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Universal Background Check Bill Is Designed to Land You in Prison

Sen. Charles Schumer, author of the "Universal Background Check" bill, answers questions from reporters
Sen. Charles Schumer, author of the "Universal Background Check" bill, answers questions from reporters(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

S. 374 just passed the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday on a vote of 10-8. S. 374 bears the Orwellian title "Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers Act of 2013." With all of the talk about "Universal Background Checks," it is time to see what Congress has in mind for you. In short, the bill is designed to land you in federal prison.

The act bans the transfer of a firearm without running a criminal background check on a transferee through the federal NICS system. This is the same system that is used for retail purchases of firearms now, whether at a gun store or a gun show. The bill would apply the check to transfers that are currently private and expand the definition of "transfer" beyond any reasonable conception of the term. The definition of a "transfer" in the bill is very broad, and it includes loaning a firearm. There are some exceptions, but the exceptions are very narrowly drawn.

Under S. 374 as it passed the Judiciary Committee, all transfers would first require a transfer to a federally licensed firearms dealer, who would then transfer the firearm to the recipient, after running a check through NICS.

Exceptions would include gifts to a spouse, sibling, parent-child, or grandparent grandchild.

Transfers within the home, say to a live in girlfriend, would be legal, but only if the firearm does not leave the home (or "curtilage") and the transfer lasts less than 7 days. A temporary transfer at a shooting range would also be legal, but only if the firearm does not leave the shooting range. A loan for hunting would also be legal. Other loans would result in imprisonment for a year unless the NICS check is performed.

The term "transfer" specifically includes the term "loan," so loaning a firearm other than in the situations outlined above would be a crime.

What about the following situations:

  • You leave on a trip for 10 days, with the firearm at home in possession of a room mate, fiancee, or lover.
  • You have a few acres here in Georgia. You step away from the "curtilage" of your home and permit a friend or relative to use your firearm to shoot targets or pests on your own property.

Both situations would land you in prison under S. 374.

It gets worse. What is a shooting range? Under the bill, it is only a shooting range if it is owned or occupied by a "duly incorporated organization organized for conservation purposes or to foster proficiency in firearms."

Is the shooting range owned by a natural person? Prison.

Is the shooting range owned by a corporation dedicated to turning a profit, rather than conservation or fostering the aims in the bill? Prison.

What about loaning a firearm for shooting at a Georgia DNR range? Prison.

While there is an exception for shooting competitions organized by the Georgia DNR, there is no exception for loaning a firearm just for recreational target shooting practice.

There is much more to the bill. For instance, it does away with the Georgia Weapons Carry License as an exception to the NICS check. It permits Eric Holder to set the cost of the transfer fee when you loan your weapon. It mandates reporting the theft or loss of a firearm within 24 hours, the failure of which will put you in prison, and this part of the bill is a felony punishable by 5 years imprisonment.

The bill claims Congressional power to make these laws under the Constitution's Commerce Clause.

Don't take my word for it. Read S. 374 here for yourself.

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