During a CNN town hall on Wednesday, a survivor of the Las Vegas shooting asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) how she would prevent gun violence without provoking the “gun debate.”
“My state is a pretty big hunting state and so I look at these proposals and say, ‘Do they hurt my uncle Dick in the deer stand?’ And they don’t,” Klobuchar responded with a smile.
She stated a Fox News poll from last summer showed that the majority of hunters approve of universal background checks.
“Let’s think about the reason why we don’t have them. I think the first thing is that there are a lot of politicians out there that are afraid of the NRA and I saw this first hand after the Parkland shooting because I’ve been working on legislation that would make things safer. One of the bills that I’ve always led is to close the ‘boyfriend loophole,’ that basically says that if someone has been convicted of domestic abuse, then they cannot go out and get an assault weapon,” the Minnesota senator explained as the audience applauded. “They cannot go out and buy a gun.”
According to Klobuchar, there are three bills that are currently sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk waiting to be taken to the Senate floor. She was specifically referring to the House’s two gun control bills that would develop universal background checks and close the so-called “Charleston loophole.” The other bill she said would close the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”
“Why aren’t these [bills] passing? Well, the NRA wields so much clout right now with some of these Republicans that we basically need to shake things up,” she said.
After Parkland, Klobuchar said she sat across the table from President Donald Trump and counted the number of times he said he wanted to pass universal background checks (her final count being nine). She said after Trump met with leaders from the NRA, he “folded,” something that she promises she won’t do.
What’s interesting is Klobuchar said Congress could have put a ban on bump stocks, which would have been helpful in preventing the Las Vegas shooting.
“We can put in the assault weapon ban, background checks, magazine limits, all of these things,” she explained. “And I think the public is with us.”
On paper, some of the proposals sound great. There are problems though.
Universal Background Checks
Whenever someone purchases a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), the buyer has to go through a background check. That is standard procedure and already part of the law. Universal background checks are supposed to make it impossible for criminals to get their hands on firearms. Sounds great but universal background checks do nothing but expand a flawed system. Right now, convictions are missing from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) because not all law enforcement agencies send that information to the FBI.
Back in November, Attorney General William Barr released the first-ever semi-annual report on the Fix NICS Act, which Congress passed in 2018. The head of each federal department or agency is required to submit convictions to the Attorney General twice a year. Convictions that took place from January 1 to June 30 have to be submitted by July 31. Convictions that took place between July 1 and December 31 are to be submitted by January 31 of the following year.
That report showed the Fix NICS Act is making an impact, with over six million convictions added to the three national databases used during background checks. That’s a 6.2 percent increase.
The “Charleston Loophole”
Gun control advocates use the term “Charleston Loophole” to described how the gunman who shot up a church obtained his firearm. A reporting error allowed the gunman to obtain the firearm, although he had previously been arrested for drug possession. By law, Dylann Roof was a prohibited possessor. He should have failed the background check but flaws in the system allowed him to obtain the gun.
If a person attempts to purchase a firearm and the background check is not completed in three days, the FFL has the right to complete the sale, although they’re not required to do so. Roof’s background check was delayed and the firearm was ultimately transferred to him five days after the initial check. Removing the three day grace period wouldn’t have changed the reporting error that resulted in him obtaining the gun he used to commit his heinous crime.
The “Boyfriend Loophole”
The “boyfriend loophole” is one of the most interesting claims. People like Klobuchar say a domestic abuser can obtain a firearm if they’ve been convicted of a domestic violence, as long as they’re not currently or formally legally married to their partner. That claim is a flat out lie.
Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence is a prohibited possessor. It’s already a law on the books. They’re not allowed to own a firearm. There is no loophole.
Anti-gunners love to say it’s the NRA’s fault that “common-sense gun safety laws” aren’t in place. The truth is this: the NRA has clout because it’s made up of five million members. Those members are average, everyday Americans. They rely on their Second Amendment rights for self-defense and to provide food for their families. The NRA advocates on behalf of gun owners across the nation. And guess what? Just because Republicans side with the gun rights group doesn’t mean that they’re being bought off or are scared of the organization. It means they value the Second Amendment, the very amendment that so many of their constituents cherish.