As the bill begins to process, Toomey may feel some angst as liberty-minded types worry about the impact of anti-gun activism on the 2nd Amendment.
Toomey summed up the multi-pronged bill with an overview at his Senate Web page:
“The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act would require states and the federal government to send all necessary records on criminals and the violently mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill extends the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales."
Toomey and other supporters deny the bill would create a federal registry; the text at Toomey’s site includes a provision making such a registry illegal.
NICS is overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and whether we admit it or not, the system already provides a mechanism for a national gun registry if in the future, liberals succeed in continuing to expand gun controls.
It’s interesting to note the FBI claims about NICS:
More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials.
Denials aside, how many are prosecuted for purchasing guns illegally?
According to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), not many at the federal level. Media have cited Cruz’s claims that “in 2010, more than 15,000 felons tried to illegally purchase guns, but only 44 of them were prosecuted by the Justice Department.”
Toomey’s participation in the new legislation surprised some but not everyone. Anti-gun zealots like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly backed the Pennsylvania conservative into a corner.
Jacob Sullum at Reason Magazine, easily the best politics magazine in the country, raised questions about the bill, explaining something many Americans may not know:
“The current background check requirement applies to sales by federally licensed gun dealers, no matter where they occur. Whether the sale is initiated in a store, online, or at a gun show, a licensed dealer has to do a background check. Conversely, someone who is not a licensed dealer does not have to do a background check, whether the sale is initiated at a gun show, online, or in his kitchen.”
Jason Pye at United Liberty, a libertarian leaning blog, called the Toomey-Manchin effort “a pointless background check compromise.”
Sen. Cruz and others have expressed concerns about privacy as well as potential violations of the Bill of Rights.
Those concerns are warranted, considering recent stories about the Environmental Protection Agency supplying private information about farmers to environmental extremist groups.
In Michigan, a state employee described as “a mid-level supervisor” gave the federal government the state’s database of concealed weapons permit holders.
Anti-gun laws have been passed before as a kneejerk political reaction and that is how NICS began:
In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed The Gun Control Act in response to the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy.
In 1993, as an amendment to The Gun Control Act, President Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, otherwise known as the Brady Act, into law. It was named after James Brady, who suffered a near fatal head injury during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan.
As a result, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or the NICS, was established to determine whether or not the transfer of a firearm would violate state or federal law.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation implemented the NICS on November 30, 1998. [FBI]
While the deaths of JFK, Malcolm X, Dr. King and RFK remain somewhat obscure as far as the identities and backgrounds of some of the perpetrators, the attempted assassination of President Reagan was committed by a man who was allegedly mentally ill.
Furthermore, the Church Committee hearings disclosing horrific abuses of intelligence protocol and spying on Americans without just cause create an uneasy aura when the Bill of Rights is tampered with.
Those who understand political history understand that each time a matter is addressed by legislation, a door is opened for expansion. That is how America went from socialist-lite Medicaid and Medicare to de facto socialist ObamaCare.
Caution is in order on any legislation affecting 2nd Amendment rights. Toomey has a solid conservative record. Hopefully he can maintain that record and stave off critics as the new legislation makes its way through Congress.
Background check expansion may sound good on paper to those unfamiliar with guns, but a background check of any type would not have prevented the deaths that led to NICS or those that led to the current legislation. Therein lies the problem no one is attempting to address.
The PSSARPA title is also suspect. The Second Amendment should not need protection and the bill will likely do little to enhance public safety if history is a benchmark.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/April 11, 2013)
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