Federal changes could further increase already high demand for background checks in Kentucky

In this 2014 file photo, Debra and Bill Day discussed a gun for sale at the Gun and Knife Show at Lexington Convention Center in Lexington.
In this 2014 file photo, Debra and Bill Day discussed a gun for sale at the Gun and Knife Show at Lexington Convention Center in Lexington. Herald-Leader

In a state with the biggest one-year surge in background checks in 2015, the president’s decision to subject more gun buyers to vetting seems likely to drive the numbers even higher.

Previously, registered gun dealers were the only ones required to make background checks through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. After an executive order announced Monday, the definition of a gun dealer has been expanded to include anyone in the business of selling guns, including sales online or at gun shows.

Local and state law enforcement might see the effects of the new background checks conducted at the federal level.

Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard said it is still too early to tell how the changes will affect Lexington.

“Anything that is going to help public safety I’m always for,” Barnard said. “But I think we have to wait and see what kind of impact it will have.”

3,218,371 Number of firearm background checks in Kentucky in 2015

Changes in enforcement will occur at state and national levels, Barnard said.

“Most of those decisions are being made at the the national and state levels,” Barnard said. “When those decisions are made we just have to adjust to it.”

The push is likely to drive more people to carry guns, Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said.

“Any time that there appears to be an issue with the Second Amendment, we always see a spike in concealed carry licenses and gun shops seem to be busier,” Melton said.

Though background checks are ultimately positive, nothing will keep guns off of the streets, Melton said.

“At the end of the day, you can still go to an individual and buy a gun,” Melton said.

Break out in highline Since 2006, more firearm background checks have been initiated in Kentucky than in any other state every year except 2013, according to statistics on the website for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. In 2013, Kentucky came second to Texas.

In 2015, there were 3,218,371 firearm background checks in Kentucky; some argue those numbers are inflated by automatic rechecks done on concealed-carry permit holders. The 30-day rechecks do not completely account for the swings in 2015 monthly totals that range from a high of 320,778 in January to a low of 220,018 in July.

Furthermore, background checks increased by 726,187 in 2015 compared to 2014. No other state saw that big of a jump.

Licensed gun dealers will not need to change procedures after Obama’s announcement, said Dan Maloy, a supervisor at Buds Gun Shop & Range.

As a licensed gun dealer, Buds has always required a background check for any purchase of a firearm, Maloy said.

The checks usually take only a few minutes, Maloy said.

Each person fills out a federal form. Once the store clerk enters the information online, it takes about 30 seconds for a response that says proceed, delay or deny.

If the response says “proceed,” the gun can be sold immediately, Maloy said. A delay means that the people doing the background checks, for some reason, could not get all of the information they need quickly and need extra time to make a decision.

With a delay, reviewers have three business days to gather the rest of the information, but if a decision doesn’t come in three days, the gun can be purchased.

Convicted felons and people with domestic protection orders are among those that are denied after background checks, Maloy said. Once denied, a person cannot buy a firearm or ammunition.

The only people exempt from the background checks are people with valid concealed-carry licenses because of automatic rechecks, Maloy said.

For everyone else, a check is required with each individual transaction, even if those transactions happen in the same day, Maloy said.

If someone buys from Buds or a licensed out-of-state dealer online, they still have to go to their nearest licensed gun dealer to pick up the gun and have a background check completed.

Before the president’s order, some online sales could be conducted by unlicensed dealers without background checks.

Gun show vendors will be among the most affected, Maloy said. There it is not as easy for a background check to be completed. Still, with a laptop or a cell phone the background checks can be done.

The Lexington Gun and Knife Show is scheduled to begin this Saturday, and it will be the first gun show in the city after the announced changes.

The promoter for local gun shows, including the Lexington Gun and Knife Show, could not be reached for comment.

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