Universal gun background check bill filed in Florida Legislature

March 7, 2013 

Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, introduced the “Universal Background Check Act” on Wednesday, filing a gun control bill that requires virtually all sales of firearms to be conducted through licensed dealers.

The bill would require non-licensed individuals that want to sell or “transfer” a gun to do so through a licensed dealer. The gun control bill faces long odds in Florida’s gun-friendly, Republican-dominated Legislature, something Sachs readily acknowledged.

“I am not so sold on the idea that this bill is going to pass, “ said Sachs. “What I am looking forward to, and I am furious about his as so many Floridians are, let’s have the discussion. Let’s bring everyone to the table and let’s have this discussion.”

Licensed dealers are required to conduct background checks prior to selling firearms but so-called "loopholes” in the law allow some gun sales to occur without a background check, something that Congress and the White House are considering addressing.

Critics of the “gun show loophole” say it allows people to buy guns without going through a background screening that flags criminals and the mentally ill.

In Sachs’ bill, which is being sponsored in the House by Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, every person who sells or transfers a gun to another person would have to meet the same requirements as licensed dealers, who are governed by strict federal laws.

Unlicensed individuals would have to find a licensed dealer to process the deal, after a background check. The seller would have to pay a fee for the services of the licensed dealer. Failure to comply with the bill would be a third-degree felony.

Sachs’ bill has a number of exemptions that would still allow some guns to be purchased or transferred without a background check.

For example, the universal background check provisions doesn’t apply to family members, law enforcement, people who are loaned a gun for target practice., and children who are loaned a gun for hunting or sporting.

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