Regular Fox News guest Kate Obenshain criticized the Obama administration's reported forthcoming push to require background checks for all potential gun buyers, claiming it would keep her from selling a gun to her neighbor. In fact, it would only prevent such sales if the purchaser was not legally permitted to own the weapon.
The Washington Post has reported that a working group led by Vice President Biden is considering measures to prevent gun violence. Neither the White House nor the working group has proposed any legislation banning private sales altogether as Obenshain suggested on Fox & Friends when she said that banning “individuals from being able to sell guns to other individuals” is what “closing the gun show loophole is about.”
Instead, the Post reported that the White House is considering requiring every would-be gun purchaser to submit to a background check when they try to buy a firearm; federal law currently requires such a check only if the gun is bought from a licensed firearms dealer. These background checks determine whether or not the intended buyer is legally allowed to own a gun, or is banned from gun ownership due to mental health or a criminal record. Several states already have universal background checks to prevent gun sales to felons and other prohibited purchasers while still allowing the private sale of firearms, provided the buyer undergoes a background check.
In the absence of a universal background check requirement, private sellers at gun shows have proven to be a source of weapons trafficked to Mexican drug cartels. According to a 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms singled out private sellers at gun shows as a source of guns used by drug cartels:
In addition to these firearms that are successfully traced back to a retail dealer, some ATF officials told us, based on information from their operations and investigations, many seized guns also come from private sales at gun shows, though it is impossible to know this exact number due to the lack of records kept for such purchases.
Though more recent figures are unavailable, a 1997 study from the Department of Justice found that private gun sales outside of stores also make up an estimated 40 percent of all firearm sales.
Moreover, Obenshain is at odds with the overwhelming majority of NRA members and gun owners who support universal background checks. A poll conducted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns in July found that 74 percent of NRA members and 87 percent of non-NRA gun owners support “requiring criminal background checks of anyone purchasing a gun.”