A Closer Look at Background Checks

A Closer Look at Background Checks
| | 125 Comments

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.


125 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. I put together a list of problems with Universal Background Checks a few months ago when the Colorado Legislature was debating the new laws. Even with the presence of hundreds of pro-gun citizens and sheriffs and in spite of all the testimony and presentations at the State House, the Liberals ignored every fact and every opinion and passed their agenda. They removed only 2 proposed bills from consideration and the Governor signed the remaining bills into law. Universal Background Checks and the new $10 fee for them went into effect immediately on the grounds of being necessary for “public safety.” For those who don’t know, there is a waiting period before any new law takes affect in Colorado.

    So, in the form of scenarios, here are just a few of the problems with Universal Background Checks and Magazine Restrictions as I see them.

    1. Checks required on all private sales – My friend has a shotgun and needs some cash. I have been eying that shotgun for quite some time and I have some extra cash so I am able to help her out. She would prefer to sell it to me because, when her financial situation improves, she would like to buy it back from me. But, before we can exchange my cash for her shotgun, we need to find a gun dealer or gunsmith who can perform the Background Check and, of course, we shall need to compensate him for his time and effort. We don’t know how much that will be yet. Colorado Revised Statutes say a gun dealer may charge a maximum of $10 to perform a background check at a gun show, but it doesn’t say how much a gun dealer can charge for a firearm transfer in the normal course of business. I know of one dealer who charges 10% of the cost of the gun plus $10 to cover the new fee that CBI is now charging him. That means that a $1000 gun will cost $1110 to buy. And – when she is able to buy the shotgun back from me, we will have to do it again – find a dealer, have the Background Check run on her and pay him for his service. If I paid that extra $110 for the first transfer, I am going to want to make that money back so the selling price to her will be $1110 and then, with the additional Background Check and transfer fee of 10%, which now comes to $120, her cost will go up to $1220. Depending upon how much he charges, she might not be able to afford to buy that gun back after all. Additionally, in the State of Colorado, the laws say that all background checks must be done through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The dealer cannot go directly through NICS for a Background Check. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, due to the high volume of sales, background checks were taking 7 to 8 days to be completed and CBI determined that the 72-hour rule would take affect once the application began to be processed, not upon submittal by the dealer. (The FBI had a difference of opinion) (The delay is now back to the normal 15-90 minutes, depending on the day and the time of day, but keep this length of time in mind as we go down the list). If Background Checks are required for ALL cases of firearms changing hands, this volume will continue to increase. And, because CBI had to bring in additional personnel, they now need that $10 fee to help cover their costs. Of course, the way the law was written, there is no limit to the amount of money they can charge for the service.
    2. Checks required for all gifts – My grandson is 7 years old and his parents have agreed it is time to teach him about the proper and safe handling of firearms and to learn how to shoot. I have a youth-sized .22lr rifle for him but, being only 7, a Background Check cannot be run on him, so it must be run on at least one of his parents. Does that qualify as a “Straw Purchase?”
    3. Checks required for all inheritance transfers – Once my grandson reaches the age of 18, he can legally take possession of the rifle, even though it won’t fit him anymore but perhaps he will save it for his children. In order to get the rifle from his parents, he will have to find an FFL-holder, have a Background Check done and pay the transfer fee – to get a rifle that already belongs to him.
    4. Checks on all loans – I have a friend who is a shooter but has never gone hunting and doesn’t have a suitable rifle of his own, so he is going to borrow one of mine when I take him hunting next weekend. But – first we will need to find an FFL-holder, have a Background Check done on him and pay the transfer fee. When we get home from our hunting trip, I will have to pay for another Background Check to be done on me so I can get my own rifle back from my friend.
    5. Checks on all rentals – one of the local shooting ranges has a selection of firearms available for rent, to be used at their facility. This is a big selling point for them since they promote a wide range of shooting classes and many students don’t have any guns yet. Being able to rent a gun means that both new and experienced shooters can try out a variety of guns before they buy one. They can make sure the gun fits their hands, that they can handle the caliber and that it performs the function they are buying it for. But first, the range will have to hire a gunsmith or gun dealer so they can submit a Background Check since only FFL-holders and Law Enforcement officers and agencies may use CBI’s InstaChek system. Now that Background Checks are only taking anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, what used to be a 5 minute process will stretch out to, possibly an hour-long wait before the customer can get out to the shooting line. During the winter, the Range closes at 5 or 5:30 pm, since there is no artificial lighting and the sun goes down by about 5:30 pm. That means that, for someone who works a typical job, they can’t make it to the range on a weekday in time to actually shoot. Leading up to and during hunting season, the rifle line has a waiting list all day long each weekend day. With weekdays pretty much lost to most people, those waiting lines are only going to get longer and longer. As an alternative, people are going to give up on their plans of going to a well-managed and well-supervised range where “Safety is Rule #1” and they will, instead, go out to the national forest lands around here to practice. That means more risk of accidents. For those who do continue to shoot at the Range, do repeat customers have to have Background Checks done each time they come out to shoot? Or can the records of the results be held for a certain amount of time? If so, how long will that be? How long will the range need to maintain those records? Printed out on paper? How many file cabinets do you suppose that will require over the course of a year? And how many years will they have to maintain those records?
    6. Checks on all ammunition sales – Some of the more radical proposals are calling for Background Checks for the purchase of ammo. The local range sells ammo for the convenience of their customers, especially for the people renting guns. That way, the range knows that the ammo going through their firearms is safe to use. In other cases, customers get out on the line and realize they forgot to pack ammo, they packed the wrong ammo for the gun they are shooting or they mis-judged and ran out before they were ready to leave for the day. If a Background Check is required for all ammo purchases, they might have to wait for up to an hour to continue their shooting session. Depending on their schedule, they aren’t shooting today or they are done for the day. Oh well, so much for having a safe environment with multiple Range Safety Officers watching what happens and preventing any accidents. Pretty soon, the customers will get tired of the bureaucratic nonsense and they will stop coming to the range to shoot. There isn’t nearly as much hassle if they simply go out to the mountains or the National Forest and shoot. Of course, there aren’t any RSO’s up there nor properly engineered backstops, overhead baffles, target stands and fences to keep a safe area clearly marked and barricaded. Pretty soon, the range in town will have to close and another small business will have failed, thanks to the government’s interference and another dozen or so people will enter the ranks of the unemployed.
    7. And , for the “piece de resistance,” now that the State of Colorado has passed the law regarding so-called “High Capacity Magazines,” we run into even more problems. As of 1 July 2013, it will be unlawful for anyone, whether a private citizen or a dealer, to sell or transfer any magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition or that can be “readily converted” to hold more than 15 rounds. That last phrase includes about 95% of all semi-automatic magazines, since almost all magazines have removable foot plates, for manufacturing reasons and to facilitate cleaning and repair. That means that anyone selling a firearm, either new or used, with a removable magazine will not be able to include the magazine in the sale. Any rental gun at a range cannot be rented with a magazine. What good is any semi-automatic firearm without a magazine? How is that not infringing upon the right to bear arms? How many manufacturers are going to redesign the magazines for each and every semi-automatic firearm they make that uses a removable magazine so they cannot be “readily converted?” And how long will it be before they figure out how to manufacture magazines with permanently-attached foot plates? Oh, and don’t forget that with the Universal Background Check law, every transfer requires an FFL-holder to perform the Background Check. That puts each and every gun dealer and gunsmith in the “hot seat” since they are the ones who will be held responsible if a magazine that falls into the forbidden category is transferred. And the State has declared that BATFE will be checking and pressing charges if any FFL-holder is found to have transferred a banned magazine.

    What all this demonstrates is that the liberal, hoplophobic politicians have their agenda to fulfill and can’t be bothered to look ahead to see the consequences of their actions. It all comes down to “Never allow a good crisis to go to waste” and “Don’t confuse them with the facts.” They are more concerned with their agenda than with their constituents, the truth, the national economy, common sense or the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And, of course, none of these measures will prevent any crimes from being committed.

    In fact, they create new crimes that can be committed by formerly law-abiding gun owners. And they make it nearly impossible to legally buy a gun that will be operable. After all, a semi-automatic without any means of holding the ammunition is pretty useless to most shooters, whether for sport or for self-defense. This is going to take us all back to revolvers and derringers. Welcome back to the 19th Century, folks.

  2. Fact one: The anti-gun politicians and their supporters know that any gun laws they enact only affect legal gun ownership. Their gun laws are a form of control, which they relish like a kid with a new toy. This also enables them to get one step closer to eliminating the ability of legal gun owners from exercising their 2nd amendment right. It also reduces the number of legal guns and that takes them one step closer to being able to do what they please without the ramifications of the legally armed society to resist anarchy.

    A Socialist Government can not exist when the public has the legal means to resist such a government.

  3. As the fee is non-refundable, it is important to make sure that onee fills
    in the information completely. Especially thhe criminal
    records of any person would be very helpful for you beecause it would tell you whether you should be in association
    with a person or not. Addd to this, if an employer does do a background check,
    if you have opted for expungement, there will be no record in existennce for you that they are able to find.

  4. Good article and ammunition the next time I get in this discussion.

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