Universal Background Checks – Again

I tend to be a bit long winded when it comes to certain topics; I’m a writer, it’s what I do. But I decided to take a new approach and take a closer look at individual aspects of an issue. Today’s topic is: Universal Firearm Background Checks.

Sadly, this seems to be an issue that many people just do not understand. It goes hand-in-hand with the dreaded: Gun Show Loophole. If you want to read more on the Gun Control Issue, then check out this longer article I wrote: A closer look at 'Common Sense' gun laws.

What most folks do not seem to understand is that when you purchase a firearm a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check is done. Federal law mandates that anyone who sells guns for a living, that would be a Federal Firearms License holder, has to perform this background check to sell anyone a gun. This also applies to guns purchased at those scary gun shows.

The confusion seems to occur when people assume you can just walk into a gun show and walkout with a gun. That’s not true. This ‘loop-hole’ exists for a very small group of sales known as private sales. A number that is so small that an NIJ study once concluded that these were such a minor source of criminal gun acquisition that they were not worth reporting as a separate statistical figure. As a gun owner, who has attended my fair share of gun shows, I can tell you that 99% of all the firearms sellers I have encountered are in fact FFL dealers.

“But, but, I’ve heard that 25-50 percent of the vendors at most gun shows are unlicensed dealers.”

Uh huh, and I would go so far as to say that those numbers are probably low, but the devil is in the details. This is one of those ‘apples and oranges’ moments. It sounds horrible, unless you have actually attended a gun show. Then you would know that a large majority of ‘vendors’ are unlicensed simply because they don’t sell guns. Yep, that’s right. It is more often than not that you have to wade through table after table of ‘vendors’ selling:  Candles, Cookies, Jerky, Books, Knives, Lights, Coins, Stamps, Surplus Military Gear, and an assortment of other crap that makes you wonder why they just don’t call it a flea market.

So what will these expanded, universal background checks accomplish? Well, basically it would dictate that if I wanted to sell a firearm to my wife, I would have to do a background check on her. Right now nine states and D.C. have this UBC and eight other states have a de facto UBC, via state permit. At this point in the debate, I am almost willing to cry: Enough, and just agree to it, but will it change anything?

The simple answer is no. If you examine the histories of some of the most recent mass shooters, such as Jared Loughner, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Nidal Hassan, Dylann Roof and now Nikolas Cruz, you will see a history of mental illness. The only problem is that, despite all the talk about it, mental illness never gets added to the background check process. Because of this, when the system inevitably fails to prevent these incidents, the pundits, politicians and gun control activists just continue to attack the same people who had nothing to do with the incident: Legal Gun Owners.

This is an extremely complex issue and one that is being done a distinct disservice when it is reduced to rhetoric, name calling and talking point arguments. Education is key, and an honest discussion is required, if we are to make any substantive changes.