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Background Checks & Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Dangerous People 1. Do you agree: we can both do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect the rights of responsible, law-abiding people?
Background Checks & Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Dangerous People2. Under federal law, anyone who buys a gun from a federally licensed dealer must pass a criminal background check, but the same person can end-run this requirement by buying a gun from an unlicensed seller, including from a stranger that the buyer met online or at a gun show. This loophole enables felons, domestic abusers, and other prohibited purchasers to buy guns with no questions asked. In the states that require background checks on all handgun sales, there are 38% fewer women shot to death by their intimate partners and 39% fewer law enforcement officers killed with handguns.i Do you support requiring background checks for all gun sales (with reasonable exceptions such as for transfers between close family members and temporary transfers for hunting and self-defense)? SOURCE: i U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Report, 2011, available at http://bit.ly//V1GvFe (excludes New York due to incomplete data); Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Supplementary Homicide Report, 2010.
Background Checks & Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Dangerous People3. Federal law prohibits anyone from having firearms if they have been convicted of abusing their spouses, or if they are the subjects of active restraining orders taken out by their spouses, but not if they have been convicted of stalking or have been convicted of abusing their dating partners. The share of intimate partner violence that occurs in dating relationships has been steadily growing – and as of 2008, more domestic violence homicides were committed by dating partners than by spouses.ii Do you support a law that would prohibit gun possession by convicted stalkers and people convicted of – or, who after due process, are actively restrained from – abusing a dating partner? SOURCE: ii U.S. Department of Justice, Homicide Trends in the United States 1980-2008, available at http://1.usa.gov/1uARYtW/. Percentages are based on the 63% of homicides for which victim/offender relationship was known.
Background Checks & Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Dangerous People4. Currently, federal law requires licensed gun dealers to conduct criminal background checks on all prospective gun buyers. Because websites that facilitate gun sales are not held to similar standards, unlicensed high-volume sellers use these sites to sell guns to a vast market of anonymous buyers without background checks – making it easy for felons and other dangerous people to buy guns from strangers they meet online with no questions asked. In fact, an estimated 25,000 guns are transferred to criminals with prohibiting records each year on one website alone, Armslist.com.iii This double standard makes it easy for prohibited people to get guns, and it gives unlicensed high-volume sellers who use websites like Armslist an unfair advantage over licensed gun dealers. Do you support legislation that would level the playing field by treating sites like Armslist as licensed gun brokers, and require a background check every time someone buys a gun through one of these sites?SOURCE: iii Felon Seeks Firearm: a Report by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, September 18, 2013, available at http://everytown.org/article/felon-seeks-firearm/.
Background Checks & Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Dangerous People5. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is missing hundreds of thousands of records that would block dangerous people, including those with severe mental illness, from passing background checks when they try to buy guns. States are responsible for sending these records to NICS, but vary widely in their performance. Do you support an increase in congressional funding for the federal grant programs that help states submit their records?
Background Checks & Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Dangerous People6. People listed on the federal government's terror watch lists are prohibited from boarding airplanes – but current federal law does not bar them from buying guns or explosives. Indeed, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, people on terror watch lists bought firearms or explosives from licensed dealers 1,321 times between 2004 and 2010.iv Do you support legislation – drafted by the George W. Bush administration – that would close this "terror gap" by giving the FBI the discretion to block these people from buying guns?SOURCE: iv Government Accountability Office, Terrorist Watchlist Screening, May 5, 2010, available at http://1.usa.gov/1iqaTYs.
Gun Trafficking, Straw Purchasing, and Stolen Guns7. Under current law, it is difficult to prosecute and convict people suspected of trafficking illegal guns because the penalties for trafficking are small and violations are difficult to prove. In fact, the current penalty for gun trafficking is the same as for trafficking chickens across state lines.v Do you support legislation that would create a strong federal gun trafficking statute with serious penalties?SOURCE: v 18 U.S.C. 924(a)(1); 18 U.S.C. 2317.
High-Capacity Magazines8. In many mass shootings, including the 2011 shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ, bystanders have been able to subdue perpetrators of mass shootings when the shooters stop to reload. Research from Virginia showed that the federal limit on high-capacity magazines in effect from 1994 to 2004 led to a 50% reduction in criminals being armed with high-capacity magazines – and when the law expired, the share of crime guns with such magazines doubled.vi Several states have enacted limits on the size of ammunition magazines. Do you support limits on the capacity of ammunition magazines?SOURCE: vi David Fallis & James Grimaldi, "VA data show drop in criminal firepower during assault gun ban," Washington Post, January 23, 2011, available at http://wapo.st/ToGb69l.
Child Safety9. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have child access prevention laws, which allow criminal charges for adult gun owners who fail to store their guns safely and keep them out of the reach of children. Do you support laws that allow a prosecutor to bring charges if a gun owner stores a firearm negligently, a minor accesses the gun, and harm results?
National Concealed Carry Mandate10. Historically, states have set their own laws for who may carry a concealed gun and where they may carry it in public. Many states require applicants to be trained in gun safety and do not grant concealed carry permits to teenagers or people who have recently been convicted of assault, battery, or stalking offenses – while other states have weaker standards and will allow individuals like these to carry in public. Some in Congress have proposed "national concealed carry reciprocity" legislation, which would create a new federal mandate forcing every state to recognize concealed carry permits from every other state, no matter how lax a state's laws are. Do you oppose national concealed carry reciprocity, which would overturn state public safety laws and replace them with a lowest-common denominator standard?