March 12, 2021

Background Checks

“The House passed two bills Thursday to require background checks on all firearms sales and transfers and to allow an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases.” AP News

Read the bills here and here.

As you’ll see, each side cites different examples to validate their claims. This 2020 article from the Los Angeles Times gives a breakdown of how different gun laws might have affected the 167 mass shootings that have occurred in the US since 1966 had they been in place, and this 2019 article from AP News details the ways recent mass shooters acquired their weapons. We think they’ll be useful as you read the quotes below. Los Angeles Times, AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports the bills, arguing that they would save lives and do not unduly burden 2nd Amendment rights.

The issue polls extremely well — a Gallup poll from 2018 found that 92 percent of respondents favored universal background checks. Polling from Everytown and the gun control advocacy and research organization Giffords conducted after the 2020 election found that 93 percent of Americans want universal background checks — including ‘strong’ support from 64 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of gun owners…

“There’s no shortage of examples of mass shootings in which the shooter acquired their gun without a background check, including the 2019 shooting in West Texas. In addition, passing universal background checks would raise the minimum requirements for states, bringing them to an equal playing field — which is critical for a problem like gun violence, in which guns used in crimes are often bought in states that have not strengthened their gun laws past the federal standard… Illinois, for example, has relatively strong gun laws, but a 2017 City of Chicago report found that 60 percent of crime guns come from out-of-state.”
Gabby Birenbaum, Vox

“In states that go beyond federal law and require universal background checks, gun homicide rates are 10% lower than in the rest of the country… Congress should vote on additional steps to improve background checks, including closing the so-called boyfriend loophole, which gives people convicted of domestic abuse easier access to guns if they aren’t married to the victim. Another legislative priority should be expanding extreme-risk protection orders to all 50 states, which would allow authorities to temporarily disarm people who pose a risk to themselves or others.”
Editorial Board, Bloomberg

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) writes, “Today, 90 percent of background checks are completed within minutes. Ninety-seven percent are done within three days. My legislation gives law enforcement agencies the time needed to complete the small number of background checks that may, for whatever reason, be more complicated. If it’s still not resolved within 10 days, the purchaser may take an easy online step to petition the FBI to expedite the check…

“Evidence shows that sales occurring with incomplete background checks are four times more likely to involve a prohibited purchaser. In an average year, about 4,000 prohibited purchasers slip through the loophole. That number exploded to an estimated 7,500 last year… This week, as the House passes H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, I ask us to think about what is at stake.”
James Clyburn, The Hill

“Rep. Mike Thompson, D-[CA], is a gun owner, a hunter and a defender of Second Amendment rights. He also is a firm believer that he and other responsible gun owners have nothing to fear from background checks that keep firearms out of the hands of felons and others who pose an established threat to public safety…

“In his pitch on the House floor, Thompson took on the gun-lobby disinformation, point by point. HR8 does not create a national gun registry; it explicitly forbids one. It does not prevent someone from giving a gun to a [close] family member or [lending] a gun to a friend to go hunting — both are allowed…

“What it does prevent are unvetted purchases at gun shows, online or in person-to-person deals. ‘We know that universal background checks work,’ Thompson said, explaining that ‘every day’ the existing laws stop 160 felons and 50 domestic abusers from obtaining a deadly weapon… Senators, take a stand for public safety over the fear and lies that have prevailed for too long.”
Editorial Board, San Francisco Chronicle

From the Right

The right opposes the bills, arguing that additional background checks would not have prevented most mass shootings and unduly burden 2nd Amendment rights.

The right opposes the bills, arguing that additional background checks would not have prevented most mass shootings and unduly burden 2nd Amendment rights.

“The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 would extend background check delay periods to up to 30 days and put the onus on law-abiding citizens to prove their innocence to the government. The government wouldn’t be so brazen as to require a citizen to prove he or she can exercise a constitutional right if it were any other fundamental civil liberty…

“The horrific tragedies gun control groups point to for their universal background check arguments ring hollow too. The tragedy in Newtown, Conn. began with that murderer stealing his mother’s firearm. The murderer in Aurora, Colo., passed background checks, as did the murderers in the incidents in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Parkland, Florida. What’s needed isn’t more background checks, but better background checks that make sure all disqualifying information and adequate resources are submitted to the FBI when appropriate.”
Lawrence Keane, The Federalist

“HR 1446 is based on a false premise relating to the Charleston massacre… The FBI didn’t need more days to accurately identify the murderous prohibited possessor in their custody, they needed competent protocol for verifying applicants (the district judge in the case blasted the FBI for disallowing Google searches to confirm the arresting police department in the Charleston case). Until 2018 NICS was barred from accessing the more comprehensive criminal databases like N-DEx…

“Current law also doesn’t require social security numbers to process [background checks], yet were you to apply for a job you’d be required to provide [your] social for a more thorough background check. Changing these two things wouldn’t require the additional delay of your right with any waiting period.”
Dana Loesch, Substack

“In reality, local prosecutors had failed to respond to the FBI’s request for information about Dylann Roof’s case. It was a case of human error, or perhaps negligence, but that doesn’t make it a ‘loophole.’ No ambiguity or inadequacy exists in the law simply because a mistake has undermined it…

“The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) processed more background checks this year than any year in history — and it wasn’t even close. The FBI doesn’t need ten days to run those checks, and it didn’t need ten days in 2015, either. Rather, it needed states and localities to enter criminal-possession charges into its system. The three-day provision exists to ensure that the government… does not begin arbitrarily delaying Americans the chance to use their Second Amendment rights. Indeed, it was explicitly written into the law for that purpose.”
David Harsanyi, National Review

“It’s not as if there hasn’t been some GOP support for expanding background checks; Pat Toomey, for instance, tried to get a compromise bill across the finish line a few years ago on background checks but came up six votes short on the filibuster. That, however, was limited to gun shows and online sales; it had a specific exception for private sales between private citizens. HR8 would force those transactions to take place through a federally licensed firearms dealer, even to borrow a gun or rifle [except from a close family member]…

“The bigger question is whether House Democrats wanted progress on background checks more than they wanted a fundraising stunt. If they wanted progress, they could have just floated Toomey’s old proposal, which might have gotten a few more Republican votes in both chambers. Instead, they opted for a stunt bill with zero chance of passage in the Senate.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

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