Let’s talk about background checks

Just between us for a moment. This is one of the areas I feel we are incredibly vulnerable to new legislation.

Many people are calling for ‘universal background checks’. And I actually don’t have a problem with the idea. Seriously. I don’t. Here is why.

Nothing is stopping you or anyone else from doing a background check as a private individual. There are dozens or more websites that make it easy to do. Here is a service that I am familiar with.

Now I know this is not as complete as what may be available from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICSĀ  it is something that already available to everyone.

But that isn’t what the anti rights cultists are wanting is it? They want a law, a punishable offense, stating that everyone has to go through the government system and to outlaw transactions and transfers between individuals without that check.
Think about that for a second; something as common as a family member buying a firearm for someone in the family will suddenly be illegal unless they complete a background check. Spouse won’t be surprised with a new hunting rifle or concealed carry pistol on Christmas, Children won’t find that unexpected first rifle hidden among their birthday gifts. I couldn’t buy my brother’s SKS without there being a record of it someplace.

Don’t fall for the characterization of “universal background checks” — the reality is simply ‘outlawing private transactions’. We already have states that require this; can anyone show evidence those states have a lower crime rate?

In the days since Obama spoke to the nation about gun violence and put forward proposals to address it, lawmakers in both parties have signaled support for stricter background checks — mostly Democrats, but some key Republicans, too — and the White House has made the proposal a top priority. Public support for universal background checks is extremely high, possibly even at 92 percent, per a recent CBS News/New York Times poll.

If you agree that we shouldn’t have a law; I suggest calling your Senator, emailing them, contacting their local and Washington D.C. offices and letting them know how you feel.

We’ve compromised enough, let’s make sure this proposal goes down in defeat eh.

Please join the discussion.

 

 

 

12 Responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John TXGunGeek Kochan on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    The real problem is that to insure that all transfers are actually done with a background check, there has to be a record of all firearms and their current ownership. Otherwise how can you prove a transfer took place?

  2. Posted by Bob S. on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    John,

    Yep, didn’t even get into that problem but it is a doozy. So, either there is a registration scheme that comes along with it or a logistical nightmare requiring people to keep track of the background checks.

    Which brings up an interesting point — if an NiCS is done over the phone, there is no physical record of the results on the dealer or seller’s end. Heck, I don’t even get to listen to the phone call to find out if the FBI says yea or nay. So how do I keep a record of that?

  3. Posted by Paladin on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    It’s backdoor registration, plain and simple.

  4. Posted by Sevesteen on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    I can think of several methods of doing background checks that would not be a form of registration. Example–The person being checked contacts the relevant agency to authorize a check, choosing whether anyone could do the check, or getting a password that they could then supply…either to a gun seller, a potential employer, a new landlord, the church daycare…etc. The person wanting to verify the background can remain anonymous, (possibly retaining a token to show that they did view the data) and the check doesn’t prove that a gun transaction took place.

    But all the people calling for background checks seem to insist on a system that allows guns to be tracked, that shifts the burden of proof for a violation from the government to the seller.

  5. Posted by Bob S. on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    Paladin,

    I agree it is the start of registration. I’m just trying to puncture the idea that people can’t do it on their own.

    And the idea that I should have to do it before giving my wife a pistol, rifle or shotgun as a gift.

    Sevesteen,

    The ideas for proving a background check took place requires record keeping and it would have to be on the part of both the buyer and seller.

    Any system of record keeping would have to have two components; the government side and the individual side right? In order to prove I conducted a check prior to buying, the government would need to be able to trace my information — a defacto gun owner’s registry.

    Look at your token/password idea;
    1. Police want to verify I legally own a firearm.
    2. I provide a password/token to the site that shows yes a check was done.

    And then what?
    Does it have the firearm listed that I purchased? Registry.

    The mere possession of receipt of a check does not mean I can prove each and every firearm I have is legal either. So I would have to have a token that can not be duplicated and is unique to each and every firearm. Remember, they are talking about the firearm, not the individual.

  6. Posted by Professor Hale on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    I have given this a whole bunch of thought lately. I have come to the conclusion that there is no public benefit to anyone doing background checks. The right to self defense is a universal right. Being a former felon or crazy person does not cause one give up their other rights. Why this one that is so essential to their very survival? If someone is so dangerous that they can’t be trusted with a gun, then they shouldn’t be wandering the streets without supervision. The only people who should be denied access to weapons are those who are institutionalized. Those same people have been denied all their rights by court order… as the constitution intends.

    Former felons have supposedly been rehabilitated and are no longer a threat to society. They have paid their debt. If they are still dangerous, then they should have been kept behind bars.

    Same for crazy people. Not crazy enough to be institutionalized or have a court appointed custodian? Then you are just like the rest of us. Here’s your gun.

    I guess that makes me a whacko. But since gun regulation has never been shown to be effective at reducing crime or insanity, or violence by crazy people, what’s really the point?

    Throughout history, the point has been that the serfs are not allowed to be armed so that the aristocracy can continue to thrive at their expense.

  7. Posted by Bob S. on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    Professor Hale,

    You aren’t alone in your beliefs or therefore your wackiness :)

    The point isn’t to reduce crime; it is too reduce availability of firearms. Enough anti-rights cultists have admitted that over the years; now all we have to do is share that information with the people new to the issue.

  8. Posted by Sevesteen on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    I’m not in favor of mandatory background checks, but if the system is set up to only be a background check and not back-door registration, I might be willing to compromise to gain something more important–Maybe Universal background checks for universal carry reciprocity and out of state purchasing. (Of course, that’s not what they mean by ‘compromise’)

    I’ve intentionally made my theoretical system open to non-gun uses, so a check doesn’t indicate a gun purchase. I decide I want to allow some people to run background checks, so I enter my information into the system, letting it know what information I authorize to be released, whether I want that information released to everyone or only to people who have the password, and for how long the authorization lasts. Even if I do a password, there is no reason I can’t give that password out to multiple people–New landlord, Internet date, or no reason at all. If you are the seller, you can borrow a computer and look me up without leaving any ID. The only way you could be busted for failing to run a check is if I were ineligible, or there were proof that you sold in a time period where no checks had been run.

    My point isn’t “this is what we should require” but rather to show that if background checks alone are the goal, it can be achieved without becoming back-door registration. None of the background check proposals I’ve seen from the anti-rights side make any effort to avoid registration.

  9. Posted by Bob S. on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    Sevesteen,

    I have a better understanding of your proposal now. There are some good ideas in there but some real problems also.

    First off, Identity theft is rampant now and could be worse later. Unless photos are attached, Identity theft negates the usefulness.

    Second — the camel’s nose under the tent. What would first be voluntary, free and no record required would soon (given historical trends) be required, costly and complex record keeping.

    Third, it doesn’t solve the problem of straw purchasers. I could claim I ran a check on you and it be absolutely true. But you sell the gun to someone else and claim you never bought it from me, Thug X did.

    Fourth, it brings together too much information in a central place. Look at the system in Florida and how it has been abused. Too many people trusted not to pry into private matters do.

    Fifth, I strongly believe that if a person can’t be trusted with a firearm then they shouldn’t be in public but locked away – either in a jail or a mental home.

    Sixth, there are already systems in place that we can use, can be strengthened or built without governmental involvement. We are supposed to be the folks pushing for limited government; why should we push for something that increases the role of government?

  10. Posted by Paul Kanesky on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    I believe I am not very different than the vast majority of gun owners in that I will not sell any of my guns to a person I have not personally met.
    My judgement as to that persons character will be the deciding factor in my decision to sell or not to sell that person a gun.
    I am an adult and feel my judgement is just as good, and more valid than any government agency.
    Straw purchasers can fool any gun store just as easily as they can fool me, so any attempt to have government sanctioned sales is really just another attempt by government to establish a gun registry/list for future confiscation.
    I don’t believe there is a solution to “straw purchasers” and believe we should not spend tax money looking for fairys and unicorns.
    We have a law on the books now which makes it a criminal offence to make a straw purchase but believe it or not, people actually break that law.
    Another thing I have noticed is when the anti rights people make a proposal they start with a long list of requirements in the hopes we will “compromise” and accept a shortened list.
    50 years of “compromise” and they get it all. NO more compromise. We need to go on the attack and demand more gun laws be repealed. That would be my compromise.
    Paul in Texas

  11. Posted by Sevesteen on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    I’m not pushing for this at all. With the brief time I’ve spent thinking about this, I’m near certain it has flaws–but I’m pretty sure that as-is, it is better than the ones that the gun banners ask for. None of their proposals even attempts to address the back-door registration problem, more than likely because registration is their actual goal.

  12. Posted by JR on 23.01.13 at 8:45 AM

    Prof. Hale and Paul have the right idea. First, if you are a free citizen, then you have the natural right to use the most efficient tool available to defend your life and the lives of those you are responsible for. Second, it is up to the individual who to sell, transfer, or leave their private property to.

    The sad fact is that the the Administration has thrown everything except the kitchen sink (confiscation) into the new AWB. They will push and push with all the power of the media behind their efforts and end up giving in to the extremest on the right. Yep, they will lose. So will we because Boehner will come up with some sort of compromise that includes magazine capacity bans and universal background checks. The Republicans will call it a victory because the AWB was defeated. We will have lost.

    Universal background checks and the magazine capacity bans will not be enforceable. The .gov does not have the manpower or the data on what we currently own to effectively enforce the laws. They will have to get creative, and that should send a chill up your spine.

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