“Universal background checks” are the Holy Grail of the civilian disarmament movement. No surprise there. Under the system, all private firearm sales and transfers must go through an FBI background check from a federally licensed firearm (FFL) dealer. The government then has a paper record of every firearm sale between private individuals and those initiated by FFL dealers, including the firearm type and the buyer’s and seller’s name, address and ethnic identity.
Which is why UBC opponents call UBC’s “universal gun registration” — enabling as they do the possibility of government gun confiscation/prohibition. Even if you reject that slippery slope argument, there’s no question that UBC’s add extra time and expense to private firearms sales.
For the gun control crowd that’s a feature not a bug. For anyone who values their right to keep and bear arms, it’s government infringement.
On October 27, the Missoula, Montana City Council enacted an ordinance mandating “universal background checks.” As abcfoxmontana.com reports, the people at the sharp end are none too happy with the new law.
Here’s how it works:
If a gun owner wants to sell a gun, he must bring that gun to a federally licensed firearm dealer. The dealer then essentially takes ownership of the gun while he does a background check on the buyer. If that buyer fails the background check, the dealer now has to do a background check on the gun owner in order to return the gun to him. If the owner fails the background check, now the dealer is left with a gun he doesn’t want and he’s out all the time he invested in getting the background checks.
That’s why many gun shops are saying they are choosing not to participate.
“We run into a major logistical nightmare. And it’s not good business sense. We’re going to tie up more time and energy into the entire situation then we could deem even charging a fee to do that for the public. So just from a business standpoint, it does not make good sense for us,” says Bob Burton, manager of Grizzly Gold & Silver.
According to the fine-print of the ordinance, guns shops are allowed to choose to opt in or out.
So what if all of Missoula’s federally-licensed gun stores and FFLs in the surrounding areas opt out? One can only assume that private sellers and buyers will ignore the law and conduct their transactions illegally — which they may do even if there’s a willing FFL to save time, money and government oversight.
Again, gun control advocates consider the criminalization of “unauthorized” private firearms sales a feature not a bug. Not only do UBC’s inhibit private firearms sales and increase the government’s power over firearms ownership, they make otherwise law-abiding gun owners into criminals — especially those UBC’s that require an FBI background check for sharing/loaning firearms. How great is that?
Burton says not only is it bad for the gun businesses, but it isn’t going to work. He joins several other people who have said the ordinance is unenforceable since the proposal hit city council last year.
Missoula City Police previously said specifics would be outlined once the ordinance is in effect. As that day is now here, they say it’s not really enforceable unless people report it.
MPD Sergeant Travis Welsh says it is a “complaint driven” process. If somebody reports an incident where an illegal transaction is happening, police will investigate, but they are not actively patrolling the streets looking for it. Citizens have to be the eyes and ears for the police if they want to see enforcement. It will be treated like any city ordinance.
If offenders are caught, it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 on the first offense. Multiple offenses could include more fines and even jail time up to 6 months.
So Missoula police are relying on snitches to enforce a law which will have no appreciable effect on the criminal use of firearms, that turns law-abiding citizens into criminals. Welcome to 1984. In Montana no less.