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Officials: State Couldn’t Run Background Checks For Guns

Published: 12/29/2018 11:48:35 PM
Modified: 12/29/2018 11:48:36 PM

Montpelier — Vermont will not be able to run its own background checks for gun sales, according to a new report.

The Department of Public Safety finds in a report issued on Dec. 17 to legislators that because only licensed dealers can access the federal database system, the state will not be able to offer an alternative to running background checks through gun shops, Vermont Public Radio reported.

Federal law requires anyone who buys a gun from a federally licensed dealer to undergo a background check. In a private gun sale between two people, a background check also is supposed to be performed through a dealer before the gun is sold.

Lawmakers wanted to see if a system could be set up for private sales.

“In multiple phone calls with the FBI, and reviewing federal law and regulation, it became clear that we would not be authorized to have access to the full range of databases that are performed on a normal background check for a gun purchase,” said Public Safety Deputy Commissioner Christopher Herrick.

The National Instant Background Check System is managed by the FBI. Gun shops do not have access to it but licensed dealers can make requests to the FBI, Herrick said.

If Vermont relied on only state data, people from out of state may be able to go around the system, he said.

“Any background check that Vermont police agencies would be doing would be thin and incomplete and would potentially put the public at risk,” Herrick said.

The report said “the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will be performing outreach to federally licensed firearm dealers in Vermont to help them understand the important role they can serve with respect to the integrity of gun sales in Vermont.”

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