Banning assault weapons won’t prevent all
shootings, but contrary to Republican talking points, we already know that
banning these military-style weapons does reduce mass killings of six people
or more. When the original ban was in place from 1994 to 2004, the number of
fell by 37% and the number of
people dying from them fell by 43%
After the ban expired, the number of gun massacres
killing six or more increased by 183%
and the number of people dying
from them increased by 239%
The first need is getting military-style assault
weapons such as the AR-15 off the streets.
fire much faster than typical hunting rifles. They fire rounds that are
also deadlier than
those fired from a hunting rifle. A Parkland radiologist noted that an AR-15
round may leave an exit
wound “the size of an orange.” These weapons are designed to kill
people, not animals.
Importantly, the bill also
bans high-capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. The shooter
at the grade school in Newtown, Conn., for example, used 30-round
High-capacity magazines also
lead to deadlier mass shootings. While law enforcement might be able to
respond to mass shootings in a matter of minutes, a matter of minutes is all
it takes to fire hundreds of rounds. In Las
Vegas, for example, the shooter fired 1,100 rounds in just 10 minutes —
110 rounds per minute.
Under current law, licensed gun dealers cannot sell
a handgun to anyone under 21, but they are allowed to sell assault
rifles like the AR-15 to anyone over 18. This policy is dangerous and makes
absolutely no sense.
While the preference is to ban assault weapons outright, instead,
ensuring teenagers can’t legally buy these weapons
is a commonsense compromise.
Another problem is a legal loophole permitting accessories such as bump
stocks, which allow semiautomatic weapons to fire at the same rate as
machine guns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has
concluded that it cannot
regulate or ban these devices without a new law.
While President Trump has
directed the ATF to review
the issue, if the agency were to reverse its analysis after admitting
that it lacks the authority, inevitable lawsuits would tie up any
regulations banning these devices for years.
Too often, family and friends
were aware that a family member posed a threat to themselves or others but
were unable to act. The gun lobby and their
allies say we need to take guns away from those who exhibit "red flags," but
it fails to explain that families and law enforcement have little recourse
in these situations.
Barring someone, (who does not
fall into one of the nine prohibited
purchaser categories from buying or keeping weapons), can be done only
through a legal process that few states have in place. Our bill would help
states establish a court process to allow
family members and law enforcement to petition the
court to bar someone from purchasing or
Last, none of the above will
make a difference unless we improve the background
check system by ensuring that states and federal agencies submit
required records and ensure that
all sales — not just those
at federally licensed dealers — require a background
Questions about guns in the
Mar 2, 2018,
What is an FFL?
An Federal Firearms
License (FFL) is the document that allows an individual or
company to buy, sell, or manufacture firearms in the U.S. FFLs are issued
and monitored by the ATF
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and they are the ones who law enforcement questions
if a gun is involved in a crime .
What happens when someone buys a gun
through an FFL?
They have to fill out an ATF-issued 4473
form, which includes standard identifiable information like the applicant’s
address, age, sex, date of birth, and ethnicity. It also asks if they have
ever been convicted of a felony, are an unlawful drug user, have ever been
committed to a mental institution, been dishonorably discharged from the
armed forces, convicted of domestic violence, and
are a legal resident of the U.S.
That form is kept on
paper, and then the FFL needs to electronically forward information
from that form to the National Instant Criminal
Background Check System (NICS), which is overseen by the
FBI. The purpose of that NICS review is to see
if there’s any prohibitive factor that should prevent someone from being
allowed to buy a gun.
NICS is given up to
three days to answer, either saying that the applicant is approved or
denied the sale. If NICS doesn’t respond in three
days, the sale is approved by default. If the person is denied,
the FFL will just know that their application is denied but will not know
What are other ways that people can buy
Beyond buying guns from stores, many of
which are FFLs, people can also buy guns through
private sales, which means that they are buying directly from the
owner of the gun. In that situation, the seller is said to be selling the
firearm from their personal collection which could have been passed down
through generations or bought directly by the seller from manufacturers or
What happens when people buy guns through
There are no federal requirements that
private sellers need to meet when they sell firearms, meaning that they don’t have to run a background check, ask for
identification, or have their customers fill out any forms.
What happens when someone buys a gun at a
Gun shows involve sales by FFLs, who set
up tables at gun shows, or by private sellers, who are also allowed to
sell at gun shows. If the seller is an FFL, then they have to go through
the same process as they would at a store, having the applicant submit a
4473 and waiting up to three days before giving the either approval or
denial. If it is a private seller, there is no
background check required.
How are gun records stored?
All ATF records
about gun sales or owners are kept on paper,
not electronically, making it difficult to
search the records. The ATF is legally prohibited
from doing so.
A line has been added to
ATF appropriations bills that says that no
funds “shall be available for salaries or administrative expenses in
connection with consolidating or centralizing, within the Department of
Justice, the records, or any portion thereof, of acquisition and disposition
of firearms maintained by Federal firearms licensees,” as it says in the
2012 appropriations bill.
It was always understood that this was the
position of the NRA that they didn’t want to
have any government entity to have what was construed as a national
registration record keeping system.
When a gun shop closes down, they are
required to pass their records over to the ATF’s Out of Business Records
As of 2010 the records that were sent to the
Out of Business Records Center were then put on
microfiche, rather than in an electronic database. ( They probably
spent multiple times more money on microfiching than they would digitizing.)
How are traces run on guns involved in
When law enforcement is looking for
information on the owner of a gun that is connected to a crime, they run an
electronic trace, or e-trace, on the gun.
By looking up the gun’s serial number the
ATF can determine the manufacturer of the gun, and the manufacturer can tell
the ATF which FFL got that weapon. Then the FFL uses their Acquisition and
Disposition (AAD) book to look up the 4473 form that the purchaser of that
gun had to fill out when they bought it in the first place.
The tracing process is a
paper process. Dead slow and stop!
What is the National Instant Background
Check System (NICS)?
NICS is the system, which is run by the
FBI, that determines whether someone can
legally buy a gun. NICS was mandated as a result of the Brady Handgun
Violence Prevention Act of 1993, which was named in honor of James Brady,
the assistant to President Ronald Reagan who was shot in the 1981
assassination attempt. It was put into effect in 1998.
A NICS check goes through records from the
National Crime Information Center, the Interstate Identification Index and
the NICS Index. The information that individual states
provide to the NCIC database differs by state.
On the FBI’s undated
website explaining NICS, it states that more than 230 million checks
have been run and it has resulted in more than 1.3 million denials, which
equals 0.56 percent of checks lead to a denial.
(ATF) has 25 firearms-related data
systems, 16 of which
contain retail firearms purchaser information from a federal firearms
licensee (FFL)—such as firearms importers and retailers.
Here are 4 of them:
The Out-of-Business Records Imaging System
(OBRIS) stores nonsearchable images of firearms records from
out-of-business FFLs. Such FFLs are required by law to provide their
records to ATF.
Access 2000 (A2K) provides servers for
National Tracing Center (NTC) personnel to electronically search
participating FFLs' records at their premises for firearms disposition
information during a trace.
The Firearm Recovery Notification Program
(FRNP) maintains information on firearms that have not yet been recovered
by law enforcement, but are suspected of being involved in criminal
activity and are associated with an ATF criminal investigation.
Multiple Sales (MS) includes firearms
information from multiple sales reports. FFLs are required by law to
report to ATF sales of two or more revolvers or pistols during 5
consecutive business days. ATF policy requires that certain information in
MS be deleted after 2 years if the firearm
has not been connected to a trace.
Giffords, a gun violence prevention advocacy
group associated with former Rep. Gabby Giffords, reports that nine states – California, Connecticut,
Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode
Island -- and the District of Columbia require owners to report the loss or
theft of a firearm to law enforcement. Maryland requires the reporting of
loss or theft of handguns and assault weapons but not other guns, and
Michigan requires the reporting of thefts but not the loss of firearms.
Responsible gun owners tend to report a loss
or theft to their local police department because then, if the gun is later
used in some kind of crime, the individual will be able to have a record of
reporting the weapon lost or stolen.
Is it possible to look up the age or
medical history of someone who bought a gun?
The only record that states the gun
owner’s age or medical history is the 4473 form, which the FFL is required
to keep but is not passed along to any other authority unless upon
As for medical history, the applicant
doesn’t need to submit any medical records or doctors notes with their
applications, meaning that it is just up to them to self-identify any
Endless rows of boxes of paper records line the hallways of
the archaic federal facility where guns are traced.The physical records, some 8,000 boxes, are stashed in the Trace
Center building. Another 7,000 are kept in nine shipping containers outside.
They are stored there to keep the floor inside from collapsing!
The National Tracing Center (NTC), is the go-to
source for police stations looking to catch a
criminal. It receives nearly 1,500 requests for gun
traces every day. The center’s work would be quite simple if there
were a digitized national gun registry, yet, bizarrely, the NTC—part of the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—is
banned from using an online national
registry. There is no searchable database.
When a police
station calls to have a serial number traced, the center instead must
contact the weapons manufacturer, and hope it
has hung on to the paperwork with the gun owner’s name
on it. The NTC does, however, oversee the Access 2000 program, which
enables it to search the manufacturer’s database of
serial numbers for information about the
distributor or retailer to whom the
firearms were sold. In some cases, the gun
dealer has gone out of business, in which case NTC employees must
search tediously through thousands of stacks of boxes full of
paper and endless rolls of
microfilm to find the right
serial number. The
search can take weeks.
ATF TRACER DEBBIE MARSHALL REACHES
FOR A MICROFILM
ROLL OF FIREARM TRANSACTION DOCUMENTS FROM FIREARMS DEALERS NO LONGER IN
BUSINESS. -- Nonsensicle -- The agency gets more than 1,000 requests for
gun traces each day.
Why are people allowed to buy some guns at 18 years old and why do you have to
wait until you’re 21 years old for others?
Because the law says so. The Gun Control Act
of 1968 stipulates that no rifle or
shotgun or matching
ammunition can be sold to someone younger than
18 years old, and no
handgun or ammunition could be sold to
anyone younger than 21 years old.
Long guns and shotguns were deemed more of
sporting type of firearm than a pistol or revolver when the
law was enacted in 1968.
How many gun owners are there in the United
That’s not known. The way in which federal
laws mandate gun sales records be kept – though not shared – makes it
difficult to have an accurate account of the number of guns in the country.
There is no national registration, there is no
law or registry on the books that requires that gun owners have to either
registered or convey how many guns they actually own. There is no federal law
that requires gun owners to be registered, but there are some states and
cities, like New York City, that require owners to register their weapons with
a Pew Research Center study, released in June 2017, 30
percent of American adults own a gun and a further 11 percent said they live
with someone who owns a gun, meaning that 41 percent of adults lived in a
household with a gun.
The Pew study noted that among gun owners,
32% own one
37% own two to four
29% own five or more
How many guns are there in the United States?
Similarly, because of the lack of national
cohesion on various records, no one knows exactly how many guns are in the
ATF ( Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)does not maintain a federal gun
registry, therefore, records are not kept on the sales of firearms, private
sales or information on individual purchasers. There are hundreds of millions
of firearms” in the country.
One way to measure the number of guns in the
country is the annual commerce report released by the ATF, which reports how
many guns were manufactured in the United States in a given year. The only
readily available data from ATF commerce reports date from
1986 through 2015,
the most recently released report, and there were
143,642,781 guns manufactured in the U.S. during those 30 years.
Because firearms are not biodegradable, it is
very easy for a gun to last for decades so long as it is cleaned and stored
properly, meaning that guns that were manufactured much earlier in the 20th
century may still be in circulation.
By contrast, it’s also unknown how many guns
drop out of circulation, either by being destroyed or seized by law
One estimate said that there were believed to
have been 310,000,000 guns in the U.S. in 2009, according to a Congressional
Research Service report published in November 2012, though gun sales are
believed to have increased in the years that followed.