Gutowski: Background Checks Did Not Prevent Recent Shootings

'It's illegal to ever sell a gun, or let someone hold a gun, if they're a prohibited person'

Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski explained on C-SPAN's Washington Journal on Monday that universal background checks "wouldn't necessarily have stopped" the recent mass shootings in the United States.

Gutowski explained that, under current federal law, those in the business of selling firearms have to be licensed by the federal government, and those licensed individuals are regulated and perform background checks for gun sales.

"If you go to a gun store, there's a background check. If you buy a gun from them at a gun show, if you buy from a licensed dealer, someone at a gun store, you have to do a background check. If you buy online from a licensed dealer, there's a background check," Gutowski said.

Federal law does not regulate private individuals selling guns.

"If a private individual sells a gun to another private individual on the secondary market, within their own state, then there's no federal regulation on that, a background check is not required. Universal background checks would require background checks on those sales as well. Basically, on almost any transfer of a gun between two people there would have to have a background check," Gutowski continued.

It is possible to buy a gun legally without a background check in a state without a universal background check law, although other conditions apply.

Individuals can purchase guns if "you're doing a private sale, and you're not a prohibited person, somebody who is a convicted felon or who has been adjudicated mentally ill. It's never legal for those people to buy guns. They might be able to do it illegally. Certainly, they could break the law. But as far as the law is concerned, it's illegal to ever sell a gun, or even let someone hold a gun, if they're a prohibited person and it's illegal for them to do it," Gutowski said.

"As far as the effectiveness of background checks, especially in regards to universal or especially in regards to the recent shootings, the last three attacks, all three of those shooters went through the legal process and had a background check and passed it. So as far as this as a response to these recent shootings, this kind of proposal, it wouldn't necessarily have stopped these particular shootings. Advocates say it would generally reduce crime. That's the claim at least," Gutowski added.

President Donald Trump has called for strong background checks in the wake of recent shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. Law enforcement in California, Texas, and Ohio all said the attackers passed background checks. A background check bill proposed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D., WV) would not have stopped those shooters from obtaining firearms legally.

Democratic congressman Al Green went further, comparing "long guns" to "weapons of mass destruction" and calling for a buyback program.