Added: Davide Adamek - Date: 29.06.2021 20:35 - Views: 16080 - Clicks: 3388
Almost immediately after governors began to issue orders in early March directing nonessential businesses to close and individuals to stay at home to prevent the spread Legal handguns for sale the coronavirus, news stories began to emerge of increased traffic at gun stores. Since this early reporting, data have confirmed a dramatic increase in the of guns purchased during the pandemic. The Federal Bureau of Investigation FBIthe federal agency responsible for conducting background checks for gun sales, revealed that nearly 2 million guns were sold in March—the second highest monthly since these data have been tracked.
Just as the coronavirus pandemic has exposed gaps within the U. Far too many gun sales are allowed to proceed without background checks, and gun owners face minimal legal requirements to ensure that guns are handled and stored safely. These gaps in the law create risks for all U. In addition, policymakers should use this moment to consider enacting a system of gun licensing that would address many gun law gaps at once, rather than through piecemeal legislation.
Laws that require individuals to obtain a government-issued firearm prior to purchasing a gun could minimize the risks associated with delays in the background check system, as well as require that all sales proceed only after a background check has been completed and the purchaser has completed a gun safety training class, which includes instruction on methods of safe storage.
A comprehensive system of gun licensing, whether enacted at the federal level or by individual states, would alleviate many of the weaknesses in current gun laws that are being exacerbated by the pandemic. Under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, current federal law requires d gun dealers to conduct a background check prior to completing a gun sale in order to ensure that the prospective purchaser is not disqualified from gun ownership under Legal handguns for sale or federal law. The intent of this law is to reduce the risk that individuals who are prohibited from gun possession, for reasons such as a history of domestic abuse or violent felony convictions, can easily access guns.
The system has been broadly effective, preventing more than 3 million sales to prohibited purchasers since its implementation in In the vast majority of cases, when an individual seeks to buy a gun and submits to a background check, the FBI returns a definitive result within a matter of minutes indicating whether the buyer is legally eligible to buy a gun.
Under current federal law, the FBI has three business days to continue to investigate. If the FBI has not concluded the investigation after three days, the seller has the discretion to proceed with the sale despite the lack of an affirmative finding that the individual is eligible to buy a firearm.
The risk that prohibited purchasers will be able to buy guns through default proceed transactions is particularly acute in the context of domestic violence.
Under current federal law, individuals who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or subject to a domestic violence restraining order are barred from buying guns. This means that, Legal handguns for sale prior to the surge in sales related to the pandemic, a ificant of default proceed sales were made to a buyer who was prohibited from owning guns due to domestic violence.
In22 percent of the cases in which a gun was transferred to a prohibited purchaser through a default proceed transaction involved someone with a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence or a domestic violence restraining order—a total of more than guns. The recent surge in gun sales has put unprecedented strain on NICS; four straight months to date have seen exponentially higher volume, with no that sales are slowing down. This increase comes even as the NICS was already struggling with a lack of resources, 14 which has led to insufficient staffing to conduct the investigations required to determine whether prospective buyers are legally eligible to buy guns, especially in cases that require additional legwork.
In addition to delays caused by an overwhelmed NICS staff, some background checks have taken longer to complete because of municipal office and court closures or reduced hours or staffing s in communities across the country due to the pandemic.
These obstacles prevent NICS examiners from having timely access to necessary court documents. In early May, the U. Department of Justice reportedly asked Congress for additional funding to hire more staff to allow the FBI to keep up with the surge in background checks.
It also asked for additional funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ATF to increase capacity to retrieve firearms that were erroneously sold to prohibited purchasers through a default proceed sale. The Charleston loophole transforms what would be a simple administrative inconvenience caused by the pandemic into a potential public safety emergency.
The background check system simply does not offer any breathing room for unanticipated surges in demand that slow down the background check investigation process. The way the current federal law is structured places the burden on the point-of-sale retail gun dealer to determine whether to proceed with a gun sale when there is a delay in completing the background check.
The shooting in Charleston brought new attention to the problem of default proceed sales and led to renewed advocacy to close this gap in the law and ensure that all gun sales facilitated by gun dealers require a completed background check. In Februarythe U. House of Representatives passed a bill to address this problem by extending the time allowed for background check investigations; however, this legislation has languished in the Senate.
Federal law contains another ificant gap that allows gun sales facilitated by an individual who is not a d gun dealer, often referred to as a private seller, to proceed without a background check. However, a recent survey found that 22 percent of gun owners reported having purchased their most recent gun through a transaction that did not require a background check. The lack of universal background checks undermines the effectiveness of nearly every other gun safety law, particularly those that prohibit certain individuals from gun ownership and those intended to deter illegal gun trafficking.
As gun stores in some states have closed or operated with reduced capacity during the pandemic, the risk has increased that buyers will turn to private sales for their gun purchases, potentially increasing the of guns sold without a background check and with no records kept of the sale. In most cases, once the background check has returned with a positive result, the sale can proceed immediately.
Nearly 90 percent of background checks are determined within minutes, 25 meaning that an individual can go through the entire process of deciding to buy a gun, going to the store, and walking out Legal handguns for sale a gun and ammunition in less than an hour.
One reported dynamic of the surge in gun sales due to the coronavirus pandemic is that many people are choosing to make their first gun purchase in a time of increased anxiety and fear. Not only would a mandatory waiting period help alleviate some of the stress on the background check system, Legal handguns for sale it would also encourage would-be gun buyers to give additional thought to their decision and reduce the risk of impulsivity. Nine states and Washington, D. There are few barriers to gun ownership under current federal law.
As long as a person is at least 21 years old and is not prohibited from possessing a gun because of one of the nine enumerated reasons listed in the federal code, they can purchase a handgun from a d gun dealer. The age threshold drops to 18 to purchase a rifle or shotgun, including semi-automatic assault rifles.
Again, these concerns predate the coronavirus pandemic. However, the current influx of first-time gun buyers raises new concerns about the thousands of new gun owners bringing deadly weapons into their homes without the proper supports to ensure that they are able to do so safely. Federal law does not impose any minimal safety training requirements before an individual can buy a gun. The delivery of safety instruction has been entirely delegated to the gun industry, and availing oneself of the myriad private gun safety educational classes and hands-on training programs—including the new online courses and videos being offered during the pandemic—is entirely voluntary.
Only a handful of states have enacted laws deed to ensure a minimum level of competency with a firearm before an individual is permitted to buy one. California and Washington state, for example, require prospective gun purchasers to provide documentation that they have completed a firearm safety training program within five years. One topic often covered in voluntary gun safety courses is the need to store guns securely to prevent people from gaining unauthorized access. Storing firearms locked, unloaded, and separate from their ammunition is crucial to preventing guns from falling into the wrong hands, particularly those of children, household members experiencing suicidal ideation, or thieves.
But under federal law and the laws of most states, taking this advice is entirely voluntary. Similarly, there are no requirements for the proper storage of ammunition, even when it is purchased in bulk. The dangers of improperly stored ammunition are not theoretical, with numerous reports of ammunition stockpiles Legal handguns for sale and exploding, resulting in injury and death.
Again, the problem of insufficient requirements for the proper storage Legal handguns for sale firearms predates the pandemic. A study found that roughly half of all gun owners store at least one of their guns without any lock or secure storage device, 33 and a national survey of gun owners conducted in found that an estimated 4. While federal law does require d gun dealers to offer gun locks at the point of sale for every purchase, it places no onus on the gun owner to actually use them.
A growing of states have acted to strengthen gun laws to address many of these weaknesses in the background check system and regulations surrounding gun ownership. In addition to a piecemeal approach to these issues, a few states have enacted a comprehensive system of firearm licensing to ensure that gun buyers are both legally eligible to possess guns and properly educated and trained on their safe use and storage.
According to an analysis by the Giffords Law Center, eight states have enacted laws requiring that individuals obtain a prior to purchasing firearms, and another three states require people to have a valid or permit to possess firearms. In addition to addressing many of the dangerous gaps in the law discussed above, a growing body of research demonstrates that gun licensing laws are effective at reducing gun violence.
A study from researchers at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health concluded that licensing laws can reduce the diversion of firearms into the illegal gun market. While there is a considerable amount of research on the positive impacts of licensing laws to reduce gun violence, there remain ificant gaps in examining how these laws are implemented.
Given the role of law enforcement in the procedural aspects of licensing, it is crucial that issues of bias be addressed to mitigate the possibility that these laws would disproportionately affect already overpoliced communities, particularly communities of color. In particular, gun licensing laws that give discretion to local law enforcement to deny a must be carefully scrutinized in de and implementation, as offering broad discretion can lead to discrimination. In addition to passing licensing laws, it is vital that states consider the resources, training, and public education needed to ensure these policies are equitably implemented.
The coronavirus crisis has not created new problems in the laws and systems guiding the sale and ownership of firearms. But the recent surge in gun sales has put new stress on an already weak system and highlighted some of the most dangerous gaps in the law that allow people who are prohibited from buying guns to continue to have easy access to them. The guns sold during this panic will affect communities long after the crisis is over.
These guns increase the risk of homicide, especially in the context of families experiencing domestic violence; suicide; unintentional shootings; and theft. Far too many U. To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource .
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