For Release: Tuesday, June 12, 2001
Letter Sent to Senate Today Includes Groups Representing: Consumers, Children, Civil Rights, Doctors, Police, and Women
WASHINGTON A group of 50 organizations today sent a letter opposing the McCain-Lieberman gun show bill [S. 890] to every member of the U.S. Senate [letter attached]. Warning that the bill would open more loopholes than it would close, the groups – including Consumer Federation of America, Violence Policy Center, NAACP, Children’s Defense Fund, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Network to End Domestic Violence, and Physicians for Social Responsibility asked the Senators to oppose the bill.
“The McCain-Lieberman ‘compromise’ bill is not better than nothing in fact it’s worse,” the groups wrote in their opposition letter today. Opposition to the bill includes the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an organization in Senator Lieberman’s home state.
The McCain-Lieberman bill sets weaker standards for unlicensed individuals versus licensed dealers by shortening background checks for unlicensed dealers from three business days to 24 hours if certain conditions are met. In the letter, the groups point out that there is absolutely no basis whatsoever to treat gun sales at gun shows differently depending on whether the seller is licensed or unlicensed.
“Indeed, the desire to treat all sales the same is precisely the reason for closing the gun show loophole in the first place. This approach misses the forest for the trees,” the groups stated.
In addition, the McCain-Lieberman bill reduces the time for law enforcement to do adequate background checks. The 24-hour provision allowed for unlicensed sales would not provide enough time to stop sales to felons. Since many gun shows take place on the weekends, when state and local law enforcement offices are closed, the information necessary to complete a background check would not be accessible within 24 hours. This bill would effectively draw more criminals to unlicensed individuals who sell at gun shows.
In the letter, the 50 organizations encouraged the Senators to support the one bill that actually closes the gun show loophole: The Gun Show Background Check Act [S. 767], sponsored by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).