In the discussion above, all the women of The View agree that background checks are the key to limiting “gun violence.” Jedediah Bila, a self-professed “Second Amendment girl,” is on board, even as she admits that “people who are criminals are going to get [guns] anyway.” What is it about background checks that turns so many pro-gun folks into blithering Fudds?

I’m a car guy. Well, I used to be — before my first and second divorces. Back when I could afford to indulge my need for speed. My four-wheeled affliction reached its apotheosis when I lived in the U.K. I bought a Ferrari F355B at the exact moment when The Land of Hope and Glory transformed itself into the most surveilled country on planet earth.

Speed cameras sprung up like Bluebonnets in the Texas spring. Suddenly, cameras were everywhere. At first, the law required signs announcing their presence. Those went away. The police soon hid speed cameras in rubbish bins. Busy stretches of the M25 London Orbital Motorway are now timed; computers calculate your average speed between cameras. If you exceed the limit, a ticket arrives in the mail.

Whenever I railed against speed cameras and the proliferation of inner city surveillance systems (using facial recognition to track Brits’ every movement), I received the same retort: “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.”

It’s Nanny State über alles: a basic belief in the beneficence of government. You can trace its roots to Thomas Hobbes, the English philosopher who asserted that life without a stable political structure is “nasty, brutish and short.”

Americans are less prone to this false sense of security — an infantile delusion that can’t withstand even cursory consideration of state-sponsored tyranny and mass murder. But make no mistake: Nanny statism is alive and well in America, on all sides of the political spectrum.

Why else would background checks find such favor exist amongst those (like Ms. Bila) who are aware of both their ineffectiveness and the danger of sliding down the “slippery slope” to firearms registration and confiscation?

There’s a parallel between background check believers and followers of Joel Osteen’s ministry. The preacher’s positive thinking polemics posit God as Santa Claus. If you do right by God, God will do right by you. He will bless you with health, wealth and happiness. You will be rewarded for your faith here on Earth. You will enjoy “your best life.”

Background check supporters believe the government is their protector. Mandatory “universal background checks” will thwart criminals, crazies and terrorists, denying them the tools they need to cause chaos and carnage. We will live in peace. It will be our best life.

Osteen and gun control supporters fail to address the simple fact that bad things happen to good people, regardless of the law or their virtue. (A conundrum explored in rabbi Harold S. Kushner’s best-seller When Bad Things Happen to Good People). Things that wound us to our core, or kill us, are out there, somewhere. Things we didn’t bring upon ourselves.

Simply put, bad people do bad things to good people. By the same token, good people do bad things while trying to do good. Which is as good a description of big government as I can offer. A cynical view, of course, but again, one that’s born out by history.

While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, there are things we cannot prevent. Nothing we can do will stop violent criminals from gaining access to firearms. Not background checks, not policing and not economic or cultural assistance to areas where armed gangs hold sway.

Background checks for firearms sales and transfers are nothing more than security theater. Worse, the time and paperwork required to satisfy them makes it more difficult for good people to obtain the best possible tool for the defense of innocent life. At the same time, background checks consolidate power where it least needs consolidation: in the government.

That’s my view. What’s yours?

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48 Responses to Random Thoughts About Background Checks, Brits and Joel Osteen

  1. One very small correction, from my wife who spent 30 years in TX.
    I’m from Wisconsin.
    They are Blue Bonnets not Bells.

  2. When I lived in Canada they would put the photo radar cameras in GMC Safari vans. Always the Safari vans.

    So if you saw a Safari van parked on the side of the road, you would slam on your brakes. I wonder how many rear-end collisions occurred that way? If you owned a Safari and parked it on the street, you were a real a-hole.

    Anyway, the Liberal Party of BC (the less leftist party, if you can believe it) actually won a Provincial election largely on the promise to scrap photo radar. Which promise they actually kept.

  3. Robert, couldn’t agree with you more on the false promises of the nanny state. No how many rules and regulations we pass, we’ll never succeed in eliminating all of life’s risks. Bad things will continue to happen – sometimes to undeserving and good people. Modern progressives who believe in their ability to create a risk-free world are delusional, narcissistic or both. Just as Olsteen has enriched himself by peddling a false gospel.

  4. The prosperity gospel preachers are leading as many followers to ruin as socialist leaders. False prophets all. Stay vigilant and question everything. Good thoughts RF.

  5. Ya kinda lost me at bought a Ferrari – must be nice. While I appreciate your willingness to openly speak of moderate affluence, it comes at a price of your blue collar readers who might tune out such ramblings. Previous mentions of large mortgage payments lend credence to earlier observations your newly found 2A passions simply fuel your German automotive preferences. Hard to argue TTAG’s success and your writing chops, still smells like a strategic business opportunity.

    • Meh. I hope RF is doing well financially. If I’d listened to the GM deathwatch on TTAcars and bought Ford shares back when they were $1 a share i could have made half a million dollars.

      I take more notice now.

    • Everybody has their thing that they spend too much on. We live a comfortable middle class lifestyle while donating 15% of our income to charity and socking 15% for retirement. That means that there are a lot of fun things we can’t do.

      I have coworkers that enjoy fine cigars and whiskey every evening. Another leases a new luxury car every two years while a third buys classic models and then sells them at a profit.

      All of them worked hard through school with a specific goal in mind.

      But, school isn’t the only route to that. We have a contractor friend who got married at 21 and has seven kids but can afford to go on vacations whenever he wants – and his wife doesn’t work. He spent a lot of years working really hard and making a lot of sacrifices, but they did it with a goal in mind of being able to have a nurturing home for the kids and to spend as much time as possible with the grandkids.

    • Dial back the salt, hoss. He said he bought a Ferrari. Does that simple fact make you feel alienated and inadequate? If so maybe you should take a look at your own sense of self worth and quit getting mad at other people’s success.

    • I’m old enough to remember times when those people who could afford better than we could weren’t looked down upon, but were rather emblematic of what hard work could achieve.
      Yes, sometimes it took a little luck, too, but that was OK, because luck was fairly random, and could happen to anyone.
      But now, for some reason I can’t fathom, prosperity is seen as something bad. Instead of seeing people driving expensive cars, and owning nice homes, and saying, “Someday…”, we look at them with scorn.

      And the really funny thing is, we will flock to churches (both religious and political) and pray to be gifted with the good things in life, without having to actually work for them.

      • It’s because so much prosperity now doesn’t come from any work at all but from fat flows of unearned income. It’s not unreasonable to despise people who continue to get richer just because they’re already rich. And it’s evident to anyone who pays attention that they whole financial system is rigged to benefit those who are already rich.

        And when the public knows that billionaires pay a lower tax rate than their office workers, is it any surprise that the rich get hated?

        On top of that, it’s well-known than the election in the U.S. that really counts is the one to get money. 0.02% of the people control who the rest of us get to vote for, so that’s the election that really counts — we aren’t allowed to vote for anyone they don’t like.

        Lawrence Lessig makes the situation clear:

        https://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_we_the_people_and_the_republic_we_must_reclaim

    • Class hostility on TTAG? Do you really think People Of The Gun give too hoots about how much money Robert has (or had), how many wives (has or had), or cars (Ferrari or otherwise), or guns . . .? This is Texas. If you can buy a Ferrari or MB, go for it.

    • YO! Ferraris are Italian! Those of us who are sensible and patriots own BMWs, which actually ARE German! Porsches are allowed, as well (I guess).

  6. My view?

    Background checks may dissuade some people but those with truly bad intent will get whatever it is that they require to execute their nefarious plans. That said, right now this isn’t a fight worth having because it’s not winnable. Resistance to UBC’s (MOAR laws) is fine. Fighting to get the current federal background check scheme removed is a fool’s errand. You won’t win and you won’t make friends and influence people in a good way. You’ll convince a lot of fence sitters that 2A supporters are completely fucking crazy and you’ll mobilize people who don’t care that much right now against us when the media starts the next wave of their propaganda campaign.

    As much as it sucks, the “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.” argument is a winning argument with a huge cross section of the public. In order to win this sort of fight you’re going to have to move the public past that by winning small battles and allowing the reality sink in that there isn’t a massive amount of blood in the streets.

    To channel Suz Tzu for a moment, we currently have the ability to penetrate deeply on a number of fronts because our opposition has left us facile ground but going after the entire background check system, at least at this point, is at best getting into dispersive ground.

    “On facile ground, halt not.” “On dispersive ground, therefore, fight not.”

    Sun Tzu said “On dispersive ground, I would inspire my men with unity of purpose”. That purpose should be to move farther, to contentious ground (“On contentious ground, attack not.”) and then even further to serious ground which is where we really want to be “On serious ground, gather in plunder”.

    Done right with deft legislative manipulation the opposition wastes a lot of resources fighting battles they can’t win and by the time we’re to serious ground, which puts them on desperate ground they’ve expended enough of their political capital that we can strike the final blow.

    I’d suspect doing such will take decades.

    • That was very well said. Also extremely impressive that a man who lived 2500 years ago had such a profound grasp on the fundamental tenets of warfare that his writings can directly translate into, not just the modern battlefield, but modern politics as well.

  7. One of the main failures of this “best life” fallacy is that false positives are all too common. Every time I endure a background check, it’s with some level of trepidation that some reason will be found to disqualify me – even though “I’ve done nothing wrong.” But – what sort of list might I have inadvertently (or maliciously) been added to since my last successful check? In the future, what sort of capricious disqualifier might be administratively added to the list? And since the due process to get you back off a disqualifying list is sorely lacking – relying on the good graces of the .gov to allow me to exercise my civil rights in the case of a false positive is purely wishful thinking.

    Of course, the other main failure of background checks is lack of confidence by us undergoing them that the government is living up to its own regulations about not creating a de facto gun/owner database. We’re all fairly sure that’s what is happening, even with veiled assurances that such is not the case.

    Regarding the speeding cams in Britain – I did get a kick out of the resistance there, which resulted in hanging a tire full of gas over the cameras and setting them on fire.

  8. The missing point: “…shall not be infringed.” The entire NICS system, whether individual or universal background checks, is prima facie unconstitutional and should always be addressed from that standpoint. All else is superfluous distraction.

  9. You have your Hobbes backwards. He thought man in the state of nature (without centralized government) was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. So he was for government. You seem to be implying he was against it.

    • It’s a typo.

      Anyone who’s read Hobbes or had a basic civics class knows that “with” was meant to be “without” because then the statement is an accurate, albeit watered down, reflection of what Hobbes suggested in Leviathan when arguing for a sovereign with nearly unlimited power.

  10. Government is power. The greater the disparity between the government and the governed the less respect those in power will have for those not. Imagine an ant walking across the sidewalk in front of you. What is that ant to you? Nothing. Now imagine walking down the sidewalk and encountering a white rhinoceros crossing your path. What is that rhinoceros to you? He is to you what an armed populous is to a government.

    As far as Mr. Osteen, Jesus refused to become king because his kingdom was/is not part of this world. I would imagine his rewards aren’t either.

  11. I don’t know why, but criminals seem to IGNORE the law & commit violent crimes against those they think are the easiest targets. The people who live where there are lollipops & unicorns just don’t get it; pass all the damn laws you want & will NOT make any difference to criminals. And those damn ‘no weapons’ (aka ‘unarmed victim zone’) signs have proven to ATTRACK mass murderers. Joel Osteen, can’t stand the sight of this ??????????; can’t think of anything I can print. Yes, very bad things happen to good people, people who have the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the most inopportune time. When some damn liberal judge leaves a hardened criminal off, both should be taken to the nearest tree & hung. I personally know of one judge that had to actually go into hiding because of his totally blasphemous ruling; he WOULD have been killed at the time, waited for things to cool down.

  12. On the subject of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. I believe 180grains of jacketed hollow point to is worth a pound of paperwork.

  13. It’s amazing that the clucking Yentas of the View would begin such a spirited debate here about Statism. Of course they are Statists, as are 98% of everyone in the entertainment business. Of course they are all anti-gun and so naive and misinformed in their viewpoints as to be laughable.

  14. There’s a parallel between background check believers and followers of Joel Osteen’s ministry. The preacher’s positive thinking polemics posit God as Santa Claus. If you do right by God, God will do right by you. He will bless you with health, wealth and happiness. You will be rewarded for your faith here on Earth. You will enjoy “your best life.”

    Yep, and the Bible address this:

    For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3.
    ..

  15. “. . . life with[-OUT] a stable political structure is “nasty, brutish and short.” ” I think you are missing a word there. Hobbs’ error was, I think, in assuming that the good that comes from public order was proportional to the extent of governance; i.e., that there was no diminishing returns phenomena at play.

    I don’t mind the NICS check at an FFL and I don’t mind taking my shoes off at the airport. I am absolutely against UBC just as I am absolutely against going barefoot when not in an airport screening area. Both are nothing more than security theater.

    I think the public is entitled to know what each NICS check at an FFL costs; and, what it costs for each person to take off her shoes at an airport. The public is entitled to know how many criminals actually fail to get a gun somehow because of the NICS check. And, that the TSA detects 5% of the guns their colleagues try to slip by them.

    Once the voters really understand how much a ticket to the security theater costs, they can decide to pay for it or not. They can’t make me go barefoot outside an airport

  16. Just reinforced my perception the “tarts” of The View are just that….self-serving, non-entertaining brain-washed idiots. They speak not for American but slam Americans, especially women with their “view”.

    Whopper Whooopise is the worst of the bunch.

    Given the amount of hate speech from the left, we need a background check on the so-called “journalists” who costume themselves as “media” in order to trumpet their name-calling, intolerant and hateful attacks on any honest to God American patriot.

    The most terrifying words one can hear are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Run, run as fast as you can.

    • “we need a background check on the so-called ‘journalists’ who costume themselves as ‘media'”

      Be careful what you wish for. There’s a 1A for as much reason as there is a 2. Once you start “censoring” some you give the government rein to censor any they disagree with.

  17. My beliefs?

    1. Self-ownership. You own yourself.

    2. Therefore you own the fruits of your labor. Stealing your possessions is slavery after the fact; forcing you to labor for someone else is theft before the fact.

    3. Therefore you can only be punished for harm you have done to others.

    4. The redressable kind of harm must have a measurable price. Theft includes not just the material value stolen, but the time to redress it: police investigation, court costs, collection costs. Assault includes all that plus medical care, lost wages, probably future income from disabilities incurred.

    5. If there is no measurable restitution, there is no redressable harm.

    Show me the redressable harm from you freaking out by my owning or carrying a harm. Show me some kind of imminently unavoidable threat that requires submission (slavery) or reaction to prevent said harm. My carrying a gun in a holster isn’t even close to harming anyone else in any kind of measurable way.

    And background checks? Permits? Carry restrictions in public? No measurable harm, bud. Not my problem.

  18. Bloomberg’s UBC referendums CAN be defeated.

    We did so in Maine despite being outspent 5 to 1, and every media outlet in Maine pushing hard on it.

    In fact, Bloomberg’s UBC referendum was the ONLY 2016 Maine referendum that DID NOT pass.

    The “devil is in the details” — and when a motivated and informed electorate carefully examines these Bloomberg UBC proposals, and relentlessly spreads the truth, they can be defeated — as we proved in Maine.

  19. We all need to remember just why we have democracy. C. S. Lewis put it well:

    “I am a democrat [proponent of democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man.

    I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government.

    The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . .

    The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.”

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