A TTAG Reader writes:
Background checks are one of the favorite “fingernails on the chalkboard” subjects on this forum. Fearing no contradiction, background checks are never acceptable for readers here. So, what is there to talk about?
There is an old saw that goes, “When you point a finger at someone else, you have three pointing back at you.” And that’s the launching point for discussing background checks. If you are predisposed to simply rail and rant, you’ll find nothing interesting here, and I don’t want to waste your time. But if you have a natural curiosity, maybe we can “talk”.
The quick response by the People of the Gun to any mention of background checks is actually unhelpful, and maybe even dangerous to the right to keep and bear arms. How blithely we regurgitate, “They don’t work”, “Too many flawed denials”, “Infringement”, “Violate the constitution”, and so on. We also seem to love to shout that background checks do nothing to stop someone from committing a heinous crime with a gun after successfully passing a background check. Really?
Do we ever consider that the anti-gun crowd is doing us a favor by not figuratively shoving our own argument down our throats? Do we believe that magic will prevent that going forward? We are truly fortunate the anti-gun collective has not figured this out yet.
All our arguments about the uselessness and lawlessness of background checks for gun purchases are the very reason why gun confiscation becomes the logical, default goal of the anti-gun industry. If no regulation or legal restriction will prevent the use of guns in crimes, then the alternatives are two: do nothing or confiscation.
Doing nothing plays right into the hands of the gun control movement. Confiscation (no, it doesn’t require massive neighborhood door-to-door sweeps) has a singular advantage: grabbing guns from criminals means at least one (or more) gun isn’t available for further use in crime. Confiscated guns rarely, if ever, are involved in further crimes. Problem is, guns aren’t confiscated at a rate sufficient to have a measurable effect on reducing crime or terror attacks.
Complaining about background checks — taking the absolutist position that there should be no efforts to prevent legal gun purchases by people who are already criminals — only serves to strengthen the case for banning gun sales. Under such bans, guns would still be available illegally, but how many otherwise law abiding (is there no other descriptor?) people will actually risk buying a firearm from a criminal?
One can easily see that if the criminal element is the only source of guns, and if guns are routinely confiscated from criminals, the numbers work against the criminal element. If the options are no controls vs. confiscation, the theoretical becomes silly; reality will eventually squeeze out notions of “rights”. Fighting gun control where we are weak is a losing proposition.
Rather than sound like a bunch of cry-babies, shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to make the background check system work as well as possible? Just saying “no” didn’t work in the war on drugs. Will that strategy ever lead us to victory on gun ownership?
If we (gun owners and 2A supporters) show ourselves to be leaders in improving the checks, we take away a highly effective tool of the gun-grabbers. We slow down the march to outright removal of gun rights. We force the other side to defend why they support systems where legitamately rejected gun purchases aren’t properly prosecuted. Or why “gun crimes” as top counts in arrests aren’t prosecuted at all. In other words, we force the other side to live up to their standards.
Being enemies of background checks delays nothing and is a purely defensive stance. It requires that we win every contest, everywhere, while our opposites need only be successful here and there. We need to be on the offensive. We need to demand the anti-gun industry (and their political masters) fulfill their own promises (thus delaying further erosion of gun rights?). We need to remove, permanently, the ability of the anti-gun crowd to beat us to death with claims that we want criminals and terrorists to have guns.