The NSSF hearts NICS (courtesy fixnics.org)

“NSSF [National Shooting Sports Foundation] this week praised the Louisiana House of Representatives for following the State Senate lead and unanimously passing Senate Bill 135,” the NSSF writes in an email blast. “Under the legislation, any Louisiana state resident who loses the right to possess firearms under state law will be reported to the State Supreme Court that, in turn, will send this information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ‘Louisiana legislators clearly understood that the background check system is only as good as the records in the database,’ said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.'” Or, as we said before, lobbying to fix NICS is just as bad as donating money to the civilian disarmament industry . . .

Not to ut too fine a point on it, encouraging states to send the feds a database of citizens deemed unsuitable to possess firearms to improve the FBI’s No Guns for You Boyo system is like asking Peter North to practice safe sex. It may sound like a good idea but it’s doomed to failure.

For one thing, government sucks at database management. Low-level bureaucrats are simply not capable of collating and updating the hundreds of thousands individual records, often on incompatible systems, without making mistakes. The larger the database the greater the chance of errors, both as an absolute number and a percentage.

Note: it stops being simple statistical anomalies when it starts being you.

Getting off the NICS shit list may not be as difficult as getting off the Fibbies’ Terrorist Watch List (which still doesn’t have an official appeals process) but it’s several degrees of magnitude worse than reporting a lost credit card. Or a rectal exam. More to the point, who’s gun ban criteria is it anyway?

The NSSF’s celebratory press release offers some insight:

In Louisiana a citizen can lose the right to possess a firearm if he or she pleads guilty to a crime by reason of insanity, lacks the mental capacity to stand trial for a crime, is involuntarily committed to an in-patient mental health treatment facility, is convicted of a violent crime, is convicted of a felony violation of drug laws or is convicted of a sexual offense.

Let’s say someone in Sportsman’s Paradise is involuntarily committed to a mental health treatment facility for suicidal tendencies, and then recovers. You know; like they’re supposed to. Sorry. Gun rights gone. There’s no set appeals process, no way to have that record expunged or over-ruled and the NICS updated.

Or is there? Some states may have a way to “restore” lost gun rights. Whether or not any given individual’s in-patient mental heath treatment permanently disqualifies them from firearms purchase becomes a matter of geographical happenstance.

By the same token, state laws defines what constitutes a felony drug charge. In Colorado possession of less than 12 ounces of pot is a misdemeanor. In Texas, possession of four ounces or more of pot is a felony.

According to the Supreme Court’s McDonald decision, individual gun rights trump local and state law. But the NICS system is based on each states’ disqualification criteria. In effect, the states are calling the shots on whether or not residents get to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

Of course, these are quibbles compared to the larger question: why the hell should Americans have a background check before they purchase a gun? Do we endure a background check to exercise any other Constitutional right?

By championing the fictional not to say delusional idea that NICS can be “fixed” to protect public safety the NSSF is doing the heavy lifting for gun control advocates: maintaining the presupposition that federal gun control is morally, practically and Constitutional acceptable.

Yes, yes, I know: the NSSF (and the NRA) can no more argue for ditching NICS than they can call for the feds to arm public school teachers with a taxpayer-funded AR-15. Staking out an anti-NICS position would alienate the politically critical Second Amendment fence sitters.

But the NSSF could STFU.

34 Responses to NSSF’s Fix NICS Skiing Down Slippery Slope to Gun Control

  1. I am all for a list of people convicted of violent felonies. Deny access to firearms for them, for 15 years after their release from prison. Have them automatically fall off the list on the date 15 years after the end of their sentence. Have an appeal process in case they are proven innocent after conviction.

    But violent felons (rape, molestation, murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, etc) are the ONLY people who belong on a no-gun list.

    • Why, what is so magical about 15 years? Why not 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years?

      Why do violent felons belong on a no-gun list when they can purchase knives and hammers for $15 at a store in every city in the U.S.? Instead of putting violent felons on a no-gun list, why not put them and keep them in prison!

      And what about wrongful convictions? What about the man who pleads guilty to a sexual assault charge — even though he did not sexually assault a woman — strictly to guarantee a minimum prison sentence?

      See my detailed post below to understand why we need to get rid of background checks entirely.

      • I’m willing to debate the 15 years. I just don’t think that violent offenders should be allowed to buy guns immediately out of prison, because we all know about the short term recidivism rates.

        I believe that prison should not be a permanent way to remove undesirables, but they should have a chance to become functional in society. I don’t want short sentences, but I’m against the whole “keep them in prison!” argument.

        While you are correct about knives and hammers, people on the no-gun list will have overwhelmingly committed their crime using a gun. Criminals prefer to use guns during commission of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and other violent crimes. Why give them legal access to guns when they have shown that they want to use them for evil?

        I could see, however, an argument that the post-prison removal of rights should only apply to those who used a gun in the commission of their crime. If they assaulted someone with a knife, I could see taking them off the list upon the end of their sentence. Maybe.

        As for wrongful convictions, I said that there should be an appeal process for that. And if he pleads guilty to guarantee a minimum sentence, then his no-gun sentence will also be minimized.

        • ” I just don’t think that violent offenders should be allowed to buy guns immediately out of prison, because we all know about the short term recidivism rates.”

          And yet they do buy them….without background checks.

      • I propose a 5yr loss or rights providing they pay $50/yr to have their gun rights restored.

        Instead of a back ground check system that is a violation of 4th Amendment rights all those disqualified by a court must obtain a new drivers license containing an invisible water mark that, under a specific light, would inform law enforement & those engaged in private arms sales, to be able to see and use as an indicator, of whom they are dealing with.

        After the 5yrs or say 7, they get to their rights back minus, say, CC permit status…

        Hows this idea sound?

        • How about this: You committed the crime, and then you did your time. Your debt to society is paid, and you get all of your rights back.

    • If someone is too dangerous to be armed, they’re too dangerous to be free at large period.

  2. “That is why the firearms industry supports improving the current NICS system…”

    This key sentence from the press release says it all. People confuse the NSSF with MY EFFING 2A RIGHTS. That includes industry types like Tom Gresham and Michael Bane, prominent gun manufacturer spokesmen. That would be like having the paper and ink industry defending the 1st Amendment. The NSSF DOES NOT EFFING SPEAK FOR ME. The NSSF does what it does for the good of the INDUSTRY not me. Period.

  3. I disagree with the concept of background checks entirely. The logic is twofold:

    (1) If we don’t trust a felon on the streets with a firearm, they should not be back on the streets, period. If a violent felon wants to harm people, the felon can simply steal a firearm or purchase one from a “black market” source. Alternatively, a violent felon who wants to harm people can obtain knives, hammers, and pipes for less than $15 from stores in every city in the nation. Knives, hammers, and pipes are every bit as lethal as firearms and actually preferable to firearms in many respects because they are cheap, silent, and never need ammunition.

    (2) What about good people who were wrongly convicted of a violent crime or pleaded guilty to a violent crime that they did not commit? (Innocent people sometimes plead guilty in cases where there is a good chance that a jury will find them guilty even if they didn’t commit a crime — they plead guilty to a lesser charge and a guaranteed lesser prison sentence.) And what about a person who was convicted of felony assault and battery at the age of 18 (due to youthful stupidity or the victim of unfortunate circumstances) and is a good, productive citizen with a family at the age of 35?

    Everyone that I described in (2) above has every right to have firearms to protect themselves and their families. And yet our criminal injustice system does not agree. Apparently, a lot of citizens — even gun owners — do not agree as well.

    At best background checks are a colossal waste of time and resources and are completely impotent to stop any violent attacks. At worst background checks infringe on the right of good people to acquire and possess firearms in order to defend themselves and their families. Why are we not pounding this into the world at every possible opportunity?

    • And I forgot to mention two other serious problems with background checks:
      (3) Background checks are meaningless without registration and we must not have registration. Wherever there is registration, gun owners on the list are one disgruntled government employee away from unethical / illegal disclosure to the public. The last thing we need is a public list/map of homes with guns: criminals will have a field day with such an event as they did in the greater New York City area.
      (4) Government can define any criteria they want to label a person as “unfit” to own firearms. This makes any background check scheme ripe for abuse. Seriously. There are many psychologists and psychiatrists who sincerely believe that a person who desires to own guns is mentally unstable and the desire alone is sufficient reason to deem them “unfit”. We must not allow this.

      We as a society do not tolerate this sort of government meddling on the ownership of anything else. Why do we tolerate it with firearms? And don’t tell me it is because firearms are “dangerous” or “they are only designed to kill”. Almost everything around us is dangerous and deadly if misused.

      • I agree with both of these points, and they are the reasons that I believe only violent felons should be on a list. Check your name, birthday, and last 4 digits of your SSN against the list, and if it doesn’t show up, then you should be able to buy your gun.

    • 1) What is your solution then? Giving people life sentences for assault with a deadly weapon? Sure, that person may not be as trustworthy when they are released from prison, but we can’t keep them forever. The sentence should fit the crime. I agree that sentencing is often too short currently, but at some point people do need to be given a second chance. You say this yourself in point 2.

      It seems that you are contradicting yourself. You simultaneously say that we need to keep people locked up if we don’t trust them with firearms, and you say that people can be convicted of felony assault at 18, but be productive by 35. So which is it? Either you are willing to give people a second chance, or you aren’t.

  4. Do you have to go to “journalism” school to write headlines like that?

    I think felons should lose their gun rights as long as they as serving a sentence or parole. Otherwise, they should be free again. Too many people get a life sentence of being disarmed because of a mistake in their youth. They should also be able to defend themself and their family.

  5. You know, we really have to start educating people to totally and completely mistrust all levels of government. Whether incompetence, apathy, or tyranny, government agents can and often do wreak havoc.

  6. The problem is background checks is NOT how you determine if someone should or should not have one.
    Not gonna lie, I’m at a loss for what we replace NICS with or if we even replace it at all once gone.

    • What about instead of trying to identify the people who should have firearms, why don’t we identify the people that should? I for one, would be happy to show a Firearm Owners ID or concealed carry card wherever I go.

      I believe that we’re going to lose our gun rights over time to the majority of people that are too simple minded to see the hidden dangers and agendas. Unless we get firearms back in the _open_ to socially acceptable norms, gun control will win eventually. If that means that we need have Gucci fashion handgrips and FOID/CCP/CCW/CHP cards as badges of honors, so be it. Until the majority of the public talks about guns the same way as they talk about cars…

      In the meantime, we can do our part by taking newbies to the range and establishing a stronger baseline.

      • Interesting line of reasoning. I would like to see our replacing the idea of a “gun-permit/-license” with the idea of a “background-check card” or “good-guy card”. We know very well that there are a variety of reasons why background checks serve a useful purpose. As one example, a pre-employment check for school teachers or child-care workers. (Dare I mention to qualify someone as a voter?) Suppose, for illustration, that 1/2 of all adults had sufficient reason to be able to use a “good-guy card” for a wide variety of purposes. (Employment, getting on an airplane, voting, buying a gun, etc.) Well, then, it would no longer serve as a conclusive identifier of a gun owner. Nor would it constitute a license/permit issued by government to exercise 2A rights. Now, the “gun-qualified ID-card” that most of us have – at least some – uneasy feelings about would be dis-associated with the gun-issue or with any particular constitutional-right issue.
        Now, then, re-cast the gun-transfer law to make it unlawful to transfer a gun to a person who is dis-qualified. This raises a question: How could a transferor assure himself that he is not violating the law by transferring to a disqualified person? Give the transferor a “safe-harbor” when he has done something to verify that the transferee is not-disqualified. Frequent-buyers of guns (and others who regularly borrow guns from friends or have friends who leave their guns with a farmer/rancher where they shoot) would find it convenient to obtain a “good-guy card” to show to transferors that they are not-disqualifid; thereby, allowing the transferor to avail himself of the safe-harbor. An occasional buyer need not bother to get a “good-guy card”. His FFL would avail himself of the safe-harbor by running a NICS check (as is the case now). I would likewise argue that an occasional buyer should be able to run a NICS-check on himself and print himself a certificate to give to a non-FFL seller so that such a non-FFL seller could avail himself of the safe-harbor. When we lend our guns to our kids or well-known friends we wouldn’t bother asking for them to show us their “good-guy cards”. We would forego the safe-harbor. If – as we assume – our kid/friend is NOT-in-fact disqualified then there is no violation of law. Equally obviously, if a “girlfriend” straw-buys a gun and gives it to her gentleman-friend when she picks him up on the steps of the jail; well, she has probably violated the law I contemplate. Whether she knew-or-should-have-known is no longer the prosecutor’s burden of proof. She did the transfer to a guy who is/is-NOT disqualified. If disqualified, she is guilty.
        NICS has problems; and, those problems should be fixed. Our national law-enforcement system needs to have efficient access to priors, fugitive warrants, parolees, etc. It is out-of-the-question for a beat-cop to make tens-of-thousands of inquiries to individual court-houses to find such data. Our efforts on NICS ought to be concentrated on an efficient and accessible (i.e., affordable) process for a person to clear his NICS record. Next, our efforts should be applied judiciously to expunging accurate records of priors where the convict can make a convincing case that he is re-habilitated.

  7. Of course, this brings up the question about what should happens to a convict who has truly reformed. Why shouldn’t this person be able to appeal to have all their liberty returned after they have served their time? The situation is further complicated by the realization that when a state deems a person unfit to defend themselves with a weapon ,then they are essentially making that individuals life depended upon police response. If this deprived individual were to be murdered, than what recourse should be available to the family in there compensation for the states failure to respond?

    • There is a provision in federal law to allow the ATF to restore people’s rights on a case by case basis, but Congress forbids the ATF from spending any money or fails to provide any funds. This is something we could do to allow folks who no longer belong on the prohibited list get off it, but we would need to push Congress to do it.

  8. We (Louisiana) did gain lifetime CHP permits though, well 20 years at a time, with minor retraining every 5 years. So that was some gain. Or something.

  9. The only reason that the NSSF opposed Manchin-Toomey is because it inconvenienced FFLs. The NSSF does not speak for us. We have the NRA, SAF and GOA for that.

    • Yes, which is what drives me nuts when anti-gun people talk about the NRA as representing “the gun industry”. Uh, no. The NRA is quite happy to slap down manufacturers who stray into the weeds and work against the interests of its true constituents: gun owners.

  10. Nssf should focus on shooting sports. If they want to spend image money then spend it on getting more people and demographics into shooting sports. It’s not their wheelhouse to fix nics.

  11. Ditch NICS now. We can discuss who a “prohibited person” is and whether or not they can get their rights restored separately. Keep “prohibited persons” laws on the books, then when caught, arrest and prosecute them for the offense.
    However, these “proactive prevention” strategies only serve to disable the best deterrent to criminal activity, an armed citizenry. Further, the money and resources would be better directed to other areas such as actual crime reduction efforts or mental health facilities. So I say the hell with expanding or improving background check systems. Scrap them totally.

  12. Many people believe mental illness or even bouts of depression are incurable and only manageable. Therefore, once identified a scarlet letter is applied. Basically it’s easy to find a reason why Someone Else should never own a gun. Of course the wacky elite hollywood types don’t fall in that category.

    • The mental health issue is – I fear – the greatest of all threats to an effective 2A right. Curiously, there is a PA cop who – many years ago – attempted suicide. So, he lost his 2A rights. He can’t get them restored notwithstanding that he has overcome his depression problem. So, get this: he can only carry a gun when on-duty and dealing with the public; when he goes off-duty he is prohibited! Carried to its logical conclusion, government could declare absolutely every citizen to be mentally ill (excepting the elites of course) including military and cops. Then, allow the military and cops to carry only while on-duty. From the Anti’s viewpoint, it’s a perfect way to disarm the citizens. A desire to keep and bear arms is defined by law and by the DSM to be conclusive proof of mental illness.

  13. At 45% of the lockups are for Weed, legalize and save all that room in prison for the real violent people. The NICS is off by 10 million or more. 2007 NIAA passed law was to fix after Mr. Nut Boy CHO killed many with just 2 handguns. In 2012 the report for NIAA said it was 75% at best. I support fixing NICS. I am a Competitive shooter and have been for 15 years. Too bad no one starts a campaign for basic active security for schools.

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