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What exactly goes into a background check? How do they work? Are they effective at preventing the wrong people from buying guns? Supporters of increased gun control say the current system does not do nearly enough. For instance, it's relatively easy to bypass any background check and legally purchase guns in the U.S. The so-called "gun show loophole" refers to private parties being able to sell to buyers (e.g. at gun shows or online) without performing any background check. There is also the "Charleston loophole," which allows former felons to legally purchase guns if their background check is not performed within three days. Such was the case for the shooter who killed 9 people at a Charleston, South Carolina church earlier this year.
As is often the case after such tragedies, there's a bit of a surge in proposing stricter gun control policy-or, at the very least, enforcing the laws that are currently in place. This week, Hillary Clinton spoke at a town hall in New Hampshire, where she outlined her gun control strategy. Clinton says she would exercise her executive power as president to close the Charleston and gun show loopholes. Clinton's proposal also includes a provision that prohibits domestic abusers from purchasing guns. Clinton said she could implement such policies as president and bypass Congress, if necessary. Her policy rests on designating private vendors, who sell online or at gun shows, as people "in the business of selling firearms." It's an important distinction that would subject private vendors to the same rules that brick and mortar shops must follow.
As of now, it's unclear how such a proposal would do, if Clinton were elected president. It may or may not be within the bounds of executive authority. At the very least there would likely be intense political backlash from the NRA. Still, for supporters of gun control, it's a relatively fresh way of looking at one of our society's largest problems.
Ten Years After Columbine, Notable Moments in Recent U.S. Gun-control Debate (pbs.org)
"April 20, 1999 | Students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold attack Columbine High School near Denver, killing 12 fellow students and a teacher."
The Case for Finishing the Job to Keep America Safer (bradycampaign.org)
"It was 20 years ago that Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act."
National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Operations (fbi.gov)
"The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Section of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division has processed firearm background checks since its inception- November 30, 1998."
'Universal background check:' What does it mean? (cnn.com)
"The "universal background checks" now being pushed by some gun control supporters is code for closing federal loopholes on such checks at gun shows and other private sales."