Bipartisan Common Sense: Republicans for Universal Background Checks


Published August 8, 2018

While the vast majority of Republicans support the Second Amendment, they also seek to protect our citizens from gun violence. The Haverford College Republicans support and encourage the government to implement universal background checks on firearm ownership.


Background checks are already federal law in official gun purchases. However, 26% of gun owners bought their legal firearm through a private transaction, which does not require any background investigation. This is known as the gun show loophole. If background checks on private transactions were required by law, ineligible people would be deterred from buying a gun.


More importantly, states do not share the names of the people who they have found to be ineligible to buy a gun. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is already in place to do this, but many states are reluctant to submit the people they have identified as risks to the database. We want to see this process mandated and funded adequately.


Moreover, the government should institute a policy that addresses the only commonality between all deadly shootings in recent history: none of the people who have committed shootings ought to have owned a gun upon further investigation.


The Orlando nightclub shooter was on the FBI’s watchlist for involvement with ISIS. The Sante Fe school shooter was 17 years old. The Parkland school shooter was only 19 years old and had repeatedly threatened to kill students with a gun. The Las Vegas shooter’s father was on the FBI most wanted list. The San Bernardino shooters were both known to have become radicalized from online propaganda by ISIS. (Source)


None of these people should have been in the possession of a deadly weapon. Each showed signs that they could be dangerous to the people around them. Nevertheless, they were able to legally purchase their firearms. A stronger universal background check would have prevented all of these perpetrators from ever legally obtaining a deadly weapon.


Related legislation —like that passed in Florida after the Parkland shooting— targets preventing mentally unstable from accessing a firearm. A federal mandate for background checks would give sellers the peace of mind that “bad guys” are not legally purchasing guns.


We see background checks as a solution consistent with our conservative values. They protect the public from high risk individuals and incentivize responsible citizenry. As a reward for abiding by the law, citizens may own a gun. This basic requirement does not unfairly punish responsible gun owners, nor does it require extensive federal overreach. For these reasons, we find that universal background checks are a rational solution to gun violence.


In the interest of the American public, Republicans and Democrats alike should respond to the unanimity of universal background checks on gun sales. According to a March 2018 poll, 92% of registered voters support universal background checks. As Americans, this issue demands our attention, and as Republicans, we must use this common ground with Democratic Congressmen and women to achieve a long sought legislative victory.


Rarely in American politics is there an opportunity to build such a strong bipartisan coalition. We as a group call upon our Congressional and Party leaders to take advantage of this opportunity. Gun reform, no matter how small, is essential for progress in our intentionally slow and deliberate political system.