Well, that didn’t take long. Among other folks queuing up for the Obamagoodies are our friends in the
gun grabbing commonsense gun law movement.
Here’s a test — and, like most tests, folks who already know the answer really shouldn’t shout it out for the rest of the class.
Let’s start before the beginning.
Over at Simple Justice, Scott’s been known to suggest that when somebody urges a “common sense” analysis when it comes to how to treat
criminals people accused, and perhaps convicted, of crimes, it’s time to get skeptical. I think he’s right, but I also think that it’s warning sign more generally. It’s not just that “common sense” is uncommon, but mainly it’s that it’s usually a sign that somebody’s palming a card. Or a whole bloody deck.
Me, I reach for my . . . wallet. Or, in this case, some blogging software.
Let’s take a look at the first of one set of these common sense proposals.
#1 Mandatory criminal background checks for all gun sales
This is what they call “closing the gun show loophole.” Honest.
Now, there’s no evidence — at all; the CDC looked hard to find some, some years ago; if there is any, it’s hiding better than Osama is — that criminal background checks (or other gun control laws) actually do anything to lower violent crime, or suicide, just as there’s no evidence that a course of leeches actually draws vile humours from the body, lowering mortality.
I’m not going to say that criminal background checks don’t do anything useful. By encouraging felon gangbangers to get adult, non-felon girlfriends to go into a store and buy their guns for them, they do work to improve the social skills of that crowd, and is probably only a few dozen times more expensive, overall, than some sort of Federal Pickup Artist for Crips Program.
Let’s back up a bit. In every state, when a federally licensed dealer sells a handgun to anybody, there’s a background check through the Federal NICS system. The purchaser fills out a form, provides ID, and the dealer runs the background check through the system. Most of the time, an approval comes back in a very few minutes — I don’t think I’ve ever waited as many as five. Sometimes, though — like when a convicted felon walks into the store, provides his real ID, and signs a form, subject to a five-year Federal felony conviction if he’s lying — it comes back denied. It also comes back denied — or delayed — if the system can’t figure out if, say, it’s Al Jones the convicted felon or Al Jones, the guy who has never been in trouble in his life. Most denials are in the latter category, which is one reason that the phone doesn’t start ringing at the local FBI branch, and agents are not immediately (or, basically, ever) dispatched to pick up the guy who has just committed a crime and conveniently signed the confession as part of the act of committing it.
The other reason, I guess, is that’d be kind of like shooting a fish in a barrel, and the FBI likes to give ’em a chance. Or maybe not.
Back when the background check was put in, its proponents promised that it would keep lots of guns out of the hands of criminals; as I understand it, the theory was that the clever ruses of having the girlfriend buy the gun or using phony ID wouldn’t occur to criminals.
Not so much, as it turns out.
In most states, though, these rules don’t apply to private sales, and, sure enough, you’ll find some small number of folks doing those at gun shows, in such states. Anybody who doesn’t have a Federal dealer’s license, and who is willing to risk the cruising BATFE agents deciding that they’re actually in the business of selling guns without said license — a naughtiness that’s punishable by years in the Federal pen for each gun sold (ouch!) — is free to rent a table and winnow their collection a bit. And some folks do.
In about a dozen and a half states, though, state law prevents that. Al wants to sell Bob his revolver, or Joel wants to give Judy a gun for her birthday? No problem — just hustle on down to a licensed dealer — whether that dealer is on the next table over at the gun show, or halfway across town — and then hand over some money and the gun, and then have the dealer run the background check. Unsurprisingly, these states don’t show any difference in violent crime, or suicide; equally unsurprisingly, when Alice has gone into the gun store to buy a gun for Bob, her felon boyfriend, she and Bob skip that step.
Not a big deal, either way. Criminals will still steal guns, and/or get girlfriends; law-abiding folks simply have to pay a little money, and go to a little more trouble — not much — to acquire guns from family, friends, and acquaintances.
I told you there’d be a test question. Here it is: So, what’s the big deal?
I mean, this is a big deal. It’s the first item on John Rosenthal’s wishlist (and not far, if at all, behind on Sarah Brady’s or Josh Sugarman’s), and both major players and flickering candles like me in the RKBA movement are going to the mat on this.
So why do all of us care? Why do the
gun grabbers common sense gun law folks think this is important enough to make this the first number on their hit parade? And why do folks who believe that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” is important hate this little tweak to the law so much?
No peeking at your neighbor’s homework; over to you.