On Background Checks and Closing the so-called “Loophole”
Much has happened since I last added to the pixels of opinion. Mostly, work is so busy now that it’s hard for me to keep up like I used to, and while I have wanted to chime in, by the time I get thoughts on a topic together, it’s usually old news.
The gun control debate rages on, however. Much ado about so-called “assault weapons” and “extended magazines,” which I think will not lead to any major changes any time soon. At least not outside certain Liberal strongholds such as New York and California. I also believe the new NY law will likely be stripped of many of the draconian provisions if not outright overturned by the courts.
The biggest issue, though, that has the anti-gun crowd bloviating the loudest is what is (erroneously) referred to as the “Gun Show Loophole,” which allows weapons to be bought and sold without criminal background checks. And Oh! My! Forty Percent of guns sold are without background checks!
Well, sort of. You see, if there is a private owner who wishes, for whatever reason, to sell a firearm, he or she can legally do so. And there is no requirement to go through the background check of the buyer. That being said, however, there are penalties for a seller to knowingly transfer a firearm of any kind to a “restricted” person, such as a convicted felon.
However, if one attends one of those eeevil gun shows, you will find many of the dealers in attendance are in fact licensed dealers. That means if you purchase a weapon from one of them, they are still required to perform the instant background check prior to the sale.
In a way, it’s sort of like automobiles. A person, for whatever reason, may decide to sell a car. That person is certainly free to do so for whatever price they can negotiate with a buyer. All that can be done without a license, or dealer’s registration. The exception would be if one did that more than a set number of times within a year; most jurisdictions set a limit to prevent non-dealers from avoiding the taxes and such that come from a dealer’s license.
So what they want to do is make it a requirement that every sale, or transfer from one person to another, is accompanied by a Criminal Background Check. While this might sound reasonable to some, think about the implications involved. Sure, it would perhaps prevent an unsuspecting seller who maybe decided they wanted to sell a gun and get something new from selling it to someone who really shouldn’t have it, but I really doubt that number would be all that high; most criminals already purchase guns off the record, or just plain steal them, and this would not change that one bit.
What it would affect, however, is a lot of tradition, especially in the Midwest. A father couldn’t buy a .22 for his son’s 16th birthday without going to the gun store, and filing paperwork to be called in to make sure his son isn’t a criminal. Or a grandfather passing down a shotgun that has been in the family for five generations.
Simply put, installing a so-called “universal” background check would either cause a hassle for those following the rules, or make a lot more people ignore more laws. Nothing would be accomplished.
So, if there might a room for a “reasonable” compromise, how about a Purchase Permit. Or a separate ID card showing lawful firearms ownership. Probably will have a lot of detractors, but hear me out.
I think a person could voluntarily be issued a card, with photo, stating they are legally allowed to purchase firearms. It would be good for, say, a year, or so. There is also the standard magnetic strip on the back, which a dealer would swipe a special reader at the time of sale, and it instantly connects to the FBI database. Within seconds, it comes back with “Approved” or “Disapproved,” and everyone goes about their business. This would also streamline the normal process, which currently involves filling out about 5 pages of questions, and the dealer physically picking up the phone and relaying your answers to the person on the other end, who then states the approved/disapproved in return.
But what if someone gets a card, and then kills someone? Well, that database can be updated pretty quickly with either a temporary denial (perhaps pending further investigation or outcome of a legal proceeding) or a permanent one (after lawful conviction, for example).
And while I’m not in favor of requiring private sales to be checked on, if a person sells a gun to someone they don’t know, they can most likely be reasonably certain that the person they are selling to is probably OK if they can produce that card. This protects the seller, as well, from inadvertently arming a criminal, which was never their intention in the first place.
This may not be perfect. Gun Control asshats will scream it doesn’t go far enough, although to them anything less than the outright banning, confiscation, and destruction of every privately owned firearm doesn’t go far enough. Second Amendment supporters like myself will be hesitant, worrying about further restrictions on a cherished freedom, and the potential of a “database” of gun owners being kept by the Federal Government.
More than likely, not much if anything will happen. But I thought I might get a word in showing what might be a reasonable compromise.