Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT SO-CALLED "UNIVERSAL" BACKGROUND CHECK LEGISLATION H.R. 8 AND S. 42

As proposed, H.R. 8 and S. 42 would forbid a person from transferring a firearm to another person unless facilitated through a licensed firearms dealer.  Both parties to the transfer must appear jointly at a willing dealer, who must conduct a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and comply with all state and federal requirements as though he were selling or transferring a firearm out of his own inventory.  

While proponents of the bills often refer to it as a background check on sales of firearms, the true effect of H.R. 8 or S. 42 would be criminalizing otherwise lawful conduct with firearms. The overbroad nature of the proposed legislation would criminalize many transfers that take place as part of hunting, recreational shooting, and even self-defense.

While some differences between H.R. 8 and S. 42 do exist, their overall effect on law-abiding Americans would be the same.

CURRENT LAW

The law regarding sales and transfers of firearms generally follows the sales of most regulated products in the United States.  Commercial sales are heavily regulated, but incidental sales and transfers by persons not in the business of selling firearms are not subject to some of these regulations.

Current federal law requires that “dealers” of firearms hold a federal firearms license and that any person who acquires a firearm from a dealer passes a background check that includes an inquiry of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”).

In addition to the federal requirements on licensed dealers, current federal and state law prohibits anyone from knowingly transferring a firearm to a prohibited person or to a person who is a resident of another state.

ABOUT H.R. 8/S. 42

 On January 8, two bills were introduced in Congress to impose so-called "universal" background checks. The bills, H.R. 8 and S. 42, are being misleadingly described as simply requiring background checks on all sales of firearms, but this is just a small part of what these overbroad pieces of legislation would do.

Traps for Law-Abiding Gun Owners

Both bills would make it a crime, subject to certain exceptions, to simply hand a firearm to another person. Any time gun owners carry out this simple act, they would potentially be exposing themselves to criminal penalties. While the bills do create some exceptions, they are overly complicated and create many traps for unwary gun owners. Accidental violations of these complicated provisions are not excused under the proposed legislation.  

This legislation is not about public safety. These bills attack law-abiding gun owners by placing further burdens on gun ownership and use. For the anti-gun groups and politicians intent on criminalizing the private transfer of firearms, this legislation is just another step in their effort to extinguish America’s vibrant and legitimate gun culture.

Expanded Background Checks Don’t Work

Proponents of so-called “universal” background checks claim that this legislation is the “most important” thing that can be done to stop dangerous people from obtaining firearms. This is a lie. There is no evidence that expanded background checks are useful for this purpose.

Just last year, a study by anti-gun researchers confirmed that expanded background checks in California did not reduce gun homicides or gun suicides.

This finding is consistent with a review of past studies on expanded background checks by the RAND Corporation that found that “evidence of the effect of private-seller background checks on firearm homicides is inconclusive.”

In 2013, the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice researched so-called “universal” background checks and determined that they would be not be effective without further harsh firearms restrictions and efforts to combat straw purchasing.

Criminals are not deterred by background checks. ATF has reported, “[t]he most frequent type of trafficking channel identified in ATF investigations is straw purchasing from federally licensed firearms dealers. Nearly 50 percent ... .” A Chicago-area inmate explained this reality to researchers from the University of Chicago in relation to Illinois’s stringent firearm licensing regime for a 2015 study, stating, “All they need is one person who got a gun card in the ‘hood’ and everybody got one.”

A 2016 Department of Justice survey of “state and federal prisoners who had possessed a firearm during the offense for which they were serving” found that the most common source of prisoner firearms was “Off the street/underground market.” This was defined as “Illegal sources of firearms that include markets for stolen goods, middlemen for stolen goods, criminals or criminal enterprises, or individuals or groups involved in sales of illegal drugs.” Less than one percent had obtained their firearm from a gun show. 

Private transfers would have to be processed by federal firearm licensees (FFL) who could charge high fees or refuse to participate altogether; even people who want to remove firearms from their homes could be hampered from doing so by this bill if they lacked access to a participating FFL.

The End of Many Firearm Transfers and the Beginning of a Firearm Registry

H.R. 8 and S. 42 language states that participation by dealers in private party transfers would be voluntary. Because of the legal conflict and uncertainty, many dealers might refuse to run these checks. Those dealers that are willing, must agree to assume the risk and uncertainty and are likely to demand costly fees for the service.  The language states that the dealer may charge a reasonable fee, but it does not cap or otherwise limit the dealer's discretion in this regard.

Even transfers that do not result in a change of ownership would presumptively have to go through H.R. 8/S. 42 formalities. Thus, dealers would potentially have multiple records of the same firearm changing hands again-and-again, essentially creating a paper trail of everybody who handled the firearm.  The record-keeping burdens on the dealer would be considerable, and the records generated could form the basis for a later registry not just of those who own firearms, but those who merely took possession of one, for any purpose or length of time.

As an advisor to the Obama administration wrote, the effectiveness of a universal background regime "depends on … requiring gun registration…;" this bill weakens protections against using NICS checks to create a registry and sets the stage for future firearm registration requirements.

 

 

Tell members of Congress to oppose "Universal" Background Check Legislation H.R. 8 and S. 42!

Members of the media, U.S. Congress, and anti-gun groups continue to mislead the public on so-called "Universal" Background Checks. Find out what they're claiming, and then find out the truth.

Related
Virginia: General Assembly to Convene July 9th for Special Session on Gun Control

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Virginia: General Assembly to Convene July 9th for Special Session on Gun Control

Despite his failed gun control agenda being soundly defeated early on in the 2019 regular legislative session, Governor ...

The Columbus Dispatch  

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ohio Gun-Control group to propose gun background check ballot measure

Ohio voters may soon see background checks on their ballots. Ohioans for Gun Safety, a grassroots organization that ...

NRA Statement on Virginia Governor's Gun Control Proposals

News  

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

NRA Statement on Virginia Governor's Gun Control Proposals

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action's director of public affairs, Jennifer Baker, released the following statement ...

Chicago Tribune  

Friday, May 31, 2019

What you should know about the gun control legislation awaiting a vote by the Illinois Senate

With Illinois’ legislative session rapidly winding down, Democratic lawmakers were pushing Thursday to secure votes needed to pass ...

NewtownBee  

Friday, May 31, 2019

Presidential Candidate John Hickenlooper Visits Newtown, Talks Gun Control

John Wright Hickenlooper, Jr, United States presidential candidate for 2020, visited the C.H. Booth Library on May 25 ...

IllinoisNPR  

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Fingerprinting For FOID Cards Clears IL House

The legislation would require a one-time submission of fingerprints to get or renew a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) ...

Illinois: House to Consider FOID Fee Increase & Mandatory Fingerprinting

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Illinois: House to Consider FOID Fee Increase & Mandatory Fingerprinting

On May 27th, the Illinois state House Judiciary Committee voted to pass House Floor Amendment 2 and House ...

Democrats Now Opposed to Safe Neighborhoods?

News  

Friday, May 24, 2019

Democrats Now Opposed to Safe Neighborhoods?

Ever since taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats have been waging an unprecedented assault on ...

Union Leader.com  

Thursday, May 23, 2019

In party-line votes, NH Senate passes 3 gun-control bills

The state Senate approved three gun control measures Thursday along strict, party-line votes,  closing a background-check loophole, imposing ...

Minnesota: 2019 Regular Session Ends as Legislature Gears up for Special Session This Week

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Minnesota: 2019 Regular Session Ends as Legislature Gears up for Special Session This Week

Monday night, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned from its 2019 Legislative Session. Though, lawmakers are expected to reconvene later ...

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.