What's the Problem with “Universal” Background Checks?

After all, it sounds harmless enough, even though the Second Amendment says the Federal Government has no business infringing on American citizens right to arms. As it turns out, there is everything wrong with it beyond its clear defiance of the Bill of Rights. Consider what the government itself has said, quite recently. This is straight from Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D. , Deputy Director, National Institute of Justice , January 4, 2013.

As we have heard again and again from law enforcement officials testifying under oath on Capitol Hill, paperwork violations typically aren't prosecuted in the first place. “Nearly 80,000 Americans were denied guns in 2010, according to Justice Department data, because they lied or provided inaccurate information about their criminal histories on background-check forms,” The New York Times reported in January. “Yet only 44 of those people were charged with a crime.”

How many prosecutions have you taken up for failing a background check since you’ve been U.S. Attorney? Senator Lindsay Graham asked U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh, who admitted “Off the top of my head, I’m not aware of any.”

What kind of deterrent is that?” Graham challenged. “Why aren’t we prosecuting people who fail a background check?“It’s a paper thing,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn shot back when it was his turn to answer questions. I want to stop the 76,000 people who are buying guns illegally. If you think we’re going to do paperwork prosecutions, you’re wrong.”

It should be clear to the very dullest of the dim-witted in Congress that background checks and the Brady Bill have been an expensive, clumsy failure. Who in their right minds thinks that stolen guns would get background checked, that gang-bangers would start background checking each other? If you are in the illegal drug business, would you take time out from your normal business to play background check games? Yet, it is well-known that there is a black market for everything and whether drugs, guns, or Cuban cigars the black market has no interest in obeying more paperwork. Who can't figure this one out? We have an ineffectual system right now, one that results in 44 prosecutions for every 80,000 violations. And we want more of wasteful, costly, dunder-headed approach that once again can only penalize the mainstream lawful gun owner.

From the same National Institute of Justice Report:
Require all gun transfers to occur at an FFL
Some states, such as California, require all transfers of guns to be properly documented (since 1923). This usually requires the involvement of a federally licensed dealer in the transaction. Despite this, straw purchasing continues largely unabated. Wachtel (1998) describes some straw purchasing of crime guns for Los Angeles between 1988 and 1995. There are disincentives to following the law in California ($35 and a waiting period). Such a process can discourage a normally law-abiding citizen to spend the time and money to properly transfer his or her firearm to another. To be effective, requiring all transfers to occur at an FFL needs to be coupled with all the necessary incentives (or at least no disincentives) for unlicensed sellers to follow the law. Sanctions and threats of penalties are insufficient."

Again, we have history from 1923 showing that there are cost and time disincentives to follow the law, a law that is unenforceable as all truly private things are. As for gun shows and the so-called “Gunshow Loophole,” well what about that? Licensed gun dealers do of course perform the Form 4473 and background check routine when at gun shows, so all that is being talked about is the private citizen that wants to sell a couple of guns he doesn't use. Those in the business of selling guns already have to have an FFL; that's the law since 1968.

Gun shows are public events, well-advertised and held in the light of day at fairgrounds, convention centers, and so forth. Everyone is invited, and that includes law enforcement that can easily monitor transactions as they wish. End private sales at gun shows and just where does anyone think they will happen? It will be of course in private residences and spread out over all hours and at all locations, from someone's garage to the back alley to the barn, completely away from the current public view and away from law enforcement as well. The all-seeing, all-monitoring eye of government isn't good enough to prevent 22 million Americans from using a variety of illegal drugs regularly and there isn't yet a large enough Federal Storm-trooper force to go traipsing about in every bedroom and kitchen of every citizen of the United States.

Almost invariably, when a politician has to talk down to the public and state that something is “reasonable” or “common-sense” you can be assured that it is neither. Things that truly are common-sense or reasonable need no juvenile explanation that they are, no special pleading, no strained qualifying prefatory remarks. Common sense needs no clumsy explanation, for common sense is commonly and readily understood. That's what makes it common in the first place, but apparently government does not always grasp this.

All of this for what the Supreme Court is a fundamental right, an individual right, an enumerated right so very basic it can be enforced against the States. Yet, in an effort to criminalize a Right, it seems that the right to privacy, the right to due process, the right to unreasonable search and seizure, and so forth is also imperiled. In this zeal to set fire to the Second Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Ninth Amendment, the Tenth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment are all being trashed with the very same destructive flame.


Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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