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Valley forum: Time for Senate to move on background check for gun sales

Valley Forum

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By Rep. Mike Thompson

(Editor’s note: Rep. Mike Thompson, D – St. Helena, released the following statement Thursday on the one-year anniversary of the Senate’s failure to pass bipartisan legislation that would require criminal background checks for all commercial gun sales.)

One year ago today, a minority of Senators voted to block bipartisan legislation that would help keep criminals, domestic abusers, terrorists and the dangerously mentally ill from getting guns by requiring a simple background check for all commercial firearm sales.

Every day, at licensed gun stores where background checks are required, more than 170 felons, nearly 50 domestic abusers, and nearly 20 fugitives are prevented from buying a gun. But because background checks aren’t required for all commercial sales, these same dangerous purchasers can turn right around and buy a gun at a gun show or over the Internet with no questions asked.

My bipartisan bill, and the bipartisan bill blocked one year ago in the Senate, will close this loophole, keep guns from dangerous people, strengthen the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens and save lives. It took six years and seven votes until we passed the original Brady law that established the requirement for background checks at licensed dealers. We didn’t give up then, we won’t give up now. We’re going to finish the job.

(Thompson and Pete King (R-NY) are co-authors of H.R. 1565, legislation that would expand the current background check system to all commercial sales. The bipartisan King-Thompson legislation is identical to the bipartisan agreement on background checks struck by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), and supported by a bipartisan majority in the Senate. 189 House members have cosponsored the King-Thompson bill.

The legislation helps prevent guns from falling into criminal hands and reinforces the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. It expands the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads. By closing these loopholes, the legislation greatly reduces the number of places that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can buy guns. Right now, a criminal can buy a firearm at a table or out of someone’s trunk at a gun show, over the internet, or through a newspaper ad, because no background check is required for these kinds of sales.

Last year, the background check system identified and denied more than 88,000 sales to criminals, domestic abusers, those with serious mental illnesses and other prohibited purchasers. More than 40 percent of gun transactions are conducted without a background check, and the King-Thompson legislation helps close these loopholes. Under H.R. 1565, background checks will continue to be conducted through a licensed dealer and records will be kept in the same manner as they have been for more than 40 years.

The legislation also strengthens the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners by banning the government from creating a federal registry and makes the misuse of records a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It also provides reasonable exceptions for family and friend transfers and allows active military personnel to buy guns in the state they are stationed.)

  • Dee Test

    When will these clowns get it? Restricting alcohol during “Prohibition” didn’t work. Restricting drugs with our infamous “war on drugs” hasn’t worked. Outlawing guns will only create one more commodity for the U.S. “underground economy”. We are too big of a country, with too many borders and too many opportunities for illegal “importation” of underground commodities. Passing “feel good” laws – like this one being contemplated – may be all about political posturing. But this will not translate into significant resolution of gun violence. In the meantime, where are all the mental health improvements and new resources to combat mental illness that we were promised? How has our government acted to address our unacceptable abandonment of families struggling with mental illness? Our prisons (throughout the nation) are filled with the mentally ill who have been neglected, abandoned and abused. Rep. Thompson (and the others in Congress) might want to actually focus on legislation that will positively impact our people….not just create the false impression of substantive change.

    • Phineas Worthington

      The key to disarming an armed society like ours is to criminalize non-criminal behavior giving legal cover to their actions. I think the common link of the things you cite are just that, non-criminal behavior that is made criminal by improper law that has nothing to do with protecting individual rights.

  • Phineas Worthington

    As long as the restrictions are based on actual evidence and convictions of criminal behavior rather than accusations or the opinions of psychologists, I agree with the idea of background checks. It is a proper function of government to disarm the criminals. Though it is also a proper function of government to allow law abiding citizens to be armed.

  • Tom Sokolowski

    As a military vet and legal gun owner, I applaud this bipartisan legislation, along with 90% of
    Americans who also support expanded background checks for registering guns. With that kind of overwhelming support, how has this not passed already?

    Dee Test, you said:. “Outlawing guns will only create one more commodity for the U.S.”

    Dee Test, you are misinformed; nobody is “outlawing” guns. The issue is expanded background checks to make it harder for criminals and terrorists to buy guns. Please in the future, try to get your facts straight.

    Phineas, you said regarding the legislation: “However, we all know this is simply a further attempt to take away the individual right to bear arms for self-defense from the general population.”

    Pnineas, there is absolutely no evidence for your erroneous and unsupported allegation. The issue is simply expanded background checks, backed by the vast majority of Americans, and against the wishes of the gun lobby, whose only purpose is to sell you more guns.

    • Dee Test

      “90% of Americans support expanded background checks…” I would love to see the specific study that confirms this, since I doubt you could get 90% of Americans to agree that the earth is round. You obviously pulled this number out of your rear end….and I doubt that you got “your facts straight”.

      • Tom Sokolowski

        Dee Test, you said: “90% of Americans support expanded background checks… I would love to see the specific study that confirms this.”

        The Polls are from most major American news outlets that show the majority of Americans want an expanded, universal, or more complete gun background check.

        While the fact that most Americans want a more complete background check is pretty common knowledge among anyone who is able to read, here are a few quotes for you to look up yourself:

        washingtonpost.com: “Nine in 10 Americans support expanding background checks on gun purchases in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.”
        news.yahoo.com: “Despite concerns about how information on gun owners might be used, 91 percent of registered voters support universal background checks.”
        reuters.com: “Feb 07, 2013 · (Reuters) – More than 90 percent of U.S. voters supported background checks for all gun buyers.”
        usnews.com: “Jan 28, 2013 · A poll finds both gun owners and non-gun owners support background checks, other measures.”
        cbsnews.com: “Ninety-two percent of Americans favor background checks for all potential gun buyers, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.”

        • Dee Test

          “Majority” is not equal with “90%”. Re-quoting absurd statements from the internet, without actual/verifiable and comprehensive data is ridiculous. Anyone can glean their desired results on “polls”, depending on the specific questions asked and how they are asked, and the actual sample size and composition of the sample. Repeating absurd contentions, no matter how much you want to believe them, does not make them true. In the immediate aftermath of mass shootings, Americans may answer questions about gun background checks in one way, but then answer the same questions much differently after reflection. Furthermore, the specific sources you list have an acknowledged political leaning, and I would assert that other “polls” might well have produced very different results.

    • Phineas Worthington

      Tom, look around. No one here in this area is armed anymore except police. We have been disarmed legally without much of any form of protest from anyone. Thankfully, we don’t live in a place where there is a pressing need to be armed as in other areas.

      • Tom Sokolowski

        Phineas, you said: “Tom, look around. No one here in this area is armed anymore except police. We have been disarmed legally without much of any form of protest from anyone.”
        Guess you better tell that to the 47% of US households who own about 300 million guns, making our gun ownership highest in the world per capita.

        Phineas, you said: “And now we have a SCOTUS judge advocating to simply rewrite the second amendment to read it as a collective right, not an individual right.”
        Didn’t you forgot to mention that the judge in question is retired, and is not on the Supreme Court anymore? I’m sure just a lapse on your part, nothing intentionally misleading, right?

        • Phineas Worthington

          Please, be serious tom. No one here is allowed to carry.

          And Judges have more freedom and power to influence policy when retired my friend.

  • wayne

    tings at Ft. Hood tell me we need more guns…not less guns…on our bases. You were in the military Mr. Thompson. How do you feel about or base soldiers being like, “fish in a barrel”?

  • wayne

    Tom stated, “Dee Test, you are misinformed; nobody is “outlawing” guns.”
    The truth is the Repeal the 2nd Amnd. movement is alive and well in the
    Democratic Party. Just do a Google search and see for yourself.

  • Phineas Worthington

    Numerous shootings have been perpetrated by people who did raise very big red flags and nothing was done by authorities.

  • wayne

    Tom stated, “Guess you better tell that to the 47% of US households who own about 300 million guns, making our gun ownership highest in the world per capita.”
    That is true, if I am correct I believe Austria has even a higher per capita for households with firearms. And guess what !! Their violent crime rate is much less then ours per capita. So,
    more guns does not mean more crime. With us it’s a culture issue…not gun issue.