A Closer Look at Background Checks

A Closer Look at Background Checks

The trouble with really strongly partisan people is that they never let the other side talk.  I’ll admit it: I’m like that.  And so are lots of liberals. So when they start to talk about background checks for firearms sales, they say one thing then they stop and they never let anyone finish a complete thought after that. With the background check issue what they say is this: A background check will keep criminals and the insane from getting guns.

Now, that’s a good thought. But it’s not true. So now, while no one can interrupt me, I’ll provide the entire rundown on why background checks don’t work. You feel free to share the page with as many people as you see fit, especially liberal politicians.

The argument made by those in favor is that background checks on all gun purchases will reduce crime. This is patently false, because only those who choose to follow the law would submit to the background check and even then the check would not prevent any crime. A background check MAY assist in locating a criminal AFTER a crime has been committed but only if a total and complete national registry of firearms is created.

Let us review some possible scenarios using my friend Liz and yours truly involved in a private sale of a firearm.  Current law allows Liz to sell a firearm to me with no questions asked. I could then choose to go and commit a crime with that firearm.  Under the proposed expanded background check, Liz could sell that firearm to me legally only if I first passed a background check. In the best-case scenario, we find an FFL (federal firearms licensee) willing to run the check for a reasonable fee (currently $25 to $75 in most places) and I pass the background check. I get the gun. I decide not to commit any crimes. Life is good. The system works.

Another scenario: Liz could sell that firearm to me legally only if I first passed a background check. We both find an FFL and I pass the background check. I decide to shoot someone Wild West style on the street and carry the gun with me as I flee. The background check has not prevented the crime and there is no way to find me.

Another scenario: Liz could sell that firearm to me legally only if I first passed a background check. But Liz is too busy and I offer her an extra $75 for the gun “off the books,” We meet, she sells me the gun and we go our separate ways. Who knows if this sale took place? If I were to decide to commit another crime (buying the gun without a background check is the first crime), who would know it was me using the gun Liz sold me? In this case the background check was so easy to avoid I simply ignored it. I still got a gun. The requirement for a background check did not prevent any crime and did not assist in solving the crime.

So, the ONLY way to solve crimes, not prevent them, would be to maintain a national database of every gun and every gun owner. When Liz decides to sell me the gun, I submit to the background check, the make, model and serial number is recorded in the database and assigned to me. And then, IF and only IF I leave the gun at a crime scene (or it is later determined to be the murder weapon), authorities could check the database and know that I owned the gun. But prosecutors would still need witnesses or other evidence to convict me. The end result is that the background check did not prevent the crime and didn’t really do much to solve it.

Of course the argument against a database is that it would be the prelude to confiscation. I think it would be, but for the sake of the liberals reading this let’s say the government would NEVER take our guns. For the sake of argument we will ignore the confiscation argument completely.  It is very clear that a background check alone will do nothing to prevent crime and do nothing to assist in solving crimes.

Let us assume for a moment that the expanded background checks AND the national database were put in place. Still, you would see very limited results because a person willing to commit a crime could circumvent the background check AND the database by simply buying or selling on the black market.  Even with both those elements still in place, Liz could sell me a gun off the books and no one would know UNTIL I committed a crime with it. So a background check and a database, even combined, will not prevent crime.

We could even take it a step further. In order to prevent the unauthorized sale of firearms on the black market, authorities could mandate that all gun owners listed on the database document their firearms inventory at regular intervals, but to truly make sure that Liz had in her possession all the guns listed on the database, authorities would have to conduct a physical audit and actually see all the guns and verify their serial numbers.  Then, and only then, would the authorities know for sure Liz did not sell any guns on the black market. But then the question becomes, how often is the audit? If it is an annual event, Liz has 364 days to sell a gun before the police find out. That gun could be used to commit a crime before police ever learned of its transfer. Again, even with intrusive searches, crimes would not be prevented. Are you willing to give up your Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights? That is what expanded background checks could lead to and still the checks would not prevent crime.

There are so many holes in the plan for expanded background checks that it just doesn’t hold water. It won’t stop crime. It won’t even be very effective at helping to solve crime. All it will do is make extra work for law-abiding citizens, who are not the problem anyway.

It seems to me that everyone is ignoring the fact that crime is down. And so many people say, “background checks keep guns out of the hands of crazy people.”   Well of course that sounds like a good idea, but in practice it does not work.  The other side of the argument is the one made often with a line like this: This is not a cure-all but if we can do something that saves even one life, it will be worth it.

Well, the people saying that never admit that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens have saved plenty of lives.   If we could save one life with less restrictive gun laws would that not also be worth it?  The issue is not guns, it is poverty and hopelessness.  Rid the world of that by improving the economy and we will be in a far better place.  And as for the occasional psycho, he needs to be stopped in his tracks by the closest armed person to the scene of the attack. Background checks won’t stop crime. Guns in the hands of the righteous will stop crime.