to Frank over at the self titled “Perfectly Frank” blog to his comments on this post. I want to focus on background checks but as usual there is something that need to be addressed before we can get there.
Frank, I really appreciated your comment:
You seem to be a great deal more educated on gun control than I am. That was a theme I intended to convey in my original post. I want to get smarter on these subjects.
and that is why I do spend time and effort to respond to blogs like yours. I will be glad to continue the discussion which has been congenial so far. I only replied here because the formatting of links, which I like to include, is harder for me in comments. I am glad you want to ‘get smarter’ on these subjects because that is my goal — to get smarter on how ‘gun control advocates’ feel about certain issues. I started off responding to blogs, seeking to understand the issue and the implications. I benefited from great conversations with some but found many more ‘gun control advocates’ who are / were not interested in conversation or learning more. So your approach, tone and willingness to learn is refreshing.
If the number of legally owned guns skyrockets in this country while the number of accidental or malicious deaths plummet near zero, I’d be as happy as everyone else.
I would ask you to do a little research on the number of firearms sold recently and the number of firearm related deaths and injuries. I could give you those numbers but determining them yourself will give you more ownership of the data. If you need help finding sources, I would be glad to point you to the sources I commonly use or work that others have done.
Okay, now lets get into the meat of the subject which you brought up with this statement:
Perhaps once I do enough research, straw purchase laws won’t make sense to me. I tend to think background check laws do. I’d be curious to know your position on those. Personally I don’t think the goal should be to punish the legal owner of a weapon for the things that weapon is used for. It’s more a tracking thing I suppose. If we’re to try and keep firearms out of the hands of the criminals or the mentally ill, some tracking seems to make sense. Perhaps requiring that gun owners be licensed to own and operate a gun, makes more sense? We certainly have laws that require that for other categories of inanimate objects. Nobody would fault you if I stole your car and ran over a mall full of people, but we certainly require licenses for their operation and their registration.
I do have to say before we start that you’ve hit upon one of the most trite comparisons that never works out well for gun control advocates in my opinion. I’ll let the my response be what the wordmaster”Lawdog” wrote 8 years ago.
As I mentioned before, it is hard to separate out the law from how it is enforced and applied, it is definitely the case here with background checks. So let’s talk about background checks at retail establishments to start. First, there is the adage “time is money” – a background check on good days adds just a few minutes to the process but when there is a strain on the system, say “Black Friday” the wait time can be half an hour or longer. People I talked to reported in some cases having to wait over 2 hours for the store and the system to process their background checks. And when the system is shut down people can not exercise their rights
System outages are a major culprit. Numerous outages, such as the 4-day outage that coincided with the Million Mom March for gun control, have shut down the NICS for hours or even days at a time. When the system is down, neither Federal nor State background checks can proceed and gun sales cannot occur. According to FBI data, system outages amounted to over 215.5 hours of down time last year alone.
That was in the year 2,000 — basically 8.9 days the system didn’t work at all. Some states require the checks to be processed through their internal systems; which also suffer from the same problem.
So we have a system where literally our liberty, our ability to exercise a Constitutionally protected, Specifically enumerated right is dependent on the government. And a government willing to shut down that system at times. I find that unacceptable. By the way, I hope you noted who was in the White House in the year 2000 — one of the best sayings about enacting a law is you get to write any law you want but just imagine your worst enemy using it against you. Sure you want to write it?
Next we have to look at “Does it Work?”
To understand the value of background checks it is essential to understand the source of crime guns. Several sporadic attempts have been made to learn how criminals acquire guns. For example, a 2000 study by the ATF found the following distribution of sources
Straw purchase 47%
Common carrier 2%
Unregulated private seller 20%
Gun shows/flea markets 13%
Retail diversion 8%
From a 2013 National Institute of Justice memo (PDF alert) – nearly 50% of firearms are obtained through straw purchases — a person buying a firearm for someone prohibited from purchase. Do you really think that Wally Wannabe Gangster is going to care that he is supposed to get another background check when he ‘sells’ the firearm to someone in his gang? How about Gidget the Girlfriend to Mark Meth-head?
Don’t take my word for it; from the same memo-
A perfect universal background check system can address the gun shows and might deter many unregulated private sellers. However, this does not address the largest sources (straw purchasers and theft), which would most likely become larger if background checks at gun shows and private sellers were addressed. The secondary market is the primary source of crime guns. Ludwig and Cook (2000) compared states that introduced Brady checks to those states that already had background checks and found no effect of the new background checks. They hypothesized that the background checks simply shifted to the secondary market those offenders who normally purchased in the primary market.
(emphasis mine – Bob)
Let put that into practical terms. Chicago Illinois has a state requirement that all purchasers of firearms – private or commercial – must possess a state Firearm Owners Identification card. — Basically a license to even own a firearm; background check included as part of that process. Fort Worth Texas does not have such a requirement; private sales are the business of the two people involved.
Chicago has a homicide rate of 18.5 per 100,000 people. Fort Worth Texas — 5.7 per 100,000. Okay so that might not be fair because of size; how about Dallas Texas –12.4 per 100,000. So if Dallas and Fort Worth have much lower homicide rates; the question has to be asked, why?
And before we move on, I hope you caught the significance of this “this does not address the largest sources (straw purchasers and theft), which would most likely become larger if background checks at gun shows and private sellers were addressed.” – in other words, it is entirely possible that by implementing background checks we could increase the number of burglaries, robberies and thefts ! Talk about the law of unintended consequences. How many more people would be hurt because criminals are breaking into homes seeking firearms and finding the owner there?
And that brings us to other practical points — such as, what about those who already possess firearms?
I own – well let’s just say more than one and less than I want — but what purpose does it serve to conduct yet another check on someone who already owns firearms? How about the people that don’t have access to a close gun store or licensed dealer — not all of our population lives minutes away from a 7/11 much less a gun store.
And how about family members; while we know some people will break the law because that is their nature, to assume that everyone will is very insulting. So why should a person have to get a background check done when getting a gift from a family member or friend?
Let’s turn to some numbers – again per the Bureau of Justice Statistics -(PDF alert) -there were 478,400 firearm related violent crimes. In 2011, the National Instant Criminal system (and isn’t that a fun thing to know — each and every time some wants to exercise their rights- they are suspected of being a criminal until cleared by the government) — conducted 16,454,951 checks, Even if every firearm was used by a different criminal and purchased that year; that means only 2.96% of the gun owners were involved in a crime. And we know how ridiculous that is!
Why do we know how ridiculous that is? Because the ATF is helpfully tracking information about how long it takes firearms to show up at crime scenes — the so called “time to crime” metric —
The 2013 report includes a state-by-state breakdown of types and calibers of firearms recovered and traced, source states, criminal offenses associated with the crime guns, time-to-crime, and age ranges of crime gun possessors at the time of recovery. Key findings of this year’s report include pistols as the most common firearm type recovered and traced, 9 mm as the top caliber recovered and traced, and 11.08 years as the average time-to-crime for crime guns recovered and traced in the U.S. and its territories.
11.08 years. Over a decades worth of actually stolen firearms, firearms falsely reported as stolen, etc are already out there (Let’s forget the fact that a decent machine shop can turn out firearms by the dozen easily). Criminals are aware of this, aware of the abysmal closure rate of crimes and are willing to risk it for immediate gratification. Oh…did I forget to cite the closure rates for crimes?
Let me do that now:
- In 2010, 47.2 percent of violent crimes and 18.3 percent of property crimes in the Nation were cleared by arrest or exceptional means.
- Among violent crimes, 64.8 percent of murder offenses were cleared, 40.3 percent of forcible rape offenses were cleared, 28.2 percent of robbery offenses were cleared, and 56.4 percent of aggravated assault offenses were cleared.
- Clearance data for property crimes revealed that 21.1 percent of larceny-theft offenses were cleared, 12.4 percent of burglary offenses were cleared, and 11.8 percent of motor vehicle theft offenses were cleared.
- Nineteen percent of arson offenses were cleared by arrest or exceptional means in 2010.
- 34.3 percent of arson offenses cleared involved juveniles (persons under age 18); this was the highest percentage of all offense clearances involving only juveniles.
This affects the goal of background checks in a major way – there a large chance a firearm used in a crime will never be recovered (can’t trace what you don’t have).
Well it seems Frank has replied, not here unfortunately, but on his own blog with a new post. One that includes this comment:
Through this reading and my conversations with Bob I realized something. I’m not being as genuine as I should be and I should work to fix that. The bully was right and I’m asking Bob to defend concerns that are secondary to the real issue.
So I’m going to stop mincing words.
It is my belief that there should be far fewer guns in this country. There should be a very limited set of people with access to guns. For the most part, most guns are unnecessary and extremely dangerous. They are a cowards weapon meant to intimidate or bully at their best and make it very easy to murder another human being from a safe distance at their worst. I have had the few guns I’ve owned over the years destroyed and I think most every other gun in the country should also be destroyed
Still trying to be amenable and friendly in tone (for the most part) with Frank. We can and should discuss the issue with the least amount of rancor possible.