As reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the background check bill described below has been introduced as SB 48 and HB 50.
“…The seeming inanity of the D.C. law* is all
too common in the gun rights debate more generally. Gun control
advocates seem ever willing to adopt any gun regulation no matter how
unlikely the law is to actually accomplish its objectives….the National
Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, and other gun rights
groups oppose closing the secondary market loophole. Their position
seems to be “Let’s keep guns out of the hands of criminals, just don’t
pass any laws that make it harder for criminals to get their hands on
guns.” Welcome to the great American gun debate….” -UCLA Constitutional Law Professor Adam Winkler, in "Heller's Catch-22"
* overturned by SCOTUS in District of Columbia v Heller
On a 9 November entry on its web site, Moms Demand Action states "Everytown and New Mexico Moms Demand Action Declare Victory in Creating Bipartisan Background Check Majority in State Legislature", specifically calling out legislators Nate Gentry (R), Bill Soules (D), Liz Stefanics (D) and Elizabeth Thomson (D). We can therefore expect that at minimum, a background check bill will be introduced by the Democratic majorities in both houses.
The purpose of a background check is difficult to argue against, i.e., we all have a moral and legal obligation to not transfer firearms to prohibited persons, i.e. those with a felony, legal finding of mental defect, protective order, or other disqualifications on their record. Hence, polls repeatedly show majorities, even majorities of gun owners, support them in principle. A straightforward bill that facilitated background checks for gun owners transferring weapons via the secondary (i.e, private sales) market to those whom they cannot personally (and, perhaps, in a legally binding manner) vouch for in high confidence is a good idea, as long as the State ensures these can be done without due financial or time burdens on gun owners. (Note added later--we also need a less false-positive prone system). Indeed, it would be reasonable to provide tax rebates or other incentives to pay for these as the government provides for other actions (such as green energy, bicycle commuter, home mortgage, and other tax credits) it wishes to encourage for the public good.
Where Everytown runs into trouble is when it tries to hide onerous gun controls in the guise of background checks. The recent Everytown endorsed ballot questions in Nevada (where it barely passed) and Maine (where it was defeated) are examples of gun control overreach that spell doom for any cooperation between law abiding gun owners and gun violence prevention organizations.
Buried in the ballot questions in both NV and ME were toxic "temporary transfer" prohibitions that would criminalize many normal, safe, and legal activities that gunsport enthusiasts take for granted. Any transfer not explicitly listed as exempt is illegal unless a gun owner legally transferred title of a gun to another person at a licensed dealer (FFL). So, the following would be illegal without literally transferring ownership via an FFL because Everytown makes no distinction between temporary transfers between long term gunsport buddies and putting a gun for sale on something like Gunbroker.com:
• Letting a buddy handle and shoot your firearm anywhere but at a designated shooting range unless you are in that person's actual presence (better not duck off to "water a tree" unless that tree is close by).
• Leaving a gun with a friend who does light gunsmithing, adds accessories, or has the
tools to do repairs and upgrades.
• Loaning a pistol to a friend unless the friend is in imminent jeopardy.
• Storing your firearms in a friend's safe while out of town.
• Loaning a friend a gun for a hunting trip unless you are in proximity to the borrower.
• Storing firearms for a friend who may be temporarily despondent due to personal hardship (unless you can legally demonstrate it is "only as long as necessary to prevent such imminent death or great bodily harm"). Recall that about two thirds of all gun deaths in the US are suicides.
12 of the 16 sheriffs in Maine and 16 of 17 in Nevada opposed these ballot initiatives. Further, enforcement would be a nightmare or downright impossible unless guns are registered to owners. Would that be the next step and if so, it needs discussion. So it is extremely important for the gun owning community to examine, as soon as possible, any bills prefiled or introduced during this legislative session, read the fine print, and call your representatives with input.
The gun owning community should endorse reasonable actions that reduce gun violence. A straightforward law that mandated background checks for transfers to someone you cannot, in good faith, legally vouch for, or for permanent transfers between most buyers and sellers (with exceptions for family members and long term close friends, etc) is a good idea. For example, I could, in high confidence, transfer a firearm to someone I know who goes through the same Federal investigative hoops I go through, without fear of any surprises.
Likewise, the gun violence prevention community must not destroy the required trust needed to reach common ground. Indeed, if the gun violence prevention community would spend more time studying gun culture (for example, as studied by sociologist David Yamane of Wake Forest University), some of the colossal misreadings of gun enthusiast's motives and activities that lead organizations like Everytown to support bad legislation could be avoided.
Published in edited form in the Santa Fe New Mexican and Los Alamos Daily Post.
NOTE: As reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the background check bill described above has been introduced as SB 48 and HB 50.