“Submitting false information on a background check is a felony under federal law, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000,” thetrace.org reminds us. “But as many as 160,000 people are denied a gun purchase each year because they failed a check. Few are ever apprehended, much less prosecuted. Available federal and state data suggest that the percentage of arrests as a proportion of denied sales is extremely low — likely in the single digits.” Hang on a minute there . . .
As John Lott reported with characteristic not-to-say-mind-numbing comprehensiveness, the vast majority of NICS denials are mistakes. Wrong names, timed-out requests and such. That’s totally predictable given the millions of background checks performed, and the efficiency of anything ending .gov. Nothing illegal about them. Like this [via johnlott.blogspot.com]:
Take the numbers for 2009, the latest year with data available. There were 71,010 initial denials. Of those, only 4,681, or 6.6 percent, were referred to the BATF field offices for further investigation. As a report on these denials by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates, “The remaining denials (66,329 – 93%) did not meet referral guidelines or were overturned after review by Brady Operations or after the FBI received additional information.” . . .
Still that isn’t the end of the story. Of these 4,681 referrals, over 51 percent, or 2,390 cases, involve “delayed denials,” cases where a check hasn’t even been completed. Of the rest, 2,291 covered cases where initial reviews indicated that the person should have been denied buying a gun. But the government admits that upon further review another 572 of these referrals were found “not [to be] a prohibited person,” leaving about 4,154 cases.
In other words, The Trace’s “revelation” – that only a small percentage of aspiring gun owners denied a firearm by a Brady Background Check are prosecuted — is statistically meaningless.
And even less meaningful in terms of preventing criminals from buying firearms from licensed gun dealers. At the risk of stating the obvious, only very stupid convicted criminals try to purchase a firearm at a gun store. By the same token (times a thousand), criminals have no problem obtaining firearms illegally.
Avoiding this reality, gun control advocates are now beating the drum for what they call “Lie and Try” prosecutions. (You’d at least think they’d come up with a catchier, easier-to-understand slogan.) In other words, let’s send the police round anytime someone fails a Brady Background Check.
Pennsylvania is one of eight states where lawmakers and police have sought to boost arrests and prosecutions by passing laws and implementing so-called “lie and try” policies requiring local law enforcement agencies to be notified whenever someone fails a background check. The goal is to give police a tool they can use to arrest dangerous individuals before they can secure a gun and possibly harm someone.
In 32 states, a person who is blocked from buying a firearm at a licensed dealer can turn to a private seller who is not required to run a background check. One 2009 study found a strong proclivity towards further illegal behavior by denied gun purchasers, determining that a third of convicted criminals rejected when attempting to buy a gun are caught breaking another law during the next five years.
Hang on a minute . . .
How many “convicted criminals” continue their life of crime after a failed Brady Check? Using Lott’s six-year-old numbers, one-third of 4,154 [somewhat] bonified referrals to law enforcement from NICS yields us 1385 individuals continuing their life of crime after a failed Brady Background Check. Are they saying the others didn’t?
To catch more criminals we need more laws! Gun control advocates — who never met a gun control law they didn’t like — think so. This despite the fact that these laws would send the police ’round to 66,329 aspiring gun buyers who can’t or shouldn’t be prosecuted. And here’s the kicker: the NRA’s on board. On the federal level, no less.
The National Rifle Association has never officially endorsed a “lie and try” policy, though in the past, the gun group has called on the federal government to address the low prosecution rate for prohibited persons who attempt to buy firearms. Shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, the gun lobby’s representatives asked the White House’s gun violence prevention task force to enforce federal laws that make it illegal to lie on a gun background check form.
Dan reckons the NRA’s trying to Alinsky the feds, using Rules for Radicals number 4 (“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules”). In any case, John Lott tells us exactly what’s at stake — a conclusion that The Trace uses to justify more gun laws.
While prosecutors tend to go forward with their strongest cases, those prosecuted are often not found guilty. By the end of 2010, prosecutors had only 32 convictions or plea agreements, and only 13 of those involved falsified information when buying a gun or illegal possession of a gun. That translates into just 0.018% of the 71,010 initial denials.
Millions of dollars of tax money may soon be hard at work — cops time doesn’t come cheap — to prosecute just over a dozen criminals.
Some might say that this “Lie and Try” NICS-related cop visit mandate is just a way to get the police into the habit of knocking on doors to check legal gun ownership, or at least a slippery slope leading in that direction. I couldn’t possibly comment. More.