MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - President Obama detailed his gun violence initiative Wednesday, but how much do you know about gun laws that are now on the books?
On Wednesday, the president signed 23 executive actions ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks, appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence, among other things.
Let's say you want to sell a gun you own, to another person, at a gun show, or anywhere. What does the law say?
Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said, "Individuals, under existing law, can sell firearms to other individuals, without any kind of background check. If I wanted to sell a gun to you I could legally sell a gun to you."
FOX10 News interviewed Sheriff Cochran on Wednesday at department headquarters, where people who want to carry concealed weapons can apply for permits.
Outside that office, one person told us she's concerned about the sale of personal weapons from one individual to another.
Pat Franklin of Mobile said, "I feel like, that it wouldn't be a bad thing if they could somehow regulate that, where, say, the person you're going to sell the gun to has to actually come here and have a background check done before you actually sell it to them."
Franklin also believes that could have an added benefit.
She said, "That would also generate, I'm sure, revenue for your sheriff's department in all those counties."
What about gun shows?
Cochran said federally licensed firearms dealers at gun shows are required by law to do a background check before selling to an individual.
But, individuals can sell guns at gun shows, too. Cochran said the dilemma has been around for some time. The licensed dealers have to complete paperwork, while the individuals do not.
Cochran said, "So, they're two types of transactions that take place at gun shows: those dealers that are federally licensed, they require the paperwork, and they do the check. Individuals that may be selling, not as a business, but just selling individual weapons, they're not required to do that."
Legal burdens on individual gun sellers
So, is there a burden on the seller to make sure a buyer is not a convicted felon?
Cochran said, "Well, the burden on the seller, perhaps, would be, if you sold a weapon to someone that used that weapon, and it was foreseeable, or reasonable, that they were going to commit some type of injury to another. You may be sued."
Cochran said that means the seller would have to know they were selling the weapon to a felon to be charged with a crime in that situation.
"If you knew what you were doing, then you would be violating the law. But, if you had no reason to expect that the individual was prohibited from possessing or owning a firearm, and you sold it to them with the best of intentions, I would see no criminal offense being committed under existing law," Cochran said.
"Now, there might be some tort liability, but that would be on the civil side," he added.
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