The White House is weighing a far-reaching package of legislation that would tighten restrictions on firearm sales and ownership by requiring universal background checks for gun buyers and creating a national database to track the weapons.
Gun rights advocates say the measures would crush private sales of firearms and lead to government confiscation of legally-owned guns.
A group led by Vice President Joe Biden to study gun control is considering the various measures and compiling a list of them to send to President Obama before the end of the month. The group convened after 20 children and six adults were killed in a gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month.
Obama plans to review the recommendations and send his own package of proposals to Congress.
‘This is not something that I will be putting off,’ Obama said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’
The measures the White House is considering are far broader than simply a reinstatement of an expired ban on assault weapons, which Obama has already said he would support, the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker reported Saturday.
‘They are very clearly committed to looking at this issue comprehensively,’ Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told the Post. Gross, who has been involved in the discussions, said the proposals under consideration are ‘a deeper exploration than just the assault-weapons ban.’
One such proposal would require universal background checks for all gun buyers and could put a dent in business at gun shows and online, according to gun rights activists.
Current law requires federally licensed gun dealers, such as Wal-Mart, to verify that a buyer has not been convicted of a serious crime or declared mentally incompetent before selling that person a gun. Typically this is done online and takes less than a day.
But private sellers, most of whom sell firearms online or at gun shows, are not subject to the same requirements.
Federal law requires private sellers to refuse a buyer if they suspect that person might not pass a background check. But no check is required and no paperwork is filed regarding the process.
The White House is considering reaching out to Wal-Mart and other gun retailers to help build public support for the universal background check, since the retailers could benefit from a potentially negative effect on private sales.
Another proposal under consideration would create a national gun-tracking database, which gun rights advocates oppose because they believe it would lead to government confiscation of legally-owned firearms.
The database would require that guns be registered or permitted.
In a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, that went viral online last week, gun owner and Marine Joshua Boston explained his reasoning for opposing the database.
‘I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government’s right to know what I own,’ he wrote, expressing the fears of millions of gun owners. ‘Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime.’
Boston’s argument is rooted in the foundation of the Second Amendment, better known as the right to bear arms, which was originally established as a means to protect against tyranny.
The powerful National Rifle Association insists that the answer to ending gun violence against innocents is in improving mental health care, an area that the White House is also reviewing for potential legislative changes.
‘We’re going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun,’ Obama said in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. ‘We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence.’
Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman who carried out the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, reportedly had a history of mental health problems.
Adam Banks | Elite.