Redding Vice mayor and the owner of a gun shop Patrick Jones, right, shows a customer, John Robinson of Redding a shotgun in his store, February 19, 2013. Shasta County has the highest per-capita rate of gun background checks of any county in California. California has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws.Photo credit: © Dai Sugano/TNS/ZUMAPRESS.com
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In late March, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation making it easier for authorities to block gun sales to people who cannot legally buy guns but lie about their status on background checks — i.e. “lie and buy.”
The NICS (National Instant Criminal Background System) Denial Notification Act would require federal authorities to tell state law enforcement within 24 hours when those purchasing guns falsify their records in order to close their purchase.
The bill is sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators including Chris Coons (D-DE), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Doug Jones (D-AL).
If the legislation becomes law, it could potentially block gun sales to hundreds of thousands of people who don’t pass background checks but currently slip through the cracks because of poor coordination among enforcement agencies.
The Left Hand and the Right Hand
Currently, 37 states and Washington, DC, rely on the FBI to conduct some or all background checks for public gun purchases, as mandated by the 1993 Brady Bill. The background checks structure was done primarily through the creation of a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). But a lack of communication by those parties often means that local and state officials are not notified when prohibited purchasers fail a background check.
“The American people have called on Congress to act, and the NICS Denial Notification Act is one common sense step we should take. By ensuring that federal and state law enforcement can work together to prevent those who shouldn’t be able to buy a gun from getting one, we can make our communities safer,” Coons said.
“This proposal is a layer of protection to help ensure that people who shouldn’t have access to guns don’t,” Kyleanne Hunter, vice president of programs for the Brady Campaign, told WhoWhatWhy.
Hunter noted other benefits of the bill as well. The lack of enforcement (i.e. proper notification to local law enforcement by the federal government of failed background checks) has led many gun buyers to feel safe, almost cocky, she observed.
“I can lie, I can still get a gun and that’s fine … This act would give more empowerment at the local level to prosecute those that try to lie to purchase a firearm,” Hunter said.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, named after James Brady, former press secretary to President Ronald Reagan, is a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control and against gun violence.
“When someone who is legally barred from owning a firearm tries to buy a gun, it’s both a warning sign and a crime — but in many states, they can walk out of the store scot-free because state law enforcement is never informed of the failed check,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said.
Everytown for Gun Safety is another nonprofit organization advocating for gun control.
Thirteen states currently conduct their own background checks using the NCIS systems and other databases, known as a Full Point of Contact (POC) system. Because these states are more self-sufficient and manage their own background checks, it is estimated that Full-POC states blocked prohibited purchasers from buying guns about 20 percent more frequently than they would have were they Non-POC states.
If the legislation were signed into law, tens or hundreds of thousands of guns could be kept out of the hands of people who legally can’t buy them, Hunter asserted. And while the 37 non-POC states would most likely see the biggest drop in gun-related crimes, they would not be the only ones that benefit.
“In a state like New Jersey that actually does a very good job, the vast majority of guns recovered in crimes come from out of state. They come from states, like Virginia [and] the Carolinas, that are non-POC states. If we are starting to strengthen the non-POC states, it is going to shore up everybody,” Hunter said.
A Bipartisan Effort
In contrast to past political battles over gun control issues, this legislation has surprisingly wide bipartisan support. Republicans Toomey and Rubio have signed on as sponsors. And support for the legislation also comes from other organizations normally associated with the conservative side of the political spectrum. REST OF STORY HERE..