The ban on bump stocks has taken effect, meaning the device that can transform semiautomatic weapons into machine guns is no longer legal to sell or possess in the United States.
As controversial as any measure involving guns can be, this one seems to enjoy broad support from gun owners as well as gun foes. Based on the ugly history of mass shootings in the country, the ban is a reasonable step to take out of circulation a device that is unneeded for sport or self-defense. The bump stock is all about transforming a weapon into mass-kill mode.
Reality is that law-abiding citizens now will not possess the devices, but those on the other side of the law may. Gun laws mean nothing to criminals if they can find a way around them. In the case of bump stocks, circumventing the law should become a lot more difficult.
Sometime, small steps can make a big difference – and another logical one should be taken.
The U.S. House has passed bipartisan legislation to fix the so-called “Charleston Loophole” that currently allows the sale of a firearm to proceed if a background check is not completed within three days.
The loophole in the background check system is the reason a gunman was able to obtain the weapon used to murder nine people and wound three others as they participated in a Bible study at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June 2015. Had the FBI background check been completed, the perpetrator of the Emanuel massacre would have been barred from purchasing a firearm.
H.R. 1112 extends the initial background check review period from three business days to 10 business days. If after 10 business days the background check system has not returned an answer to the gun dealer, the purchaser may request an escalated review. If the additional 10 business days elapse without a response from the background check system, then the licensed gun dealer may sell or transfer the gun to the purchaser.
Before the vote, U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina urged his colleagues to support the measure, saying, “The Charleston Loophole is something all members of Congress should have the courage to change. And by doing so, grant the American people the serenity they deserve in their schools, in their entertainment venues, in their neighborhood streets. And God forbid in their places of worship.”
The White House has signaled its opposition to the change, saying it “would unduly impose burdensome delays on individuals seeking to purchase a firearm.” Unless that stance changes, and it should because the pros of H.R. 1112 outweigh the cons, passage by the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely.
And that, unfortunately, throws a matter that should be addressed in 2019 squarely into the middle of the 2020 election debate.