Universal background checks aren’t and cannot be, which makes them a horrible ruse and a social abuse.
How “universal” background checks are sold to the public
Akin to the now completely discredited “gun show loophole” canard, “universal” background checks are sold as a crime prevention measure. Various gun control groups have made it their current cause because it polls well with voters … until voters are presented with the perspective about guns and violent crime.
The idea being sold is that (a) every firearm transaction needs to be approved by the government using (b) a personal background check to assure the buyer isn’t a felon or other prohibited person. This allegedly will (c) reduce violence with guns.
The problems, as you will shortly see, are that (1) the solution is nowhere close to being universal, (2) will have no impact on gun violence, (3) is ripe for governmental abuse and (4) can’t work without one extra component … one that polls show voters openly reject.
Who wouldn’t comply
“Universal” background checks require universal participation. So an intelligent person would first ask “who would not participate once this law is passed?”
The answer is at least 40% of people who misuse guns, and upwards of 78%.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) tallies crimes involving guns in their decadal reports titled “Firearm Violence.” In that report, the BJS lists how offenders got their guns. This is our first clue to the non-universal nature of passing background checks.
According to the BJS, a full 40% of crime guns are acquired from completely off-the-radar sources. Most (25%) come from “drug dealer/off street” sources, at the nexus of street gang culture. Another big chunk (7%+) are stolen directly by thugs, and an equal amount are from street dealers, the fellows who vend hot guns from the trunk of their cars.
Ponder this for a moment: 40% of crime guns are acquired from and by people who have zero interest in obeying any law whatsoever. None. Zip. Nada. This is the largest category for crime gun sources according to the BJS, and it is the one that “universal” background checks will have zero impact upon. At best such laws would be impotent.
But the news gets worse.
The next 38% of crime guns come from people classified as “family or friend.” The definition of “friend” in such transactions is very broad and includes such buddies as:
- Drug users or dealer swapping contraband for weapons
- Women who knowingly perform strawman purchases and give guns to felon boyfriends
- Relatives who loan a gun to a felon for “self-protection”
Again we must ask how many of these people would drop whatever they are doing, drive untold miles to a gun store, file paperwork, and wait for a background check before handing a revolver to the other person. Since BJS does not itemize which type of “family” or “friends” are involved, we’ll have to assume some portion of this 38% of crime guns are not tied directly to nefarious people. But since we know from other criminology literature that people within criminal enclaves, or who routinely associate with violent criminals will bend the rules more readily than others, I suspect the majority of this 38% of crime guns come from people who also won’t bother with “universal” background checks.
So, the best case scenario is that 40% of crime guns won’t be caught with “universal” background checks and as much as 78% will slide by undetected. Incidentally, less than 1% of crime guns are acquired at gun shows … likely due to the high presence of cops and ornery NRA types at such events.
The expected outcome vs. the advertised one
We have a disconnect between the advertised purpose of “universal” background checks and what will actually occur.
The advertised purpose is to end transfers of guns to criminals, but we see that a minimum of 40% of such transfers come completely from black market operations. Hence, the proposals are impotent – they cannot achieve what they propose. Given that upwards of 78% of crime guns would not be impacted by “universal” background checks, such laws become a monumental waste of time …
Unless there are other objectives.
Define “prohibited” person or “transfer”
In much of the language of these bills, which differ from state to state, the definition of who is a “prohibited person” and a “firearm transfer” is ill defined on purpose.
It is obvious that prohibited persons would include people with felony convictions for violent crime. But the San Francisco Sherriff is apparently guilty of violent spouse abuse. In many places he would be on the prohibited persons list.
Another example may hit closer to home. A friend of mine volunteered to be part of a mutual restraining order after his ex-wife committed assault on him. Yet under the laws of his state today, he would not be allowed to borrow his father’s hunting rifle due to this ancient restraining order.
Danger lies is who is defined as a prohibited person. The definition can be lax, fluid, amended, open to judicial interpretation and vary across county borders. This may be the intent of some gun control groups who have a stated purpose of making gun ownership as complicated, difficult and expensive as possible.
The other intentional gotcha is what the definition of “transfer” may be. In the first state to pass “universal” background check legislation, the wording was such that if a friend admired your new Glock while standing in the adjoining alley at the firing range, and you handed it to him for inspection, then you became an instant felon. Gun control advocates claimed that would never happen, but they also claimed firearm registration would never lead to confiscation before the confiscations began in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and California. Poorly worded legislation is an endangerment to decent people and no barrier to evil ones.
In the case of Michael Bloomberg, it is downright helpful.
Lastly, such “universal” background check laws are useless without universal run registration. Some contend this is the end game of the “universal” background check movement. Since the public openly rebel at the suggestion of gun registration (voters are smarter than politicians give them credit for), one gambit might be to pass the otherwise popular “universal” background check law and either (a) turn it into a state-level registration process or (b) later claim the background check law is not working “well enough” and that a tiny additional piece of legislation is needed, and it won’t be called “registration” though in reality it is.
Legislation must have efficacy, otherwise it is abuse
For a law to be of any use it must be effective and enforceable. If 40%+ of crime guns come from unregulatable sources, “universal” background checks have no efficacy at all. The only enforcement then comes from add-on charges after a crime (“You are charged with first degree murder and not filing background check paperwork … how do you plea?”). It is also enforced in order to harass honest people who simply want to lend a gun to a daughter in danger or an uncle who wants to go hunting, or to sell a spare revolver to the same neighbor who baby sits your kids.
This is not of what America is made.