We’ve finally gotten a look at Chuck Shumer’s proposed mandatory background check bill, and the truth is that this thing is ridiculous. The bill is overly broad, has some crazy penalties, and cracks the door WIDE open for government abuse. The full text of the bill is here, and since it’s in that terrible bill-speak legalese, I’ll try to summarize it for you . . .
The main provision of the bill is that any transfer of a firearm, no matter how fleeting, needs to go through an FFL and the transferee needs to have a background check performed through the NICS system. There are some exceptions, but they aren’t very good ones. Page 11 starts off the meat and potatoes for those following along at home.
In order to qualify for an exception to the rule of all transfers going through an FFL, the following requirements must be met:
- The temporary transfer takes place at the owner’s house
- The gun can’t be moved from the property
- The transfer must last less than 7 days
There’s also a poorly worded exception for hunting and “sporting purposes,” as well as gifts to family members. What that means is if you go on a trip for more than 7 days and leave your guns at home unattended with a roommate, its now a felony under this law. And if I’m reading this right, this applies if you leave your guns with your spouse, but don’t transfer them as a gift.
There’s also no exception for lending guns to friends for the afternoon on the range. I regularly loan out my older competition guns to friends who want to compete in local matches, as the guns can be expensive and its easier to figure out if competition shooting is right for you if you can give it a try. Under this new bill, that would be illegal.
It also appears that it would be illegal to hand a firearm to someone other than the owner, effectively killing range trips with friends.
I quote from the bill the definition of “transfer” includes:
shall include a sale, gift, loan, return from pawn or consignment, or other disposition
Broad much? The only exception appears to be handing a gun to a potential buyer to evaluate and lending guns at a shooting range but ONLY IF:
at a shooting range located in or on premises owned or occupied by a duly incorporated organization organized for conservation purposes or to foster proficiency in firearms and the firearm is, at all times, kept within the premises of the shooting range;
So, only facilities where the stated purpose in the incorporation documents is conservation (hunting) or firearms proficiency. And if you’re shooting on your own private property, or on BLM land, ANY lending of guns EVEN IN THE PRESENCE OF THE OWNER for recreational shooting would be illegal.
As one of the provisions designed to “alleviate the fears” of the gun-owning public, it looks like there’s a provision in here that permanently sets the price of all FFL transfer fees to the same amount. That number will be set by the Attorney General, which these days is still Eric Holder. The current speculation is that this FFL fee will be used to do what the NFA tax was originally designed to do — make buying or transferring a gun so expensive that almost no one can do it.
In addition to the transfer requirements, it also makes it a federal felony to fail to report a lost or stolen firearm. If the gun isn’t reported to the authorities within 24 hours, that’s a 5-year stretch in a federal pokey you just earned yourself.
The bill also specifically removes the ability for people with state permits to skip the NICS check. Currently in Texas, those with a concealed handgun license can purchase a gun without a NICS check as they’ve already passed a more stringent background check than NICS provides. This puts more strain on the FFL as well as the NICS system.
As written, this bill is a trainwreck. It creates felons out of people who may not have been aware that their roommate (on their month long trip through Asia) even owned a firearm, much less that there was one in the house. It allows the government to regulate the price of background checks, enacting a mandatory fee (read tax) to be paid every time you want to exercise a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment, and lets the government set the fee at whatever level they choose with no recourse. It also creates de facto registration through the NICS checks as well as the paperwork preservation requirements already in place.
You don’t have to pay a fee to vote, as the supreme court ruled that unconstitutional. But for Chuck Shumer, its okay to charge a fee to exercise your Second Amendment right. And he’ll tell you how much to pay.