President Donald Trump says he favors “meaningful” expanded background checks for gun sales and he says he thinks Republicans and the NRA would back such legislation. We do not know, yet, what “meaningful” might mean but it could include requiring background checks for private sales at gun shows, it could involve background checks for private sales when commercial advertising is involved. It likely would not involve private sales from, say, your friend to you, or even by somebody who you didn’t know to you.
Democrats are pushing H.R. 8, which the House passed but the Senate has not considered, yet. That legislation would require every gun purchase to involve a background check with a few exceptions including a family member giving a gun as a gift, a gun that is transferred in inheritance or a temporary transfer of a gun from one person to the next when the recipient might need a gun for protection from domestic violence, for example. Here is the KEY change; This bill would require every sale to go through a licensed gun dealer who would apply for the background check. Imagine you want to sell a gun to a friend–you would take the gun to a gun store, you would hire the gun store to handle the transaction. The store would either charge a fee to handle the transaction or maybe take a percentage of the deal and would hold on to the weapon while the check is going on.
If all of this sounds familiar, it is because Congress has tried and failed to pass such legislation before. In 2013 and 2015, the Toomey-Manchin bill, which is similar to H.R.8, died in the Senate.
“As proposed, there is no way for the government to enforce the law, as there is no way to know whether or not a person who purchased a gun from a private individual actually had a background check performed. When confronted by law enforcement, an individual could tell which dealer performed the check and hope that that dealer properly kept records. But a person who violated the law could simply refuse to answer any questions, and other than searching every paper record of every dealer in the country, there is no way law enforcement could determine whether or not the check was performed. “
The NRA says it has spoken with the President about his notions for expanded background checks but has not signed on publicly to any new gun laws:
The House also passed H.R. 1112 which would extend by seven days the amount of time a gun dealer must wait to hear from the federal background-check system before proceeding with a gun sale. That is the so-called “South Carolina loophole” legislation so-named because of Dyllan Roof’s ability to purchase a gun after three days waiting and his background check turned up no reasons to deny his purchase. He was not cleared, but he was not denied, and the current waiting period to get a response is three days.