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There has been much commotion regarding gun safety in light of current tragedies, like the one in Sandy Hook. Legislators are all cramming to come up with a policy that would solve all of the current firearm issues in the United States. None more than Vice President Joe Biden, who after weeks of meetings with top brass involved in the debate, are trying to form policies and recommendations to present to President Obama within the week.
One possible proposal would be for a “Universal Background Check” for any gun purchase or exchange. This is his “cure all” solution to address current loopholes and problems with current firearm laws that have been plaguing the country. This would be a big deal for everyone involved in the sale or exchange of firearms – dealers, manufacturers, importers, and gun owners alike.
When guns are sold in gun stores across the United States, the buyers are all subjected to a background check using the FBI Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), but that same buyer can sell or give that firearm to anyone, without having them go through any background check. This is one of the targets on the proposed new policy, and to address all private sales including closing the problematic gun show loophole with this “universal” background check.
“Universal” would be an accurate term for this type of background check. In gun shows, everyone who wants to purchase a firearm is required to undergo a background check, and if a seller is not licensed, he/she has to get in touch with someone who can run a check.
A proposal from a Colorado Governor, Gov. John Hickenlooper, wants to apply this to “private sales” outside gun shows, essentially similar to banning any type of exchange without background checks. This would mean that any type of exchange or sale would have to involve a licensed dealer who can run a check using the NICS system. Private exchanges account for 40% of gun sales in Colorado.
Simply giving someone a rifle, or a father bequeathing a firearm to his son, would require the owners of the firearm to register the receiver and subject them to a background check by contacting a licensed dealer, which some believe would be going too far and infringes on their rights and privacy.
The Washington Post reports that the Gun Control Task Force headed by Vice President Joe Biden – “is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers [and] track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database.”
To ensure that the new policy would work, they are planning to create a national registry of gun owners to track and know where the guns are at any given time, and know when any of them change hands. Further noting that this would enable them to make sure that any person who has a firearm is really allowed to possess them.
Punishment and possible consequences of not following the possible policies would include confiscation or worse, the violator could be arrested for violating the Gun Control Act of 1968, which has a five year maximum prison sentence.
The Vice President himself was almost effusive regarding that notion, saying that “there is a surprising, so far, recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks.”
Still some skeptics and gun advocated have voiced out concerns on whether or not these measures would really prevent further tragedies, like the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting, in which, they note that the shooter never even purchased a firearm. Whatever the outcome, if these proposals are approved, a lot more commotion is surely to ensue.