Saturday, October 22, 2011

S.1691/HR.58, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act

The nation's gun laws are outdated and overly restrictive. To a large extent, they violate one of the fundamental rights protected by the US Constitution.

Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have introduced S.1691, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act. A companion bill, HR.58 is in the House. The legislation allows for the interstate sale of firearms and removes several antiquated and unnecessary restrictions imposed on interstate firearms transactions.
"Current laws restricting interstate commerce of firearms not only lag behind common sense and new technology, they are unfair and burdensome," Sen. Begich said. "This legislation cleans up decades-old laws that are unnecessarily restricting the rights of Alaskans and other Americans to purchase and sell firearms."

"Utahns and Americans everywhere have a right to bear arms, and this legislation ensures that onerous and outdated restrictions on everyone’s Second Amendment rights are no longer in place," Sen. Hatch said. "By removing these restrictions, we can ensure that the constitutional freedoms we seek to protect remain intact."

"The National Instant Criminal Background Check System has made many restrictions enacted in 1968 obsolete. It’s time to bring the law into the 21st century. This important legislation will modernize and streamline interstate firearms transactions. The NRA and gun owners across the nation thank Senators Hatch and Begich for their leadership on this issue," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
The Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act removes a number of restrictions from the Gun Control Act of 1968, which only allowed licensed dealers to sell rifles and shot guns to residents of a different state under a lengthy series of conditions. The restrictions were supposed to prevent buyers from evading “background checks” available at the time, which were mainly carried out through state laws requiring local police chiefs to issue firearms permits.

However, since 1998, all people buying firearms from dealers in the US have been subject to computerized background checks under the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS); a system much more sophisticated and advanced than what was available in 1968. As a result, the complex system of laws currently restricting the interstate commerce of firearms is outdated.

The irony of current law is that it never did anything to control the behavior of criminals who, by definition, don’t obey the law! It only makes life harder for responsible Americans.

Among other features, S.1691/HR.58 would restore the right of individuals to buy handguns, as well as rifles or shotguns, from licensed dealers in another state, subject to the background check requirement. The buyer and dealer would still have to meet in person and comply with the laws of both states.

S.1691/HR.58 is a small, long overdue step toward restoring the rights of law-abiding Americans with regard to firearm purchases. Congress and the acting president must ensure that it becomes law immediately.

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