Without a doubt, the United States leads the developed world in gun violence and deaths caused by those using guns in the commission of a crime. Each time a tragic school shooting is in the news, there is a clamor for more gun control. People want to find a way to stop guns getting into the hands of those who would use them for nefarious purposes.
One of the gun control policies that have a wide range of support is a policy to shore up the existing background checks that are in place. Right now, everyone who purchases a handgun from a dealer has to go through an instant background check. There is a problem with the current system. At times, those who are supposed to report information to law enforcement do not do so.
A case in point is what happened in the shooting at the church in Texas. The shooter was arrested on domestic violence charges while in the Air Force. He should not have been able to legally purchase a gun. However, the Air Force failed to provide the information about the shooter’s legal problems.
If background checks are going to be effective, all the agencies that are required to report information must do so. Legislation to strengthen reporting requirements is necessary.
Many believe that a sensible policy on guns would include an expansion of background checks. While dealers are required to put purchasers through a background check, gun show sellers and private sellers are excluded from the background check requirements.
Another proposal that at this time only has some limited support is to license everyone who wants to purchase a gun. This licensing on the federal level would be similar to the gun licensing laws that exist in a few states and municipalities currently.
To buy a gun, a person would have to submit to a criminal and mental health background check. References may be required. To obtain a license, a person would need to complete an extensive training course in the proper handling of a firearm.
While all of these proposals seem to have some level of support, only the expanded reporting requirement legislation has enough bipartisan support to become a reality shortly. It is possible that the issue of guns will be a hot-button campaign issue in the 2018 mid-term elections. If so, stricter legislation may be possible after the elections.