Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Virginia Senator Kaine Introduces Bill to Turn Innocent Mistakes into Felonies

Friday, September 11, 2015

Virginia Senator Kaine Introduces Bill to Turn Innocent Mistakes into Felonies

On Tuesday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced what he is calling the “Responsible Transfer of Firearms Act.”  As The Hill amusingly noted, “It is the latest gun bill introduced by Democrats that is unlikely to pass through a Republican-controlled Congress.”  And with good reason.  Sen. Kaine’s current anti-gun effort is incomprehensible and unconstitutional.  And that, unfortunately, is not a laughing matter.

Current law prohibits transferring a firearm to a person “knowing or having reasonable cause to believe” that the person falls into one of the federally prohibited categories.  Appropriately, the prosecution has to prove the transferor knew or had reason to know of the recipient’s prohibited status.  The law, of course, does not presume that everyone who seeks to acquire a firearm has a criminal record or intends to use the firearm for a criminal purpose, nor does it require those who transfer firearms to make this presumption.

Under Sen. Kaine’s bill, however, a person would be held strictly liable for transferring a firearm to a prohibited person, unless he or she could somehow demonstrate having “taken reasonable steps to determine that the recipient [was] not legally barred from possessing firearms or ammunition ….”  Just what those steps are, however, is not specified in the bill.  Thus, a person would be risking a federal felony with every firearm transfer, unless he or she adhered to an unwritten code of conduct that could shift with every circumstance.

Sen. Kaine is presumably aware that all dealers are already federally required to run background checks for retail sales.  Nevertheless, according to The Hill, “Kaine blamed loose gun laws for allowing firearms dealers to sell guns to people who are prohibited from owning them.”

Apparently, then, Kaine contemplates some further duty to which gun dealers would be held accountable, even for customers who pass the mandatory background checks.  But what is it?  Is he suggesting, for example, that dealers profile their customers on the basis of race, age, sex, religion, appearance, or some other characteristic?  Would the sales of certain types of firearms require more due diligence than others?

Similarly, the bill does not explicitly make background checks mandatory for all private sales, but conversely, even obtaining a background check before such a transfer might not be enough, at least in some cases.  Gaps in the background check system itself could be the bases for criminal liability under the bill, should the transferor rely on a faulty “proceed,” rather than on some unknown cue an antigun official later determined should have been discernible.

Ultimately, the bill seems designed to do nothing so much as to scare people from transferring firearms to anybody with whom they are not very closely associated.  Hidden facts about long-term neighbors – a long ago commitment for an eating disorder, for example – could spell the difference between an innocent act and a federal felony.  Importantly, the penalty would attach, whether or not the recipient of the firearm ever did anything harmful or illegal with it.

Of course, nothing in the bill would discourage criminals from transferring firearms to each other, as they routinely do already in complete defiance of existing law.  Indeed, we recently reported on a study out of Chicago that found persons in jail who had illegally possessed a firearm most often said they obtained it from trusted family members or associates.  They weren’t willing to risk law enforcement stings by obtaining guns from people they didn’t know.  Nothing about Sen. Kaine’s bill would change any of that.

As The Hill notes, the bill is likely to go nowhere in the current Congress.  Even if it did, it would fail the constitutional requirement that the law adequately apprise the public of what sort of actions are prohibited.

Yet Sen. Kaine’s effort well illustrates the increasingly radicalized gun control lobby, to which “niceties” like constitutionality and fundamental fairness are irrelevant.  Sen. Kaine simply wants to identify himself as being in league with the president and high dollar political donors on gun control.  On that point, at least, we’re happy to help him spread the message.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Virginia Tim Kaine
TRENDING NOW
Biden Reiterates Call to Ban 9mm Handguns

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

Biden Reiterates Call to Ban 9mm Handguns

During a July 21 CNN “presidential town hall,” Joe Biden expressed his support for a ban on commonly-owned handguns. Responding to a question about the recent increase in violent crime, the career politician stated,

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Great Expectations, Empty Promises: Gun Control in Washington State

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

Great Expectations, Empty Promises: Gun Control in Washington State

For years, voters in the Evergreen State have been assured that if only they approve certain gun control ballot initiatives, they would “save lives” and reduce crime. The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), the organization pushing ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

How Anti-Gun Research Works

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

How Anti-Gun Research Works

The objective world mistrusts most gun policy research because it’s clear the objective is to produce an anti-gun outcome rather than honest analysis. Politicians and professional activists claim the mantle of evidence but will ignore ...

St. Louis Prosecutor Kim Gardner Ignores Violent Crime While Playing Politics with Gun Owners

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

St. Louis Prosecutor Kim Gardner Ignores Violent Crime While Playing Politics with Gun Owners

Similar to many other urban areas of the country, St. Louis saw a dramatic increase in homicide in 2020. The Gateway to the West’s homicide rate per 100 thousand residents exploded from 64.5 in 2019 to 87.2 in 2020. The homicide ...

ATF Targets Pistol Stabilizing Braces in New Rulemaking

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

ATF Targets Pistol Stabilizing Braces in New Rulemaking

On June 7th, ATF published a new notice of proposed rulemaking on its website...

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

DOJ has made clear that Garland’s selective definition of “civil rights” has no room for the Second Amendment...

Canada’s Gun Confiscation Scheme: Still More Questions than Answers

News  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Canada’s Gun Confiscation Scheme: Still More Questions than Answers

On June 29, Yves Giroux, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer, released a report on the estimated cost of implementing the firearm confiscation (“buyback”) program that is part of the sweeping Order-in-Council announced by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ...

Comments on ATF’s New “Frame or Receiver” Rule Now Open

News  

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Comments on ATF’s New “Frame or Receiver” Rule Now Open

That publication triggered the opening of the proposed rule to public comments. The comment period will remain open until August 19, 2021.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.