Joe Biden Wants to Institute Universal Background Checks

Gun News

According to his campaign website, Joe Biden “will enact universal background check legislation, requiring a background check for all gun sales with very limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members.” That means that any time someone wants to sell a gun to someone else, they have to go through a Federal Firearms License dealer or FFL for short. The buyer has to submit an ATF Form 4473 to undergo a background check, and most FFLs charge a fee for conducting the transaction. The theory behind requiring universal background checks is that it will lead to a reduction in crime because it keeps guns “out of the wrong hands.” Nothing could be further from the truth and policies like these are actually quite harmful, not to mention unconstitutional.

By requiring individuals to go to an FFL, universal background checks place a significant financial burden on the working-class; not only do they have to pay a fee to conduct the transfer, but they have to commit travel time, which can be substantial for people who live in the rural corners of America. More troublesome is the gatekeeper role of the FFL – they get to decide whether or not they want to conduct a transfer, so the institution of mandatory background checks allows for discrimination with essentially no avenue for redress by would-be gun owners.

As far as the Constitution is concerned, a federal universal background check would offend the Second Amendment and would clearly exceed the Congress’s authority under Article I – if lawmakers wanted the legislation to be truly universal, it would have to regulate intrastate firearms transfers, clearly exceeding their authority to write laws under the Interstate Commerce Clause. Biden should understand that he lacks the constitutional authority to sign off on a bill like this, especially after his Gun-Free School Zones Act was struck down by the Supreme Court in United States v. Lopez.

FPC opposes universal background checks because they allow the government to prevent and constrain (read: infringe upon) the free exercise of a natural and constitutionally-protected right. Background checks do not stop criminals from acquiring firearms, rather they encourage the existence of black markets, driving illicit activity among criminals while creating a financial burden for working-class people and allowing the government to serve as unsupervised gatekeepers to our right to keep and bear arms.

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