EDITOR’S NOTE: This guest editorial is from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, a Daily News sister paper with GateHouse Media.
Imagine a federal law that severely restricted the sale of rapid-firing guns, required not only FBI background checks but registration of buyers, and created a national database of the owners with mug shots and fingerprints and a detailed description of each weapon.
Sound impossible? Think the National Rifle Association would scream about Second Amendment threats, and Congress would never even consider such a law?
In fact, the law already exists, and has been in place for more than 80 years.
Congress passed the National Firearms Act in 1934, to control the sale and possession of weapons like the machine gun that posed a particular threat to the public.
A similar threat today is posed by the semi-automatic rifles used in mass shootings in Orlando, Connecticut, San Bernardino, Colorado and numerous other places.
Whether to keep such powerful weapons out of the hands of deranged killers or of potential terrorists, Congress should find the courage to apply reasonable restrictions under the National Firearms Act to the threats that Americans now face.
The NFA’s provisions have been upheld multiple times by the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts. Last month, a federal court in Pennsylvania reaffirmed that the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to own a machine gun.
In fact, in Florida, while there’s a three-day waiting period to buy a handgun, there’s no waiting period to buy a semi-automatic rifle.
It’s too much to expect Congress to renew the ban on sales of semi-automatics. But, at the very least, Congress should restrict their sale and transfer through the following steps:
Require background checks for all gun buyers, including sales at gun shows, on the internet and through private transactions.
Impose NFA-type restrictions on semi-automatic rifles, such as registration of buyers and weapons, including photos and fingerprints.
As for NFA weapons, the theft of semi-automatic rifles should be reported immediately to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The NFA was enacted at a time of widespread alarm over crime and gangland murders. Today’s mass shootings and concern about terrorism should spur Congress to respond with increased restrictions on the killers’ weapons of choice.