Op Ed: Gun Rights and Two New Background Check Bills

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Question: What is the definition of a ‘criminal’? Answer: Someone who has committed a crime by breaking the law.

With this understood, it seems sensible that creating additional laws to be ignored by criminals is not the solution to stopping crime and violence in our communities. These new laws would not only add to the list of laws that criminals are already ignoring, but also be an additional burden to law-abiding citizens.

This idea carries over to gun control measures proposed by Democrats in Congress this week: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019.

If enacted, H.R. 8 would criminalize common firearm transfers among Idahoans. For example, loaning a firearm to a friend or family member could result in penalties of up to one year in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. Other firearm transfers could also be subject to background checks if, for example, a firearm was exchanged for something of value. Such an intrusion might eliminate otherwise lawful firearm exchanges between family and friends, concerned over whether they would be required to go through a background check by a federally licensed firearms dealer. This would prevent law-abiding Americans from exercising their constitutional right to own firearms.

Under current federal law, there is a three-day “proceed to sale” provision to incentivize the FBI to complete background checks in a timely manner. H.R. 1112 would eliminate this provision and result in arbitrary delays for law-abiding citizens. If the background check is deemed ‘inconclusive’ for a wide variety of reasons, including administrative errors, the buyer must then petition the FBI to figure out the error and have it reconciled.

Instead of addressing the specific causes of these atrocities, these bills will enact more burdensome regulations for law-abiding citizens wishing to exercise their constitutional rights. Last year, the President signed the STOP School Violence Act into law which offers Idahoan schools access to grants for additional security and helped fund mental health programs. I support these efforts that will protect Idaho’s most vulnerable. But I do not support adding layers of red tape to Idahoans who have the right to protect themselves.

I have promised the constituents of Idaho’s First District that I will protect their 2nd Amendment rights. I acted accordingly on the House floor this week and will continue to do so.

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