS takes only a few minutes and 90% of the inquiries are resolved while the gun dealer is still on the phone. This system is quick and efficient and, since its creation in 1998, it has prevented the sale of guns to over two million criminals and other prohibited persons. The problem is that there is a large loophole in the system. It applies only to licensed dealers.

Under federal law, private sales or transfers of guns between individuals who are not licensed dealers are not covered. Sales at gun shows, between individuals, or via the internet can result in the gun being sold to a prohibited individual because no background check is required. This is a huge loophole in the federal law and it needs to be fixed.

The fix is simple. All gun sales should be subject to a background check. The rule that applies to licensed dealers should apply to all gun sales. This is what is we mean by Universal Background Checks. 

With rights come responsibilities. Although the primary owner of a gun undergoes a background check when the gun is initially purchased from a licensed dealer, the secondary buyer of that gun may not. Just as we are at risk from second-hand smoke from cigarettes, we are also at risk of being shot by a “second-hand gun.” 

 Eighty-five percent of voters and 60 percent of NRA members support universal background checks.

It is a reasonable and simple request. 

There are three pieces of legislation pending at a federal level that could help reduce gun violence:

S. 551/ H.R. 1076, which would prevent individuals on the Terrorist Watch List from purchasing and owning firearms.

S. 2934/H.R. 3411, which would require that background checks be conducted on all private sales of firearms.

H.R. 4269, which would renew and strengthen the federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was in place from 1996-2006.

Gun Responsibility Advocates is a local volunteer citizens group dedicated to promoting common-sense regulation of firearms. For more information, visit our Facebook page or www.oakparkGRA.weebly.com.

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