In the highly unlikely event I win one of the P320’s in this contest, I won’t be able to accept it. I’d probably ask them to donate it to the NRA or 2nd Amendment Foundation for an auction or raffle, but despite the fact that I am not a prohibited person, the gun cannot be legally transferred to me. Why, you ask? Well, the problem started in June of 1992, about two weeks shy of my 10 birthday . . .
I have no recollection of what I was doing in late June, 1992 – probably taking in the staggering payload of summer freedom I’d recently acquired the way most 9-year-olds would be. That’s not important though – what is important is that across the state a twenty-something year old man I’ve never met was doing something he’d done dozens of times in his life – he was being arraigned for a violent crime, which he would plead guilty to shortly thereafter. As it happens, he has the same first and last name as I do.
Some time in 2009 a clerk in a district court in central Massachusetts shoved the other me’s record from 1992 into a file containing my own lurid history with the court – one dismissed count of public drunkenness – and sent it off to the FBI for inclusion in NCIS. I had passed several background checks already by that point and I passed another in 2010 for two rifles, another in 2012 for my concealed carry permit in New Hampshire, and then once again in January 2013 for a neat tactitool pistol.
March of 2013 was another story. We were all still wondering if a new Assault Weapons Ban would slither its way through, and when I found a gun I had wanted for a long time – a SCAR – at a reasonable price, I jumped on it. I was stunned when, after a three-day delay, I failed the background check.
My journey through trying — and to this day still failing — to fix the issue for over a year could fill a book. In short, it has involved four rounds of correspondence with the FBI – requesting my history, going to my local police department to be finger printed, sending those prints off, being told that they don’t have the other me’s prints to compare them to, sending court documents off, being told they aren’t acceptable because they didn’t come from the court, etc, etc, etc. My take away – the FBI doesn’t have great customer service.
Eventually I lost heart. Work and family took over and I temporarily gave up, having spent my SCAR money on something else and not having more for a new gun anyway. Some day I’ll hire a lawyer to fix this mess for me, but at the time of this writing, it’s not in my best interest to attempt a transfer, even if NH does run its own background checks for pistols, and I could potentially pass it.
The process has been massively frustrating, but the worst part — the very worst part — is that it hasn’t done a damn thing to make one person safer. The crime the other me committed, which is currently on my record at NICS, was a violent battery. The person who committed it should not have guns. Yet, when the FBI finds out ‘I’ tried to acquire one, they declined the transfer…and that’s it. No investigation, no nothing. Not them, not the local police, not the staties. If I hadn’t reached out to NICS, I never would have spoken to the FBI. And if I were a violent maniac, I’d have gone on to find another way to get a gun, and probably used it.
But you read the title right – after all this, there’s a background check bill, a ‘universal’ background check bill that I do support, and I wrote it.
I’m no Dick Metcalf. I don’t support the 2nd Amendment, but…. I support the 2nd Amendment. Period. I’ve also written a “universal” background check bill, and I support it. Will all of you be happy with it? No. If you think civil war is imminent, and that you and your friends are going to win and begin a new republic, hit the back button, read something else and have fun with all that. If, however, you passionately, feverishly support the 2nd Amendment and gun rights for all, and want to preserve them for generations to come the way I do, read on.
Due to a clerical error, the FBI has suspended my right to legally buy guns. Going around NICS would be my only saving grace, so why the hell would I want to expand a system I know for a fact doesn’t work, and more importantly, does not save lives?
It’s simple. I want to take away the most powerful weapon our opponents have, minimize any damage it causes us, and ensure it brings with it more benefit than harm. Make no mistake about it – it could cause massive damage. Someday soon Washington will vote on an initiative for ‘universal’ background checks, and sure as you’re born, it’s going to pass. I don’t want it to; it was written by antis and serves their purpose, but there is almost zero chance that we will win.
What does happen in the unlikely event that we win? We will have spent millions fighting to keep a right we already had, and they will continue trying to take it away, both in Washington and the states with and without voter initiatives. In the highly likely event that we lose, however, they will try it in every state with voter initiatives. We may win in Alaska and Wyoming; you can count losses almost everywhere else. When the dominos begin to fall, they tend to keep on falling until all of them are down.
My solution: write our own universal background check bill and pass it at the federal level. One that is written for us, by us, and specifically overrides all state-mandated background check bills, while restoring many rights that have been taken away previously. With NRA support it would pass the house, and it would satisfy the senate’s need to do something! It could probably even pass with enough majority to override Barry’s potential veto, too.
Here is a rough outline of my bill:
“It is a violation of [this law] to transfer a firearm to a prohibited person, either knowingly or through failure to reasonably ascertain that said person is not prohibited, either through a NICS background check conducted by a FFL or verification that said person holds a state issued license or permit to carry or own a firearm. Any person who abides by this law shall be immune to criminal and civil penalties in perpetuity for actions by said transferee.”
Read that carefully, because this law does not criminalize individual transactions, trades or lending. None of the NRA’s concerns with Manchin-Toomey would be relevant here. You can trade, sell or give a firearm to any person who is personally known to you. You can trade, sell, or give a firearm to a stranger and if they aren’t prohibited, you haven’t broken a law. However, if you want to ensure said stranger is not prohibited and also immunize yourself from any prosecution for that person’s actions, you can conduct a background check at a dealer on a standard form 4473, to be maintained by said dealer, or by verifying that they have a CCL issued by any state.
“Holders of valid, state issued concealed carry or other gun licenses who have submitted to, and passed instant criminal background checks shall hereby be exempt from said checks for subsequent firearms purchases, as well as use of form 4473, either in dealer or individual transactions, except at the discretion of the transferor.”
Using the justification of reducing workload, and therefore increasing the accuracy, of the FBI by removing needless, redundant background checks, we say that CCL holders no longer need to take background checks at dealers either.
“A person who is denied a license or firearm by criminal background check shall have the right to appeal the decision through a court in the judicial district in which they reside. In cases of errors the court, and the FBI, is required to provide legal remedy or overturn said erroneous denial within 30 days of initial filing by the person denied.”
I can’t stress how important this is. I’m not simply being selfish here – I’m restoring due process for everyone. Furthermore:
“Any genuinely prohibited person shall no longer be prohibited for life, but instead has the option to petition a court in his or her judicial district to consider genuine reform, lack of danger to society or likelihood of recidivism. If said individual has been reformed and is no longer a danger to society, his or her rights shall be restored.”
This may need to specifically exclude certain people, but if you have a marijuana conviction, congrats, you’re no longer prohibited for life.
Obviously, the bill will also need to contain law enforcement provisions to fund gang suppression activities, metal health treatment and other things that, you know, might actually make a difference. At the same time, this is an opportunity to ‘clean up’ existing gun law. Here are a few ideas:
Pursuant to the National Firearms Act:
- Silencers, or suppressors, shall no longer be considered an NFA item, but instead a separate firearm to be serialed and sold to end users as such.
- Short barreled rifles and shotguns pose no unique threat, and are hereby stricken from NFA.
Pursuant to the Gun Control Act:
- Transactions between individuals and individuals or dealers and individuals who reside in different states but are able to conduct face to face transactions are now permitted to do so, given that they follow all laws set forth in [this law], and all other Federal, local and state gun laws.
- All import restrictions are hereby struck from the GCA.
What’s missing? Two obvious things, and I’ll explain why I didn’t include them. Striking down the Hughes Amendment to GOPA would be great. I want toys with giggle switches as much as anyone, and gun controllers would probably not fight it that much, provided machine guns ended up back on the NFA. The real fight would come from anyone who currently owns or sells any of the 180,000 prohibition-inflated pre-’86 guns would rather fight our rights than see that $20,000, 30 year old M16 drop to scrap value.
What about universal reciprocity? I’d love to see that too, but either this passes without it, or it dies with it. California and New York have 80 representatives between them, and every single one of them would vote against it, along with many others from Illinois, Taxachusetts and other permission states. If it somehow survived the house, Barry would veto it.
Many won’t agree with this. Robert, in his steadfast absolutism probably won’t, but if your mentality is all or none, history generally indicates you’re going to end up with none. I don’t know if I count as a 2nd Amendment absolutist, but I care deeply about our gun rights. This bill would pull the carpet out from the anti’s, make their most popular proposals unsustainable for ballot initiatives in any state that has them, improve our (and the NRA’s) public image and restore many of our fallen rights.
I call that a big fat win, and just remember, I’m still stuck in the belly of the beast.