It’s not as simple as expanding background checks. A serious debate over gun policy is underway in the aftermath of last week’s massacre in Florida, and one focus is the federal background check system ― a system that has existed for 20 years but which, by almost all accounts, isn’t doing enough to deter would-be killers from buying firearms. In theory, almost everybody in Washington wants to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, as it’s known. That includes top Republicans, even though they have historically resisted or opposed efforts to control or limit gun access. It even includes President Donald Trump, who on Thursday tweeted support for improving background checks and on Friday said the same thing while answering press questions at the White House. These vows may be meaningless. Recent history is littered with instances of Republicans dropping support for gun legislation as soon as public interest wanes. As for Trump, his own budget proposal, released earlier this month, proposed cutting funds for the background check system. It’s anybody’s guess whether Trump even understands the promise he has been making over the past few days, let alone whether he intends to keep it. But if the student-led movement for stronger gun policies doesn’t let up, Trump and his allies may not be able to let go of this idea so easily. They might even decide that the political consequences of inaction are too serious to risk, that some kind of legislation on background checks is necessary. The question, then, would be what kind of legislation. On Capitol Hill, the current debate over background checks is focused on two very different proposals. One is an anodyne bill to shore up the existing system by feeding it information in a more timely and consistent fashion. The other is a more sweeping proposal to expand the reach of background checks so they include all sales, not just those that take place through officially licensed dealers. But there’s another, even more ambitious idea out there ― one that Congress isn’t seriously considering now but that, according to many advocates and experts, could have a bigger impact. It’s a call for requiring would-be gun purchasers to first obtain licenses, which the government would grant only for people who go through a protracted process. The process could entail any number of steps, but in the most ambitious versions it would include completing a gun safety course, paying registration fees, providing character references, and applying in person to local law enforcement. The goal is to reduce all kinds of firearm violence, including the everyday acts of homicide and suicide that account for the vast majority of this country’s gun deaths. It might sound like a crazy idea wildly out of step with current practice. It’s not. A dozen states plus the District of Columbia already have some kind of licensing program in place. There’s good reason to think these systems are having at least a mild impact in those places, and that they’d do a lot more if they existed nationwide. That’s especially true if licensing were part of a broader strategy that included bans on assault-style weapons, temporary restraining orders against gun ownership for people who pose likely threats, and other restrictions. Much More: This Is What A Serious Gun Violence Policy Would Look Like Interesting article. Definitely worth reading - regardless of which side of the fence you're on.