This week, Senators Pat Twomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manshin (D-W. Va) reached a compromise deal that has a good chance of passing Congress. The bill expands the existing background system to cover virtually all sales like online and gun shows throughout the country.
Dealers are protected once the buyer is cleared by the background check. The protection even extends to a buyer who clears the background check, purchases the gun and uses it to commit a crime. The performance of the background check establishes the necessary due diligence under the law to shield the seller from liability once the buyer passes the background check. The compromise deal has a sweetener for sellers. Licensed gun dealers are now able to sell out of state. As a result, Illegal firearm sales will be harder to accomplish under the deal.
This deal does not cover background checks on sales between individuals or transfers/gifts between friends or relatives. Barter exchanges between individuals would also not be covered ( i.e. the exchange of an iPod for a gun). The inheritance of a gun is another area which should be monitored through a gun registration procedure for the successive owner.
There will be no universal gun registry for gun owners. The compromise wouldn’t ban the most egregious gun sales to individuals, like the weapons used by Adam Lanza in Newtown, Conn. but the mayors of major cities and metropolitan centers got most of what they wanted with the required background check.
This compromise deal is an important first step which most mayors and President Obama applaud, although more needs to be done. The remaining regulatory restrictions should include background checks in private sales/exchanges, banning high powered firearms and better monitoring of interstate sales through a national registry.
Regulation of the sale and use of guns is nowhere near as comprehensive as regulation of automobile purchases/sales, registration, licensing, fines for careless operation of a motor vehicle, yearly auto inspection and insurance.
The individual states need to consider requiring gun owners to pass rigid tests for the use of a firearm, safety measures in the maintenance of a firearm, a required license/permit, required background checks and firearm liability and medical insurance to compensate the public for losses due to the negligent discharge of a firearm. Only then will the public be protected against a virtual cascade of avoidable crimes, accidental discharges and collateral damages.
Even if the current gun control deal passes Congress, the debate over more stringent gun controls will continue into the foreseeable future.