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“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,” 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]:

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.

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  1. So, wait, they think that if you fail a background check, then that somehow means you deliberately lied on your form 4473, with the intent to illegally purchase a firearm? I’m like 85% sure that’s not how logic works….

    • Yeah I am 100% sure that is not how logic works. There could be a million reasons someone was denied, only 1 of which is you are trying to comet a crime.

      • Don’t commit a crime, like charging people a lot of time and money for something that you won’t provide because you are “understaffed”, “underfunded” “overworked”.

      • In what universe do you think that “The Trace” and “Logic” share the same “safe space”.

  2. They started doing the same thing in Oregon last year or two. Results about the same: an abysmally low actual arrest %. Cops here seem to hate it as it mostly wastes their time, and many people either never knew they were prohibited, or a mistake.

  3. I have a brother-in-law who is a citizen of Belgium. He’s lived in the U.S. for 50+ years. He has a Washington CPL. He’s always delayed. Usually, within a day, he’s approved. I suppose I should give him some grief for padding the numbers.

  4. NEVER FORGET: Government, wherever you find it, is just your neighbors who needed a job.

    The ATF does all the necessary functions ALREADY COVERED BY THE FBI, and the State Department muscles in on the overlap with ITAR reporting.




    FURTHER: Don’t tell me some “tax stamp” is protecting me from a suppressor that they practically dispense in vending machines in the UK.

    It is all incremental infringement paid for by your tax dollars and it’s mostly from liberal_progressive_communist

  5. Oh well… Looks like all of you Juan Gonzaleses and John Smiths, etc, are f’d! ☺️

  6. ” And here’s the kicker: the NRA’s on board. ”

    All the gun control laws at the federal level are/were supported by the NRA

    Ones like the GCA, and LEOPA are the most obvious, but the NFA is only still around because the NRA supports it. They could have had it repealed it at any time during the Bush years when there were Republican majorities in both houses and presidency, but there wasn’t even a bill introduced.

    You should join the GOA instead for that reason.

  7. Robert ,

    Haven’t you complained about the fact that existing gun laws aren’t enforced in the past?

    While I feel this would be a disaster in the making, wouldn’t it, in theory, settle that grievance?

  8. I see where this article is head, however, this is what many of us asked for; to have the Feds look into and prosecute those who are illegally trying to purchase firearms.

    • I agree. I’m trying very hard, but I really can’t see a downside to this policy.

      – If the person IS a violent felon trying to buy a gun, responsible gun owners should WANT him to be arrested, tried, and convicted.

      – If it’s a case of mistaken identity, we should WANT every case of this type widely publicized, so folks who are on-the-fence see the results of gun control laws on innocent people, to reduce the possibility of ever-more-invasive gun-control laws being proposed/passed.

      – If it’s a breakdown in the background check system (as with the Charleston NC church shooter) , we should WANT it publicized for two reasons: to fix the errors in the current system, and to prevent an expansion of the current system (by pointing out that if it’s not working correctly, how can we expand it and let it affect other innocent people negatively?).

      – If the cops get tired of running-down false positives, they will also complain about wasted time and resources, again, helping to prevent any expansion of the system.

      • It’s just another way of stopping the ‘good guys’. If any private company charged you this much to repeatedly tell you, THEN PROVE, that they can’t even pack their gear, they would be out of business. This is about criminalizing the attempt to execute the exercise of your Second Amendment Right. The people leaning on us all like this are just our neighbors who needed a job.

        Further, if you’re going to legalize pot you better allow felons the RTKABA too, because, if we’re doing “anything goes” we’re doing my version becase FU.

  9. That translates into just 0.018% of the 71,010 initial denials.
    Ehhh….it gives the government something to do and they can announce that they are doing something about gun crime to the sheeple.

  10. My ex-wife was denied because she had a warrant out for her arrest. After several days calling various agencies, weeks wasted sending letters and waiting for meaningless form letters in response we figured out it was a clerical error. She had a warrant out for failure to appear for a court hearing that never happened. It was a civil matter that had been settled out of court a decade prior. Fixed the clerical error, waited a month and she made her first purchase. It would have been a staggering waste of law enforcement resources in that case.

    I’m still not entirely sure why but I was once flagged for some reason and held for additional scrutiny. Got a call a couple days later from my LGS that i could come pick up my new gun. Irritating.

    • That was just me, and my little group that I like to call “government”. Next time you won’t get one. Go ahead and try it, I’ll have my group kick in your door to get your other ones. /sarc (except for all the times it happens).

  11. John Smith a felon sells his apartment on 1000 Huckleberry Street, SomeCity, SomeState USA.
    A second John Smith years later moves into the same apartment. This one is a gun owner. The Second John Smith goes to buy a gun and is rejected? Did NICS get the right John Smith?

    Jane Doe-Ray-Mee has a temporary restraining order against her because of falsely being accused by her husband of abuse. She gets her guns pulled. The Judge sees that the husband did lie and there is no restraining order, how quick do you believe the state will be in updating NICS or their state database? 1 day? 1 month? 1 year? Never?

    In CT and suspect in other non-gun free states if you move from one address to another you have 24hrs to notify the local PD at your previous address and new address that you just moved in and have a permit as well as notify the state. How well do you believe all that works?

    This shit is as bad as the no fly list. Getting your name removed will take time and money in then meantime you are screwed waiting for unmotivated government types.

    I have dealt with names database since the 80s, this kind of crap happens all the time. Databases will never ever be perfect and a lot of people will get accused for absolutely nothing.

    NICS is not perfect and there will be a lot of wasted tax dollars and wasted police hours for BS!

    • Really all you need to point out is how stupid TSA is.

      In the past they’ve denied a six year old girl a flight because they couldn’t figure out that it literally wasn’t possible for her to have done something 10 years ago to get on the “no fly list”. As I recall it took the family months and months to get her off the list and cost them a small fortune to boot.

      Government: screwing up basic tasks since time immemorial.

      • The only thing worse than the overreaching scabs that work for the government (your neighbors who needed a job, but later thought they’d use the job to usurp more power) is all the worse than worthless other neighbors that voted for them. B_tch all you want, but keep score.

  12. Hmmm.

    Let ’em pass that law, and then break out the popcorn when we hear the cops scream bloody murder about the time wasted perusing this.

    Seriously, this could actually be *very* valuable to us.

    Canada passed a comprehensive gun registry that was very expensive and resulted in close to zero prosecutions. They then woke the fvck up and dumped the stupid registry.

    We can loudly point out to Canada’s failed experiment as to why a waste it will be to build a registry…

  13. I’m please as punch that I’m the only person in the USA with my name, and that my identity hasn’t been stolen yet.

  14. So, any outcry from cops vowing to refuse this part of the job? Or are the benefits and pensions too important?

  15. So the Trace is saying that I’m a felon because the local LEO in the town where my ex-wife’s mother made her get an “emergency” restraining order in 1989 did NOT update their files when the judge that issued the divorce decree in 1992 dissolved the restraining order to facilitate joint custody of our children? Cause that’s what happened to me!

  16. “Lie and Try” .
    If this policy is fully in place… Democrats like Hillary should be concerned… if applied to what they say.

  17. I honestly think that prohibited persons who attempt to purchase firearms should be arrested and prosecuted. Try this, since all of this is subject to legislation, no problem. ANYONE denied under NICS must either 1) Be prosecuted, tried, convicted and imprisoned within 6 months (negotiable), or 2) be paid $10,000 from government (ATF) funds, and also given the gun he was trying to purchase at the expense of the person who denied the application.

    The system would work, nearly instantly. No innocent person would ever be denied, which should be the foremost question. An occasional prosecution and incarceration would do wonders for keeping prohibited persons from attempting to purchase guns. Instead, the process was intended and is used to intimidate and obstruct law abiding citizens without the slightest effect on prohibited persons.

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