President Biden on Thursday described his actions against gun violence in a speech that mistakenly described three gun “loopholes” he sought to close.
“If you walk into a store and buy a gun, you have to check your background. But you go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want and no background checks, ”he said, repeating a familiar refrain among supporters for more gun control.
It was overkill. Licensed gun dealers are required to search for potential buyers through a background check system before a sale is approved. Private sellers are not required to perform such background checks, and some sell guns at gun shows. But that doesn’t mean all gun show dealers are private or that all gun show sales forgo a background check. In addition, 16 states and Washington, DC, have passed laws requiring universal background checks, including at gun shows.
Although there is little recent data on the subject, a 1999 study by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, found that half to three-quarters of salespeople at gun shows were in made license holders. A 2017 survey of gun owners published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 22% of guns purchased at gun shows did not include a background check.
Mr Biden also left out important context when he described the so-called Charleston Loophole.
“If the FBI hasn’t – hasn’t completed the background check within three days – there’s a process – if it hasn’t been done in three days, according to the Charleston loophole, you can buy the gun, ”he said. “They bought the gun and killed a lot of innocent people.”
It is true that if a background check is not done within three business days, a gun dealer can proceed with the sale.
In 2015, Dylann S. Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine black parishioners in a Charleston church, purchased a gun two months before the shooting. This purchase was cleared after the FBI did not explicitly block the sale within three days.
While Mr. Roof admitted to having committed a drug offense a month before purchasing the gun, administrative errors prevented the FBI from seeing this admission in time and blocking the purchase of the gun.
However, the office still had the power to refuse a purchase after the fact and then refer the matter back to ATF agents to retrieve the weapon, which it did not do in Mr. Roof’s case. In 2015, the FBI made 3,648 search referrals.
Further, Mr. Biden falsely asserted that gun manufacturing is “the only industry in America, a billion dollar industry, that cannot be continued.”
Congress passed a law in 2005 prohibiting prosecution of firearm manufacturers “for harm caused solely by the criminal or illegal use of firearm products or ammunition by others when the product was operating as planned and planned. ” But they can still be the subject of other types of lawsuits – for example, for warranty violations or if a manufacturer or dealer sells a firearm knowing it would be used in a crime.
The firearms industry is also not alone in benefiting from special protections from prosecution. For example, tech companies also benefit from a legal shield known as Section 230, which protects websites from liability for content created by their users.