Self-proclaimed “Spartacus” Cory Booker, Democratic Senator from New Jersey and presidential candidate, exhibited his lack of knowledge of current U.S. firearms laws at a CNN town hall.
Booker defamed the NRA, like Kirstin Gillibrand before him, claiming that the NRA wants to sell firearms to convicted violent criminals, domestic abusers, and people on the terrorist no-fly list. This looks to be a Democratic talking-point leading up to the 2020 elections, with Booker using the word “loophole” quite often in his short monologue.
The “loophole” he is likely referring to (although it’d be helpful if politicians would be more explicit in exactly how they wish to run rough-shod over our liberties) is the fact that, under federal law, private gun sales between individuals are not subject to background checks. Only sales made by registered firearms dealers (i.e. those holding an FFL) are required to have background checks conducted on potential firearms purchasers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Some states have enacted laws prohibiting private sales, or requiring them to be conducted through the brokerage of an FFL (so that a background check can be done), but many freely allow private sales. In addition, in many states holders of concealed carry licenses do not have to undergo a background check during purchase, since they undergo background checks when obtaining and renewing their carry license.
Regardless of whether or not a background check is done, however, it remains illegal for convicted felons, the judicially-adjudicated mentally ill, and a whole class of others who are “prohibited persons” to purchase or possess firearms under federal law. ATF Form 4473
has more information. Private sellers of firearms are not supposed to sell to people they suspect of being one of these “prohibited persons.” Indeed, many private sellers will only sell to holders of valid concealed carry licenses anyway, to ensure that they are not selling to someone prohibited from owning a firearm.
However, the problem that many firearm owners have with requiring background checks on every purchase is that they fear that it would lead to firearm registration, which would then eventually lead to confiscation. Indeed, the current events in New Zealand, and U.S. politicians’ approval of what’s happening there, only feed into the fear that U.S. firearm owners have of potential confiscation. Many politicians have called for registration and bans in our own country, and universal background checks are seen as a stepping-stone towards this ultimate goal.
The problem with Booker and Gillibrand’s call to include those on the “terrorist no-fly list” as “prohibited persons” is that the no-fly list is completely opaque with no process to determine if you are on the list and no clear process for removing oneself. Famous people previously improperly included on the list were Yusuf Islam (i.e. Cat Stevens), Senator Ted Kennedy, Rep. John Lewis, and even kids (a 2015 CNN article details some of the problems with the no-fly list). This is just a way, then, for a government agency to deprive someone of a Constitutionally-protected right without due process.
Democrats have made no secret of their desire to ban firearms in the U.S. as well as showing a general disregard for the U.S. Constitution. It’s no wonder then that firearm owners and the NRA (which many, but not all gun owners are members of) fight against any encroachment on the rights protected by the Second Amendment. Other pro-rights organizations include Gun Owners of America, the Second Amendment Foundation, the Firearms Policy Coalition, and many state-level organizations (such as Georgia Carry). Many Second Amendment supporters remember where “compromise” led in the 1980s and 1990s and have no desire to go down the same path again.