Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

WV State News

April 30, 2013

W.Va. Group: Enhanced background checks 'de facto registration'

A West Virginia group dedicated to private gun ownership says Sen. Joe Manchin’s once-failed enhanced background checks is “de facto registration” and could lead to confiscation of firearms.

Keith Morgan, president of West Virginia Citizens Defense League, based in Charleston, says the proposal that Manchin plans to re-introduce would do nothing to prevent the illegal use of guns.

“Let’s take a look at Sandy Hook,” Morgan said, referring to the shooting of 20 children and six adults last December in a schoolhouse in Newtown, Conn.

“That individual was willing to commit murder to obtain a firearm. So he’s willing to violate any laws that they would craft to obtain a firearm. You cannot pass a law of any kind that will prevent that kind of thing. All you can do is punish the law abiding.”

Manchin, D-W.Va., a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, abandoned the group two weeks ago and failed on a Senate floor showdown to gain approval of enhanced background checks for firearm buyers.

“When I look at a further incremental erosion of 2nd Amendment rights, and I can see nothing in that erosion that would have prevented a single mass shooting in this country, I can’t support it,” Morgan said.

Gun buyers already are in the watchful eyes of the federal government, he pointed out.

Morgan pointed to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, mandated by the Brady Act of 1993, and launched by the FBI.

The system is employed by the Federal Firearms Licensees to see if a potential gun buyer has a felony conviction or domestic violence petition, or has been serving a year or more in jail for a misdemeanor. What’s more, Morgan said, the existing system denies gun sales to anyone adjudicated by a court as mentally incompetent.

“NICS denied something like 44,000 people last year for various reasons,” Morgan said.

“It’s a felony to lie on the form. There were less than eight prosecutions.”

Morgan said the Manchin proposal would effectively outlaw face-to-face gun transactions between individuals at shows, forcing participants to go through the federal bureaucracy for approval.

If a seller created a post on Facebook, for example, he would be obligated to pass muster with an FFL dealer, and failure to do so would bring a five-year prison term, Morgan said.

“It is de facto registration,” Morgan said of the enhanced backgrounds Manchin is determined to impose.

And once this occurs, the federal government knows who owns the guns, Morgan said, adding, “History has shown that leads to confiscation.”

The Defense League was founded in 2007 and boasts some 3,000 members and supporters.

“I cannot think of anybody in the organization who’s happy with Manchin right now,” Morgan added.

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