Accuracy in Media

CBS News aired a one-minute filibuster from Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) this week in which Padilla claimed that it is easier to buy a gun than it is to vote in America.

CBS News paraphrases Padilla on Twitter:

“In a majority of states, new voters are able to obtain a rifle quicker than they’re able to cast their first ballot. It seems to me we have our priorities entirely backwards when it comes to this — when we make it easier to buy a gun than we do to cast a ballot.”

Such a claim can only be made by someone who has never tried to buy a gun in the U.S. or someone who wants to grandstand on guns and voting. But CBS News did not follow Padilla’s claims with any data to confirm or deny his statements.

In the U.S., gun purchases require positive identification from each buyer to begin the background check procedure.

By contrast, there are only six states that require voters to present ID to vote.

“If ID is not presented, a voter provides name, date of birth, and address, and signs under penalty of making a false statement,” according to  the National Conference of State Legislatures, using voting requirements in Connecticut as an example,

So most states may request an ID, but if one isn’t presented, a prospective voter is allowed to sign an affidavit or match a signature to verify his identity.

It’s a procedure that takes less than a minute.

They are then free to vote on election day. The only caveat is that same-day voting – that is, voting immediately after registration — is not allowed to combat fraud.

Gun purchase procedures, however, are much more onerous.

“The identification document [to buy a gun] must …be valid (e.g., unexpired) and have been issued by a governmental entity for the purpose of identification of individuals,” according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

After presenting valid government identification, a firearms purchaser must fill out ATF 4473, a form used to complete the criminal background check necessary to complete the transaction. The form takes about ten minutes.

But then the real waiting begins.

That information is transmitted to the U.S. Department of Justice, and then the FBI completes the background check.

However, background checks currently have a backlog.

“Pre-pandemic, background checks could be processed in a matter of minutes. Now, some customers have to wait weeks as OSP works through its backlog,” KOIN TV in Oregon reported.

Federal law says the FBI has up to three days to complete a background check, but most gun dealers won’t sell a gun without a clean background check.

Last year, the backlog to get a buyer checked was running nearly a month.

While technically it’s possible to pass a background check and take home a gun on the same day, that’s quite uncommon.

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