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Frequently Asked Questions

Updated Monday, January 1, 2018

Second Amendment Issues

  • Why does NRA oppose "universal background checks"?
    • NRA opposes expanding firearm background check systems, because background checks don’t stop criminals from getting firearms, because some proposals to do so would deprive individuals of due process of law, and because NRA opposes firearm registration.
    •  Background checks don’t necessarily stop criminals from getting firearms. Federal studies have repeatedly found that persons imprisoned for firearm crimes get their firearms mostly through theft, the black market, or family members or friends. Less than one percent get guns at gun shows. (Bureau of Justice Statistics) Read more

     

  • Why is the NRA opposed to waiting periods?
    • Waiting periods are arbitrary impositions with no effect on crime or suicide, introduce no additional investigative avenues, and only burden law-abiding gun owners without changing how or when criminals obtain firearms.  
    • Waiting periods do not change the background check process; no additional investigative measures are taken no matter how long of a waiting period is imposed. Most background checks are resolved instantly, but investigations can currently last up to 90 days. 
    • There is no evidence that waiting periods reduce suicides, homicides, or mass shootings. No studies that identify causal effects have been identified by any of the independent literature reviews conducted since 2004. 
    • Recent research that purports to find that waiting periods reduce firearms-related deaths is fundamentally flawed, as it also finds that background checks increase gun homicides and that poverty is associated with a decrease in homicides. 1
    • The average "time-to-crime" for firearms traced by the ATF in 2017 was over nine years, so the idea that guns are often used in crimes of passion or impulsive actions right after purchase is not supported by anything other than anecdotal evidence. 2
    • Criminals will not be affected by waiting periods. Most state inmates who were in possession of a firearm at the time of their arrest obtained the firearm through an illegal source or from a friend or family member. 3
    • There are few prosecutions of prohibited persons who attempt to buy a firearm from a dealer. Out of 112,090 total federal denials in 2017, there were 12 prosecutions.4
    • The waiting period mandated by the Brady Act of 1993 was only in effect until the National Instant Check System came online in 1998.
    • Most gun-owners own more than one firearm5 and a waiting period could not possibly have an effect on those purchasing an additional firearm. First-time buyers seeking a firearm for self-defense would be affected by a waiting period that limits their ability to safeguard themselves and their loved ones.  Read more
  • What is NRA's position on "smart/personalized" guns?
    • The NRA doesn’t oppose the development of “smart” guns, nor the ability of Americans to voluntarily acquire them. However, NRA opposes any law prohibiting Americans from acquiring or possessing firearms that don’t possess “smart” gun technology.  Read more
  • What is the Charleston "Loophole"

    The 3 day proceed to sale provision, often referred to by the gun control community as the “Charleston loophole”, is not a loophole at all.  It is a necessary component of our current background check system. Under current law, commercial firearms transactions cannot proceed until a background check determines that the transfer to the individual would not violate applicable federal and state laws.  In the case of a delay, if the background check is not completed within 3 business days, the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) has the OPTION to proceed with the transfer.  The FFL is NOT required to complete the transfer.  Read more

  • What is NRA's position on raising the age for law-abiding adults to purchase long guns?
    • Federal Law prohibits adults under the age of 21 from purchasing a handgun from a licensed firearm dealer. Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection. We need serious proposals to prevent violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms. Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20 year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals.   The NRA supports efforts to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting access to firearms.  At the same time, we will continue to oppose gun control measures that only serve to punish law-abiding citizens.  These are not mutually exclusive or unachievable goals.   
  • Why does anyone need an "assault weapon"?
    • Firearms that gun control supporters call “assault weapons” are among the arms protected by the Second Amendment. Because they’re among the arms that are most useful for the entire range of defensive purposes, they’re “in common use” for defensive purposes, a standard articulated by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). 
    • AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles are not the fully-automatic, military-grade firearms they are often claimed to be by gun control supporters and the media.
    • From 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high, to 2014, the nation’s total violent crime rate decreased 52 percent, to a 44-year low, including a 54 percent decrease in the murder rate, to an all-time low.[9] Meanwhile, Americans bought 160 million new firearms,[10]including millions of so-called “assault weapons,” including more than fifteen million AR-15s, and so many tens of millions of “large” handgun and rifle magazines that it seems pointless to attempt a count.[11] 

     Read more

  • Why do people need handguns?
    • People who use guns to defend themselves are less likely to be attacked or injured than people who use other methods of protection or do not defend themselves at all. (Kleck analysis of National Crime Victimization Surveys) 
    • 42 states, accounting for 74 percent of the U.S. population, have Right-to-Carry laws. Thirteen million Americans have carry permits. (Crime Prevention Research Center) Read more
  • What does the Second Amendment Mean?

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    • The Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms for defense of life and liberty.   Read more
  • Why shouldn't gun owners be required to register their firearms?
    • Gun registration and gun owner licensing wouldn’t prevent or solve crimes. Most people sent to prison for gun crimes acquire guns from theft, the black market, or acquaintances. (Bureau of Justice Statistics[1]) Half of illegally trafficked firearms originate with straw purchasers who buy guns for criminals (ATF[2]). Criminals wouldn’t register guns or get gun licenses.
    • Less registration and licensing, less crime. There is no universal, national gun registry or federal license required to own a gun, and the vast majority of states don’t require registration or licensing. Yet, since 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high, total violent crime and murder have both been cut in half, and in 2014 violent crime fell to a 44-year low, and murder fell to an all-time low. (FBI)[3]  Read more
  • Why does NRA support hunting?
    • Hunting is a part of America’s cultural heritage, an important wildlife management tool, and an important part of our national economy.
    • Annually, approximately 15 million Americans hunt. Hunting is the reason, or one of the reasons, that more than a third of America’s 100 million gun owners own guns.
    • Hunters and other gun owners are among the foremost supporters of sound wildlife management and conservation practices in the United States.  Read more
  • Why shouldn't someone have to get a license to own a firearm?
    • Gun registration and gun owner licensing wouldn’t prevent or solve crimes. Most people sent to prison for gun crimes acquire guns from theft, the black market, or acquaintances. (Bureau of Justice Statistics[1]) Half of illegally trafficked firearms originate with straw purchasers who buy guns for criminals (ATF[2]). Criminals wouldn’t register guns or get gun licenses.

    • Less registration and licensing, less crime. There is no universal, national gun registry or federal license required to own a gun, and the vast majority of states don’t require registration or licensing. Yet, since 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high, total violent crime and murder have both been cut in half, and in 2014 violent crime fell to a 44-year low, and murder fell to an all-time low. (FBI)[3]  Read more
  • What is the NRA's position on emergency risk protection orders (ERPOs)?

    The NRA’s position on emergency risk protection orders (ERPOs) has recently been mischaracterized by some who haven't taken the time to understand our position, including the anti-gun mainstream media and organizations that purport to support the Second Amendment. Many of the individuals mischaracterizing our position are using misinformation to simply attack the NRA.

    The NRA fights for the constitutional freedoms, including the due process rights, of all law-abiding Americans, every day in Congress, the statehouses and the courts. Our record on this is clear. Due process of law is a bedrock of our constitutional freedoms. Without it, we would cease to exist as a free country.

    All fifty states currently have civil commitment procedures and many lack basic due process protections. This is unacceptable. The NRA believes that no one should be deprived of a fundamental right without due process of law.

    Some have raised the issue of current ERPO laws in California, Oregon, Vermont and other states, suggesting that the NRA supports those laws. This is false. The NRA strongly opposed these laws because they do not protect due process rights. We will continue to oppose confiscation schemes such as these.

    In addition, the NRA opposes any effort to create a federal ERPO law, in which federal agents would be tasked with seizing firearms after a hearing in federal court. As states consider ERPO laws, the NRA will continue to push for the inclusion of strong due process protections.

    The NRA believes that any effort should be structured to fully protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens while preventing truly dangerous individuals from accessing firearms.

    The requirements of an ERPO process that the NRA can support should include the following:

    • The process should include criminal penalties for those who bring false or frivolous charges.

    • An order should only be granted when a judge makes the determination, by clear and convincing evidence, that the person poses a significant risk of danger to themselves or others.

    • The process should require the judge to make a determination of whether the person meets the state standard for involuntary commitment. Where the standard for involuntary commitment is met, this should be the course of action taken.

    • If an ERPO is granted, the person should receive community-based mental health treatment as a condition of the ERPO. 

    • Any ex parte proceeding should include admitting the individual for treatment.

    • A person’s Second Amendment rights should only be temporarily deprived after a hearing before a judge, in which the person has notice of the hearing and is given an opportunity to offer evidence on his or her behalf.

    • There should be a mechanism in place for the return of firearms upon termination of an ERPO, when a person is ordered to relinquish their firearms as a condition of the order. 

    • The ERPO process should allow an individual to challenge or terminate the order, with full due process protections in place.

    • The process should allow firearms to be retained by law-abiding third parties, local law enforcement, or a federally licensed firearms dealer when an individual is ordered to relinquish such firearms as a condition of the ERPO. The individual must also have the ability to sell his or her firearms in a reasonable time without violating the order. 

    Again, the NRA will continue to oppose any proposal that does not fully protect due process rights. We will only support an ERPO process that strongly protects both Second Amendment rights and due process rights at the same time.

     

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.