PINEY FLATS, Tenn. - The battle over how to reduce gun crime takes center state in Washington and what's decided here will impact people nationwide.
The Senate voted Thursday to begin the debate on the proposed Gun Control Bill that would make changes to the current background check system.
Currently Federal Form 4473, the Firearms Transaction Record, is all that stands between a person and gun ownership. It's a three-page form with fifteen questions to be answered by the gun buyer, as long as you purchase from a federally licensed dealer.
"Right now whenever we run a background check, there's a good bit of information you have to fill out regarding yourself," says Donn Rockett with Shooters Edge in Piney Flats.
That information includes citizenship and residency status, whether or not you are a convicted felon or if you've ever been committed to a mental institution.
However, background checks do not apply in private sales or guns bought over the internet. Some members of Congress want to change that loophole in hopes of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
Connecticut's two senators are helping lead the effort. "It is a starting point. It is a step in the right direction," says Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) about the vote to discuss the bill.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) says expanded background checks are a step in the right direction. "It's going to make sure that less criminals across this country have access to guns," he said.
However, some police officers think expanded background checks won't completely eliminate gun violence. "Anything that would help our job, like preventing more guns from falling into the wrong hands [is a good thing]," says Sgt Steven Crawford with the Bristol, Va. Police Department. "But the other side of the argument [is that] this is not going to prevent guns from falling into the hands of any criminal. I they want to get a gun, they're going to get it."
Some gun owners stress personal responsibility coupled with the need for some oversight as keys to making background checks more effective. "It's personal responsibility on the seller of the firearm to decide whether we need to say, 'Hey, maybe this guy needs to wait a day, or this guy needs to come back after his lunch break.' Whatever the case may be. That's on us as actual sellers of firearms," says Rockett.
"Everybody should be kind of felt out before they get to own something as deadly as a firearm," says Brittnay Funderburke, a medical student and competitive shooter."Gun ownership is a right that I have. I love guns and I love to shoot. It's a sport for me." She told us doesn't want to see any laws that could change her hobby.
For now, the future of any gun control law rests with Congress.
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