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National News

February 4, 2013

Background Checks Can't Be Used as Gun Registry

"There are almost too many schemes to list. But President Obama's worst center around . . . a thinly-veiled national gun registration scheme hidden under the guise of 'background checks' to ensure federal government minders gain every bureaucratic tool they need for full-scale confiscation. . . . It is almost hard to believe the sheer breadth and brazenness of this attempt to gut our Constitution."

— from an e-mail to supporters by Jesse Benton, campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

There are a number of assertions about President Barack Obama's gun agenda in this e-mail that might be debatable, but this one about a "thinly-veiled national gun registration scheme" caught our eye. As our colleagues at FactCheck.org have noted, this is also a frequent assertion by the National Rifle Association.

But there is something especially unusual about a campaign aide to McConnell making this claim. Let's explore.

Obama's 15-page plan starts with a proposal for universal background checks, specifically ways to close potential loopholes.

As we noted previously, at least one claim in this section — that "nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers"_ is incorrect. But there is nothing in this section that appears to create a national gun registration scheme; it is aimed at extending the current Brady law rule on background checks to all firearm sales, "with limited, common-sense exceptions for cases like certain transfers between family members and temporary transfers for hunting and sporting purposes."

Indeed, current law specifically prohibits using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to create a federal firearms registry — which, ironically, is a selling point for gun dealers.

Ohio Guns, a federally licensed gun seller that advertises on the Web, prominently quotes this fact in order to assure buyers. "This is not any type of firearm registration. In fact, the day after an approved NICS, your personal identifying information is destroyed by the FBI," the website says, citing an FBI document.

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