Gun Sales: Are Tougher Laws Needed?
Whether a criminal background check is done may depend on whether firearms are bought in retail stores on from online private sellers.
If someone is breaking into your home, do you want to be armed with a handgun or an assault rifle?
That's the question that Alex Jackson, who sells guns at Stan's Pawn Shop in St. Petersburg, poses to people who bring up gun control.
For Jackson, the answer is easy. "You want the fire power of an assault rifle for self-protection."
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, some politicians and groups are urging reforms that include a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips, as well as background checks for anyone who purchases a gun.
The gun that killed the 20 first-graders and seven adults in Newtown, Conn., was a Bushmater assault rifle.
Currently, bricks-and-mortar retailers, such as Stan's Pawn Shop, on 5th Avenue North, are required to do a criminal background check first. Stan's does not specialize in gun sales but will buy or sell assault rifles and other types of firearms.
Jennifer Arroyave, who works at Stan's Pawn Shop, says that in addition to doing a criminal background check, she also makes a point of talking with buyers to see if they seem "fit" to buy a gun.
Arroyave said that "visual check" is important.
But practices are different online.
There is no mandate for a background check for private sellers online who use websites like Florida Gun Trader to advertise guns for sale. The transactions are more anonymous.
Although it is illegal for anyone to sell a gun to a felon, criminal background checks are not required. Currently, there are 1,927 guns for sale by Central Florida private sellers on the Florida Gun Trader's website.
"Upon finalization of sale, we recommend that Florida Gun Trader members verify the identity of the buyer (state or federal ID) and exchange a complete a bill of sale for both the buyer and seller's information," Florida Gun Trader advises sellers on its site.
Florida Gun Trader also advises sellers to try to meet buyers at a gun range or a private residence as part of the transaction.
Is Gun Reform a Partisan Issue?
Whether gun laws should change is divided along party lines in Florida.
A "Gun Control" scorecard that reform advocates just released grades politicians on whether they have voted for stricter legislation in the past.
Florida's Republican lawmakers all received a "D" or worse. Most of the Democrats were rated with "A"s. (See chart below.)
But Florida voters may not be as hard line.
"I guess I don't understand how I, a law abiding citizen that may be banned from owning a semi-automatic weapon, can protect myself from a criminal who WILL have a semi automatic weapon with a gun that can only shoot one bullet at a time," wrote Susan Ferguson on New Port Richey Patch's Facebook page. "How can anyone in their right mind believe that a ban on these guns will keep them out of criminal hands."
Between 2008 and 2012 all but 25 members of the incoming 113th Congress established voting records on gun control. The NRA uses those records to create a grade for each congressperson. This table, based on Project Vote Smart data, shows an inverse of those grades. High grades indicate a history of voting for stricter gun restrictions; lower grades indicate opposition to restrictions.
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