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

AstraZeneca’s jab has had a bumpy rollout in the EU – but how did it play out? | World News

Published

on

The EU’s vaccination drive has been a bumpy ride – but its rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab has been especially so.

In November, the European Commission celebrated its plan for a common approach, heralding the creation of a “health union” along with its deal to purchase at least 300 million doses from the British-Swedish drugmaker.

This deal came with the option of purchasing another 100 million doses for its 450 million citizens.

Four months later, however, and the bloc’s programme has been beset with shortages and delays, and has prompted a very public and very bitter row with the pharmaceutical company.

It then almost resulted in a nuclear option – triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, before peaking again on Thursday when the commission blocked a shipment of vaccines bound for Australia.

So – how did we get here?

22 January, shortages announced

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the AstraZeneca jab for use on 29 January – but the issues had already begun.

Exactly a week earlier, the company informed Brussels there would be a 60% shortfall due to a production glitch in its European supply chain.

It left the EU expecting deliveries of 31 million doses by the end of March instead of the agreed 80 million.

Coupled with a temporary shortfall of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the drive was off to a bad start.

25 January, efficacy questioned in German report

Handelsblatt, a German newspaper, published a report suggesting the efficacy of the AstraZeneca jab could be as low as 8% in over-65s.

The claim was rebutted by the German health ministry as well as AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which said there had been “no basis” for the assertion.

28 January, Germany advises against use in over-65s

On the eve of the EMA’s approval of the jab, health authorities in Germany said the vaccine should not be administered to people over 65, saying there was a lack of data on this age group.

France, Greece, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland and Austria eventually followed suit with the same restriction.

Italy initially limited the jab to under 55s but at the end of February raised that to adults up to 65 years old.

Belgium and Spain have limited it to under 55s.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

COVID vaccine rollout in the EU has slowed down due to skepticism over UK vaccine production

28 January, EU orders inspection at AstraZeneca site

Quarrels ensued in the days after the shortfall was announced as EU officials urged AstraZeneca to limit the expected cuts.

The commission also threatened to impose strict export controls to ensure the bloc received its fair share of the vaccine, and later pointed to a clause in its contract which said doses would be delivered from two UK-based factories.

However, Pascal Soriot, the French chief executive of AstraZeneca, said no timetable for deliveries had been agreed, adding that the contract included a best-effort clause.

He said the UK’s contract had also been signed three months before Brussels, and it stipulated that vaccines made in the UK should be supplied to the UK first.

Around one in seven people now have antibodies, with numbers building because of the vaccines
Image:
Brussels hinted at there being a breach of contract in relation to AstraZeneca

In response, the EU hinted that Mr Soriot’s revealing of this information – said to be confidential – could amount to a breach of contract.

But to top this busy couple of days, the EU on 28 January ordered officials to inspect AstraZeneca’s facility in Seneffe, Belgium, to confirm there was an issue with supply.

29 January, AstraZeneca jab approved; EU publishes its contract

The EMA approved AstraZeneca for use on 29 January for all adults over 18 years old – despite conflicting recommendations from Germany.

French President Emmanuel Macron then dampened confidence further, saying the jab was “quasi-ineffective”.

It was also the day Brussels released a heavily-redacted version of its contract; although, this appeared to create more questions than it answered.

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he presents the acceleration of the national cybersecurity strategy during a video conference at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, France February 18, 2021. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS
Image:
Emmanuel Macron said in January he thought the jab was ‘quasi-ineffective’

29 January, EU moves to trigger NI protocol

The procurement row soon reached its first peak as the commission made moves to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to prevent vaccines entering the UK.

This would have seen checks made at the border of the Republic and Northern Ireland.

London, Belfast and Dublin widely condemned the move – and it ultimately resulted in the commission making a swift U-turn.

February-March, low uptake reported

Bad publicity in earlier weeks appeared to have a knock-on effect for AstraZeneca in Germany as slow uptakes of the jab were reported.

Meanwhile, the head of Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) Thomas Mertens said “the whole thing has somehow gone badly,” and insisted the vaccine was “very good”.

He told broadcaster ZDF: “We never criticised the vaccine, we only said that the data was not good or not sufficient for over 65s.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Northern Ireland Protocol became ‘collateral damage’

4 March, U-turns on recommendations for over-65s

Germany later reversed its recommendation on restricting jabs to under-65s only, while France partially U-turned by allowed the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged between 65 and 74 with pre-existing health conditions.

It comes after fresh data published by Public Health England (PHE) based on the UK’s vaccine rollout showed protection against symptomatic COVID in those over 70, four weeks after the first jab, ranged between 60-73% and 57-61% for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

4 March, EU blocks shipment to Australia

As AstraZeneca failed to meet its contractual commitments, Italy and the European Commission blocked a request to export 250,000 doses from its Anagni plant near Rome.

The move came under a new export control system that passed into law on 30 January and was the first time it had been used by a member state.

In a statement, the Italian foreign ministry cited reasons such as Australia being considered “not vulnerable” due to a low number of COVID cases, along with the shortage of vaccines in Europe.

It is understood the doses will now be redistributed within the EU, where about 8% of the population has been vaccinated, compared with more than 30% in the UK.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Tsunami warnings issued and thousands told to evacuate after powerful New Zealand quake | World News

Published

on

A series of tsunami warnings have been issued after a powerful earthquake off New Zealand’s North Island prompted a major evacuation.

Thousands of people on the island’s east coast fled to higher ground following the third and strongest quake within hours.

Workers, students and residents were told to leave their homes in areas like Northland and Bay of Plenty – amid warnings tsunami waves could reach as high as three metres (10 feet) above tide levels.

The latest quake had a magnitude of 8.1 and struck the Kermadec Islands, northeast of New Zealand‘s North Island.

It came shortly after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in the same region. A large 7.2-magnitude earthquake had struck earlier, about 540 miles away on the east of the North Island.

There were no reports of damage or casualties from the quakes.

New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the first waves would begin to arrive on New Zealand’s north shores by about 9.45am local time (8.45pm UK time).

It warned areas under threat were from the Bay of Islands to Whangarei, from Matata to Tolaga Bay including Whakatane and Opotiki, and the Great Barrier Island.

“We want everyone to take this threat seriously. Move to high ground,” Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai told state broadcaster TVNZ.

Warnings were also issued for other Pacific islands like Tonga, American Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Hawaii and others.

Australia issued a marine tsunami threat for Norfolk Island but said there was no threat to the mainland, while Chile said it could experience a minor tsunami.

“People near the coast in the following areas must move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible. DO NOT STAY AT HOME,” NEMA said in a statement posted online

“The earthquake may not have been felt in some of these areas, but evacuation should be immediate as a damaging tsunami is possible.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

COVID-19: Cyprus to allow vaccinated Britons to holiday in the country without restrictions from 1 May | World News

Published

on

Cyprus will let British tourists who have had both COVID vaccination doses into the country without restrictions from 1 May.

This means visitors who have had both jabs will not need to supply a negative coronavirus test or have to quarantine, according to plans unveiled by Cypriot deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios.

However, the UK government has said the earliest date people from England can travel abroad for a holiday is 17 May – provided the four tests for easing lockdown are met.

Empty sunbeds at Nissi Beach in Cyprus
Image:
Empty sunbeds at Nissi Beach in Cyprus

Visitors to Cyprus will need to have been given vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency and the second dose must have been administered at least seven days before travel.

Authorities still have the right to carry out random tests on foreign arrivals, the tourism minister said.

“We have informed the British government that from 1 May we will facilitate the arrival of British nationals who have been vaccinated… so they can visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine,” Mr Perdios told Cyprus News Agency.

British tourists are the largest market for Cyprus’ tourism industry, which will be keen to get back on track after suffering during the pandemic.

The industry represents about 13% of the Cypriot economy, with arrivals and earnings plunging 85% on average last year.

Cyprus has implemented various lockdowns during the pandemic but has had a milder outbreak than many other countries.

:: Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

The country had recorded a total of 232 coronavirus deaths and 36,004 infections by Thursday.

All UK adults are expected to have been offered a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July.

Nearly 21 million people in the country have now had their first dose, with people prioritised by age and clinical vulnerability to the virus.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending