An online survey of federally licensed firearms retailers conducted this week by NSSF reveals that those who would be on the front line of implementing what is touted as “universal background checks” have serious concerns both about whether such proposals would work as well as the potential negative effects on their businesses.
Asked whether they supported or opposed “universal background checks,” 85.7 percent of the responding firearms retailers said that they opposed them. To the question of whether they believed that such legislation would prevent criminals from obtaining firearms, a nearly unanimous 95.7 percent said no.
In addition, the retailers reported that that they feared these proposals would result in higher regulatory and additional record-keeping burdens, increased risk of license revocation for record-keeping errors related to private party sales of firearms, additional delays in processing of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) requests, low government-set fees that will not cover their costs, and increased liability exposure arising from having to process private-party transactions.
“The concept of universal background checks sounds appealing on the surface, but the details involved in what actually would be required on the part of firearms retailers to make it work are quite another matter,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “In fact, the obligations and burdens that would be put in place could be overwhelming for many of those who would be called upon to carry them out. It is unfair to call upon private companies, many of them quite small and with limited personnel, to conduct what essentially would be a function of government.”
The online survey of 640 federal licensed firearms retailers nationwide was conducted on Monday, March 18.