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The Truth About So-Called "Universal Background Checks"..

Posted 04-07-2013 at 17:02 by TheJ
Updated 11-03-2014 at 09:35 by TheJ

The truth about so called universal background checks is quite convoluted but essentially it is purely a "feel good" or sound-bite measure. It would not only utterly fail as proposed but it would violate the fundamental right of self defense. We already have a back ground check system and required checks for all purchases of firearms from dealers. The so called "universal" checks proposed would actually expand the system already in place to include all private transfers of firearms. Well.. "all private transfers" includes a lot more than most non-gun people realize to include each time a firearm is handed off between to people... like folks simply receiving firearms instruction, a father and son hunting, two or more friends hunting, somebody who owns a gun leaving town and letting their spouse use their firearms for protection, taking some friends out to the the back yard with a bunch of guns and they all want to try them out, etc, etc.

The talking point figure thrown about by many on the universal band-wagon is the current FBI NICS background check system has stopped something like 1.7 million criminals (implying 1.7 million stopped crimes) over its decades in existence... But the overwhelming vast majority of those in that figure are not even prohibited people. (And you know that because almost nobody ever serves time for it) It's analogous to the when senator Ted Kennedy was stopped five times because his name was on the no fly list ..and then somebody claiming that actually stopped five terrorists and/or terror attacks...

Then there is the 40% of guns sales are done without back ground checks talking point... This has been repeatedly shown as a highly specious claim (at best) and yet pro-gun-control folks knowingly repeat it.

The other figure thrown around most often by gun control proponents and ignorant media folks is +90% support universal background check. A few points about this highly misleading (if not flat out false) assertion..

* Instead of asking people "would you be in favor of expanding gun control laws to require a FBI background check on any/all private transfers of firearms even in cases when two people are at the range together and one hands the other his firearm?".... the poll question (asked shortly after the Newtown tragedy) actually asked "Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers?" ...Well that basically is the current law ALREADY. When you buy a firearm from an FFL dealer (which the vast majority of people do), even at gun shows, you have to have an NICS background check performed. So most people, if not given further clarification or qualification in the questioning, would simply assume that that they are being asking if they support what already is the current law. And it is no surprise (especially following a terrible event involving a gun) that people would initially be fine with at least the status quo and not relaxing gun laws. This is all evidenced by polls (incongruent with the talking point >90% poll) taken at the same time demonstrating that fewer than 47% of Americans actually wanted to expand current laws in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

* Supporters of gun control expansion then took the results of the Q polling and spun it by saying "SEE! everyone wants to expand background checks!" They leave out that they pole question didn't actually ask "would you like to expand the current law to include every single private transfer...

* Even if, the question was asked appropriately and even if, the public knew how utterly ineffective backgrounds checks have been and even if the public (charged with emotion by the awful Newtown event) was in favor of further restricting the right of self defense, this is not a democracy (contrary to what government schools drum into everyone), it is a Republic. We don't stomp all over fundamental rights because of emotion fueled majority opinion polls say they are ok with it. I'm sure if somebody took a poll shortly after 9-11 asking "do you support government registration for radical religious practices/participants to prevent more terrorist attacks" you would have a majority in agreement to suddenly infringe on fundamental constitutionally protected rights as well. But it wouldn't mean anything because again we are not a democracy. Fundamental rights are still fundamental rights and it's why the US was always set up to protect against the tyranny of a majority.

The fallacy with so called "universal" (or otherwise) back ground checks is fundamental. They don't reduce murder because they simply can't. Sure it may sound all nice and warm and fuzzy with reasonableness to many folks. Especially, those who haven't taken much time to really think through the issue (the majority of people fall in to this category) ...But consider the following:

1) The core reason why, practically speaking, all gun control always fails... Nobody needs a gun to murder but there is practically no better tool for defense. Criminals who are free to move about society unsupervised, practically have an infinite number of tools with which to murder/attack people with. Guns are often not even the most effective tool for murder. Fire arms are popular to use as a tool primarily because of their convenience. But convenience of a particular tool is ONLY critically important for defensive purposes never for attacking/killing others.

2) Practically nobody who has been "stopped" by background checks is ever charged let alone serves prison time. Even though it is a felony to even fill out the form if you're a prohibited person. SO assuming that somebody who has made the conscious choice to murder would be prevented from doing so because they were unable to buy one tool legally is quite simply irrational.

3) The overwhelmingly vast majority of people who actually have been "stopped" by back ground checks are simply folks who have similar information to prohibited people. I'm sure many were not in dire need of a firearm to protect themselves but certainly some significant percentage did need one for protection. When these people had the means of defense denied they effectively had there right of self defense denied.

4) Most mental health records are not included (mental health is obviously the heart of the rare but frightening mass killer issue though perhaps not so much common criminals) and when you start to research this topic you see that it is practically quixotic to even try to fight through the privacy/civil liberty issues that do/will inevitably prevent the reporting of many/most mental health issues. The obvious exception being those actually adjudicated as mentally defective...which ALREADY is the law. And don't forget that if someone has made the conscious choice to kill, they do not need a gun for that.

5) It is already illegal to sell to a prohibited person so the overwhelmingly vast majority of folks who would do so, would not be running a background check regardless of the law. ...When you are bartering with a stolen gun for some crystal meth, a background check will not be part of the equation regardless of how many laws are passed.

6) Criminals and crazies who are free to move about society unsupervised can and often do simply steal guns (see Adam Lanza mentally unstable killer at Newtown) from people who are not prohibited. So again, the most universalist, super investigative, super inclusive, stringent, takes-many-weeks-to-complete background check, would still fail to stop anybody determined to murder... And just as importantly nobody really needs a gun to murder with anyway.

7) Even the National Institute for Justice (the research arm of the justice department) has already stated that a "universal background check" will never be effective with out a national registration. (In fact, it would never be effective at reducing murder at all even with registration. It may be effective at reducing gun use in general, but not murder or violent crime which is supposed to be the point). Registration as always always always lead to confiscation in every country that has had it. Even here in the US.
More importantly registrations have never been shown effective at reducing crime.


In summary, not only would so called 'universal back ground checks' not have any effect on reducing violent crime or murder, they would be very expensive, practically unworkable (at least without trampling all over civil liberties) and literally only serve to inhibit people from one of the most effective means/tools of self defense.

When you deny the means of self defense, you have denied the right of self defense.
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