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'Universal Background Check Act' Could Mean Check On Every Gun Transaction

Steven Rodriguez
Representative Berman (D-Boyton Beach)

Florida lawmakers have filed more than 60 bills dealing with firearms this legislative session. Some urge the President to protect citizens’  Second Amendment rights. One creates a three-day waiting list to purchase a gun. And another prohibits the sale of ammunition to anyone who hasn’t completed an anger management program. Now there is one more bill is up for discussion – this one creating background checks for all firearm purchases.

The “Universal Background Check Act” would mandate a background check on all gun transfers.  Currently only buyers going through gun stores have to go through background checking.  But under the act, individual sellers would drop the gun off at a licensed dealer, who would be obligated to run the background check. The dealer could release the gun to the purchaser only after he or she passes the check. 

Rep. Lori Berman (D-Lantana) says her bill will assure that guns are only sold to people who are legally allowed to purchase them.

“Included in those who the background check will stop: individuals convicted of a crime, fugitives from justice, individuals addicted to control substances, veterans with dishonorable discharges and individuals committed to mental institutions,” Berman says.

Berman said only 60 percent of gun sales in the United States are completed with background checks.  And that’s something Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana says needs to change.  Vana said a bill like this will keep guns only in the hands of those responsible and capable to use them.

“And in light of all the things that have happened in the past couple of years, this is a no nonsense, non-radical method, of trying to reign in the terror, that has been reigned down upon our citizens, by people who should not have had guns, doing terrible things with them,” Vana says.

Senator Maria Sachs (D-Delray Beach) filed the Senate version of the bill. She says the measure incorporates ideas from many different states.  And while Sachs says she realizes the bill might not pass this year, she said any critics labeling it as "gun control" are wrong.

“No it isn’t! It’s a gun discussion, that’s what I say, it’s a gun discussion.  Come on sit at the table with all of us as Floridians, and let’s get a gun policy that is consistent with the state of Florida,” Sachs says.

Sachs says Florida cannot continue to move forward as a major global entity as long as it has outdated gun laws.  Meanwhile, critics of the measure say they don’t want public lists of law-abiding gun owners. Both Berman and Sachs say they fully support the constitutional right to bear arms.