A Democratic measure aimed at restricting access to handguns is facing opposition from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights groups.
The Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act would make it a requirement for handgun buyers to have to first get a license before they would be allowed to buy certain firearms, The Hill is reporting.
In addition, the legislation would expand background checks for the sale of all handguns as well as prohibit anyone under 21 years old from purchasing a handgun. The background check would include photographs and fingerprints.
States that choose not to implement the regulations would do so at the risk of losing federal funding.
The bill was introduced by Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. The Constitution State is the home of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where the massive shooting took place in December 2012.
With a Republican-controlled Congress, the measure has a very low chance of passing, but that hasn't stopped the NRA from responding with vehement opposition to the proposal.
"They cannot ban guns because of the Constitution, so they want to make it so difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to self-protection," NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told The Hill.
In a separate statement
released by the NRA, the group said that "if the bill were passed, criminals wouldn't obtain a license to buy a gun from a dealer. They would simply obtain their guns the same ways they always have: by theft, straw purchases, from criminal associates or family members, or on the black market."
While lawful gun owners "would have more impediments to exercising their rights," the group added.
The authors of the measure cite a study that looked at the implementation of a gun licensing law in Connecticut. The study was done by the John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, which concluded that homicide rates drop when handgun licenses increase.
According to the NRA, that group is "bought and paid for" by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The group also cites an analysis of that study
done by economist John R. Lott, who is the director the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC).
"As the authors of the study note, from 1995 to 2005 the firearm homicide rate in Connecticut indeed fell from 3.13 to 1.88 per 100,000 people, representing a 40 percent drop over a 10-year period," Lott wrote. "However, unexplained is that the firearms homicide rate was falling even faster immediately prior to the licensing law."
Other pro-gun rights groups have also spoken out against the proposal.
"Since they support licensing for exercising Second Amendment freedoms, do they also support licensing of newspaper columns, political speeches and sermons?" said Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America, according to The Hill.
Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, told The Hill that the measure is a "blatant attempt to fingerprint every law-abiding gun owner in the country like a common criminal."
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