– Timothy Johnson, Media Matters
Below is an excerpt from the original article with links that lead to the article. I have included a small sampling of answers to the questions. For the full article go here. – Freedom First

MYTH: The Federal Government Doesn’t Currently Perform Background Checks On Gun Purchasers

Mamet In Newsweek On Background Checks: “How Are They Checked? Are They Checked? By What Agency, With What Monies?” In his Newsweek cover story, playwright David Mamet was seemingly ignorant of the fact that federal law requires individuals who purchase firearms from licensed dealers to undergo a criminal background check:
Yes, but we should check all applicants for firearms for a criminal record?
Anyone applying to purchase a handgun has, since 1968, filled out a form certifying he is not a fugitive from justice, a convicted criminal, or mentally deficient. These forms, tens and tens of millions of them, rest, conceivably, somewhere in the vast repository. How are they checked? Are they checked? By what agency, with what monies? The country is broke. Do we actually want another agency staffed by bureaucrats for whom there is no funding? [Newsweek1/28/13]

FACT: While There Is No Federal Background Check Requirement For Private Transactions, Sales Through A Licensed Dealer Are Checked

FBI Has Run Instant Background Checks On Purchases From Licensed Dealers For More Than A Decade. From the FBI website:
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is all about saving lives and protecting people from harm — by not letting guns and explosives fall into the wrong hands. It also ensures the timely transfer of firearms to eligible gun buyers.
Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials. [FBI, accessed 1/29/13]

MYTH: The Public Is Already Generally Prohibited From Owning Assault Weapons

Mamet: Assault Weapons “Have Been Illegal In Private Hands … Since 1934.” In his Newsweek piece, Mamet claimed that only automatic weapons regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 are assault weapons and therefore “[t]he so-called assault weapons ban is a hoax … The guns it supposedly banned have been illegal (as above) for 78 years”:
An assault weapon is that which used to be called a “submachine gun.” That is, a handheld long gun that will fire continuously as long as the trigger is held down.
These have been illegal in private hands (barring those collectors who have passed the stringent scrutiny of the Federal Government) since 1934. Outside these few legal possessors, there are none in private hands. They may be found in the hands of criminals. But criminals, let us reflect, by definition, are those who will not abide by the laws. What purpose will passing more laws serve?
The so-called assault weapons ban is a hoax. It is a political appeal to the ignorant. The guns it supposedly banned have been illegal (as above) for 78 years. Did the ban make them “more” illegal? The ban addresses only the appearance of weapons, not their operation. [Newsweek1/28/13]

FACT: The Recently Proposed Assault Weapons Ban Seeks To Outlaw Presently Legal Weapons

New Senate Bill Seeks To Ban 157 Specific Weapons That Are Currently Legal. A press release on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) introduction of a new assault weapons ban states:
[T]he bill prohibits the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 157 of the most commonly-owned military-style assault weapons. It also bans an additional group of assault weapons that can accept a detachable ammunition magazine and have one or more military characteristics. [Feinstein.senate.gov, accessed 1/29/13]
Violence Policy Center: Gun Industry Launched Campaign To Attempt To Rebrand Assault Weapons As “Modern Sporting Rifles.” A June 2011 report on the militarization of firearms by gun manufacturers described how opponents of assault weapons bans have attempted to obfuscate the issue with semantic arguments, launching a media campaign to paint semi-automatic assault weapons as sporting rifles:
In November 2009, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) announced that–“due to gun owners’ concerns over President-elect Obama and possible legislation regulating the Second Amendment rights of Americans”–it had placed on its website a “media resource…to help clear up much of the confusion and misinformation about so-called ‘assault weapons.'”
This was the opening salvo in the industry’s meretricious campaign to “rebrand” semiautomatic assault weapons as “modern sporting rifles.” The point of the campaign–inspired by the pummeling the industry gets for selling killing machines–is apparently that semiautomatic assault rifles are really just another sporting gun, no different from an older generation of bolt-action and low-capacity rifles. [Violence Policy Center, June 2011]

MYTH: The Assault Weapons Ban Would Outlaw Most Handguns

Townhall News Editor Katie Pavlich: Proposed Ban Would Cover “Nearly Every Semi-Automatic Handgun In The United States.” In a December 28 article, Pavlich suggested that because the assault weapons ban was slated to cover semi-automatic handguns with “one or more military characteristics” that it would apply to “nearly every semi-automatic handgun in the United States.” [Townhall, 12/28/12]

FACT: The Ban Only Covers Military-Style Assault Pistols

Assault Weapons Ban Legislation: Banned Pistols Are Handgun Variations Of Assault Rifles. [Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator for California, accessed 1/29/13]
Violence Policy Center: Assault Pistols “Have The Penetrating Power Of An Assault Rifle In The Concealable Format Of A Pistol.” A January 2013 VPC report described how assault pistols use ammunition that more easily penetrates police body armor:
This increase in the quantity of makes and models has been matched by an increase in the quality of their lethality. Whereas the earlier generation of assault pistols were primarily high-capacity military-style pistols in 9mm or 45 caliber, the most popular models today are derived from military style assault rifles, such as the AK-47 and AR-15. As a result, they have the penetrating power of an assault rifle in the concealable format of a pistol. Whereas the most commonly worn levels of police body armor would be able to protect the wearer from a 9mm or 45 caliber handgun round, a .223 or 7.62 rifle round would be far more likely to penetrate. [Violence Policy Center, January 2013]
Violence Policy Center: Assault Pistol Manufacturers Sell Assault Pistols In Conjunction With High-Capacity Magazines:
[Violence Policy Center, January 2013]