Excerpt from the Chicago Sun-Times:
Don’t look now, but the U.S. Senate might actually pass legislation that has a chance to significantly reduce gun violence. Some advocates of stronger gun laws were discouraged recently when the Senate dropped provisions to ban assault weapons and highcapacity ammunition magazines from legislation that will be considered starting next week.
But what remains — a bill that would expand background checks when guns are purchased and stiffen penalties for straw purchases — is perhaps the single measure that could do most to tamp down the shootings in America’s neighborhoods. Mass shootings with assault weapons are awful when they occur, but over the course of a year, as we in Chicago know too well, far more Americans are killed by handguns.
We need universal background checks, because we need to stop making it easy for criminals to buy guns. Virtually all firearms start out as legal, but gaps in our laws allow guns to flow from legal to illegal hands. Under the “gun show loophole,” no record keeping is required in private gun sales, which now account for two out of every five firearms transactions. A “straw purchaser,” someone with valid credentials who buys guns for those who can’t legally purchase them, can easily operate in the nether region where no records exist.
That’s a huge loophole, and truckloads of guns are driven right through it.
The NRA opposes universal background checks. It helped push through a measure that prohibits the FBI from hanging on for longer than 24 hours to records of those who pass the existing background check system. That makes it hard to spot a pattern of straw purchases. Lawmakers should not be swayed by the NRA on this issue.