Background checks

The anti-gun people insist “improved background checks” and even “universal background checks” should not be controversial. Let me try to explain why they are both pointless and completely unacceptable to thinking people.

Pointless demonstration number 1:

The claimed purpose of background checks is to prevent “people who shouldn’t have guns” from acquiring them. That is a noble objective. It sounds so reasonable and “common sense” that I want to agree without giving it even a seconds thought. It’s an excellent idea! It’s such a great idea we should apply that to some other dangerous things. Let’s have background checks before people can purchase recreational drugs. Far too many people abuse them and destroy their lives and frequently the lives of others. Keeping recreational drugs out of the hands of people that would likely abuse them is just “common sense”. Right?

Oh! That’s right. We have something way beyond background checks in place for most recreational drugs. We have banned them not just from “people that might abuse them” but from everyone. How’s that working out? How long does it take the average high school dropout to find a way around the ban? Yeah, that’s right, Einstein. The average high school dropout can get all the recreational drugs they want within an hour anytime of the day, any day of the week. So just how effective you think a background check would be in reducing the abuse of recreational drugs?

Now apply what you know about the recreational drug issue to firearms. A background check is totally pointless.

Pointless demonstration number 2:

Universal background checks can only claim effectiveness if they can be enforced. Prostitution is illegal in most states but if a beautiful woman leaves a $100 bill on my nightstand when she leaves in the morning (yes, stretch your imagination a bit, or a lot, for purposes of illustration) how does  the government enforce the “no sex for money” prohibition in this case? It was a “private transaction” between willing parties. Do you think either party has an interest in disclosing the transaction to the police? And even if they do there is a significant obstacle in that it becomes a “he said, she said” problem.

In the absence of gun and/or gun owner registration the case of the “private transaction” between gun owners boils down to the same thing. The government, and perhaps one party to the transaction, can claim no background check was done. As long as the person being prosecuted keeps their mouth shut and the transaction wasn’t recorded it is going to be impossible to prove that a background check wasn’t performed. Remember, in order to get the Brady Act (“instant” background checks for gun transactions) passed the law states that all record of passing background checks must be destroyed. Searching the records of all those authorized to perform background checks would be a violation of Fourth Amendment rights.

Pointless demonstration number 3:

Even if a background check is performed it only requires a stolen or fake ID to defeat it. The fake ID doesn’t even have to be for a real person! The check is not against a “white list” of people that are “allowed” to have guns. The check is against a “black list” of people that are disallowed from possessing guns.


If you still advocate for background checks for firearms I can only think of two possibilities:

  1. You have a motive other than reducing the misuse of firearms.
  2. You also get confused when your caretaker is reading Dr. Seuss books to you.

Now that we have it settled that background checks are completely pointless let’s proceed on to the “unacceptable” demonstrations.

Unacceptable demonstration number 1:

Background checks cost money and time. The FBI portion of them is “free” to the people doing the transaction. But really that just means the government is wasting scarce law enforcement resources using money they obtained through taxes (obtained at gunpoint–oh, the irony!). The only people authorized to do background checks are people with Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs). Because it is time consuming they always charge a fee and you must do a face-to-face transaction. This adds more wasted time and money to the transaction. A transaction which is a specific enumerate right.

This pointless waste of time and money is unacceptable at any time but when the government is deeply in debt and the economy is doing poorly wasting precious government and private resources it is even more so.

Unacceptable demonstration number 2:

If law requiring universal background checks is passed it will only be a short time before the politicians will “discover” the “loopholes” that prevents the law from working as intended. These include the lack of gun registration and the lack of defense against fake IDs. Any attempt at gun registration in the U.S. will result in massive non-compliance on a scale that will make alcohol prohibition look like first graders failing to stay in a straight line while waiting to go on recess. Look at the non-compliance experienced in the failed long gun registration in Canada. Multiply that by three (the difference in per capita gun ownership rate), multiply that by two (U.S. citizens trust the government less than Canadian citizens), then add ten billion rounds of ammunition (annual consumption by private citizens). Or look at New York state,  multiple by fifty (the citizens of other states included in the non-compliance) and multiply that by ten (the citizens of New York state have the option of moving to a freer state, with no place to escape the resistance will be more fierce), then add ten billion rounds of ammunition.

The “ID loophole” was identified years ago by the Feds and they passed a law requiring “Real ID” by the states. How’s that working out?

For the government to force this sort of situation upon the people is unacceptable.

Unacceptable demonstration number 3:

Since demonstrating that background checks are pointless the continued insistence upon forcing them upon the people this must mean that those continuing to advocate for them are either evil (option 1 above) or have the comprehension skills no better than that of an above average German Shepard (option 2 above). Despite the existence of blue dog democrats we have never elected someone so stupid as a real dog to a Federal office (Senator Patty Murray is not a counter example, she is capable of reading and comprehending most Dr. Seuss books). One can only conclude those advocating for background checks are evil or are doing so under duress.

Good people don’t knowingly and willingly cooperate with evil. It is unacceptable.


Background checks are pointless and unacceptable. We are better than this.

Even compromising with those that advocate for them is the moral equivalent of compromising with people that want “common sense” limits on the 13th Amendment or someone intending to rape your 10 year-old child. The response must be an exceedingly firm no.

Update: I almost forgot, as pointed out by Tim S. in email a few days ago, there is a form of background check almost all gun owners would accept. That is if there were an “endorsement” on your state ID card (such as drivers license) like the restriction for corrective lenses or endorsement for motorcycle or commercial drivers license. It wouldn’t be much, if any, more effective than that currently proposed by the anti-freedom people. But it would eliminate the concerns over registration and most of the expense and wasted time. If such a thing is offered as a compromise to the anti-gunners expect it to be vigorously rejected. They know it doesn’t meet their “needs” and as such will refuse to give in.

Update 2: See also the conclusions which can be drawn from this study.


26 thoughts on “Background checks

  1. You don’t mention one of the larger sources of transactions that “evade” the background check – the ignorant. I have often found that residents of California – as an example – where universal background checks has been the law for quite some time, often are not even aware that they can’t transfer firearms among each other without an FFL and DROS fee. Not malicious, not intending to commit a crime, just unaware that they can’t sell their handgun or shotgun to the neighbor directly.

    A lot of people are uninformed about the complexities of existing firearms law.

    • This is one of the things I consider evil about laws like this: so many people end up breaking them, without realizing they are breaking the law.

      And for what purpose? Surely, it’s not to prevent crime and mass shootings (even though these are their stated purposes). We know this, because otherwise law-abiding people have the book thrown at them when they are caught breaking these laws.

      I think Ayn Rand is right: the purpose of these laws is to make the law abiding (in this case, gun owners in particular) into criminals, so they can be easily manipulated to do things Government wants them to do.

  2. There are lots of people on “our side” who seem to think that this one more concession will prevent further infringements. The NRA is in that group. There are possibly even more in “our camp” who believe that mental health screening for firearms purchases ar a good idea. I mean, who wants crazy people to have guns, right? Your arguments above dispatch that idea just as well. Everyone should understand that the very second there is a mental health screening requirement, the number of people deemed to have “mental health issues” will begin to increase at a shocking rate.

    This stuff is pure harassment, just softening us up for later infringements to come.

    I REALLY, wish we could all get past the utterly stupid notion that throwing the anti gun owner sharks a little chum here and there will make them go away happy and leave us alone. Wasn’t that proven beyond all shadow of doubt to be a stupid loser’s idea long ago?

    • I have no idea where the idea to “throw them a bone” came from, but it’s an idiotic idea at best. The anti-freedom groups are jackals. What happens when you throw a scrap to the jackals? You get more, hungrier jackals, complete with whetted appetites.

      The proper way to deal with anti-freedom types is to give them nothing. Sure, they’ll growl, they’ll gnash their teeth, they’ll whine, they’ll shriek. And they’ll eventually starve on this issue, and find something else to do.

  3. Another, acceptable background check alternative is the proposed BIDS. “BIDS” stands for “Blind Identification Database System”. Basically, instead of running an active check (and dealing with the form 4473s), the government provides the list of “prohibited persons” to the dealers (updated at regular intervals), who run the check on-site. The dealers don’t see who is on the list; when they enter a name, the computer gives them a go/no-go (could be a simple as a green/red light).

    It’d have the same trouble with fake IDs as NICS, but it would remove the government from the background check business, essentially perform the same duty, cost far less, and actually be “instant”.

    Don’t expect the gun-grabbers to jump on board with this idea. Their end goal is not “safety” or “violence prevention”, but big intrusive government and zero personal liberty. As Weer’d often says, “Anti-Freedom, not Anti-Gun.”

  4. (Senator Patty Murray is not a counter example, she is capable of reading and comprehending most Dr. Seuss books).

    Reading perhaps… comprehending… I have my doubts

  5. Which leads into the supporting infrastructure. This morning on the drive in to work I heard a radio spot about the “NEED” for a National Biometric ID. It was a professor pushing it, and his spiel was that it is necessary to prevent identity theft and to prevent people from voting twice in different states.
    Coupled with the new push for immigration reform, you know this is going to be next on the list.

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  7. Here in Texas my CHL serves as an essentially instant background check, but I don’t know what the exact mechanism is. I show the CHL & my Driver’s License to the clerk at the gun store, fill out and sign the form, and I’m done.

    I guess I should have asked at one point or another how that works, now that it is politically a hot potato.

    • The CHL acts like the “Driver’s License Endorsement” Joe mentions in his updae above. It shows that you have already passed a background check, and no further check is necessary.

      Of course, this gives you the same problem as a fake ID, if one’s CHL is suspended but he refuses to surrender it. But that’s a 0.000000001% problem, probably.

      • It is significantly different from the “Driver’s License Endorsement” because the government can be about 99.9% certain someone that has a CHL is a gun owner. With a driver’s license endorsement it drops to about 50% (+/- 20%).

        This is an exceedingly important point. See The Belgium Corporal.

  8. Nebraska already has the “system” described in your update. All gun buyers/recipients must have either a state “Firearm Purchase Permit” or a CHP. No pesky phone calls to NICS for any firearm transfers whatsoever.

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  11. In Georgia the Weapons Carry License means I don’t have to wait for NICS when I buy a gun. I would love to see this nationwide, as long as it didn’t leave a record of purchase (right . . . ) or registration of the purchase.

    As a personal choice, I already require a background check for private sales – I won’t sell my guns to people who don’t hold a GWCL.

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  15. The problem with the BIDS system – & I’ll grant it’s better than the NICS system as far as it goes – is that it’s still asking permission to exercise a Right. Same with a carry permit or a purchase permit. If ya have to ask permission, then someone ain’t treating it like a Right.

    I’d be left out of the loop entirely – I won’t bend my knee to the state for a permit to carry. Hell I get pissed off enough when I have to wait 30 minutes to get “approved” to buy a new gun (& Colorado is having a 6+ day wait now due to backlog – instant check my ass lol).

    & while a state permission slip to be a gun owner in general doesn’t involve individual gun registration, it’s still gun owner registration. That definitely wouldn’t pass the “jews in the attic” test.

    Sadly, I ain’t so much worried about convincing the anti’s or even the fence sitters about the evils of background checks – it’s convincing gun owners that’ll require heavy lifting.

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  18. I beg to differ.

    I work in a gun shop and as far as I’m concerned, from the number of people who’ve been arrested in our shop while waiting for the background check to complete, I can tell you that there are enough felons, lunatics and morons out there to justify looking into the backgrounds of potential purchasers.

  19. heh. See what I mean?

    A felon is someone that’s been convicted of a crime punishable by more than 1 year federal time. Not sentenced to, but could have been sentenced to, more than a year. “Felon” is just one of the types of prohibited persons.

    A fellow in Maine imported lobsters in plastic. He was supposed to import them in cardboard. He didn’t serve any jail time but got convicted. He could have served 5 years. That means he can never legally own or possess firearms or ammo. Ever.

    Writing bad checks, having a dispute with the IRSS & them getting bitchy, about it, putting a folding bayonet on an SKS imported after ’89, a lady slapping her boyfriend & getting caught (that’s a domestic violence misdemeanor, which is another disqualifier from owning a firearm or ammo), etc. There are tons – I do mean tons – of victimless, non violent offenses that are felonies.

    So no – there’s not enough “felons” to ever justify an intrusion on your Right to own or carry a weapon. Add any category of allegedly bad people you wish, but there won’t ever be enough to excuse questioning MY right to own or carry.

    Besides, for $400 in the bad part of the city (any the city) it wouldn’t take more than a few hours to find out who’s selling the full auto AK’s (from China via Mexico) & go home with one. Background checks just fail on so many levels, except one; they are a good way to figure out who regards owning & carrying weapons as a Right as opposed to a privilege. For that they’re an excellent filter.

  20. Well, I hear you. But reality has a way of stomping all over even the best theories.

    Coupla months back, guy comes in with booze on his breath. Now I don’t know if he was legally drunk, but we threw him out. A week later, he came back in – stone cold sober – we still wouldn’t sell him a gun. And likely we never will.

    Young guy, kid really, comes in looking for a 1911 talking about ‘Call of Duty’. Holding the gun, he starts pointing it at the ceiling and saying, “Pow! Pow!” Could be just immaturity. Doesn’t matter. He’s thrown out and he’ll never get a gun from us. Was that fair? I dunno. Doesn’t matter to me.

    Where I am, if a single woman comes in and wants to buy a high capacity pistol – unless she’s an LEO, military or has her concealed carry permit – she gets told she can have a revolver or a .380 but that’s it. Just too many straw purchases to even take the chance.

    We have a responsibility to our neighbors which we take very seriously.

    There are too many laws and too many felonies, true. But, there are also too many violent knuckleheads, drug addicts and crazies not to do background checks.

    Sorry, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

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