The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, reignited the debate on whether to strengthen federal and state gun laws. Soon after the massacre, the top priority for advocates for stronger gun laws became broadening background checks to apply to all gun sales. Under current federal law, vendors in the business of selling guns must get a license, conduct background checks, and keep records. But unlicensed "private" sellers -- persons who maintain they sell only occasionally at gun shows, online, or anywhere else -- are able to sell guns with no questions asked. In some ways, the debate's emphasis on the universal background checks proposal was surprising -- after all, the Newtown shooter would not have been subject to federal prohibitions, other than the one that blocks handgun sales to persons under 21, and background checks were only tangentially related to the shooting. The ascendance of background checks as the primary policy proposal to combat gunviolence reflects a shift in gun-reform advocates' strategy from tightening regulations on guns themselves to strengthening laws that keep guns away from dangerous people. The shift had already begun before Newtown; after, it only accelerated.
Both policy research and political realities informed this shift in priorities. As a policy matter, most research suggests that making it more difficult for dangerous people to acquire guns will have a significant impact in reducing the more than 30,000 gun deaths that happen every year in America. As a political matter, polling conducted before and after Newtown show that 80 percent to 90 percent of Americans support expanding background checks, including most gun owners.
As the debate over the universal background checks proposal heated up before the Senate voted on the matter in April, discussion of the substantive benefits of this policy proposal was mostly lost in the fray. The background checks debate far too often devolved into sound bites, which gave rise to a number of widespread misunderstandings about the universal background checks proposal and its potential effects on gun violence in the United States.
In this issue brief, we assess six key claims that have been made about background checks in the past year.
This web page is marked up with Schema.org microdata. Much of the necessary microdata is embedded within the HTML that creates the display you see above. The data that shows below is formatted for machine-reading and rounds out the complete descriptive set for this resource. Want more info about all of this? Go here. You can also view the complete dataset for this resource the way a machine sees it here .
Title: The Gun Debate 1 Year After Newtown: Assessing Six Key Claims About Gun Background Checks
Publication date 2013-12-01
Publication Year 2013
, Chelsea Parsons
Center for American Progress
North America / United States
, straw purchasing
, gun shows
, gun sales
Resource provided by IssueLab
IssueLab's Embeddable Widget
Use this super simple form to customize and generate the code you need to display this content in your own environment - no programming required. The feed will inherit more specific styles, like font face and font color, from your website.
Your widget code
Add to the Collection
Please use the form below to provide us with your recommendation, and we'll check it out. Include your name and email address along with your suggestion just in case we need to get in touch. Thank you for contacting us.