Eleanna Davos ’20
50 million households in the United States have a legal gun in their home. That is around 46% of the worldwide total of civilian owned guns, according to the United Nations. The purpose of our Second Amendment (one that I take very personally and utilize myself very proudly) is the right to bear arms, which in our world today has essentially marked you with a target if you supported this amendment open to constant scrutiny and questions as to why you feel the need to own guns and for what reasons. But that’s a tale for another day. While it may be easy to stereotype all Republicans or conservatives into the category of anti-background checks, I hate to burst your bubble but just because we are for our Second Amendment right doesn’t mean we are against background checks. But there are some aspects of these two proposed bills that are inappropriate and offensive to legal gun owners.
This past week the house passed two bills which in some subliminal ways blame legal gun owners for the actions of criminals and gun wielding sociopaths. The first of the two bills is HR-8, titled the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 which would criminalize behavior such as allowing your friend to use your gun at the range. The second bill is HR-12, titled The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, whose proposed goal by the Democrats in the house is to address the “Charleston Loophole”. This loophole allows for automatic clearance if the FBI fails to complete requisite background checks within three days. This bill would increase the window that the FBI has to complete their background check from 3 days to 10 days, while also changing mental illness to be more expansive and explicitly defined.
Like myself, there are many rational thinking conservatives who would not oppose portions of these bills, but there are sections that are a little offensive to gun owners, such as needing to pay a fine if you wish to go to the range with a friend who does not have a license to carry (LTC).
While this is a sensitive matter to some Americans, the majority of gun owners use them for target shooting (which is an Olympic Sport), home/self-defense (because the average response time of police officers is approx. 7-9 minutes), hunting, practicing the craft, etc.
Let’s first address the portion of the bill that is fair and reasonable. I have spoken with a handful of Republicans and conservatives who are legal gun owners and most of them have no issue with more extensive background checks. Massachusetts has some of the most stringent gun laws and, in my experience, it takes about 10-20 minutes to purchase a gun utilizing the FBI system and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This practice would be universal to all states with the implementation of the bill. Those who would need to worry about this bill are people who try to purchase guns with a criminal history. This is a problem with the system, not legal gun owners. This portion of the bill should have been implemented years ago and will really not have a direct impact on safe legal gun owners, which I can attest to.
The second part of these bills will make it mandatory that all firearm purchases go through the FBI background check, regardless of if it is bought at a gun show, via the internet or done as a private sale. This too is a great shift from how things are now, because many of the men and women who have committed some of the most heinous mass shootings have obtained their firearms from gun shows or from private sellers, which never required any form of background checks.
So far this bill seems great, however, when it comes to members of the Democratic caucus, there is always some conniving catch. In this case it is that legal gun owners are now going to be responsible for paying a fine if they want to take their friend to the shooting range. And that fine is the cost of a FBI background check, which is essentially a subtle slap across the face to all legal gun owners.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of the bill, it is unlikely that it will pass the Republican Senate majority, and the President has already said he will veto the bill if it lands on his desk. The only way to fix gun violence in America is by starting small to combat this issue. We need to understand that no bill will be passed if it jeopardizes our Second Amendment right. Democrats need to understand that and tailor their desires to do so accordingly.