After a bipartisan agreement in Congress yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that would expand background checks, closing the so-called "gun show loophole" and requiring they be done for online sales, as well. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives and it remains to be seen if it has the votes to pass. But is such a law legal?
Texas Tech University Law Professor Richard Rosen says absolutely.
"I don't think there's any question that these background checks are constitutional unless they are so overly burdensome that it deprives people of their ability to possess firearms for self-defense and hunting," he said. "I think that background checks are a reasonable means of ensuring that only law-abiding citizens obtain firearms."
Professor Rosen says in recent cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that every American has the right to own a gun for self-defense in their own home or for hunting purposes and that won't change, but for this legislation to be deemed illegal, it would have to be an extreme scenario.
"Either the background checks are so expensive that ordinary citizens can't afford them or there's an overly long waiting period that's unreasonable."
In addition, he says that there is a glaring loophole that's not accounted for in the legislation.
According to Rosen, a typical background check won't ensure that the gun stays in the hands of a law-abiding citizen. In fact, he says that is the way that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter got a hold of his firearms.
Rosen says, "These background checks will certainly not be a panacea; they won't keep dangerous people from getting a hold of firearms. There's some three hundred million firearms in this country that criminals are going to get ahold of one way or another."
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