A Firearm Background Check is Required to Buy a Gun
Gun control is one of the most controversial topics being discussed today. Many people believe that it violates their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Others believe that it is essential to keep guns out of the hands of those who might use them for harm. Either way, every state now requires some sort of firearm background check before a gun can be sold.
The Brady Bill
This is a result of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, (The Brady Bill), which was enacted in 1994. At a minimum, each state requires a firearm background check to include a search of the National Instant Check System (NICS), which identifies anyone barred from owning a gun.
However, states vary widely in their requirements for enforcing the law. Twenty-one states require only the NICS check. In the states of Connecticut, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia both state and federal firearm background checks are required. Residents of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Missouri are only required to pass a federal firearm background check but they do need a permit. One problem with the law is that only licensed firearms sellers are required to comply with it.
Private sales of guns
Private sellers can easily sell to anyone who wants a gun and no firearm background check is required. The Brady Law was passed to prevent the sale of guns to people who are mentally incompetent to handle firearms, have violent histories, or otherwise might not use guns wisely. It was never intended as a violation of anyone’s constitutional rights. And it has worked, to a degree.
Although a firearm background check helps identify people who are barred from buying firearms, a lot of people are not included due to errors or omissions. The database is only as accurate as the information put in to it and, if the information was entered incorrectly, a name may not show up. A simple spelling or address error may mean that someone who is barred from owning a firearm can get one. But the Bureau of Justice reported that in 2007 over 8.6 billion background checks were done for individuals wanting to purchase a gun or get a concealed carry permit.
Despite its flaws, the practice of doing a firearm background check is still reducing the number of guns being put in the hands of some dangerous people. And it is protecting a lot of other, innocent people.
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