THIS is What’s Wrong with Universal Background Checks

Numerous members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia chimed-in on the CapArms Question of the Day: What’s Wrong With Universal Background Checks? My turn . . .


There are three major concerns regarding UBCs. First and foremost is, of course, the fact that the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility.

The freedom to own must necessarily include the right to purchase. There is no other fundamental right in the Constitution which any court in the country would allow to be subjected to background checks. Think about it:

• Want to sell a book at a yard sale? Please undergo the UBC (and for those who say “but books don’t kill” I would direct your attention towards Mein Kampf, Manifesto of the Communist Party (aka The Communist Manifesto), The Turner Diaries, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Guerrilla Warfare (the murderous sociopath Che Guevara’s epistle), and so on).
• Want to buy a book at a garage sale? Please undergo the UBC.
• Want to go to church? Please undergo the UBC.
• Want to preach at church? Please undergo the UBC.
• Want to publish a blog? Please undergo the UBC.
• Want to read a blog or buy a newspaper? Please undergo the UBC.
• Want to speak in public, buy birth control, travel across state lines, join the Fraternal Order of Button Collectors? Please undergo the UBC.

My second major reason for opposing UBCs: the antis are never satisfied. Whatever “common sense” restrictions on Second Amendment rights they manage to pass, it’s just a “good first step.” Their job is never finished (and won’t be) until they achieve full and complete civilian disarmament.

Lest someone out there accuse me of slippery slope-ism, let me remind you what happened in New York State back in 2011 (complete story here) a decade after New York State passed their UBC law.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office conducted an eight-month gun show investigation, uncovering “serious violations,” leading to ten arrests. This inevitably led the AG’s office to call for “a stronger law to hold show operators liable and increase penalties.”

That may sound reasonable, unless you dig into the meat of the story and discover that those “unlawful sellers” were actually show attendees, not dealers, and that the gun show operators had meticulously followed New York’s UBC law. They had signs posted at all entrances, at all ticket sale locations and at least four places within the show to make sure that everyone knew the law.

This is what I mean by never satisfied; even though show operators complied with every jot and tittle of the law, the AG’s office wanted to be able to criminally prosecute show operators for the unlawful conduct of their attendees. Think about that for a minute; this would be like criminally charging the Lipizzan Horse Show because a couple of their customers were caught violating the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act by sneaking a cigarette in the restrooms during a performance.

My third major reason for opposing UBCs: I am utterly opposed to the idea that there’s any subset of people (aside from those locked up in prison or in treatment) who should not be allowed to exercise their Second Amendment rights. As David Codrea says, “anyone who can’t be trusted with a weapon can’t be trusted without a custodian.”

Once you accept the antis’ argument that some people are just too dangerous to have guns, you’ve lost. You’ve lost the Lautenberg amendment argument (which ignores the fact that ‘domestic violence’ restraining orders are a common tool in many divorces). You’ve lost the drug user argument (anyone who has ever used illegal drugs shouldn’t be allowed to have guns (and I know very few people of my generation who did not at least try weed in their youth). And you’ve lost the mental health argument (the last figures I saw showed that almost 17% of the population takes antidepressants and 60% over 40 years old had, at one time or another).

So if you grant that there’s anyone who should be a prohibited person, the camel’s nose is well inside the tent. As for this, posed by cjstl in the Question of the Day . . .

… I realize that you can kill someone with a knife that anyone can buy at Walmart. But let’s not pretend that firearms aren’t the most lethal and effective weapons available to us.

I guess we aren’t counting box cutters and airplanes (2,996 dead and over 6,000 injured), or the homemade flamethrower, lance and mace as used in the Cologne school massacre (10 dead, 22 injured, some with burns over 90% of their bodies), or the Pyrotol and dynamite as used in the Bath School massacre (44 dead, 58 injured), or the truck as used in the Nice, France massacre (84 dead, 202 injured), or the commuter bus as used in the Jerusalem bus 405 attack (16 dead, 27 injured), or the eight ounces of gasoline used to kill 87 and injure six in the Happy Land social club.

Universal background checks are a bad idea that leads to even worse ideas. They should be opposed and repealed.