Bloomberg looks to close gun loopholes

The national background-check system is in need of a substantial overhaul, say experts.

Mayor Bloomberg is joining 500 other mayors in the “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” campaign, which hopes to create a loophole-free background-check system for the sale of firearms. And some would say that the laborious process of buying a gun legally in New York City could serve as a template for other major cities.

In fact, despite the hoops through which one has to jump in order to get a gun permit in New York City, residents aren’t daunted: The number of permits held in NYC in 2010 was 37,382, up from 37,285 the year prior, according to the NYPD.

It usually takes several months to buy a handgun legally in New York City. The intensive process requires a background check and a personal interview. After the purchase, the owner has to bring the weapon to the NYPD within 72 hours for registration. Then there’s a $340 fee to file a permit application, in addition to a $94.25 fingerprinting fee.

Gun owners “have to go through a federal background check, a city background check … we have background checks up the wazoo,” said John Aaron, 56, an employee of the Westside Rifle & Pistol Range in the Flatiron District.

The tragic shootings in Tucson, Ariz., Virginia Tech and Binghamton have revealed holes in the national background check system, which purportedly contains the mental, criminal, and drug-related histories of all gun owners. These national background checks are fast and dirty, though, and require nothing more than a birth date and a name.

On top of that, “occasional sellers” do not have to perform background checks at all, making
gun shows prime territory for undocumented and hazardous-weapon acquisitions.

“We have to close the loopholes everywhere else,” said Aaron at the pistol range. “It’s nuts not to have these laws.”

Gun-toting states

Vermont allows gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Oklahoma does not require a permit to buy a handgun, just a permit to pack one.

Kentucky does not limit the number of guns owned by an individual.­



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