Four Key Gun Policy Issues in the 2018 Midterms Part I
FOUR KEY GUN POLICY ISSUES IN THE 2018 MIDTERMS
By Katherine Oung
The 2018 midterm elections are right around the corner. This November, all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the US Senate will be contested, as well as various gubernatorial, state government, and local governmental positions. Voting in the right legislators this election cycle is one of the most important actions we can take in the fight against gun violence. But before we can do that, it’s important to understand what key gun policies will be at stake when Congress reconvenes. In this series, we’ll look at an overview of four of the most important issues in gun policy today.
I. BACKGROUND CHECKS
The need for some level of stronger background checks is largely supported across party lines; in fact, the fix NICS Act, which penalizes federal agencies if they do not update criminal records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, was passed in March of 2018.
However, this act did not actually make background checks for guns more stringent; its function was simply to close up the holes in the NICS. Congress is still debating over whether legislation should be passed to create a universal background check system.
Currently, gun purchases with unlicensed sellers don’t need to go through federal background checks. In fact, 2017 a study from Northeastern University and the Harvard School of Public Health showed that 22% of American gun owners who had obtained a gun in the previous two years did not undergo a background check before doing so. This is known as the gun show loophole or the private sale loophole, and having universal background checks would close it, requiring all firearm transactions go to through the NICS.