Connect with us

Latest News

How do gun background checks work? A look at the current system

Published

on

In the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month, President Trump is seemingly open to strengthening federal background checks for gun purchases.

“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday, adding that the president has spoken to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn about a bill to “improve federal compliance with criminal background check legislation.”

On Twitter Tuesday, Trump said Republicans and Democrats “must now focus on strengthening” federal background checks. 

Here’s a look at how the federal background check works, and what activists and experts have to say about it.

What happens when you want to purchase a gun?

In order to purchase a gun from a federal firearms licensed dealer (FFL), a consumer must provide identification and pass a federal background check using the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ 4473 form.

The first page of the document requires basic information, including the buyer’s full name, address, sex, birthday and ethnicity. A Social Security number is encouraged, but not required.

The form also asks the buyer about criminal background, immigration status and mental health — information that could result in a consumer being denied. Those questions include:

  • Have you ever been convicted in any court of a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation?
  • Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance?
  • Have you been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions?
  • Have you ever been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?

Lying on the federal form is a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, an ATF spokesperson confirmed to Fox News. That penalty is also listed at the top of the form.

Once the form is completed, the dealer will submit it to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) online or by phone. Then, almost immediately, the licensed seller will know how to continue with the sale:

  • Proceed: If NICS indicates the seller can proceed, then the sale can continue.
  • Canceled or Denied: Should NICS mark the form as “canceled” or “denied,” the seller cannot legally sell the firearm to the buyer. Michael Smith, the vice president of marketing and media for Upstate Armory Group, a firearm dealer in Simpsonville, S.C., told Fox News he generally provides the customer with contact information for a local lawyer who handles restoration of firearm rights in case the failed background check is erroneous. There have been times police have arrived at the gun shop to arrest the customer who legally cannot purchase a gun, Smith said.
  • Delayed: If the background check elicits a “delayed” response from NICS, the seller cannot complete the transaction for at least three business days. Unless a specific “denied” designation is issued, the seller will be able to complete the transaction with the customer after that period elapses, under federal law.

Even before a 4473 form is filled out, Robbie Wheaton, vice president of the Wheaton Arms Inc. gun shop in Piedmont, S.C., said he takes note of the customer. If a customer seems to be intoxicated or “shady” – talking, for instance, about a cheating spouse – dealers don’t have to sell that person a gun.

“A shop has a final right to say ‘no’ based on a person’s behavior whether they will sell a firearm to them or not.”

– Robbie Wheaton, vice president of Wheaton Arms Inc. in South Carolina

“As a federal firearms licensee, we have the right to be able to refuse the transfer of firearms to someone,” Wheaton told Fox News. “A shop has a final right to say ‘no’ based on a person’s behavior whether they will sell a firearm to them or not.”

Smith praised the background check system, as it can flag other discrepancies for sellers, such as an age issue.

South Carolina law, for example, prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing a long gun (such as an AR-15) and anyone under 21 from buying a pistol, handgun or other firearm, he said. The background check can prevent sellers, particularly at hectic gun shows, from accidentally selling a firearm to someone who isn’t of age, Smith said.

Why do I have to complete the background check?

Thanks to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, the FBI created the NICS in 1998. The system is supposed to instantaneously let a firearms dealer know whether a buyer is legally allowed to purchase the gun.

According to the FBI, more than 230 million checks have been made by cashiers prior to a purchase and more than 1.3 million denials have been issued since the system was put in place.

Is this process the same in every state?

No.

In South Carolina, for example, consumers who already have a concealed weapons permit do not need to go through a background check in order to purchase a firearm in the state, multiple dealers in the Palmetto State told Fox News.

Also, state laws may be superseded by federal law. The 4473 form asks consumers about marijuana use. Those who use the drug, in states where recreational or medicinal use is legal, will be denied a firearm, Wheaton said.

In Hawaii, after the first legal medicinal marijuana dispensary opened in the state in 2017, local law enforcement agencies asked users who are also gun owners to turn in their firearms within 30 days, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Is this system strong enough?

It depends on who you ask.

Jonas Oransky, the deputy legal director of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for stronger gun control, praised the background check system but said it has “significant gaps.”

Specifically, Oransky’s organization points to a “private sale loophole.” Federal law requires licensed dealers to complete background checks, but people can also purchase guns from a private seller – such as a friend or through online classifieds websites like ArmsList.com. (ArmsList.com prompts users to “accept” a terms of use document, which acknowledges the website doesn’t certify or investigate transactions and instructs users not to use the site for “illegal purposes.”)

“It doesn’t matter necessarily if people are selling at scale,” Oransky told Fox News. “It’s not that all sellers are dangerous or devious, but buyers who know that they can skip the background check can look for an unlicensed seller.”

Wheaton, who has been in the firearms business full time since 2007, said he and other licensed sellers try to persuade customers to transfer guns through a licensed dealer so a background check can be conducted.

Oransky also pointed to the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allows dealers to sell guns to a customer before a background check is completed – when NICS marks a document “delayed” but does not approve or deny it within three business days. He said a disproportionate number of buyers who obtain a gun before a background check is completed are domestic abusers, citing complex records and restraining orders that investigators need additional time to read through or discuss with the appropriate local law enforcement agency.

“The FBI should have the time they need to complete a background check. It’s more important than expediting sales to people who shouldn’t have a gun,” he said.

On the other hand, Second Amendment advocates argue that the background check system already does too much.

“We don’t think it’s proper for people to have to prove their innocence to the government in order to exercise their God-given right,” Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, a Virginia-based gun rights nonprofit, told Fox News.

“Our rights are listed in the Bill of Rights for a reason,” he continued. “People’s rights are being infringed upon and it’s resulting – in some cases – in death and in other cases extreme inconvenience in being able to purchase firearms.”

Pratt also said the background check system doesn’t do its job, as several of the more recent mass shooters in the U.S., including the suspect in the fatal shooting of 17 people in Parkland, Fla., were able to pass background checks.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.



Source link

Latest News

Afghanistan: Next few weeks pivotal as humanitarian crisis and fight for power looms | World News

Published

on

The next few weeks will be pivotal for the future of Afghanistan with ominous implications for its people who face a looming humanitarian disaster, but also for the prestige, power and influence of the West.

The Taliban has advanced faster than many had expected, seizing swathes of territory, key border crossings and now threatening three provincial capitals.

Ben Barry, senior fellow for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies said all eyes are now on Herat in the west and Kandahar and Lashkar Gah in the south.

Since the withdrawal of western forces, violence in the country has increased
Image:
Since the withdrawal of Western forces, violence in the country has increased

“If these provincial capitals fall then the Afghan government is in a very difficult position,” he said.

“If most or all of these provincial capitals hold then the chances are the Afghan government itself can continue to hold and the longer the Afghan government holds, then the weaker is the negotiating position of the Taliban.”

The immediate fear is of an impending humanitarian disaster. Terror of the Taliban and a looming civil war is forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Former UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto has years of experience in the country. He told Sky News the situation is deeply alarming, with so many people on the move and far worse than anything he witnessed there until now.

“It’s very serious, very very serious,” he said.

“It is an extremely large number, much much larger than acceptable. And I think the international community has to step up its commitment to aid. The international community has to speak out with unequivocal voice together.”

Two decades after the invasion of Afghanistan and the toppling of the Taliban, US president Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of forces. Talks between the Taliban and Afghan government are continuing in Qatar. Those talks are stalled while the fighting intensifies.

Tadimichi Yamamoto urged international powers to put their weight behind reinvigorating the diplomatic process: “We are seeing a real tragic situation where civilians and others are going to be sacrificed and that is totally unnecessary because the talks would bring the political forces to compromise and create a new future for Afghanistan.”

This week former US commander in the country, General David Petraeus, criticised the decision to withdraw saying America had abandoned Afghanistan to a “bloody and brutal civil war”.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the pace of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccinations in the United States during remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 29, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
Image:
Joe Biden has ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan

He condemned the decision to announce withdrawal before talks were complete.

Britain lost more than 450 lives in two decades of fighting in Afghanistan, America more than two thousand, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have died. More than two-and-a-quarter trillion dollars was spent there.

If the Taliban prevails and is able to wind the clock back to 2001, those sacrifices will have been in vain.

The next few weeks will test the Taliban’s ability to mount a sustained military campaign. In the past it has suffered severe losses in attempts to take provincial capitals. But the Afghan forces holding them now have less access to US airpower and US advisers are no longer able to deploy on the ground.

Afghan security personnel inspect a damaged vehicle which was carrying and shooting rockets, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
Image:
Afghan security personnel inspect a damaged vehicle that was carrying rockets in Kabul

Either way, the failure of America and its allies to win the war in Afghanistan has long-lasting implications for the West.

The history of the country and the military failures of Britain and Russia there may have made the recent debacle seem inevitable but there was a chance, say observers, to succeed there – an opportunity squandered by the temptation to invade Iraq.

Mr Barry told Sky News the decision to attack Iraq “was as disastrous as Napoleon’s decision to attack Russia, or Hitler’s decision to attack the Soviet Union. And that’s the biggest single reason why the war in Afghanistan sailed into so much difficulty”.

Resources, attention and diplomatic bandwidth were diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq. And the occupation and its abuses undermined the credibility and legitimacy of the US.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Afghanistan’s Ghani blames US withdrawal for violence

The decision to launch, then lose, two wars at such cost will surely be seen by historians as monumental hubris.

In the nemesis that’s followed, the West’s rivals – Russia, China and Iran – have watched and learned, Mr Barry said: “They will be saying to themselves we’ve seen the weaknesses of the West and the western way of war and we’re more confident in our own military capabilities than they are in theirs.”

Russia and Iran have applied those lessons already to the war in Syria. China has adjusted its tactics and hardware as it has modernised its military over the past twenty years. And other countries looking on will have drawn their own conclusions about the West’s ability to prevail and protect its interests and those of its allies.

Follow the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker.

“There will be countries who are allies of the US and UK who will wonder if they are threatened, will the US and UK come to their aid or will they be scared off by the prospect of casualties,” said Mr Barry.

$2.26 trillion later, the West has seen the strategic confidence of allies undermined by its record in Afghanistan, and the confidence of rivals grow.

And the country where so much blood and treasure was spilled is heading back towards civil war, chaos and the possible supremacy of an ultraconservative Islamist theocracy.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Beirut explosion: Officials knew risks of storing explosive materials but failed to protect public, says rights group | World News

Published

on

A year on from the massive explosion which hit Beirut, an international human rights group has said senior Lebanese officials failed to protect the public from the risks posed by highly explosive material stored at the capital’s port.

In a report on the explosion, Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed those same officials were trying to thwart an investigation into the incident.

It comes as the country prepares to mark the one year anniversary of the blast on Wednesday.

At least 214 people were killed and more than 6,000 others were injured in the explosion at Beirut’s port.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Moment of explosion in Beirut

The blast was preceded by a huge fire at a warehouse after hundreds of tonnes of improperly stored ammonium nitrate, a compound used as fertiliser but which has been used to make bombs, detonated.

Protesters are expected to gather in front of the port on Wednesday to hold a moment of silence before heading to the city centre.

Lebanon’s most senior Christian cleric, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al Rai, is also due to hold a mass with the families of victims at the port.

An investigation into the explosion is yet to reveal who ordered the shipment of chemicals and why officials ignored repeated internal warnings of the dangers they posed.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Inside the Beirut blast site

The chemicals arrived in the country on a ship called the Rhosus in 2013, after it made a stop while on its way from Georgia to Mozambique, in Beirut to try to earn extra money by taking on several pieces of heavy machinery.

However, the additional cargo proved too heavy for the ship and the crew refused to take it on.

It was then impounded by Lebanese authorities for failing to pay port fees, and never left the port again.

The HRW’s 650-page report details documents and exchanges between Lebanese officials about the ammonium nitrates, which had been stored at the port since then.

It concluded that “the actions and omissions of Lebanese authorities created an unreasonable risk of life”, adding that under international human rights law, a state’s failure to act to prevent foreseeable risks to life is a violation of the right to life.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Beirut’s deadly explosion explained

In addition, HRW said evidence strongly suggested some government officials foresaw the possible devastation from the nitrates’ presence and tacitly accepted the risk.

“Under domestic law, this could amount to the crime of homicide with probable intent, and/or unintentional homicide,” it added.

The report names senior leaders, including President Michel Aoun, prime minister at the time Hassan Diab, and several ministers among others who were informed of risks posed by the nitrates but failed to take any action.

Lebanese officials have acknowledged they knew about the chemicals and either claim they pursued the matter after learning about it, or it was not within their jurisdiction to do so.

HRW said a lack of judicial independence, constitution-imposed immunity for high-level officials, and a range of procedural and systemic flaws in the domestic investigation rendered it “incapable of credibly delivering justice”.

Survivors of the blast and families of the victims have called for an international investigation to take place due to their lack faith in the Lebanese judicial system.

HRW says the case for an “international investigation has only strengthened”.

Last month, Lebanon’s lead investigating judge in the case, Tarek Bitar, announced he intends to pursue senior politicians and former and current security chiefs in the case, and requested permission for their prosecution.

However, those named in the probe have failed to appear at the prosecutor’s office, citing either immunity as members of parliament or needing special permission from the prime minister or the interior minister to appear.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

COVID-19: China orders testing of 12 million Wuhan residents as more Delta variant cases identified | World News

Published

on

China is conducting mass testing in Wuhan after it identified its first domestic cases of the Delta variant in the city where coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.

Wuhan, which gave the world its first glimpses of lockdowns and mass testing, had reported no local COVID-19 cases since mid-May last year.

But on Monday, authorities confirmed three new cases of the more transmissible variant in the Chinese city.

People scan health check codes with their smartphones to show to a security guard at a tourist shopping street in Beijing. Pic: AP
Image:
People scan health check codes to show a security guard at a shopping street in Beijing. Pic: AP

All of its 12 million residents will be tested for coronavirus.

“To ensure that everyone in the city is safe, city-wide nucleic acid testing will be quickly launched for all people to fully screen out positive results and asymptomatic infections,” said Li Qiang, an official in the city, the capital of central Hubei province.

The new cases in Wuhan, along with infections in the nearby cities of Jingzhou and Huanggang since Saturday, were linked to cases found in Huaian city in Jiangsu province, said Li Yang, vice director of Hubei’s provincial disease control centre.

The outbreak in Jiangsu is believed to have begun in the provincial capital of Nanjing, with the Delta variant mostly likely introduced on a flight from Russia, officials have said.

Since then numerous cities in southern China and a few in the north including Beijing have reported infections.

The number of locally transmitted cases in China since 20 July, when the first Nanjing infections were found, stood at 414 on Monday.

However, it is not clear if all of those cases were of the Delta variant, or if they were all linked to Nanjing, as some authorities have not disclosed conclusive results of their virus-tracing efforts.

Authorities in numerous cities have launched mass testing to identify and isolate carriers. Pic: AP
Image:
Authorities in numerous cities have launched mass testing to identify and isolate carriers. Pic: AP

The Delta variant poses new risks to the world’s second-largest economy as it spreads from the coast to inland cities.

On Tuesday, the National Health Commission said 90 new cases had been confirmed the previous day, 61 locally spread ones and 29 among people who had recently arrived from abroad.

Most of the local cases were in Jiangsu province, where an outbreak started at the airport in Nanjing, the provincial capital, and has spread to the city of Yangzhou, 65 miles away.

Authorities reported 45 new cases, five in Nanjing and 40 in the city of Yangzhou, which was conducting a second round of mass testing.

Five other provinces and the cities of Beijing and Shanghai reported new local cases in the single digits.

In Shanghai, the nation’s largest city, a driver working at one of its two main airports tested positive. Beijing has reported a total of five cases in recent days.

Government-affiliated scientists have said Chinese vaccines are less effective against the new strains of the coronavirus but still offer some protection.

Only Chinese vaccines are currently being given in China, where authorities say more than 1.6 billion doses have been administered.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending