The U.S. Senate is expected to vote this week on a gun control bill that would require background checks of gun buyers at gun shows and over the Internet. A similar bill is expected to be introduced this week in the House of Representatives, where it faces a more difficult path because a majority of House members are Republicans.
Supporters say the proposed bill would crack down on gun trafficking. Opponents say background checks are required now at dealerships, but are seldom enforced.
Of more than 76,000 people who failed an instant background check when attempting to buy a gun in 2010, only 4,700 investigations ensued, resulting in only 44 prosecutions, Sen. Deb Fischer said.
Fischer and Sen. Mike Johanns both issued statements, saying they are strongly opposed to the new legislation because it would infringe on the rights enumerated in the Constitution.
David Kopel, a constitutional law professor at the University of Denver, also says background checks violate the U.S. Constitution. Kopel will represent Colorado sheriffs in a lawsuit against new state laws that were recently enacted there.
Kopel argues new Colorado requirements for background checks are poorly written and will prevent people who want guns for lawful purposes from having them, according to a report on CBS Channel 4 in Denver.
Kopel said the new Colorado laws apply to completely innocent transfers of firearms on a temporary basis, such as a Boy Scout leader supervising Boy Scouts while they practice firearms safety.
Johanns said the bill proposed in the Senate “is at odds with the Second Amendment to the Constitution. I strongly believe in the constitutional right of every law-abiding American to own a firearm just as strongly as I believe in their right to free speech.”
Johanns said he will “carefully review all proposals as they become available, but cannot support anything that infringes on our rights or creates a slippery slope toward a national firearm registry.”
Fischer said it is crystal clear that the vast majority of Nebraskans oppose the Senate’s gun control proposals.
"Thousands of phone calls, letters, and e-mails to my offices further reinforce this position,” she said.
“Accordingly, I intend to use any legislative tools at my disposal to oppose measures curtailing Second Amendment rights and I will oppose efforts to advance related legislation,” Fischer said.
“Furthermore, the proposals currently offered would have little or no effect on violent crime – the very problem we are seeking to address in the first place,” she said. “A number of federal laws to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals are already on the books. The Department of Justice has under-enforced these laws, choosing not to prosecute individuals who fail existing background checks to purchase firearms. Ensuring that current laws are fully enforced should be our top priority.”