Thursday, January 17, 2013

What's Wrong With More Background Checks?

Why would anyone oppose a simple background check for all firearms purchases?  Wouldn't this make us all safer?

To understand why many of us are opposed to this measure, you need to look at how the ATF and the DOJ are handling the current background check system.

First of all, people who lie on the background check form are not even being reported to local and state law enforcement.  Is it not important that the cops know as soon as possible that a convicted felon or a person subject to a domestic violence retraining order is trying to by a gun?  Is it not possible - and in fact probable - that this kind of individual will then look for a gun on the back market?

In fact we know this has happened, because several years ago such a person did find a gun on the black market, and than used it to kill a sheriff's deputy.  Even after this incident, ATF still does not notify local law enforcement of failed background checks - and President Obama has not ordered them to do so.  One has to wonder why he has not done so.

Second, criminals who attempt to by firearms at dealers and are prevented from doing so are nearly certain to never be prosecuted for doing so.

In case you are not familiar with the process, every person who attempts to buy a firearm must fill out ATF Form 4473.  On that form are listed all of the reasons a person may be legally ineligible to own a firearm.  The applicant must swear, under penalty of perjury, that each of them does not apply.  The applicant must present ID, it is in their handwriting and their prints are all over the form.  One would think that prosecution would be a slam dunk.

According to a study of Instant Checks done in 2005, of 8.3 Million checks done in that year, 66,700 were rejected.  Of these, 46% were rejected for felony convictions or current charges, 15% were for convictions for domestic violence or a current restraining order, and the rest were for other reasons such as mental health commitments.

So, of 66,700 rejections, 61% - or about 41,000 - were attempts by criminals or people at risk of committing domestic violence who flat out lied on the form - which is a felony.  How many were even referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution? Answer: 135, or .33%.  There is no indication that this situation has changed

So a criminal risks no more than a 1 in 300 chance of being prosecuted if they try to illegally  buy a gun from a licensed dealer.  Why not try?  Maybe you can slip through.

There is absolutely no indication that things are any better today.

So, the current instant check system may be preventing some criminals from buying guns at a dealer but it is not being used to prevent crimes by arresting and prosecuting criminals who attempt to buy firearms.  There seems to be zero concern that these people will simply turn to the black market.  Why not?

Why in the world should we expand a background check system that is clearly broken?  Shouldn't we demand that it first be fixed before it is expanded? 


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