Federal Legislation - HR1446 "The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021”

The “Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021” introduced by Representative Clyburn (D-SC), #HR 1446, on March 1, 2021, purports to “strengthen background check procedures to be followed before a Federal firearms licensee may transfer a firearm to a person who is not a licensee.”

By way of additional background, 18 United States Code (USC) Sec. 922, Unlawful acts, provides, among other things, that it shall be unlawful for any person, except a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer, to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or in the course of such business to ship, transport, or receive any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce. 18 USC Sec. 922, subsection (t), requires licensees to query the national instant criminal background check system prior to the transfer of a firearm to any other person to determine if the transfer would be legal.

Currently, under the law, if the system has not responded to the query within three (3) business days, the licensee may legally transfer the firearm. Anti-gun proponents describe the transfer after the 3-day waiting period as a “loophole,” i.e., the Charleston Loophole, that must be plugged. 

The Enhanced Background Check Act of 2021 would amend the time from three (3) days to ten (10) days.  Moreover, if the system has not responded to the inquiry within ten (10) business days, the person seeking the transfer may file a petition for review electronically through a website established by the Attorney General, which petition:

  • “certifies that such other person has no reason to believe that such other person is prohibited by Federal, State, or local law from purchasing or possessing a firearm”; and

  • “requests that the system respond to the licensee’s initial inquiry within 10 business days after the date the petition was submitted (or, if the petition is submitted by first-class mail, the date the letter containing the petition is postmarked).”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation contends that this bill “increases the burden on small business firearm retailer owners and flips the burden of proof on its head” –

This would make it incumbent upon the law-abiding citizen to prove his or her innocence to the government to exercise their Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm instead of the government being responsible for proving an individual is prohibited.

The National Rifle Association posits that –

“…with improvements in technology since the provision was originally adopted in 1998, we should be discussing reducing the time limit, not increasing it. NICS is premised on the idea that background checks should be instant, accurate, and fair.”

This bill was previously introduced in 2019 and passed the House.  Indications are that it will pass the House again, and soon!

I hope this is of value!