First, a little context. Washington State is gearing up for a vote on a proposed “universal background check” law in this coming election cycle, and as we all know universal background check (“UBC”) laws suck (because of the unintended consequences mainly, not necessarily due to the intent of the law). As a way of ginning up support for the measure, the Seattle Times ran a piece a few days ago with a rather sensational title ‘Background check denials rise for would-be pistol buyers‘ trying to lead people to believe that more criminals are trying to buy guns and therefore we need new laws to protect us from evil. There are a couple of problems with that analysis. Or lack thereof . . .
From the article:
Ralph Fascitelli, board president of Seattle-based advocacy organization Washington CeaseFire, said he didn’t know why handguns would make up an increasing share of all background-check denials.
“I’d be a little bit puzzled on that one,” he said.
Allison Anderman, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, also couldn’t explain the trend.
“Our best guess is that more people are buying (and trying to buy) handguns instead of long guns for self-defense rather than hunting,” Anderman wrote in an email.
It’s no surprise that those in charge of the gun control crusade have absolutely no idea about what’s going on when it comes to guns. They are fueled by ideology and not facts, so taking a few minutes to actually understand the constitutionally protected activity that they are trying to ban would be way too much to ask.
The reason behind those numbers are plain to anyone who follows the gun business. There has been a massive spike in firearms sales over the last six years, and while most of the media attention has been placed on the long guns (AR-15 rifles and the like) all of the action in the market has been happening with handguns. Concealed carry handguns are the #1 firearm that people are looking to buy these days, something that our TTAG reader survey confirmed for the second year in a row. It’s a relatively new trend, fueled by new concealed carry-centric handguns like the S&W Shield, the SIG SAUER P938, and it’s why Remington introduced the star-crossed R51.
With the rising trend of people buying handguns, it’s no surprise that NICS denials are following the same trend. I take that back — it’s apparently a surprise for those who have no idea what’s going on in the firearms industry, namely the people in charge of gun control advocacy orgs. However, that same information can be very disconcerting for an uninformed voter. Someone who picks up the Seattle Times and reads that headline could rightly come away with the notion that criminals are getting more handguns and that they need to be stopped, thus forming or reinforcing a pro-UBC opinion mere weeks before the vote.
The reality of the situation — the fact that increased NICS denials are expected given the market conditions — doesn’t mean that criminals are actually getting more guns. Neither does it provide support for the idea that universal background checks are needed to stem the tide of illegal guns. Keep in mind that NICS denials are a mark of the system actually working and denying criminals access to firearms, and in no way correlates to the trade of illegal guns. In addition, firearms being bought and sold without background checks right now would continue to be bought and sold without background checks just as easily with the law passed as without it.
Gun control advocates are barking up the wrong tree. Their lack of understanding about how the firearms industry works and what’s going on with it right now is shockingly apparent, and yet they want to pass laws that directly impact that same industry. Nothing really new there, but it’s like having an accountant perform open heart surgery.