We Now Know the First Gun Control Move Congressional Democrats Are Making

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Posted: Mar 02, 2021 12:15 AM
We Now Know the First Gun Control Move Congressional Democrats Are Making

Source: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Democrats have had a few legislative priorities since they took control of both Congress and the White House. Their number one focus has been on the "American Rescue Plan," President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. But their next policy focus is shifting towards imposing stricter gun control laws. 

According to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Democrats are planning to pursue "enhanced background checks" as early as next week. 

Democratic House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (SC) on Monday introduced the Enhanced Background Check Act of 2021. The goal of the bill is to close the so-called "Charleston loophole." Under current law, a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) is allowed to legally sell a firearm if a background check from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is still pending after three days. The FFL is not required to complete the transaction but they can proceed if they believe the buyer is not a felon. 

Clyburn's bill would allow the background check to remain "pending" for 30 days after the 4473 form is submitted. After 30 days, the FFL would then have the ability to proceed with the sale or decline.

The NSSF's Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Larry Keane, said the firearms industry trade association opposes the bill, just as they did before.

“If the bill is the same as what was introduced in the last Congress, we will be opposed to it now as we were then. This bill increases the burden on small business firearm retailer owners and flips the burden of proof on its head. This would make it incumbent upon the law-abiding citizen to prove his or her innocence to the government to exercise their Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm instead of the government being responsible for proving an individual is prohibited," Keane said in a statement. "This could potentially deny a law-abiding citizen their rights for up to a month, while they are saddled with the burden of proving their innocence. That’s un-American."

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“Rather than placing further burdens on retailers and law-abiding gun owners, Congress should focus on adequately resourcing NICS," Keane said. "NSSF is the only organization that has successfully advocated for NICS to have the necessary resources to perform its mission in a timely manner.”   

This appears to be a response to Biden's Valentine's Day call for gun control legislation. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is contemplating signing executive orders to push through the anti-Second Amendment policies he wants, like an assault weapons ban, a "high capacity" magazine ban, and universal background checks. Another wish list item on the gun control front is repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects firearms manufacturers and FFLs from being held legally liable for crimes committed with the guns they produced and/or sold.