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Resolution Calling For Passage of Ban on Private Firearm Transfers Back on Harris County Commissioners' Agenda

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Resolution Calling For Passage of Ban on Private Firearm Transfers Back on Harris County Commissioners' Agenda

Dear Harris County NRA Member:

Precinct Two Commissioner Adrian Garcia has requested AGAIN that the Harris County Commission discuss and consider a resolution supporting so-called “universal” background checks on all firearm sales this coming Tuesday, November 12.  He had previously pulled his item from the Commission's late October agenda, but now it is back on!

Gun control advocates have been relentlessly pushing this issue in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and as part of their national radical anti-gun agenda.

This would put the most populous county in Texas on record as supporting a California-style ban on all private firearm sales – including those between family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, hunting buddies and fellow gun club members.  While the resolution would not have the force and effect of law, it would call on the U.S. Congress and your Texas Legislature to adopt legislation that requires these transfers be conducted through a federal firearms licensed dealer, which would include extensive federal paperwork, a criminal record check and payment of an undetermined fee.  This type of law unduly burdens law-abiding citizens, would be ignored by criminals and is unenforceable without gun registration.

Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting is open to the public and begins at 10:00am in the Commissioners Courtroom, located at 1001 Preston Street, Suite 934 in Houston.  It is critical that you turn out for this meeting and voice your opposition to this ineffective, intrusive and unenforceable proposal.

If you wish to speak at the meeting, you must complete the online appearance request form found at:

https://appearancerequest.harriscountytx.gov/ and note in the subject matter line: Resolution on Universal Background Checks on ALL Firearms Sales.

If you cannot attend Tuesday’s meeting, please contact Harris County Commissioners and tell them you OPPOSE this resolution.  Contact information for commissioners can be found here (be sure to include the County Judge in your emails and phone calls): www.harriscountytx.gov/County-Judge-and-Commissioners/Harris-County-Elected-Officials

For information on why you need to oppose a ban on all private firearm transfers, please read below:

WHY YOU SHOULD OPPOSE A BAN ON PRIVATE FIREARMS TRANSFERS (AKA “UNIVERSAL” BACKGROUND CHECKS)

Imagine being forced to pay fees as high as $50-$100, complete extensive federal paperwork, and obtain government approval before selling or loaning your personally-owned firearms to immediate or extended family members, longtime friends, neighbors and co-workers, or fellow hunters, competitive shooters and gun club members.

That's what so-called "universal background check" laws do.  They turn innocent conduct into a criminal offense.  They target law-abiding gun owners, but not criminals who will scoff at any restriction, including new or expanded background check laws.

In their worst form, these laws mandate background checks on EVERY transfer, sale, purchase, trade, gift, rental, and loan of a firearm between any and all individuals.  All such transactions would need to be conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer because private individuals cannot access the national instant criminal background check system (NICS) system. 

It is ALREADY a federal felony to be engaged in the business of buying and selling firearms, for livelihood and profit, without having a federal firearm dealers license.

It is ALREADY a crime for a federally licensed dealer to sell a gun without doing a background check – that's all dealers, everywhere, including at retail stores, gun shows, flea markets or anywhere else.

Further, it is ALREADY a federal felony for any private person to sell, trade, give, lend, rent or transfer a gun to a person you know or should have known is not legally allowed to own, purchase or possess a firearm.  State law also provides penalties for similar unlawful conduct.

The penalty for selling a gun to a person who is a felon, mentally ill, mentally incompetent, a domestic abuser, or an alcohol or drug abuser is a 10-year federal felony.  That's now, today, with no changes to the law.

It is even a federal felony to submit false information on a background check form for the purpose of purchasing a firearm. 

According to a September 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 112,090 people were turned down for a gun purchase in FY 2017 and there were 12 prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys Offices as of June 2018.  Why, when criminals are caught in the act of lying on the form to illegally attempt to purchase a firearm, are they not prosecuted?  Why, when existing background check laws are not being enforced, are there calls for expanding those laws to cover private firearms transactions?

As Texas politicians wade into this divisive issue, it’s instructive to look at other states’ experiences with similar laws.  California always provides one of the most striking examples of failed gun control policies, including expanded background checks. 

In fact, a 2018 study by UC Davis – conducted by noted anti-gun researchers -- determined that California’s universal background check law had no impact on gun homicide or suicide rates.  Read that again – no impact on homicide or suicide rates.

But let’s look at a few other states which have adopted so-called “universal background check” laws.

A 2017 study by gun control researchers looked at “universal background check” laws in Colorado and Washington State.  They found that the laws had “little measurable effect” after they were passed.   Further, there wasn’t much difference in the number of background checks that were done after the laws went into effect as compared with the estimated number expected without the law.  This was most likely attributable to noncompliance and lack of enforcement.  (Washington State did not even have its first charge brought for a violation of that state’s law until after it had been in effect for almost two years.)

Gun control advocates claim overwhelming public support for so-called “universal background check” laws.  Yet, voters in Maine defeated an Everytown-backed November 2016 ballot initiative to require background checks on private gun sales and transfers in that state, and Nevada voters only approved a similar measure by less than one percent of the vote, despite Michael Bloomberg’s national gun control organization spending $20M on that effort.  Once gun owners and the public become educated on exactly what such a proposal means and how it will impact them, opposition grows significantly. 

So-called “universal background checks” are ineffective, intrusive, and unpopular when explained beyond a sound-bite.  But -- perhaps worst of all -- they are UNENFORCEABLE without a firearms registration scheme.  A 2013 internal U.S. Department of Justice memo summarizing so-called violence prevention strategies stated that the effectiveness of background checks depends on “requiring gun registration.”  That, of course, is what this is all about.   

This particular gun control agenda item focuses on peaceable citizens, not violent criminals who obtain guns on the black-market to carry out unspeakable crimes already prohibited under federal and state laws.  Instead of stopping crime and eliminating criminal conduct, they are targeting you.

That's why NRA members need to oppose and fight these misguided proposals that have nothing whatsoever to do with curbing criminal violence but everything to do with stripping us of our guaranteed civil rights and our freedom.

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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.