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Will Indiana Beat the Feds on Expanded Background Checks?

Supporters say stronger background checks are needed to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
Supporters say stronger background checks are needed to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
January 24, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana residents in favor of stronger gun laws are optimistic that 2019 will be the year that background checks are expanded.

A pair of bills have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate (HR 8 and S. 42) that would extend the federal background check requirement to all gun sales, including private sales.

However, Edmund Smith, president of the group Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence, explains there's a similar effort at the Statehouse.

"Federal law only requires licensed federal gun dealers to run background checks, so that leaves private sellers selling at gun shows and on our streets the ability to sell them without any check at all,” he points out. “We're not waiting for the federal to take action. We think it could be a number of years down the road at the rate they go."

Senate Bill 307, introduced by State Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington), would require the sale or purchase of firearms be completed through a licensed state dealer, with a background check.

It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Opponents say the state and federal bills go too far, and essentially make it a crime to hand a firearm to another person.

While supporters say background checks will keep lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous people, opponents counter that research is inconclusive on the effectiveness of background checks.

Also in the U.S. Senate, more than two dozen senators have co-sponsored the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, (S. 66), which would ban the sale of military style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.

However, Smith is not confident the bill will go far.

"There's so many out there that Congress really doesn't want to confiscate firearms,” he states. “So it's a sticky situation because there are so many, but that's something that we'll get around to, but it's not going to be in the near term."

The legislation would expand upon a past assault weapons ban that was in effect for 10 years but not renewed.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN