Friday, April 12, 2013

Why I oppose "universal background checks"

The truth is, I really don't - at least not in spirit.

I can haz rifle?
I think it's a great idea to keep guns out of the hands of the violent and crazy people who would do harm with them. The NRA (of which I am a card-carrying life member) even agrees with that principle, and there is already a system in place that covers the vast majority of legal firearm purchases: the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System).  Check out the link to see the laws that are already in place, contradicting the popular misconception that "any nut can go buy a gun."

You'll note that private transfers don't require a NICS check .. so, if my dad wanted to give me his AR-15, for example, he could do that (hint hint, Dad ;)) - as long as I'm allowed to have it. Background check or not, it's already illegal to transfer a firearm to someone who is subject to prohibition (in addition to being a dumb idea to begin with).

I think it would be great if private individuals could run a background check on the person about to buy their gun. The problem is, we can't.  Currently, only a federally licensed dealer can do that.  Truthfully, I wouldn't even be that upset if it ended there, but it doesn't.  The devil, as they say, is in the details...

Because guitars are cool, too!
What I am actually opposed to is the other baggage that goes along with every NICS background check performed. A lot of people don't realize this, but a background check involves far more than a yes or no decision on whether a person can have a gun. Besides collecting personally identifying information, the serial number and model of gun is also collected, along with a record of who received it - name, address, social security number, etc.. The government, by law, is supposed to destroy these records, but frankly I don't trust them to do that.  The dealer, however, is required by law to maintain those records and to turn them over to the feds when/if he goes out of business. And these same feds are always looking for a good excuse to revoke anyone's federal firearms license and seize this paperwork.  This creates a de-facto registry, in the hands of the federal government, of every firearm purchase that involves one of these "background checks," and that is what I have a problem with. You can see my FAQ and FRO page for the reason why.

You want expanded background checks?  Fine .. open up the NICS system to anyone, not just FFL dealers, and do away with the back-door registration scheme.  I wouldn't mind at all calling up the NICS number, giving them my information, and the prospective buyer's information, waiting a few minutes, and being told "go" or "no-go."  But, that's all that's really necessary .. they don't need to know what kind of gun it is, or if (in the event of a "go" decision) I even decide to go through with it after all. This is fine, because, let's face it, a criminal isn't even going to bother to call in the first place.

As I asserted before, it's already illegal for me to sell or give a firearm to anyone who shouldn't have one - this idea just gives me another tool to help me make sure I don't run afoul of that law, and it allows me, a responsible gun owning individual, to help keep them out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.

Unfortunately, that's not even close to what's being proposed in Washington and several states. What they're after is just the next step in a much broader agenda which, they hope, will eventually lead to the complete disarming of law abiding Americans - and God only knows what after that. This is yet another devil in the details that begs the question, "who gets to decide who should and shouldn't have a gun, anyway?"  But that's for another post, I'm afraid ...
NOW we're talkin'