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Regulation of Guns

Background Checks

The federal Brady law requires purchasers of handguns to submit to background checks prior to taking delivery of a handgun, and the laws of some states, like Illinois, make background checks mandatory for all firearms purchases. The purpose of these laws is to establish that the purchaser is not a criminal, fugitive, known substance abuser, or in other ways legally disqualified from possessing a firearm. So long as the background check is carried out within a few minutes, such laws impose little burden on gun buyers. For this reason, they have not been especially controversial. There appears, however, to be no persuasive evidence that such laws affect crime or indeed that they have any impact on criminals' acquisition of weapons. As a leading researcher on the subject has said, there are apparently "serious limits on the results one can reasonably expect from controls applied only to voluntary (nontheft) transfers such as gun sales. One cannot substantially reduce the flow of water through a sieve by blocking just a few of the holes, especially if one cannot block the largest ones" (Kleck, p. 93).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawRegulation of Guns - More Guns, More Crime, Prohibition, Waiting Periods, Gun Buy-back Programs, Background Checks