Mark Bruscke writes: I anticipate an insidious threat from so-called Universal Background Check (UBC) laws requiring that all firearms sales and transfers be subject to an FBI background check. UBC’s generate ATF 4473 forms for each transfer. These paper forms remain in an Federal Firearms Licensee’s (FFL or legal gun dealer’s) possession and as entries in the FFL’s “Bound-Book.” That’s the only way they’re available to law enforcement in the course of an investigation.
Set aside the much-touted, unproven proposition that UBC’s prevent firearms sales and transfers to prohibited persons. Consider the fact that the new laws does nothing to aid criminal investigations and everything to pave the way for greater infringement on Americans’ gun rights.
That’s because the current Form 4473-based system is entirely ineffective for tracing a “crime-gun” to the last buyer in the secondary, legal market. Yes, the feds know which dealer sold a given gun initially. But, by law, the feds can’t maintain an electronic record of FBI NICS checks information. Any and all records of any and all secondary transfers are in paper form only, stored at the gun dealers’ premises and recorded in their “Bound-Book.”
Even if a “crime gun” was the subject of a secondary “universal background check,” law enforcement looking to track-down the transferee would have to know which FFL last officiated in the last secondary-market transfer. Again, under the current system, they can’t know this information without searching the dealers Bound-Book and/or countless Form 4473’s.
A couple of years after Congress mandates a federal UBC, gun control advocates will be shocked – SHOCKED I tell you – to discover that tracing secondary market firearms transfers is impossible without ONE MORE change: a new law requiring FFLs to computerize their Bound-Book records. Much like the legislation that now compels medical doctors to computerize their patient records.
Once that new legislation is implemented the ATF could skirt the law prohibiting a national gun registry by firing-off trace inquiries to thousands of FFLs searching for a firearm’s make, model and serial number. Until they find an FFL who responds with a report of a recent transfer.
This change will create a “federated” national gun registry. That is, there will be no SINGLE database of all the legal owners in the US. Instead, there will be 100,000 databases distributed throughout the local guns store in the nation. All accessible from Washington, DC. at the push of a button.
Should there be a federal prohibition on a particular type of weapon (e.g. an “assault weapon ban”) or a change to the laws concerning qualifications for firearms ownership (e.g.disqualifying Americans taking anti-depressants from possessing firearms), Uncle Sam will be able to know who owns what where. Enforcement to follow.
I do not believe for a moment that the vast majority of “crime guns” fall into criminals hands via FFL transfers. The existence of the “black market” for millions of stolen firearms means that “Universal Background Checks” will only identify the infinitesimal percentage of gun-seeking criminals stupid enough to agree to an FBI background check.
Nor will UBCs “dry up” the supply of stolen or “straw purchased” firearms available to criminals. Nor will UBC’s aid law enforcement in the pursuit of criminals. But they will lead America down the slippery slope to national gun registration, an infringement that threatens the rights and liberty of all Americans.