The Daily Caller
3:00 PM 02/25/2019 | OPINION
Bob Barr | Former Congressman (R-GA)
Have you ever been trapped in one of those endless automated answering service loops? A new background check system for firearms purchases proposed by a group of gun control advocates in the House of Representatives would make going through a background check far more frustrating.
However, instead of preventing you from reaching a real person to assist you in solving a problem with an insurance or a credit card company, the “Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019” may stop you from exercising a right guaranteed you by the Bill of Rights.
This legislation (designated “H.R. 1112”) is sponsored by South Carolina Democrat James Clyburn and a number of other Democrats (including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), along with a lone Republican gun-control advocate, and is fast-tracked for a vote by the full House as early as this week. It is being paired with another bill, “H.R. 8,” that would achieve the perpetual Holy Grail of gun control proponents — mandated “universal background checks” for virtually all gun transfers.
It is the insidiously clever H.R. 1112 that is the real wolf in sheep’s clothing; having the potential to fool perhaps a number of Republicans into voting in favor because of its seeming benign language.
Aside from its soothing title, H.R. 1112 appears on its surface to simply add seven days to the current, three-day period (often referred to as a “safety valve”) after which a licensed firearm dealer may sell or “transfer” a firearm to an individual so long as no “red flag” is noted by the FBI-administered National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”).
This provision was incorporated into the 1993 “Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act” to prevent the government from inordinately, even indefinitely, delaying approval for a firearm purchase by claiming it “needed more time” to check out the transfer.
The Trojan Horse that is H.R. 1112 would do precisely what the 1993 provision was designed to prevent — enable the FBI to engage in extensive delaying tactics that would in effect prevent a person otherwise legally entitled to purchase a firearm from being able to do so, at least for many months of the year. The proposed legislation does this by extending the initial approval period from three “calendar days” to 10 “business days,” which excludes weekends and all holidays — both state and federal.
While the potential purchaser could obtain an additional 10-business day period if he or she affirmatively demanded it, the entire process cannot extend beyond 30 “calendar days” total; after which, the aggrieved purchaser would have to start the process all over again.
One does not need a college degree in calculus to figure out that these clever time limits would prevent even a person who the government has found no adverse information on in 20 business days from purchasing a firearm in February, March, June, July, September, November and December. (And maybe not even then, depending on additional holidays in certain states.) The math clearly (and by design) works in favor of the government.
Instances in which the current system has failed to stop individuals who should not have been permitted to purchase a firearm are numerous, and some have had tragic consequences. But in almost every such instance, the fault lies either with the failure of a government agency to have properly transmitted and data-based adverse information about a prospective purchaser in the first place; or failure by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives) to follow up and retrieve a firearm mistakenly sold (which it is supposed to do, but rarely does).
H.R. 1112 does nothing to improve the government’s reporting and tracking mechanisms; and, by allowing it to delay virtually indefinitely approvals or denials, encourages it not to take measures to improve its internal systems.
There is another serious danger lurking at the very end of H.R. 1112. The final section of this constitutionally repugnant bill would change the current law, which prevents a licensed firearms dealer from transferring a firearm to a person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective.” In its stead, the bill would prohibit a transfer to anyone who, among other things, has been “adjudicated with severe emotional instability.”
Good luck finding a coherent or legal definition of this term. According to various psychological analyses, persons who exhibit such diverse traits as “compulsive shopping addictions,” “eating disorders,” or “high-risk sexual behavior” may be suffering from such “emotional instability.”
The Democratic majority in the House probably will pass and send these bills to the Senate; where we can pray that the majority will see through the clever facade for what this legislation really would do, which is virtually halt a majority of legitimate gun purchases in America.
Bob Barr (@BobBarr) represented Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He currently serves as president and CEO of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation.