Sunday, January 13, 2013

Biden's Seven Points - First Three about Background Checks


Vice-President Joe Biden's first detailed remarks about the package of gun control reforms he intends to present next Tuesday to President Obama are solid first steps. 

Speaking Thursday in Washington in between meetings with various gun control constituencies -- from pro-control victims groups and public health physicians on one side to the NRA on the other side -- Biden laid out seven proposals that would more or less reset the federal clock on gun control laws to where it was in 1985, a year before Congress started loosening decades of laws under the Reagan administration and NRA lobbying. Biden repeatedly earned an F rating from the NRA during his tenure in the Senate.  

Here are the seven agenda items, which Biden said had near-unanimous support from gun control groups. 

1) Close the so-called gun show loophole. In 1986, Congress passed a law allowing people to buy a firearm at one of the thousands of gun shows held each year across the country. These sales require no licensing of the gun buyer, no background checks, no waiting periods before getting the gun, no reporting sales to local or federal authorities. Today, 40 percent of gun sales annually across the county occur at gun shows, and by some estimates 80 percent of weapons used in crimes are bought at gun shows.
“There is a surprising—so far—a surprising recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks, not just close the gun show loophole but totally universal background checks including private sales,” Biden said. 

2) Universal background checks for gun buyers; and 3) improve background check database. These two proposals are connected and face significant political, technical and legal hurdles. Congress has barred certain groups of people from owning guns for decades, starting with felons in 1934. In 1968, Congress expanded that list to include the mentally ill and drug addicts. In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Bill—named after Ronald Reagan’s press secretary who was shot—which instituted a federal system of background checks for gun buyers, and extended the waiting period to five days before buyers could get their guns. 

The background check system has been in shambles for years, as AlterNet has reported, with three-quarters of the states choosing not to share court information about felons and the mentally ill with federal authorities, and the Supreme Court ruling in 1997 that states didn’t have to comply with the reporting requirement. 

Even though Congress passed a 2007 law creating federally administered grants to states to overcome technical hurdles with sending information to the Justice Department (some states submit information electronically; others infrequently mail a CD) only a dozen states account for most of the data six years after that became law. Biden complained about this non-compliance Thursday. However, the solution doesn’t appear to be a quick fix if past is precedent. 

“It doesn’t do a lot of good when in some states they have a backlog of 40, 50, 60,000 felons that they never registered here,” Biden said. “So we have got to talk about, there is a lot of talk about how we entice, or what is the impediment keeping states from relaying this information.”


  1. And what will your side offer us in return? If you want universal background checks--so long as they are cheap, say $5, and so long as the system protects the privacy of citizens--I could go along with that. But will your side give to get it? I want universal carry for people with licenses.

    See, compromise means give and take, not take and take and take some more. That's what we never have from your side: the list of things you're willing to give us.

    And don't go blathering about how you might allow suppressors. You have to be willing to give us something that we're calling for.

    1. It's not a business negotiation. It's an attempt to do what's right for the country. How dare you demand something in return for doing what's right?

    2. Wasn't the idea that Biden's commission would be bipartisan, include ideas from both sides of the aisle, and find a reasonable compromise between the 2nd Amendment and anti-violence initiatives? Besides, I could literally use your exact same argument, word for word, to negate ANY criticism of reduction of a right.

      For example:
      "I don't like the fact that the Senate renewed warrantless wiretapping. I would prefer that any wiretapping program designed to go after terrorists require a warrant."

      "It's not a business negotiation. It's an attempt to do what's right for the country. How dare you demand something in return for doing what's right?"

      Case and point.

    3. Mikeb, I think what's right for this country is to remove nearly every law related to owning and carrying guns. The point is that what's right is a matter of debate. You don't have the exclusive and settled answer to that question.

      But as always, your own stubbornness keeps your side losing.

    4. Wow, call for reasonableness and compromise at times, and then when someone offers a type of compromise, you take umbrage that he would ask to get something out of the "compromise." Classy, Mike! And you wonder why we usually stick to the "Hell no" response.

    5. T., I'd be glad to apologize if you could show me an example or two of my calling for compromise. Of course that knife cuts both ways. You may have to apologize for calling me "classy" in that ironical sarcastic way.

    6. I may have read too much into your demands for us to support "Reasonable" restrictions which paralleled calls from other gun control activists that we need to "compromise" on these "reasonable" restrictions.

      If I assumed too much from that context, then I apologize for the sarcasm and for assuming too much.

    7. He calls for us to compromise our beliefs and principles, our belief in the constitution and compromise our belief in the facts of violent crime rates and acquiesce to "reasonable" restrictions and in effect bans.

  2. Your post fails to mention that FFLs MUST perform a background check no matter what the location. Some States do already require background checks for private sales (CA), and cannot enforce such without a VERY expensive and difficult to implement registry. How do you propose to implement a complete registry of private property without violating the 4th and 5th amendments?