With January fast approaching and the newly-Republicans in the House and Senate about to take their seats, it seems fitting to point out a frivolous and burdensome gun control law the GOP needs repeal or amend — namely, the ban that forbids a law-abiding citizen from buying a handgun from a retailer in a state outside his or her state of residence.
In other words, by law, a law-abiding citizen from one state cannot walk into a retail store and buy a handgun in another state. The source of this ban is the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), and the arbitrary nature of the ban is evident in the fact that by law, a law-abiding citizen from one state can walk into a retail store and buy an AR-15, AK-47, or shotgun in another state.
According the text of the GCA,
[It is] unlawful for any person (other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector) to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any person (other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector) who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe resides in any State other than that in which the transferor resides (or other than that in which its place of business is located if the transferor is a corporation or other business entity).
Exemptions for rifles and shotguns are set forth earlier in GCA.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (BATFE) interpretation of the law is evident on their Frequently Asked Questions page:
Q: From whom may an unlicensed person acquire a firearm under the GCA?
A: A person may only acquire a firearm within the person’s own State, except that he or she may purchase or otherwise acquire a rifle or shotgun, in person, at a licensee’s premises in any State, provided the sale complies with State laws applicable in the State of sale and the State where the purchaser resides. A person may borrow or rent a firearm in any State for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes.
In other words, a law-abiding citizen can buy a rifle or shotgun in another state but GCA prevents them from buying a handgun.
GCA was passed as a reaction to riots sparked by the 1968 assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. The purpose was to make it harder for rioters to acquire the weapons they might use to wreak havoc, and it was passed amid an air of political expediency. But in 2014, the reality is that a law-abiding citizen in a state other than his state of residence is left vulnerable if he needs a handgun for self-defense.
On November 4 voters gave Republicans a mandate to stop gun control — a duty that includes removing or changing arbitrary and freedom-crushing laws like the ban in the Gun Control Act of 1968.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.