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What the TSA could teach Congress about gun control

Recode – “TSA PreCheck uses enhanced background checks to make everyone safer. With the country continually in mourning over gun violence — we keep seeing mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting — it’s time to find ways to prevent it, lest we remain the “only nation where this regularly happens.” Those solutions needn’t be new, and could perhaps be kind of banal, like the risk-based decision-making behind TSA PreCheck screenings. The Transportation Security Administration introduced TSA PreCheck in response to September 11 to prevent future terror attacks on airplanes. The system has a dual mission: expediting travel for people who submit to enhanced background checks and making everyone safer by allowing the government to focus on people who are considered risky or whose risk is unknown. To qualify for TSA PreCheck, passengers undergo a screening process that determines whether or not they’re a risk. The process requires a questionnaire about biographical information and criminal history, fingerprints, and an in-person interview (exactly what’s involved in those background checks is classified). If approved, a so-called known traveler faces fewer security checks than everyone else. And by some measures, this system has been very effective. Experts say air travel has become safer even as threats have continued to evolve, partly since PreCheck allows the TSA to focus its attention on higher-risk travelers. As it considers a raft of new gun control legislation, Congress could learn a thing or two from TSA PreCheck. First off, a similar system for guns would require, at a base level, that everyone go through a federally standardized background check to get a gun, much like everyone has to go through airport security to fly. This would improve on the current state of background checks for guns, in which loopholes allow people to buy guns from private sellers or online without any type of background check. Gun laws also vary widely from state to state, which leads to a flow of weapons from less-strict states to stricter ones. Universal background checks are very popular on both sides of the aisle and even among gun owners…”

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