“It defies logic that in a country like the United States, a firearm can be purchased with no record of the transaction, and no review of whether the purchaser is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.” That’s how Benjamin Hayes starts his 6 biggest lies about background checks article. And things don’t improve much from there. Hayes’s position is that every firearm transaction should have a record, period. And in furtherance of that goal, he penned an article based on flawed logic and a fundamental misunderstandings of the facts to try and browbeat people into accepting the “universal background check” proposal that’s currently on the table. Let’s take a second to appreciate exactly how little salon.com actually knows about gun laws in the US . . .
“The proposed Universal Check system will create a National Firearms Registry”
Entirely false. When NICS was developed, a standard protocol to destroy the records of approved transfers of firearms within a few hours was included. The system does not retain any records of these approved transfers and is not a national registry of any kind.
Entirely false indeed. Well, their text, at least. There’s already a registry of sorts for long guns sold in states near the U.S./Mexico border, thanks to required reporting that the ATF has imposed on its own. And don’t forget the ATF form 4473, the physical record of firearms transactions that gun dealers are required to hold onto for a minimum of 20 years. It’s a paper registry and not a very efficient one, but a 20-year record of every firearm sold through a gun dealer sounds like a registry to me.
So, Benjamin is wrong. There is, indeed, a registry “of some kind.”
“The proposed Universal Background Check system will favor gun show sales, while retail dealers will have to wait”
Entirely false. But a clever twisting of facts. […]
I honestly have no idea why this is included, other than to pad Ben’s list. I haven’t heard anyone raise the idea of “favoring” gun shows as a valid complaint against the proposed system. But what I have heard, and is a valid concern, is that requiring every background check to go through NICS will effectively DoS the system.
The last time I bought something at a gun show (and needed to wait for a background check) I sat in a chair for 30 minutes while the dealer was on hold, waiting for a NICS agent to pick up. That’s the current “normal.” Now imagine what will happen when every single transaction needs to go through that same NICS system.
What we’re looking at is further overloading an already overloaded system. NICS doesn’t have the kind of infrastructure to handle that many checks every day. We’d run into a situation like those in Colorado and Maryland, where the waiting list to simply have a background check performed is days long.
How that “favors” gun shows, I have no idea. It certainly doesn’t make anyone happy, except those who think people shouldn’t own guns at all.
“Retail dealers simply don’t want it”
That not only defies logic, but also goes against what a lot of dealers say in private. The requirement to go through a licensed dealer for a background check would bring in an enormous influx of customers to retail dealers. Dealers would undoubtedly charge a fee for the checks, which would increase revenue.
Benjamin is thinking about this from the perspective that dealers make money from performing background checks, and while they may make some money, it’s by far the least profitable thing they do.
Dealers in my area have started charging ridiculous prices ($60+) if all you’re doing is using them to transfer a gun through their shop. It’s a not-very-thinly veiled effort to try to force people to buy their gun from them. It doesn’t make sense for them to give away background checks (in their minds, less than $20) if they aren’t seeing the profit from the sale coming to their shop. Instead of making $20 off that transaction (after labor and fixed costs) they could be making much more on the markup from the sale of one of their own guns.
In short, dealers hate doing background checks without an accompanying sale. And with the proposed background check legislation, it will only get worse.
At the moment, the market dictates the price of a background check. Dealers can charge whatever they want, and upstart shops try to undercut them. It keeps prices relatively reasonable, but still higher than the unit cost of a check. The proposed legislation would mandate that the U.S. Attorney General would dictate the price of a background check, and it would undoubtedly be around $20 — lower than the current market rate in my (and just about any) area.
Customers would no longer see buying locally as being the cheaper route. Internet sales would boom. Cats and dogs would live together. It would be the death knell of the smaller local gun dealer.
And that’s not even getting into the idea that paying for the exercise of a right is disgusting enough in and of itself. Do you pay for the ability to vote? Is there a tax every time you write an article or a letter to the editor?
“Having to go to a federally licensed firearms dealer places an undue hardship on lawful firearms purchasers”
Really? Is it a chore to go to the hardware store for a hammer, or to the grocery store for food?
Hammers kill more people than “assault rifles” every year, but I can still get one of those sent straight to my door thanks to amazon.com.
For the average city dweller, there’s no problem walking the block to your local bodega or going to the local grocery store. They’re everywhere, and conveniently located in accessible locations. But thanks to zoning laws and other local ordinances, gun stores aren’t as conveniently located as grocery stores or hardware stores. They’re often on the fringes of cities.
Living in San Antonio, I have to drive at least 30 minutes to get to my nearest gun dealer. What about people who live in more rural areas? What about those who don’t have a car? Should they be prevented from exercising their constitutional rights because they can’t make the journey?
Hayes claims that we shouldn’t care about those people, that their problems don’t matter. “Does it make sense to ignore public safety in favor of a very few folks who live 100 miles from town?” Here’s another approach – maybe you should focus on changing your crappy legislation to account for their needs instead of disenfranchising a sizable percentage of the population. Might that not be easier?
“Criminals steal guns, they don’t buy them”
Or more correctly, perhaps, they have been denied the ability to buy them more than a million times under the NICS system. Sure, criminals steal guns. But they do also try to buy or trade for them.
News flash: criminals are criminals, with the attendant low respect for laws on the books. And they buy guns from other criminals, who don’t follow the laws either. Recent studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of guns used in crimes are either stolen or given to the criminal by a family member or friend. Neither of those transactions go through an FFL, and wouldn’t be stopped by new laws. And of those guns that are purchased, the study never seems to differentiate between purchases from gun dealers and purchases from other criminals.
Or does Ben seriously believe that criminals won’t sell guns to each other anymore if this law goes into effect? Does he also believe that “gun free zone” signs stop mass shooters?
“Only honest people who follow the law will be affected”
Universal Checks are not going to end violent crime, but they will make transfers of firearms to prohibited persons easier for law enforcement personnel to detect, deter, and punish.
How, exactly? How will making law abiding citizens pay a fee and submit to a registration process make illegal guns easier to detect? Do guns give off some sort of radioactive signal that police can detect? And how do they know where a gun came from without a registry, that thing that Benjamin claimed doesn’t exist in the first place?
This entire article is simply laughable, wishful thinking. Hayes wants all guns to be registered and he’s willing to ignore facts and logic to get his point across. But thankfully, the majority of Americans no longer agree with him.