State Programs for Screening Handgun Buyers
Three to five million handguns change hands each year. Almost half the states—including 64 percent of the population—require that buyers be screened by the police, with the objective of preventing certain groups of po tentially dangerous people—felons, fugitives, ex-mental pa tients, drug addicts, and so forth—from obtaining handguns. These state systems operate within the federal framework created by the Gun Control Act of 1968, which requires that most all interstate transactions in firearms be handled by federally licensed dealers or manufacturers. The states& main problems are 1 weak federal regulation of licensees, (2 incomplete state criminal history files, and 3 the difficulty of regulating hand-to-hand transactions in used handguns. States that wish to increase the effectiveness of their screen ing systems will probably have to assume responsibility for regulating retail dealers and will have to institute civil liability for dealers and individual gun owners, together with a more comprehensive registration system, to make the screening system more difficult to circumvent. © 1981, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.
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