The following letter was sent by Rep. Steve Daines, R-Montana, and Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, to House Speak John Boehner on March 14 calling on the U.S. House to stand firm against any proposals that would infringe upon Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
We are writing to express our strong opposition to legislation requiring private sale background checks for firearms purchases.
The so-called “universal background check” system would be a violation of Constitutionally-guaranteed rights on an unprecedented scale. The principle that no person can purchase or sell a firearm without first receiving government permission transforms the Second Amendment from a “right” that should be protected by the government into a privilege granted by the government.
In addition to constitutional concerns, even if every private transfer of firearms were regulated by the federal government, it would not be an effective crime fighting tool. Typically, shooters steal firearms (Adam Lanza), pass a background check (James Holmes and Jared Loughner) or receive their firearms through straw purchasers (which is already illegal).
Such a law would apply to transfers between family members, friends and neighbors, who would be required to seek out a federally licensed gun dealer to facilitate the transaction. Many sellers in very rural areas would find it a great hardship to travel many miles, accompanied by their purchasers, in order to make a sale in a licensed dealer’s place of business. And many small dealers are closed on weekends and holidays. Will the people’s right to transfer lawfully owned products be valid only during working hours?
We are also very concerned about the potential for official misuse and gun owner registration, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasingly copying the contents of gun dealers’ 4473 forms.
Universal background check legislation is also opposed by the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, the National Association for Gun Rights, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and other national and state level pro-Second Amendment organization.
Therefore, under the precedents and traditions of the House, we would ask that no gun legislation be brought to the floor of the House unless it has the support of a majority of our caucus.