In the aftermath of recent tragedies that have occurred across our country, we struggle to find the answers to adequately address violence in America. The temptation is to do something, anything, to prevent such evils from ever happening again. That is a natural response. Unfortunately, powerful emotions and kneejerk political reactions do not typically make for smart policymaking.
One thing is clear: we must take responsible steps to keep firearms out of the hands of mentally disturbed individuals and criminals attempting to circumvent the federal background check process. When taking action to keep Americans safe, however, we must also ensure that we are not creating unintended consequences for the law-abiding citizens who responsibly exercise their right to bear arms. Millions of law-abiding, gun-owning American citizens go to sleep each night without harming others, their families, or themselves.
Under current Federal law, there are already a number of prohibited individual categories that prevent a purchase of a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer. Those categories include: felons, fugitives, unlawful users of controlled substances, adjudicated mental defectives, illegal aliens, persons dishonorably discharged, those who renounce citizenship, and persons with restraining orders, in addition to state laws.
For dealers, an individual who is engaged in the business as a firearms dealer is required to have a Federal firearms license. A dealer is any person who deals in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchases and reselling of firearms.
However, an individual who make occasional sales, exchanges or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms, is not considered a dealer, and is thus except from licensing requirements.
Nevada also currently uses the ‘Point of Contact Program' for firearm purchases in the state, which requires all Federal Firearms Licensees to contact Nevada Department of Public Safety staff to run a more thorough background check against Nevada's own databases and systems, as well as the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Americans are citizens, not subjects. Our government derives its power from the consent of the people. Our liberties, including the right to bear arms, pre-exist the founding of our government, and the people did not give up their individual rights when they consented to its creation. Nor are there any provisions in our founding documents to deprive the people as a whole of these freedoms when certain individuals abuse theirs.
Our law enforcement communities need to be given the tools and resources to enforce the laws that are already on the books while Congress works to enact meaningful solutions that will– without infringing on due process or privacy protections– keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally disturbed.
My colleagues and I in the House will conduct vigilant oversight on this issue and I will continue to support legislation that defends the Second Amendment and improves the enforcement of current law.