Vermont gun vendors say firearms have been flying off the shelves since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary prompted the president to call for greater gun control. But will his executive actions impact Green Mountain gun buyers?
"The executive orders, as stated, don't change our lives at all," said Jon Sanborn, who manages R and L Archery in Barre.
Sanborn says the president's anti-gun violence plan does not require any immediate changes. He agreed to walk us through the process.
"I have a quick background check to run. It's a federal form. You just fill that out. We need a government-issued photo ID with a current physical address on it. We do a quick check, call it in and out the door you go," Sanborn explained.
The application asks for your name, address and Social Security number. It then requires you to answer a series of disqualifying questions. You cannot purchase a gun if you:
are a convicted felon, fugitive or illegal alien
have a history of criminal drug use or addiction
have been declared mental incompetent by a court
were dishonorably discharged from the military
have domestic violence convictions or restraining orders against you
The check takes 3-5 minutes. If you pass, you can walk out with a gun. But if there are any red flags, the feds have three days to investigate.
A background check is only valid for a single transaction, so if you go to a gun show and buy five different guns from five different vendors, that's five different background checks. But if you go to a single vendor and buy five guns, that's just one background check.
"We have people who are responsible gun owners, for the most part, in Vermont. We've been fortunate in that we haven't seen a lot of weapon-involved crimes in Vermont," Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said.
Flynn says the administration is still digesting the president's plan and says it's too early to tell how his proposals will shape future legislation. President Obama wants Congress to restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, outlaw high capacity magazines and require universal background checks.
Since 1998, Vermont gun dealers have submitted roughly 315,000 background checks to the feds, yet the state doesn't track private sales. That would change with universal checks.
"So this is adding another layer of protection to make sure that people who have a disqualifying event in their past won't be able to get that firearm," Flynn explained.
Gun dealers question its effectiveness. They say universal checks may prevent private citizens from inadvertently selling to criminals, but they won't stop criminals bent on getting guns illegally.
The feds purge their system every 24 hours, so each check is treated separately. But gun dealers say if an applicant is denied it triggers a federal investigation into why an ineligible person is trying to buy a gun.
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