Background Check Compromise Greatly Expands Government Gun Oversight

Background Check Compromise Greatly Expands Government Gun Oversight

The background check “compromise” put forward by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) is full of gun control red tape that greatly expands the government’s reach and oversight into the purchase and handling of firearms.

Although it’s been praised in some corners because it doesn’t create a national gun registry, they have failed to see that it actually trades that one assault on the 2nd Amendment for a handful of others.

Section 122 of the Manchin-Toomey “compromise” expands background checks to cover gun sales at gun shows and on the internet, generally speaking. Far from stopping there, it also requires background checks for guns sold on the grounds of a building in which a gun show is taking place and for guns sold from a “gun for sale” advertisement in publications like newspapers and magazines. 

Moreover, the bill isn’t clear on what does and doesn’t constitute an internet sale. But if it is congruent, it will mean that a “gun for sale” advertisement on an internet classified site will require a background check as well.

Meanwhile, Section 128 of the Manchin-Toomey “compromise” puts forth new rules for the transportation of firearms and ammunition. It says a person shall be “entitled” to transport a firearm “in a vehicle” if “the firearm is not directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle; or if the motor vehicle is without a compartment separate from the passenger compartment, the firearm is in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console, or secured by a secured gun storage or safety device…” 

The rules on transportation of ammunition are also contained in this section, and they mandate that ammunition be kept separate from the firearm. The firearm must be unloaded.

Section 103 of the Manchin-Toomey “compromise” creates $100 million in grants each year for fiscal years 2014 to 2017. This money is to be distributed to the states to help cover their expenses in implementing the new system. 

Once the bill is passed, states have 4 years to fully implement the new system. States that refuse to do so, or which do so more slowly than the federal government requests, will see the grant money they receive reduced by percentages. Therefore, these hundreds of millions of dollars are basically a way to be sure all states play along or else.

Finally, Section 122 of the bill also sets forward the people to whom you can transfer a gun without going through a background check. These legal private sales can be between “spouses, between parents or spouses of parents and their children or spouses of their children, between siblings or spouses of siblings, or between grandparents or spouses of grandparents and their grandchildren or spouses of their grandchildren, or between aunts or uncles or their spouses and their nieces or nephews or their spouses, or between first cousins.” 

However, no mention is made of step-children, nor does the bill explain whether step-parents are “entitled” to transfer guns apart from a background check in the way that biological parents and other blood relatives can do.

Despite all these caveats, when Sen. Manchin was on Face the Nation on April 14, he grinned and claimed, “If you’re a law-abiding gun owner, you’re going to like this bill.”