Preaching at the pulpit of gun violence with the support of all the large anti-gun groups, Democrats in Congress on Tuesday announced a plan to expand permit-to-purchase laws nationwide. 

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Jamie Raskin, both of Maryland, along with U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, all of Connecticut, this week introduced the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act. The measure aims to grow the practice of requiring a would-be gun owner to first apply for and be granted a state-controlled permit before they can legally buy a firearm. So-called permit-to-purchase laws are only in effect in nine states – to include both Connecticut and Maryland. 

"While our state has already enacted this vital reform, Maryland is not an island. This legislation will help spur policies like ours across the United States and leverage this effective method to keep our communities safe,” said Senator Van Hollen, who has backed similar proposals for most of the last decade. 

The measure would authorize the Department of Justice to establish a grant program to help states develop and implement permit-to-purchase requirements for all handguns, including those rented, bought, or transferred in private sales or at gun shows. The structure of the programs sites Connecticut’s law which requires $99.75 in associated fees, completion of a training course from an approved instructor that includes live fire, and a background check that can take as long as eight weeks. 

The basic requirements to be met by the modeled permit-to-purchase programs in the bill would include a background check and the candidate to submit fingerprints and photographs with their application.

Permit to purchase legislation, while embraced by gun control organizations such as Brady, Giffords, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence – all day one endorsers of Van Hollen's new bill – can draw out the process of and throw hurdles in front of exercising Second Amendment rights. 

In 2015, a law-abiding New Jersey woman was stabbed to death in her front yard by an estranged ex-boyfriend while still on the waiting list for a permit to buy a firearm that she filed four months prior.

Some states which long had PTP laws in effect have chosen to scrap them as they were the product of racist Jim Crow era gun controls and have been made obsolete by more modern instant background check systems. In 2007, Missouri repealed its PTP law, which had been adopted in 1921 when NICS checks were still far into the future. In Iowa, a measure is currently on the move in the state House to repeal PTP laws in that state.

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