Hey there reader. I hope you’re doing great. President Barack Obama announced his New Years resolution for 2016: background checks on gun purchases. Mr. Obama will tackle this unfinished business in a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday, January 4. Their goal: to reduce and prevent gun deaths via national background checks, closing the private gun seller loophole and expanding the definition of being “engaged in the sale” of guns. I think this is a great idea: background checks are simple, affordable and popular.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 required firearm dealers to obtain a Federal Firearm License and check the backgrounds of gun-buyers. The Brady Handgun Bill of 1993 enhanced established the National Instant Criminal Background Check database system, NICS. The ATF enforces the GCA, the FBI utilizes NICS.
The GCA didn’t include language about unlicensed private gun sellers. And unlicensed private sellers don’t utilize the background check system. Licensed sellers on the other hand have to have a premises to conduct business and have to store their guns for sale there. And conduct background checks on their customers. There is a black market for privately sold guns in America, and the customers are people who failed the background check process or would fail if their backgrounds were checked.
There are an estimated 320 million guns in America. No real numbers exist on how many guns were obtained without a background check via private gun sales, but I’ve read it’s between 20 and 35 percent. Gun-buyers who would fail the background check go to private sellers, gun conventions, Craigslist, armslist.com, family or friends to get their guns, circumventing the GCA and NICS. Or they steal them. There is also the straw-purchase, where a friend tags along with a customer to a gun sale. The customer buys the gun, passes the background check and the friend buys it from the customer later on.
The NRA often uses a scenario where a widow, trying to privately sell her husband’s guns would be blocked by the GCA and NICS regulations. But if this actually happened, the widow could still go to a licensed dealer and sell her deceased husband’s guns or have the dealer run background checks on the gun-buyer.
The President is doing the right thing: background checks are popular. 83 percent of gun owners support background checks, 79 percent want action. The background check system is affordable, expeditious and simple. Congress on the other hand has done little or nothing in terms of gun control since Columbine happened in 1999. They let the assault weapons ban expire in 2004 and left gun control up to Presidents Bush, Obama or individual States when they could have fixed the private seller loophole long ago. Hopefully, Mr. Obama will fix the loophole with an executive order and give the people what they want.