One of the biggest lies we are being fed right now by politicians, mainly on the Left, is that gun control will solve the rash of violence we are witnessing across the country in major cities.
To give you just two examples of the increase in the carnage, in July alone, shootings were up 177% in New York City and 75% in Chicago from last year. Murders also jumped 59% in the Big Apple and 139% in the Windy City.
While criminologists, economists, and data analyst are hesitant to point to one specific cause due to perfect storm of factors — COVID-19, the early release of prisoners from jail to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, George Floyd riots, resolutions to “defund the police” that cut law enforcement manpower and budgets — Democratic lawmakers firmly believe they know exactly how to blunt the spike.
Universal background checks! Or, as they also call it, closing the “gun show loophole.”
“If President Trump truly wants to go after violence in our country he should call Mitch McConnell right now and ask for a sensible vote on universal background checks,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) in an interview on Fox News Sunday. “That is, let’s get rid of the gun show loophole.”
It’s hard to overstate how stupid that is both from a common-sense perspective and from the actual data on how criminals get their guns.
To start with the latter, the DOJ’s 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates (SPI) found that the vast majority (about 98.8 percent) of state and federal prisoners obtained their firearms using methods that would NOT be thwarted by criminalizing the private sale or transfer of firearms.
The numbers break down as follows:
What’s instructive about this data is that a whopping 1.2% of criminals surveyed bought guns from a private seller at a flea market or gun show.
Those are the transactions that universal background checks would putatively target because licensed dealers are required by existing law to run a background check.
So, let’s get this straight. The Dems brilliant panacea to the spike in crime is to pass a sweeping law that would effectively require hunting buddies, neighbors, and family members to visit an FFL (and pay the transfer fee!) every time they want to lend or sell a gun to one another in the belief that it will, to use Duckworth’s word, “truly” reduce violence by preventing 1.2 percent of criminals from getting guns.
To draw a crude metaphor, we’re talking about attempting to stop Niagara Falls with a dam the size of a Buick!
And, if that’s the approach then it’s no wonder that objective (aka non-Bloomberg funded) studies published over the years question the efficacy of universal background checks.
Rand.org published one in April of 2020. To save you the headache of reading the entire thing, here is the summary:
Evidence for the effect of background checks on violent crime and total homicide rates is inconclusive. Evidence that dealer background checks may reduce firearm homicides is moderate, and evidence for the effect of private-seller background checks on firearm homicides is inconclusive.
Those engaged in “the business of selling firearms,” or FFLs, must conduct background checks. That law is already on the books, as mentioned. Which is good, one can argue, because it may have a moderate effect on reducing homicides.
As for instituting universal background checks, as Rand points out, the effect it will have on firearm homicides is inconclusive.
But forget about the Rand study and the data from the DOJ prison survey for a second. Let’s invoke some common-sense. New York already has universal background checks. And Illinois has a FOID (firearms owner identification) card mandate that requires a background check. Where is New York City located? Where is Chicago located?
Exactly! Those laws are not doing anything to combat the current rise in crime!
Beyond that, we must ask ourselves, how are universal background checks enforced? How does law enforcement ensure that every prospective purchaser undergoes a background check before he takes possession of a firearm from a private seller?
The answer: it’s impossible to enforce universal background checks… it’s impossible without a comprehensive database that tracks every gun along with its respective owner in real-time. Which is of course the end game of universal background checks: universal registration.
No one with any brains really believes universal background checks will make a difference because fundamentally, without an Orwellian-style registry, we’re hoping violent lawbreakers adhere to an honor system that gets them to comply with one law in the process of breaking dozens more.
Criminal A is never going to meet his co-conspirator, Criminal B, at a gun store so that the dealer can run a check before he hands him a weapon. Never going to happen! (Keep in mind, per the survey, 25% got arms from people they knew!)
It’s almost as insane as letting hardened criminals out of prison and politely expecting them not to re-offend.
SEE ALSO: Florida Inmate with Mile-Long Rap Sheet Accused of Murder After Being Released Due to COVID-19 Fears
Okay, okay. No doubt proponents of universal background checks will still argue that they’re needed because it may prevent some number of law-abiding citizens from unwittingly transferring firearms to bad guys.
Three responses to that: (a) federal law already prohibits sellers from transferring firearms to people they know are prohibited persons; (b) in the real world responsible gun owners are extremely circumspect about who they sell firearms to because to mistakenly sell guns to bad people only works to undermine the health and well being of gun ownership in America; and (c) the burden of travel and fees associated with background checks for every single transfer chills 2A rights to such a degree that it outweighs the benefits*.
(*That last response may need some additional clarification. We often consider universal background checks only in the best-case-scenario terms that are framed by their backers. Seldom do we think of the opportunity costs they present. Remember, a right delayed is a right denied. What do we tell the single mother of three that asks to borrow a gun at 8 p.m. when all the gun stores are closed because her violent ex is back in town? To give her a firearm that night without a background check would be illegal under the dictates of UBCs.)
Long story short, don’t believe the lie. Don’t believe Duckworth. Don’t believe for a second that any of the violence we’re witnessing in New York or Chicago is because private sellers in Kentucky or Texas or Montana can transfer firearms to their neighbor or hunting buddy without a background check. Because it’s patently absurd based on data and reason.
The call for universal background checks during this crisis (politicians can’t let a good crisis go to waste, remember) has nothing to do with combating crime. Rather, it’s all about priming the pumps for mandatory registration.