Just one year after the Charleston massacre, another extremist struck an American city, this time killing 49 people in Orlando. Predictably, the left is calling for gun control and the right is fighting it. New gun regulations are not something to take lightly, we have the Second Amendment which guarantees our right to bear arms. However, there are certain measures that we can take that may make it more difficult for bad guys to get guns.
With that in mind I believe it's prudent that any proposed gun control measures meet a high standard for validity. Here are two proposals that I think meet that standard, and both are somewhat inspired by the two aforementioned shootings.
The first is to close the so-called Charleston Loophole. When we go to buy a firearm, the dealer makes a phone call to a section of the FBI that conducts a background check. For most of us, the background check is almost instant and we are able to proceed with our purchase. However for 10 percent of buyers, the check is delayed because there is something in their background that requires further review. The FBI then has three days to investigate and if by then they do not deny the request, the buyer may purchase the gun by default. This is the Charleston Loophole, so named because it is how Dylan Roof was able to purchase his gun.
South Carolina State Sen. Marlon Kimpson has been advocating for a bill that would extend the waiting period for delayed background checks from three days to 28 days, giving the FBI more time to investigate. This would affect a very small percentage of would-be buyers and for good reason, there is a high probability that they are prohibited purchasers. For these very few cases, it makes sense to give the FBI more time to make sure that these individuals are someone who is allowed to own a gun, that they aren't felons, drug addicts, spouse abusers or mentally ill.
The second proposal is to delay people who are on the No Fly List and Terrorist Watch List from purchasing a firearm. It would be an emergency delay for an extraordinary circumstance in the interest of national security. If a person who is on either of these lists tries to purchase a gun, they would be delayed for 30 days, alerting the FBI that there is an urgency for it to investigate the suspected terrorist. If after 30 days the FBI needs more time, it would be able to get an extension of up to 60 days from a judge. In total, someone who is a suspected terrorist would be delayed no more than 90 days without prosecution.
Democrats in Washington have proposed a total ban on guns for people on these lists and Republicans' answer is that it is taking away someone's Second Amendment rights without due process. Both sides have a point, so let's split the difference. By implementing an emergency delay rather than a total ban, you give the FBI time to investigate someone it believes to be a terrorist and perhaps find a piece of the puzzle it needs (knowing that he or she is attempting to buy a firearm) in order to thwart an attack. All this while ultimately maintaining the person's Second Amendment rights. Someone who is innocent won't have to go through all the red tape in order to restore their rights, they will simply need to wait 30 days (at most 90 days) and they will be able to purchase their firearm by default.
It's true that neither of these shootings would have been prevented by either of these proposals and the blame for that lays squarely on the FBI. In Charleston, the FBI failed to complete Dylan Roof's background check in an accurate and timely manner, allowing a prohibited purchaser to obtain a firearm. In Orlando, Omar Mateen was being investigated by the FBI that later deemed him to be no threat. The FBI needs to learn from these errors and reform their processes in order to prevent similar attacks going forward. But it's conceivable that Roof could have carried out his murder the day after he walked away with his gun. It's also conceivable that Mateen could have gone on his rampage while he was still being investigated by the FBI. This only affects the people who are the highest risk to us. Let's get behind these reforms and demand that the FBI do its part.