Question of the Day: Are Background Checks A Waste of Time?

NICS background check data (courtesy nssf.org)

“There are a lot more things that you could spend money on that could be more cost-effective and get to the root of the problem. Background checks might not really do anything,” John Lott told politico.com, “but if it’s going to make people feel better — a placebo effect — I guess it’s worth it.” Got it! Americans should allow infringement of their Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms so that people who oppose that right can feel better. [By Lott's calculations, there were 43 convictions from the system in 2008.] That’s not a slippery slope; it’s a sheer drop. As proponents of civilian disarmament attempt to add mental health records to the FBI background check system and require ALL firearms sales to go through a NICS check, shouldn’t we be arguing that the entire system is a waste of time and money rather than arguing for exceptions?

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

97 Responses to Question of the Day: Are Background Checks A Waste of Time?

  1. avatarMatt in FL says:

    I would certainly be happier about it, as implemented, if they bothered to prosecute those who tried to lie their way past it. I’m not talking about simple mistakes in spelling, but if you check “No” next to the “Are you a fugitive from justice?” or “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” questions, and the NICS check people find that they’re declining you because either of those are true, they should forward that to law enforcement.

    • Why should it be reported to law enforcement? Not passing a background check in it of itself is not a crime. Had being convicted of a felony does not mean you are a fugitive, it actually implies that you have already been tried and a punishment dealt.

      • avatarDon says:

        What is a crime and is being reported is not “the failure to pass a background check”, it is “a prohibited person attempting to buy a gun”. This is a crime.

        • avatarEagleScout87 says:

          What about false positives? So now you get arrested and have to arrange legal fees, potentially lose your job, etc because of an administrative error?

      • avatarBill F says:

        Not passing isn’t a crime. Butintentionally lying on the form, as Matt suggested, is a crime. Without prosecution of violators, additional background checks are simply another case of more laws for the law biding, but no penalty for the criminals who violate them.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        You are correct in your first two statements. However, misrepresenting on this form that you are not a fugitive from justice when you actually are, or misrepresenting on this form that you have not been convicted of a felony when you actually have are both crimes. I refer you to the text block above where you sign on the 4473, which says, in part,

        I also understand that making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law.

        • avatarAaron says:

          If you’re a fugitive from justice, and you walk into a gun store, and check no on the 4473, you just became the world’s stupidest criminal because when the background check says yes, the cops will know exactly where you are. (Considering that the salesman has the presence of mind to call them)

    • avatarKelly in GA says:

      It may be only my experience, but having worked in a gun store before I saw the local SD come by twice while I was working there (one year’s time) for 4473 information from denied folks. What came of it, I’ll never know.

    • avatarAJ says:

      Exactly! The form says it’s a crime to lie on the form. If the background is denied then the person lied on the form, ergo they’ve committed a crime. Why are there not more prosecutions coming out of this?

    • avatarensitu says:

      I witnessed a man arrested in a Oregon gun store because he had failed to make an alimony payment and it popped up on the NICS

    • avatarJWhite says:

      Heres one problem with that.

      My first purchase, was placed “on hold” (Hold release to buyer) by the DOJ. I gave them a call, and asked what the deal was. They pulled up some nonsense from when I was a juvenile. Some 14-15 years ago (read: 14 years old) I wasn’t the brightest kid, and ran with some stupid kids. Never the less, DOJ via NICS did put a hold on my sale. By the time I sat down with my lawyer, had my records pulled so I could send the DOJ the disposition, I received a call from the store saying the DOJ released the hold, about the same time my lawyer was at the court house speaking with a clerk about the case numbers. I called the DOJ, and they confirmed the hold had been released. I haven’t had any issues since.

      To immediately report such inconsistencies as a crime is a waste of time and resources. I didn’t commit a crime when they had questions to ask. I simply followed procedure and, in the end, was granted access. I’ve heard of plenty of other people having similar issues. DOJ puts a delay or hold on a transfer, Joe calls DOJ, DOJ says something about a court case, Joe gets papers, DOJ realizes it was a custody battle or, some other fairly innocuos case. The hold is then released. Now we cant even get these kinds of things right, imagine what’s going to happen when you throw another metric in. Mental health records? Thats over the top, considering the fact that unless you’ve been involuntarily committed, as an adult, there is no record of you having ever been to a hospital, or having some mental health issue. Also, this doesn’t serve to provide any information about an underlying, untreated mental health concern.

      I was at a local store, waiting in a huge line, and I happened to over hear a guy ask a question about his 4473. “Uhhh I got a question, about this one right here…” and the clerk (loudly) said “question F – wate ever it says -” “uhh yeah see I was having a rough time a while back” said the buyer, the clerk interrupted “so you checked your self in to a hospital, because of a rough time, where you adjudicated mentally defective, or involuntarily committed to a mental institution?” “Well no, I mean, I chose to go, I just needed some help” he said. At that point the clerk said, some what sarcastically, “Well than, you are within your legal right to answer ‘no’ on that question, as you where voluntarily committed.”

      For me…. That’s crazy. What if that same guy had a mental break down WHILE HE HAD A GUN. A huge what if, but you have to really do some dumb stuff, or really be crazy to either be committed (5150) or voluntarily seek mental health services. A therapist sure, whatever, but a week or two in the loony bin… You should be off the list. Last thing we need is someone who’s already proven they have mental stability issues, and wants a gun? Dude.. go home.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        Neither of your examples counter what I said. First, you were placed on a “hold” status. You were not declined, and more specifically you were not declined for being a felon when you said you were not. Holds happen all the time, for all sorts of reasons. There is no reason that law enforcement should be involved in any of that. That is categorically not what I’m referring to.

        Second, in your story about the guy who “had a rough time a while back” there are several problems. First and foremost, how long is “a while back?” Your subjective judgments aside, people seek professional help for all sorts of reasons. If he was neither involuntarily committed nor adjudicated mentally defective, he is not disqualified from purchasing a firearm. The rules are written very specifically to keep people like you — who are not mental health providers and who are ignorant of the situation except for an overheard conversation — from being able to make subjective decisions about who can and cannot buy a firearm. The fact that you equate being involuntarily committed with voluntarily seeking professional mental health services tells me I don’t want you in charge of anything to do with making decisions for other people.

        I gave two very specific examples of situations that should be forwarded to law enforcement. Neither of your examples gave me any reason to have doubt in my original statement.

  2. avatarChris says:

    I don’t like the idea of mental health which a lot is based on opinion being used to infringe on my rights. Germany under Hitler only allowed persons whose trustworthiness is not in question to have guns. You can supress the rights of anyone you don’t “trust”. If we have mental health in NICS in abroad sense there is nothing stoping the Sec. of HHS to say wanting to own a gun is a mental disease, instant ban of everyone wanting to purchase.

    I hope some of these states in court now trying to bypass the NFA with laws saying if it’s made and bought in a state by a resident the fed can FOAD get upheld then at least in those states there will still be freedom.

    • avatarJim Barrett says:

      Don’t count on it. The Supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution essentially states that when a state law conflicts with a Federal Law, the Federal Law supersedes it.

      In states that pass home-rule type laws, you would likely be safe from arrest and prosecution from local and state officials, but Federal ones could arrest and prosecute.

      • avatarandarm16 says:

        Even without the supremacy clause, the commerce clause implications would be too broad for the courts to even allow the challenge. (Hint: if you can build a machine gun, and keep it solely in one state without there being any “interstate commerce”, whats to stop a state from allowing drugs. No self respecting serious judge is going to uphold anything that could allow for drugs to be legal.)

    • avatarThomas Paine says:

      i was a crazy mofo in my youth. I’m worried that if something passes under mental health guidelines, i may be barred from buying new firearms.

      THAT is scary.

    • avatarThomas Paine says:

      i was a crazy mother when i was younger, i’m VERY worried that mental health legislation would bar me from purchasing new firearms. What about all the people here on prescription meds? It would have a huge impact.

      THAT is very scary.

    • avatarRandy [Bullitt.44] says:

      A simple check for mental health would be that ALL people on Social Security Disibility because they suposidly can’t work due to mental health problems should be contacted and they have a choice of recinding their claim which is mostly due to getting free stuff on our dime which is easier with this administration. The other option is if they want to keep their claim they have 2 months to sell their guns or have them taken. Remember these people have admitted that they have mental problems!

  3. avatarDavid W. says:

    Any idea on the hard value of the background check system? Like how much it costs.

    • I think it’s up the the FFL, which I don’t like. One of the perks of being a member at my range is they charge $25 instead of $35 for the background check.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        Is that for an FFL transfer? I hope that’s what you mean. Most places I shop charge $5 for a background check with a purchase, if they charge anything at all. FFL transfers range from $20-40 local to me.

      • avatarLayne says:

        It doesn’t cost anything. The shops are just charging you for their time to do the paperwork when you transfer a gun you didn’t buy from them. Buy from them and it costs nothing. NICS is funded by tax dollars, no one is paying them on a per-check basis. The paperwork charge becomes a problem though if the Fed starts requiring transfers on private sales (as CA already does). Some shops in CA are charging $100 for the personal transfer. The state is bending you over a barrel for them.

      • The background check (Federal) does not cost the dealer ANYTHING. It’s free in almost all states. Some states run their own check which may cost, but in most states it is free.

        • avatarRobert M says:

          Maryland it is $10 for regulated checks. (Handgun and AR15/AK47) Everything else is Free. When I bought in PA I was charged $2 and $5 for background checks but he was calling into a state center but I have only bought 1 shotgun from PA so I am not sure.

          Thanks
          Robert

    • avatarIn Memphis says:

      I pay $10 and am out the door in ten minutes with my purchase

    • avatarIng says:

      Really? There are gun shops that make you pay for the federal NICS check? They don’t do that at any place I’ve ever been to (although if there is a dealer cost, it’s probably built into the price of the gun anyway).

      Or was the question actually about how much the program costs in terms of federal funding? Ifonly about 50 people per year are being prosecuted for it — out of millions of checks — that doesn’t sound very cost-effective.

      • avatarJFP says:

        The state of Oregon charges $10 per check (no limit on the # of guns, per transaction I think). Its essentially a tax on guns, all because the state troopers run the check aka they hook up with the Feds. Oregonians are paying twice for the check system basically. That and the state police have a record of every dealer bought gun, its make/model and serial number.

  4. avatarMichael B says:

    We could argue that, but it would never fly with the proles because they have been thoroughly convinced through decades of indoctrination that liberty is too dangerous.

    We should have to ask government permission to do everything, because freedom is doubleplusungood!

  5. avatarMatt in FL says:

    I’m also not sure about the John Lott quote, and the way you’re kinda using it as a “gotcha,” especially a gotcha against the guy who pretty much wrote the seminal work that supports our side.

    I’d love to know the rest of the conversation, since that quote is the only one from him in the article, and it’s used as a neat little “wrap up” line for the whole article. In my mind, it almost sounded sarcastic, in the vein of “Well, you could X, Y, and Z that would be more effective, but if you want to do this other, less effective thing just to make yourself feel better, knock yourself out.”

    I guess we’ll never know, because we’ll never know what else was said in the conversation between Lott and the reporter.

  6. avatarPassSetCrush says:

    Background checks, as they stand today, are already a necessary part of many of our lives. Just about any job these days requires a background check, am I correct? But to start to alter the process and allow other records to be included in the already invasive procedure… where would it end? Until they FIND something on just about everyone to deem them “unfit” to own a firearm? Are the gun-grabbers simply finding avenues around the obvious “civilian disarmament” issue to get to the same place? Their agenda is clear, no matter what they say or how they say they it.

  7. avatarRoll says:

    Background checks the way they are right now are not too bad. I’ve seen a guy turn and run as soon as he saw the gunshop owner walk towards him with a 4473 and the phone.

    Also this very same store was one of the ones were Obama/Holder told them to not check backgrounds for the Fast and Furious thing.

    • avatarAharon says:

      Maybe the guy who ran was a criminal straw buyer working for the ATF?

      • avatarRoll says:

        Nah this was a good year before the F&F thing. I was told that an ATF/GOVT representative would stand behind the counter with the store owners and give them the “Ok” to sell guns to people without that 4473 form.

  8. avatarDon says:

    I don’t think so because I have personally seen tons of prohibited persons try to buy guns in gun stores and fail the background check. Some people think that if they “try” they’ll “get lucky” even when they know they are prohibited.

    -D

    • avatarMark N. says:

      In that same vein, the question should not be how many prosecutions there were, but how many denials. This is a measure of its deterrence value. If we do away with the system, any felon could walk into any guns store and buy any weapon. Now there are some around here who have an “absolutist” position that this is the way it should be (i.e. that felons should be allowed to purchase and keep firearms), but I rather think that that is a small minority position.

  9. avatarPascal says:

    I feel that if the public wants the “placebo effect” let them have it.

    We should be fighting the opposite, if they truely, honestly believe in their little minds that it does something, then, we should fight for having our firearm permits be acceptable in all states — Hey, you have our finger prints, you have this wonderfull background system, then what is the problem? My permit should be accepted like a drivers license — hey, they want a registration system like for cars — well my drivers license and car can go anywhere — well so can my firearm and permit.

    We should play “into” their BS instead of fighting it. Its such a wonderfull system and you have all this info so we should have the ability to do more not less.

    Once they figure out that the NICs system is crap, then we can say, then if it is crap then why spend all this money?

    We should use this argument against them. No need to always fight, we should lead them into giving us more freedom.

    • avatarbramankp says:

      Background checks are security theater and if they make stupid people feel better (and leave my standard-capacity magazines alone) I’ll go along with it.

      • avatarPascal says:

        That is what I am talking about. Lets give them something that is bogus anyway. Right now they say we fight everything, go ahead, have your NICs check.

        BUT……..we want something in return.

        1) Fix FOPA so it has a “safe harbor clause” If I am traveling from CT to FL and the damn plan has to have an emergency landing in JFK, I am going to jail if I am carrying my gun with me in check luggage as soon as I go get my luggage. BS to that.

        2) Look at this BS
        “The new Secure Driver’s License and Identification card Program is a nationwide effort mandated by the federal government to improve the integrity and security of all driver’s licenses and ID cards. ”

        If we have NICs checks, our Firearm permit should have enough info to allow me to fly without a new Drivers License requirement or I should not need all the BS paper work for that.

        3) If you know everything about me, then I only need one permit for all states

        4) Fine, require anyone who wants to get a long gun get a permit, so long as he can use the permit and gun in any state

        5) Elminiate the gun show loophole, but give us a way that two private sellers and a cell phone can do the transfer with proper NICs check and auth # and eliminate the FFL

        Otherwise, hands off my AR and hands off my mags.

        If we ALL believe its BS, let them have it!

  10. avatarSGC says:

    There have to be checks and balances in everything. The governemnt, if it was run as intended, would be a checked and balanced system.
    We as Americans tend to give up liberty for security alot, but honestly I feel like a credit check is more intrusive than a background check. There has to be something in place to keep people who shouldn’t have a gun (Adam Lanza) from trying to get one over the counter. I know mental health records are more subjective than objective sometimes, and it scares me a little too…but hell if you go to any jail in America it’s slap full of innocent people, jsut ask them!
    There have to be some standards: I don’t want a convicted felon buying an AR15, I don’t want someone who is on medication for (insert mental issue here) with one either. Should any hard working tax paying American be able to buy an AR15, YES…but only with the proper checks and balances in place.

  11. avatarAharon says:

    I read the two linked articles and I am not buying into this TTAG post’s rhetorical end question/statement that the system is a waste of time and money. If background checks were done away with criminals and others would feel free to walk into gun stores and buy guns. Some of those criminals or straw buyers would buy large quantities of guns to arm or sell to other criminals.

    • avatarMichael B says:

      If background checks were done away with criminals and others would feel free to walk into gun stores and buy guns. Some of those criminals or straw buyers would buy large quantities of guns to arm or sell to other criminals.

      Citation needed.

      Also, straw buyers already get through the system as is. In fact, getting through the system is their primary purpose and a huge failing of it so I don’t know why you’d try to use them as support for your argument.

  12. avatarAccur81 says:

    My biggest issue with the current system is that it does not punish anyone prohibited from buying a firearm when they intentionally falsify documents.

    • avatarCarrymagnum says:

      I’ve always been told if you are declined, the FFL doesn’t receive a phone call back and the cops show up. Not sure what happens from there.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        That’s a story that mothers tell their kids at night to make them behave; it’s a boogeyman scare tactic to frighten people into not buying guns if they shouldn’t: “Dude, don’t even try, you know you’ll go to jail if you’re caught, right?”

        In reality, if someone is declined, the FFL receives that information over the phone, and that info is provided to the prospective purchaser, often with a phone number to call and a transaction ID# to reference.

        • avatarCarrymagnum says:

          Sounds like we do something right here in NH. And my FFL told me that. Matt you really ought a be a little less patronizing when dealing with like minded individuals. For the most part everyone here wants the same thing.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          I wasn’t intending to be patronizing. You’re suggesting that instead of the system working like I’ve seen it work a thousand times, instead of the person at the other end of the line simply saying “Decline, reference# 867-5309,” that they get on the horn to the local county mounties and they just rush right over to arrest that guy? I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. Maybe, maybe if it was some Top 10 Most Wanted fugitive, but for any random Joe Blow who tries to illegally buy a gun? Nah. In the words of Joe Biden, “…we simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form…”

        • avatarCarrymagnum says:

          Then I’m double glad to be from New Hampshire. Our cops aren’t too busy for that. But I do appreciate what you’re saying. But it’s not too broke here yet.

  13. avatarjmkcolorado says:

    HELL NO it’s not a waste of time!

    it’s a damn good idea if it’s implemented properly: follow the “shall issue” CCW paradigm, add protections and appeals to ensure it’s not abused by bureaucrats, etc.

    get off the “*anything* is an infringement” bandwagon – it’s guaranteed to help us LOSE EVERYTHING.

  14. avatarMerits says:

    It isn’t always a waste of my time, but if the records are kept, as Mr AG Holder just implemented due to an EO, it can make a wonderful gun registry.

    • avatarJim Barrett says:

      Records under the current system are limited. All that is recorded during a NICS check is your identification information and whether you are purchasing a pistol and/or a long gun. The operator on the other end of the line never knows what gun or how many. They will have a record you purchased something, but not enough to specifically identify the firearm in question. That info is kept only on the 4473 form which is retained by the FFL unless they go out of business (in which case it gets sent to the ATF).

      • avatarLarry says:

        How do they know if you actually bought it? What if you went through the NICS check and then decided not to buy? I have always seen this as a “On this date is Larry OK to buy a firearm based on these federal requirements?” and NOT he definitely bought this particular firearm.

        I cant remember where in the purchase process I filled out the NICS check?

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      To be clear, the records that are kept (longer) under the recent EO are the declines and other negative results, theoretically so they could be used in prosecution. The positive results are still discarded, and as Jim said, even the declines are simply a record that a transaction took place, not the details of that transaction.

      • avatarMerits says:

        Thanks for the info. I suppose I shouldn’t worry too much about a registry-like system. I’m sure there are 6 other ways they could find out all they wanted to about me, and a good estimate of the type and number of the guns I own.

  15. avatarHenry Bowman says:

    Who cares if it’s a waste of time or not? It is a violation of liberty and that’s all that matters. Debating the pros and cons of various government proposals is meaningless if we begin with a false premise. That false premise being that it’s somehow legitimate to violate a person’s right to property based on a particular set of arbitrary conditions or circumstances that don’t affect anyone else’s rights.

  16. avatarCarrymagnum says:

    Pascal up there knows what he’s talking about.
    Personally I don’t mind passing/taking the NICS checks. Seems that is the only thing stopping a felon from going into a shop and picking up his first piece since prison. I understand most criminals get their weapons illegally, but hopefully that’s a little
    more difficult than walking into a gun shop.
    Now that I think about it it may be time for a little cunning. Pretend to eliminate background checks and all the felons will go to get guns and we can arrest them and put them away again. Hopefully they just don’t try to get a gun.

  17. avatarduke nukem says:

    someone explain to me why are background checks “a waste of time”? dont we all go to a bacground check everytime we purchase a weapon? how does the process work? im still a bit confused on the whole background check bill and how would infrignge on my rights as some people on this blog has claimed

    • avatarHenry Bowman says:

      You and every other person have a right to own property. What you licitly obtain, you have the right to possess, own, and use for licit purposes. That right does not cease to exist if you decide to commit an evil act against another person. You should make up for your evil act (punishment, confinement, restitution, etc. best saved for another discussion), but you don’t lose your inherent right to property. Judging your previous evil act as in increased potential to harm others does not negate your right to property. Even misuse of your property in order to commit an evil act does not remove your right to property.

      Felons still have a right to self-defense and to property. We must judge and punish people for their actual actions, not based on a perceived increase potential to commit harm.

      • avatarRalph says:

        We must judge and punish people for their actual actions

        The action was the crime they committed. The loss of gun rights is part of the sentence. Why is this so hard to understand?

      • avatarduke nukem says:

        but what about those people that clearly shows a mental health problem?? im sure i can percieve their mental state of mind… are you saying that we musnt judge them until they act up? isnt that how we got to this gun debate in the first place??

        • avatarHenry Bowman says:

          Yes, that’s what I’m saying. A person’s mental state, regardless of how frightening it might be, does not negate their inherent rights. I am not saying that caring individuals should not intercede with a person who has mental health problems. I am not even saying that precautions shouldn’t be taken by those caring people to minimize the person’s risk of harming himself or other. I’m saying I don’t want the government to do it and I definitely don’t want him thrown in a cage or legally prevented from obtaining a tool of self-defense in the future.

      • avatarLarry says:

        So maybe felons do have a right to own a gun (depends on the felon if you ask me). However that is a separate issue. The fact is these checks do deny felons and other people (restraining orders) that probably should not have a gun.

  18. avatarSoccerchainsaw says:

    There are so many things wrong with this system already and they want all private sales to meet this requirement as well? While presumably rare, I can imagine a straw purchase scenario or two that should not be illegal. How about the guy that can’t afford the wheelchair transport service and the gun? How about the gal that works during the business hours of the gun shop and can’t afford the time off without pay and the cost of the gun? Suppose the bus line doesn’t come near the gun shop and a taxi is too expensive. What about the guy that lives a hundred + miles from the nearest gun shop? These restrictions are written by people who refuse to put themselves in others’ shoes. Couple that with regulations that discouraged kitchen-based business FFL’s from continuing in the business and shop owners that aren’t so keen on facilitating a sale by someone other than themselves and this incrementally has obviously become a clear infringement on our rights. Look around fellow frogs, the water’s about to boil!

    • avatarLarry says:

      Do you really believe that private party sales are more to people that ride a bus that does not stop by a gun shop, or someone in a wheel chair that cant afford a ride to the gun store….etc?

      I bet for every person you describe, there are 10 people that buy from private parties because they cant legally pass a NIC’s check.

      I know people that have bought from private parties (legal in my state) that could pass a NIC’s check, just so they could have a “throw away gun”.

      Also how many stolen guns get sold via private party sales? Even to legit parties?

      If I was to buy a gun from a private party I would have no problem going to a gun store and paying for the NIC’s/FFL transfer myself.

      I see mandatory background checks as something that is already happening in 60-80% of firearms sales now, that could be something we as gun owners could commit too, to help save our gun rights.

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        I don’t know if it’s auto-correct doing it to you, but just so you know, there is no apostrophe and the “s” is capitalized in NICS.

        NICS = National Instant Check System

  19. avatarJMS says:

    I still like my idea of doing a background check to get a photo ID. This ID might be valid for five years or maybe one year. But it would prove that you have passed a background check. Simply showing this ID could take place of running a NICS check every freakin’ time you buy a gun. It doesn’t make sense to use that system 8 times in a single month if I happen to do 8 gun purchase transactions. A private party has no real way to check that I am not a felon or something. Having an ID allows you to show both private parties and FFL’s that you are legit. Saves everyone time and money.

    For those of us afraid of paperwork (like NICS checks that have the serial number of the gun you just purchased and all of your info) leading to a registry, this could actually inhibit paperwork. Nothing that goes to local or Federal government would have to exist. Dealer verifies your ID, gives you gun. How it’s handled in their inventory I do not know, but they would not have to bounce your name, address, gun serial number, etc off any gov’t agency. The gov’t would know that you have this background check ID, but would not know if you ever actually used it to purchase a firearm or not.

    Would it reduce crime? Who knows. I don’t see it affecting FFL sales at all. But assuming we have already accepted background checks for most sales, I see this as being easier. I know people accidently sell guns to restricted parties in my state, since private party transactions do not require you ask questions or try to verify, just that you don’t knowingly sell to a restricted person. Because I would personally hate to give a firearm to somebody who should not be able to own one, I only do PPTs to people who can show me a valid concealed carry permit, since it proves they have passed a background check. ID’s would allow PPT to be ‘safer,’ including those at gun shows. At least I think it would shut those up who talk about a ‘loophole’ or how high of a percentage of gun transactions have no background check, since the law could be 0% of transactions happen without viewing ID and it’s still no burden or extra cost on any of us (IMHO), whereas using NICS for all of these would be a burden and a cost.

    Anyway, I think it would be handy. The number of NICS checks run on me in the last 12 months is ridiculous. The chance of me suddenly not being able to pass one from one week to the next is basically zero. With a physical ID thing, it could be confiscated upon conviction for something. NICS is dependent on the information being put into a system and then correctly found and flagged.

    • avatarLarry says:

      What if a month after your get your ID, you have a restraining oder dropped on you for being an abusive spouse or what not (and you really are)??

      I would say most people don’t buy 8 guns a month. I am lucky if I buy 3 guns a year.

      • avatarJMS says:

        Your ID would get taken, as mentioned. No different from getting busted for drunk driving and having your DL taken. I think it would happen more reliably vs. trusting that the correct info makes its way into NICS and gets flagged correctly.

      • avatarJMS says:

        Then your ID gets taken, as I mentioned. No different from getting busted for drink driving and having your DL taken away.

        I think it would be more reliable than expecting the correct information to make its way into the NICS system and get flagged properly.

    • avatarandarm16 says:

      While this looks good on paper, what your describing is the Illinois FOID system. It is not good in practice. First of all, despite state law declaring that all FOID applications must be either approved or denied within thirty days, ISP is currently quoting 74 days from the time that it gets to the FOID department. (Which can be two weeks after they cash your check)

      Second, the state uses your FOID card to maintain a database of all of the background checks you’ve had. (Illinois runs its own checks, most likely for this reason) Since they know your FFL, all they have to do is go in, read the 4473s, and poof they know what you have.

  20. avatarLarry says:

    Call me crazy but I am in favor of background checks for all firearms sales. I have had a NIC’s check for all my weapons I own, because I bought them new.

    These checks do stop people, I have see it while waiting in line to buy a firearm. Currently the checks they do (felons, restraining orders etc) are limited and I am ok with them.

  21. avatarstateisevil says:

    Obviously.

    If you can’t be trusted with a firearm, you can’t be trusted without a custodian.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      I hear talk like that all the time, but the fact is that we don’t have the resources to lock up everyone who deserves to be in jail. Once incarcerated, most offenders are let out early, and many go on to commit additional crimes.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Frankly, I wouldn’t trust a felon to shine my shoes. So the statement, which is intended to be glib and ironic, is actually just the opposite.

  22. avatarJoel says:

    You guys who are worried about Nazi Germany coming to the US and all your other conspiracy theories need to get your heads out of your asses and deal with reality. Reality in my case is that I have a guy who is a member of my temple who was able to purchase a Ruger LC-9 because the current background checks can’t access the fact that he suffers from bi-polar disorder, apparently has other serious mental disorders that cause him to have little to no control over his emotions and has a hair trigger temper. This is the exact type of person who could show up any time he feels slighted by someone and just start shooting but the current system has no way of picking up on his mental issues and preventing him from legally purchasing a firearm. While being pro-active in protecting our rights to legally own and carry guns, we also need to use some common sense and be pro-active in seing to it that people with bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia or any of the mental disorders that can cause them to snap unpredictably cannot legally have access to guns, period. We also need to be sure we hold accountable those irresponsible gun owners who don’t secure their guns properly. Newtown would not have happened if that lunatic’s mother had properly secured her weapons.

  23. avatarKY1911 says:

    Rather than labeling the system a failure since there were only 43 prosecutions of those that falsified forms, where is the data on justifiable denials? I don’t think we can claim the system broken until we know its total worth, i.e. show me how many times it worked as advertised. If after that its still broken – okay. You can only win a conversation with an unreasonable person by showing them the facts…again…and again…and again. Check your Molon Labe at the door when engaging the gun grabbers. The cooler you are, the more irrational they become.

  24. avatarJesse Nelson says:

    Kind of is kind of isn’t. More to the point I think that it’s pointless. After all, at the end of the day, these laws will only be paid attention to by the people that would have obeyed all the other laws as well.

  25. avatarBlindKyle says:

    Background checks could also function as a deterrent. If you know you’re a felon or otherwise unable to legally purchase a gun, you’re probably not going to try, and I’m OK with that. I have to disagree with Mr. Farago on the idea that someone previously convicted of a violent crime, regardless of whether or not they’ve paid they’re debt to society, should be allowed to own or purchase a gun. Especially considering our revolving door prison system.

    In my opinion we need a threshold background check system, meaning that once you pass one very thorough background check, you can buy whatever you want for the next five years without bogging down NICS for every purchase.

  26. avatarFyrewerx says:

    I recall some media outlet reporting that the FBI said Adam Lanza attempted to buy a rifle the week prior to the shooting, but that the NICS check failed him. I don’t recall what the failure was based on, perhaps age (20).
    Obviously, we know that didn’t deter him, and as Monday morning QB, we could easily say Mommy should have had the artillery locked up. Maybe she did, and he still found a way to acquire them. Hard to say, neither one are talking.
    However, based on this, if true, the NICS check “can” reduce the acquisition of firearms by someone “law enforcement” deems unworthy… depending on how motivated the person is to continue pursuit.

  27. avatarLance says:

    John Lott is a good number cruncher glad he says this Background check registration system wont work either.

  28. avatarLars says:

    What about the fact that it’s also a very flawed system?

    Here is my story. Might be rare, maybe not. But this is what happened to me.

    I have never been mentally committed, obtained a felon or any other factor that would legally under law deny me the right to a firearm but that has been the case, TWICE.
    I bought my first firearm in 93, I had always been given my firearms before that from having them passed down from father, grandfather ect. I continued buying firearms on a fairly light schedule, maybe one every 2 years. Most of that time I lived in MN so every year I’d have to obtain a permit to carry, never an problem being issued one. Fast forward to the end of the assault weapons ban. I attempted to buy a new Glock .45 at a large retail store that was having a great sale, all ready to leave with my new gun and the salesperson comes over and tells me I was denied. Before I could even say WTF he went into the appeal process, I had to stop him and ask WTF in a more polite way. I demanded details but of course the system does not allow for that, that would be too much work. He said I was flagged for whatever reason and the only thing I could do was call the number, give them my NICS denial case number and go from there. Back in that time you could actually get a person on the phone, have no idea if that is true nowadays. But they were assholes. The number given to me turned out to be the MNBCA(Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) Guy on other end told me he’d sent out a packet, gave me a quick lesson on how to return it and that’s it, no info on why I was denied. Even though at this time he could see my case and knew what the issue was he couldn’t tell me. Waited 2 weeks, finally got the packet. Went out to the local Sheriffs office where I apply for my permit to purchase every year, just got mine renewed only a few months before. I had to go into the jail, have a officer complete my fingerprint sheet and some paperwork. Being this was the only county I’ve even been in trouble in(No insurance, speed, no current tabs from the late 80s) I had them print out a copy of my records that they had of me. I basically had to guess what I was being denied for and provide info on how to challenge it. Sent packet back, waited…….
    About 45 days later a letter came not from the MNBCA but from the FBI out of Clarksburg, WV.. It was a letter denying my appeal. It basically stated and started off with, I still have all the paperwork from this entire debacle in front of me after all these years, “The material you submitted is insufficient to authorize your eligibility to purchase or redeem a firearm.” It also stated “The fingerprints you submitted are identical with those in a record that was used to deny your firearm purchase.” Really? I thought.
    In the end it stated “Your denial indicates that you have been matched with the following federally prohibitive criteria: Convicted of/under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, whether or not a sentence was imposed.” At this point I knew their system, the federal one, was really fucked as I fit none of the criteria.
    They also sent along my federal record which contained nothing other then, my misspelled name, my wrong b-day(mine is day 20 they had day 02), an alias I have never used or heard of, and a scar and non-descriptive tattoo I supposedly had which I don’t.
    I brought this info into my local sheriff’s dept and sat down and talked with the sheriff himself, he knew who I was through motorcycle events. He did a check, went through all my past permit history, and could find nothing in the state system that would even come close to denying me the right to bear arms.
    There was another appeal process but the language it used to go ahead was so strong it basically told me you have no chance in hell.
    I got a lawyer.
    Went through the process, about three months passed and he, not I, got a letter sent to him by the FBI telling him my denial was based on faulty info. No exacts, no details, just a empty apology by letter with no real explanation.
    I purchased a few guns over 05, come 2006 what happens? The same shit. Denied again. I still remember when I called my lawyer the second time how his voice changed when he basically yelled “what” after I told him about the second denial. I actually laughed a little and said “yep here we go again”. Instead of just going directly to the FBI I had to go through the entire process again. I had to request a appeal packet from the MNBCA, wait. Fill it out, fingerprints ect. Wait. And what happens? Denied again on appeal. I was about to explode in a very bad way, no more comedy in this, just rage. My lawyer did his thing and the SAME THING HAPPENED. A letter stating mistakes were made and situation has been corrected. That was not good enough and we demanded to know what was causing this. it took another 6 months to get a letter stating my info was similar, not exact, to another person with a similar name, birth-date and physical description. To date I have not had any more issues.
    But that’s our system and my experience with it.

  29. avatarLars says:

    What about the fact that it’s also a very flawed system?

    Here is my story. Might be rare, maybe not. But this is what happened to me.

    I have never been mentally committed, obtained a felon or any other factor that would legally under law deny me the right to a firearm but that has been the case, TWICE.
    I bought my first firearm in 93, I had always been given my firearms before that from having them passed down from father, grandfather ect. I continued buying firearms on a fairly light schedule, maybe one every 2 years. Most of that time I lived in MN so every year I’d have to obtain a permit to carry, never an problem being issued one. Fast forward to the end of the assault weapons ban. I attempted to buy a new Glock .45 at a large retail store that was having a great sale, all ready to leave with my new gun and the salesperson comes over and tells me I was denied. Before I could even say WTF he went into the appeal process, I had to stop him and ask WTF in a more polite way. I demanded details but of course the system does not allow for that, that would be too much work. He said I was flagged for whatever reason and the only thing I could do was call the number, give them my NICS denial case number and go from there. Back in that time you could actually get a person on the phone, have no idea if that is true nowadays. But he was not pleasant. The number given to me turned out to be the MNBCA(Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) Guy on other end told me he’d sent out a packet, gave me a quick lesson on how to return it and that’s it, no info on why I was denied. Even though at this time he could see my case and knew what the issue was he couldn’t tell me. Waited 2 weeks, finally got the packet. Went out to the local Sheriffs office where I apply for my permit to purchase every year, just got mine renewed only a few months before. I had to go into the jail, have a officer complete my fingerprint sheet and some paperwork. Being this was the only county I’ve even been in trouble in(No insurance, speed, no current tabs from the late 80s) I had them print out a copy of my records that they had of me. I basically had to guess what I was being denied for and provide info on how to challenge it. Sent packet back, waited…….
    About 45 days later a letter came not from the MNBCA but from the FBI out of Clarksburg, WV.. It was a letter denying my appeal. It basically stated and started off with, I still have all the paperwork from this entire debacle in front of me after all these years, “The material you submitted is insufficient to authorize your eligibility to purchase or redeem a firearm.” It also stated “The fingerprints you submitted are identical with those in a record that was used to deny your firearm purchase.” Really? I thought.
    In the end it stated “Your denial indicates that you have been matched with the following federally prohibitive criteria: Convicted of/under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, whether or not a sentence was imposed.” At this point I knew their system, the federal one, was really screwed up as I fit none of the criteria.
    They also sent along my federal record which contained nothing other then, my misspelled name, my wrong b-day(mine is day 20 they had day 02), an alias I have never used or heard of, and a scar and non-descriptive tattoo I supposedly had which I don’t.
    I brought this info into my local sheriff’s dept and sat down and talked with the sheriff himself, he knew who I was through motorcycle events. He did a check, went through all my past permit history, and could find nothing in the state system that would even come close to denying me the right to bear arms.
    There was another appeal process but the language it used to go ahead was so strong it basically told me you have no chance in hell.
    I got a lawyer.
    Went through the process, about three months passed and he, not I, got a letter sent to him by the FBI telling him my denial was based on faulty info. No exacts, no details, just a empty apology by letter with no real explanation.
    I purchased a few guns over 05, come 2006 what happens? The same thing. Denied again. I still remember when I called my lawyer the second time how his voice changed when he yelled “what” after I told him about the second denial. I actually laughed a little and said “yep here we go again”. Instead of just going directly to the FBI I had to go through the entire process again. I had to request a appeal packet from the MNBCA, wait. Fill it out, fingerprints ect. Wait. And what happens? Denied again on appeal. I was about to explode in a very bad way, no more comedy in this, just rage. My lawyer did his thing and the SAME THING HAPPENED. A letter stating mistakes were made and situation has been corrected. That was not good enough and we demanded to know what was causing this. it took another 6 months to get a letter stating my info was similar, not exact, to another person with a similar name, birth-date and physical description. To date I have not had any more issues.
    But that’s our system and my experience with it.

  30. avatarLars says:

    What about the fact that it’s also a very flawed system?

    Here is my story. Might be rare, maybe not. But this is what happened to me.

    I have never been mentally committed, obtained a felon or any other factor that would legally under law deny me the right to a firearm but that has been the case, TWICE.
    I bought my first firearm in 93, I had always been given my firearms before that from having them passed down from father, grandfather ect. I continued buying firearms on a fairly light schedule, maybe one every 2 years. Most of that time I lived in MN so every year I’d have to obtain a permit to carry, never an problem being issued one. Fast forward to the end of the assault weapons ban. I attempted to buy a new Glock .45 at a large retail store that was having a great sale, all ready to leave with my new gun and the salesperson comes over and tells me I was denied. Before I could even say WTF he went into the appeal process, I had to stop him and ask WTF in a more polite way. I demanded details but of course the system does not allow for that, that would be too much work. He said I was flagged for whatever reason and the only thing I could do was call the number, give them my NICS denial case number and go from there. Back in that time you could actually get a person on the phone, have no idea if that is true nowadays. But he was not pleasant. The number given to me turned out to be the MNBCA(Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) Guy on other end told me he’d sent out a packet, gave me a quick lesson on how to return it and that’s it, no info on why I was denied. Even though at this time he could see my case and knew what the issue was he couldn’t tell me. Waited 2 weeks, finally got the packet. Went out to the local Sheriffs office where I apply for my permit to purchase every year, just got mine renewed only a few months before. I had to go into the jail, have a officer complete my fingerprint sheet and some paperwork. Being this was the only county I’ve even been in trouble in(No insurance, speed, no current tabs from the late 80s) I had them print out a copy of my records that they had of me. I basically had to guess what I was being denied for and provide info on how to challenge it. Sent packet back, waited…….
    About 45 days later a letter came not from the MNBCA but from the FBI out of Clarksburg, WV.. It was a letter denying my appeal. It basically stated and started off with, I still have all the paperwork from this entire debacle in front of me after all these years, “The material you submitted is insufficient to authorize your eligibility to purchase or redeem a firearm.” It also stated “The fingerprints you submitted are identical with those in a record that was used to deny your firearm purchase.” Really? I thought.

  31. avatarLars says:

    What about the fact that it’s also a very flawed system?

    Here is my story. Might be rare, maybe not. But this is what happened to me.

    I have never been mentally committed, obtained a felon or any other factor that would legally under law deny me the right to a firearm but that has been the case, TWICE.
    I bought my first firearm in 93, I had always been given my firearms before that from having them passed down from father, grandfather ect. I continued buying firearms on a fairly light schedule, maybe one every 2 years. Most of that time I lived in MN so every year I’d have to obtain a permit to carry, never an problem being issued one. Fast forward to the end of the assault weapons ban. I attempted to buy a new Glock .45 at a large retail store that was having a great sale, all ready to leave with my new gun and the salesperson comes over and tells me I was denied. Before I could even say WTF he went into the appeal process, I had to stop him and ask WTF in a more polite way. I demanded details but of course the system does not allow for that, that would be too much work. He said I was flagged for whatever reason and the only thing I could do was call the number, give them my NICS denial case number and go from there. Back in that time you could actually get a person on the phone, have no idea if that is true nowadays. But he was not pleasant. The number given to me turned out to be the MNBCA(Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) Guy on other end told me he’d sent out a packet, gave me a quick lesson on how to return it and that’s it, no info on why I was denied. Even though at this time he could see my case and knew what the issue was he couldn’t tell me. Waited 2 weeks, finally got the packet. Went out to the local Sheriffs office where I apply for my permit to purchase every year, just got mine renewed only a few months before. I had to go into the jail, have a officer complete my fingerprint sheet and some paperwork. Being this was the only county I’ve even been in trouble in(No insurance, speed, no current tabs from the late 80s) I had them print out a copy of my records that they had of me. I basically had to guess what I was being denied for and provide info on how to challenge it. Sent packet back, waited…….

  32. avatargen4n9 says:

    I’m shocked at the way people perceive so-called felons. It‘s as if being a felon some how makes someone a permanent threat to society, when the fact is that most felons are just everyday people that are no different than the rest of us.

    I think lots of the people here in support of every felon being prohibited needs to take a look in the mirror. Because most of you have done many thing in your life that would easily put you on the list of prohibited persons, but somehow think that because you were never convicted, it makes you better than those who have.

    One really big issue we need to address is the Lautenberg Amendment, that prohibits “domestic batterers” from ever owning a firearm. And I know that gets everyone’s panties in a wad, but that just shows the overwhelming ignorance of the average person when it comes to the laws. I can absolutely guaranty that everyone with a pulse has committed a domestic violence offense. If people would take the time to read the laws they would be shocked to find what passes for domestic violence under state and federal law, and believe me you are guilty.

    So a big huge NO! to background checks. There are way too many people on the list now and it’s only going to grow with time. Before you know it you will find yourself on the list of “dangerous” people who can no longer exercise their fundamental human right to bear arms.

  33. avatarJarhead1982 says:

    Here is a bonafide.

    ATF near Houston just got a guy, an illegal alien, whom they had vetted through the process for a Trust as he used a fake identification, was buying silencers SBR & such and selling them to whomever.

    Not real smart, then again, another example of the background check failing!

  34. avatarEvan says:

    I’m down with just getting the hell rid of it, and preferably before we all end up on the terrorist watch lost and can good bye to our rights. It cleary doesn’t do anything, it occasionally crashes, someone(I think it was Bloomy) keeps expanding the time the records are kept, and it is occasionally abused further than that.

  35. They are simply unconstitutional as they violate the entire “innocent until proven guilty” theory of American jurisprudence.

    That being said, they are a waste of time. Real criminals will buy guns off the street, usually stolen, no questions asked.

  36. avatarHSR47 says:

    Your headline asks the question: “Are Background Checks A Waste of Time?”

    Personally, I feel that the answer is a definitive YES.

    Today, my brother and I visited a local police supply store where he purchased a few firearms. He filled out the requisite forms, and the clerk proceeded to call PICS for an “instant” background check. 30 minutes later, he finally got an operator who promptly regurgitated an approval number.

    My brother and I have each made at least a dozen such purchases in the last two years or so, and a trend has emerged: The automated system almost immediately spits out an approval number for me where it transfers him to an operator who then spits out an approval number. Normally it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but given the volume of background checks being processed, it often means that he has to wait on the order of half an hour (sometimes more) to pass an “instant” background check.

    A right delayed is a right denied.

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