All gun sales – even “private transactions – would require a background check under legislation unveiled Wednesday by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.),” The Hill reports.
Current law requires that only licensed firearms dealers perform background checks, but Schumer says those rules don’t go far enough to keep guns from the hands of violent criminals, the mentally ill, drug abusers and other prohibited buyers.
"Lax reporting by states and federal agencies has allowed guns to get into the hands of dangerous individuals with consequences that have been tragic and deadly," Schumer said Wednesday in a statement.
His bill would also “hike the financial penalties for states that don’t report certain criminal and mental health records to the FBI, which manages a federal database – the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) – designed to block gun sales to the mentally ill and other prohibited buyers.”
A 2008 law, passed in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, provided financial incentives for states to report cases of mental illness to NICS, but the system remains largely voluntary. Indeed, the maximum penalty for states failing to report at least 50 percent of relevant records is a 3 percent cut in certain Justice Department grants designed to bolster law enforcement efforts.
Schumer’s bill would hike both the reporting requirement (to 90 percent) and the grant penalty (to 25 percent) by 2018.