“Common sense” gun laws seem to be all the rage among gun prohibitionists…and I am all for it! Unfortunately, “common” sense seems to be in very short supply, particularly when it comes to gun laws. I don’t think it means what you think it means.
For example, what sense does it make that I can purchase a handgun only in my state of residence? This is particularly frustrating for me, as I live in very close proximity to two other states, and travel between them several days each week. It is one big metro area, and crossing back and forth is routine.
But if a gun shop across the river offers a great sale price on a pistol I’ve been looking for, I can’t just run over there and buy it. Why not?
Because of the Gun Control Act of 1968, that’s why. This law created the Federal Firearms License system, and introduced a myriad of restrictions on interstate sales, ostensibly intended to keep prohibited persons from evading the few background check restrictions of the time.
But that was 1968, and this is 2013. November 30th marks twenty years since the passing of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which requires a background check be performed on every commercial firearm transfer. To accomplish this the Brady Act also established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, commonly referred to as “NICS.”
Under this system, you go to a gun shop (only in your home state) and pick out your new handgun. The dealer hands you a copy of ATF Form 4473 to complete. Once you have filled out the form, the dealer will take your payment for the gun (plus an additional fee for the background check), and initiate the NICS check with the FBI, either by phone or by internet. While it may not exactly be “instant,” in most cases this electronic inquiry takes only minutes. By law, the FBI must respond within three days, or the seller is permitted to proceed with the sale.
These checks are performed by the FBI, pulling from a national database. The NICS check I would undergo to buy a Glock 19 in a shop in my state of residence is no different than the NICS check I would undergo to buy the same pistol at a gun shop in a neighboring state, only 30 minutes from my home.
Exact same gun. Exact same NICS check. One sale is legal, the other is illegal…simply because I live in one state and not the other. What “common sense” does that make? If you answered that it makes no sense whatsoever, go to the head of the class.
But don’t stop there. Go ahead and call your Congressman and your Senators, and tell them to support H.R. 58/S. 1691, The Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act. This is real common sense legislation which would move interstate gun sales out of 1968 and into 2013, by taking advantage of technology to remove outdated impediments to lawful firearms sales.
Common sense? Fine. But let’s make sure that “common sense” is what we really mean.