Currently, several state and federal regulations on gun ownership and sale are in place. For instance, people with criminal records or using outlawed drugs are not allowed to purchase firearms. Dealers are supposed to carry out background checks before selling guns to unlicensed individuals. Federal laws determine who can be allowed to own a firearm while state and local laws regulate the usage of the same. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) sets the requirements that gun vendors should meet before getting an operating license.
Gun show loophole
However, there is a loophole in the regulation of gun ownership and usage, which can be exploited, and this issue forms the debate of gun control in contemporary times. The ambiguity in gun control regulations is commonly known as the “gun show loophole”. The law on selling and owning a gun in the United States is clear. However, there is a loophole whereby any person may engage in the business of selling a firearm to unlicensed resident of the state of residence.
Therefore, such sellers are not required to carry out background checks on unlicensed individuals willing to purchase a firearm. Additionally, the buyer is not required to produce any form of identification and the seller is not supposed to keep records of such transactions. As such, gun control proponents point to this ambiguity in the federal law, which means that anyone can acquire a gun, even criminals. This side of the debate argues that the increased gun-related crimes in the US can be attributed to this loophole, hence the need for strict gun control laws.
20% of guns in the US are acquired without proper background checks
On the other hand, proponents of gun rights argue that the federal law cannot regulate non-commercial transactions of guns and ownership between citizens. As such, people who would otherwise fail to acquire guns under the federal laws, can own one legally. A study in 2017 revealed that 20 percent of guns in the United States are acquired without proper background checks. In addition, children under the age of 18 years can own guns that are received as presents from their parents or guardians. This loophole in gun control regulations underscores the unrelenting calls for strict laws on selling, transfer, and ownership of firearms. However, the pertinent question is how such stern regulations can be implemented without violating individuals’ rights as provided in the Second Amendment. As such, different groups of advocates hold diverse views on how the issue of gun control should be handled as explained in the next section.