Why you should oppose “universal background checks” on gun purchases

By Tara Mica, NRA-ILA State Director via Texas State Rifle Association.

Imagine being forced to pay fees as high as $50-$100, complete extensive federal paperwork, and obtain government approval before selling or loaning your personally-owned firearms to immediate or extended family members, longtime friends, neighbors, and co-workers, or fellow hunters, competitive shooters, and gun club members.

That’s what so-called “universal background check” laws do.  They turn traditional innocent conduct into a criminal offense.  They target law-abiding gun owners and not criminals who, by their very definition, will violate new or expanded background check laws.

In their worst form, these laws mandate background checks on EVERY transfer, sale, purchase, trade, gift, rental, and loan of a firearm between any and all individuals.  All such transactions would need to be conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer because private individuals cannot access the national instant criminal background check system (NICS) system.

It is ALREADY a federal felony to be engaged in the business of buying and selling firearms, for livelihood and profit, without having a federal firearm dealers license.

It is ALREADY a crime for a federally licensed dealer to sell a gun without doing a background check – that’s all dealers, everywhere, including at retail stores, gun shows, flea markets or anywhere else.

Further, it is ALREADY a federal felony for any private person to sell, trade, give, lend,  rent or transfer a gun to a person you know or should have known is not legally allowed to own, purchase or possess a firearm. State law also provides penalties for similar unlawful conduct.

The penalty for selling a gun to a person who is a felon, mentally ill, mentally incompetent, a domestic abuser, or an alcohol or drug abuser is a 10-year federal felony. That’s now, today, with no changes to the law.

It is even a federal felony to submit false information on a background check form to purchase a firearm.

According to a September 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 112,090 people were turned down for gun purchase in FY 2017, and there were 12 prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys Offices as of June 2018. Why, when criminals are caught in the act of lying on the form to illegally attempt to purchase a firearm, are they not prosecuted? Why, when existing background check laws are not being enforced, are there calls for expanding those laws to cover private firearms transactions?

As Texas politicians wade into this divisive issue, it’s instructive to look at other states’ experiences with similar laws. California always provides one of the most striking examples of failed gun control policies, including expanded background checks. But let’s look at a few other states which have adopted so-called “universal background check” laws.

According to a September 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 112,090 people were turned down for gun purchase in FY 2017, and there were 12 prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys Offices as of June 2018. Why, when criminals are caught in the act of lying on the form to illegally attempt to purchase a firearm, are they not prosecuted?

A 2017 study by gun control researchers looked at “universal background check” laws in Colorado and Washington State. They found that the laws had “little measurable effect”: there wasn’t much difference in the number of background checks that were done after the laws went into effect as compared with the estimated number expected without the law. This was most likely attributable to noncompliance and lack of enforcement. (Washington State did not even have its first charge brought for a violation of that State’s law until after it had been in effect for almost two years.)

Gun control advocates claim overwhelming public support for so-called “universal background check” laws. Voters in Maine defeated an Everytown-backed November 2016 ballot initiative to require background checks on private gun sales and transfers in that State, and Nevada voters only approved a similar measure by less than one percent of the vote, despite Michael Bloomberg’s national gun control organization spending $20M on that effort. Once gun owners and the public became educated on exactly what such a proposal means and how it will impact them, opposition grows significantly.

So-called “universal background checks” are ineffective, intrusive, and unpopular when explained beyond a sound-bite. But perhaps worst of all, they are UNENFORCEABLE without a firearms registration scheme. A 2013 internal U.S. Department of Justice memo summarizing so-called violence prevention strategies stated that the effectiveness of background checks depends on “requiring gun registration.”

This particular gun control agenda item focuses on peaceable citizens, not violent criminals who obtain guns on the black-market to carry out unspeakable crimes already prohibited under federal and state laws.  Instead of stopping crime and eliminating criminal conduct, they are creating more criminals – they are targeting you.

That’s why NRA and TSRA members need to oppose and fight these misguided proposals that have nothing whatsoever to do with curbing criminal violence but everything to do with stripping us of our guaranteed civil rights and our freedom.

 

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