The Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act

One of the biggest cluster fucks in United States law regards the sale of firearms between individual states. Basically the only legal way to sell a firearm to a person residing in another state is by doing a transfer through a federally licensed dealer. Well it appears as though some congress critters have finally had enough of this stupidity and introduced H.R. 58, The Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has a good rundown of the bill:

In the 1980s, the Congress revisited these restrictions during the debate over the Firearms Owners` Protection Act (FOPA). As the Senate Judiciary Committee’s report on FOPA put it, the 1968 interstate sales provisions were “so cumbersome that they [were] rarely used.”2 When the Congress passed FOPA in 1986, it did away with the state authorization, notification and waiting period requirements. Federal law now allows dealers to make interstate rifle and shotgun sales, as long as (a) the buyer meets in person with the dealer, and (b) the transaction complies with the laws of both the buyer’s and the seller’s states.3

Since 1998, however, all people buying firearms from dealers in the U.S. have been subject to computerized background checks under the FBI`s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), either by the dealer contacting NICS (directly or through a state “point of contact” agency) or by the buyer presenting a state firearms permit issued after a NICS check. Any of these systems are far more advanced than anything available in 1968.

H.R. 58 are common sense measures that would take advantage of these technological improvements to further reduce restrictions on law-abiding citizens. Under H.R. 58:

Individuals could buy handguns, as well as rifles or shotguns, from licensed dealers in another state, subject to the background check requirement. The buyer and dealer would still have to meet in person and comply with the laws of both states.


Finally, H.R. 58 would reduce theft and loss of firearms during shipment between dealers. BATFE’s longstanding interpretation of the Gun Control Act generally forbids licensed dealers from transferring firearms directly to other licensed dealers, face to face, away from their licensed premises.5 Even though the dealers have already had a thorough background check, under the current interpretation, dealers who agree on a sale are forced to return to their business premises and ship firearms to each other by common carrier, which always involves some risk of theft or loss. H.R. 58 would allow a face-to-face exchange instead.

I could never figure out why I’m forbidden from buying a handgun in a neighboring state when all federally licensed dealers, regardless of the state they’re in, are required to perform the same National Criminal Instant Background Check System (NICS) check on me. Before the anti-gunners start shitting their pants lets just get this out of the way; this bill will not allow somebody to bypass stricter laws in their state of residence by purchasing a firearm in another state. H.R. 58 only affects federal laws and will not prevent states like Illinois from requiring stupid things like Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card before being able to legally own a firearm. An Illinois resident who purchases a firearm in Wisconsin will still be a criminal unless he has a FOID card in hand when he gets back to his home state.