Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords spoke on Tuesday to introduce new legislation into the House of Representatives. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 is expected to easily pass the Democrat-controlled House.
The bill text is available here. It deals with what is often called the “gun show loophole”, which is a misnomer; the sales involved are merely person-to-person sales that may occur anywhere including, theoretically, near gun shows.
(Aside: The rationale for calling it a “gun show loophole” is predicated on the notion that people will take their firearms to gun shows, where prospective buyers are congregated, and will sell them there. As a person who has worked many dealer room tables, I feel it necessary to state that such shows are among the least likely places to perform transactions of this sort, as the people who pay for table space are very likely to report any such sellers and have them removed from the premises. If everyone’s allowed to conduct sales without buying tables, there’s little reason to pay for a table.)
The text of the bill allows for exceptions to be made in the case of gifts between immediate relatives; a transfer to an executor of an estate upon death; and temporary transfer if immediate death or great bodily harm may result without the transfer, provided the gun is immediately returned after the threat is past.
No exceptions are made for historical weaponry, including collector’s pieces.
Everyone not exempted who conducts a private transfer would need to bring the gun to an authorized dealer, hand it over, have the dealer run the background check, and then have the dealer transfer the gun to the new buyer. The addition of the middleman would introduce new fees and physical hurdles to the transfer of a weapon.
While this bill is likely to pass in the House, it is very unlikely to be addressed in the Senate, which will in turn keep it from reaching the President’s desk and potentially being signed into law.
I believe that if this bill were to become law, it would likely save some lives – but very few. In an age where people are willing to get married after a first date, there are almost certainly some people who would be willing, particularly when desperate for cash, to sell a handgun to a buyer they don’t know. But, as such sales render them partly culpable for illegal actions committed using that gun, not many people can be found who sell legally-owned guns to buyers they don’t trust. The question for both gun control and “the wall” is not whether a handful of lives might be saved, but rather whether the immense costs in time, money and personal freedom are worth the tiny gain in security.