Just how extreme are Republicans in Congress who voted to reject the Manchin-Toomey bill to extend background checks to private gun sellers? So extreme that even the guy who brought the lawsuit in Washington, DC that overturned the ban on handguns there thinks they’ve gone too far. Robert Levy, chairman of the board of the Cato Institute and the guy who brought the Heller v DC lawsuit, has an op-ed in the New York Times urging Congress to try to pass the bill again.
I’m a libertarian who played a role in reducing handgun restrictions in the nation’s capital. In 2008, in a landmark case I helped initiate, Heller v. District of Columbia, the Supreme Court declared for the first time that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to bear arms.
But the stonewalling of the background check proposal was a mistake, both politically and substantively…
The focus on background checks should not distract gun owners from the positive provisions in the Manchin-Toomey proposal.
It would allow Americans to buy handguns from out-of-state sellers, which is not allowed currently.
It would explicitly prohibit the creation of a national gun registry, and make it a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, to misuse records from the national database used for background checks.
It would affirm that unloaded guns with a lock mechanism in place can be transported across state lines.
It would immunize private gun sellers from lawsuits if a gun they have sold is used unlawfully, unless the seller knows or should have known that the buyer provided false information or was otherwise ineligible to buy a gun. Extending background checks to unlicensed sellers shouldn’t be cause for alarm. Background checks are already required for purchases from federally licensed dealers, whether at stores or gun shows, over the Internet or by mail. Moreover, gun buyers would be exempt from background checks if they had a carry permit issued within the last five years.
But instead of reasoned analysis of the bill, we get nutballs like Rep. Jeff Duncan claiming that extending these background checks would lead to a gun registry (the bill actually bans such a registry quite explicitly and even carries criminal penalties for trying to create one), which will lead to genocide just like in Rwanda because the government will then know where we live. I wish I was making that up, but Duncan actually said that.