Expanding Background Checks to Private Gun Sales

When an indivdual purchases a firearm from a licensed dealer that individual is required to undergo a background check to ensure they are able to lawfully possess a firearm in accordance with U.S. Code 18 § 922. If purchasing a firearm from a private seller there is no federal requirement to undergo such a check. Firearms can be legally transferred among private parties without any record of the transfer having taken place. There are federal laws in place which prevent “straw purchases,” in which one party acquires a firearm on behalf of another. [1]

  • Law abiding gun owners can unknowingly sell a firearm to an individual who would be otherwise prohibited from purchasing a firearm or is intent on transferring that firearm to known criminals.
  • Evidence indicates that the firearms used in crimes began as legally owned firearms approximately 10 years prior. [2]
  • Routes of procurement include theft and loss but approximately 40% of crimes are committed with firearms transferred by friends and family members. And another 30% are purchased from street level dealers. [3]

Requiring background checks on every purchase or transfer to include private parties is wildly regarded by both experts and the public as first step in disrupting this path. [4] Marquette polling released March 2018 finds, “Wisconsin residents support background checks on private gun sales and sales at gun shows. Eighty-one percent support such background checks while 16 percent oppose them.” [5] Background checks are a simple step that provides protection to gun owners and the community.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/922

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/29/where-guns-used-in-crimes-come-from/?utm_term=.377d2d556465

[3] https://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fuo.pdf

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/10/upshot/How-to-Prevent-Gun-Deaths-The-Views-of-Experts-and-the-Public.html

[5] https://law.marquette.edu/poll/2018/03/05/new-marquette-law-school-poll-finds-wisconsin-voters-divided-on-benefits-of-foxconn-deal-but-together-in-support-of-background-checks-for-gun-sales/

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