Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced a bill Wednesday that would both criminalize and effectively (not officially) tax the private transfer of firearms between law-abiding citizens.
Known as the “Keeping Guns from Criminals Act,” the bill would require background checks on all private transfers and sales, including those made over the Internet and at gun shows.
“This is not a complicated issue: No one wants guns in the hands of dangerous criminals,” said Rep. Beyer in a statement. “Time and again Congress fails to make meaningful progress to prevent gun violence in the face of overwhelming national demand to do so.”
“The Keeping Guns from Criminals Act will ensure that only responsible gun owners are able to purchase a firearm,” he continued. “There is no reason for us to wait for another tragedy to make this commonsense idea a reality to protect our families.”
In addition to the universal background check component of the legislation, it also encourages law enforcement to make sellers prove that the purchase was either approved approved by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) or that the buyer was a concealed weapons permit holder.
“This common-sense bill encourages every gun seller–including unlicensed sellers doing business online or at gun shows–to do a Brady background check before selling a gun,” said Brian Malte, Senior National Policy Director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C. ”
“The consequences of providing a gun to a felon, fugitive, domestic abuser, or drug addict are deadly, and this common-sense bill will hold unlicensed sellers responsible for putting a gun into dangerous hands without doing a Brady background check,” added Malte.
The consequences of the bill for law-abiding gun owners should be readily apparent. For starters, it is tantamount to taxing gun ownership in that in order to transfer a firearm to another law-abiding citizen, e.g. a neighbor, hunting buddy, in-law, one would be required to pay a fee to an FFL or gun shop dealer to run the NICS check. Gun shop dealers don’t do NICS checks for free. To put this in a different context, should one have to pay a fee to a third party before being allowed to exercise’s one’s right to free speech?
Secondly, the notion that a private seller should have to prove that the buyer passed a background check or had a valid CCW permit is an overreach and places an undue burden on the seller. What happens if the buyer presented a fake CCW permit during the transfer? Under this bill it appears that the seller could still be held criminally liable even though the buyer deceived him.
There is also the issue of temporary transfers and borrowed firearms. What happens if I borrow a gun from a buddy for turkey season. Should he have to prove to the law enforcement that I passed a background check or have a CCW before loaning me the gun?
At the end of the day what this amounts to is an attempt by the government to chill the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. As it’s been said, begin to make something difficult and then you begin to make it impossible. The harder, the more time consuming, the more costly it is keep and bear arms, the less likely people are going to exercise this right. The less people care about something, the easier it is for the government to take it away. Food for thought, anyway.