Previous Post
Next Post

Paul M. Barrett (courtesy

Universal background checks seem perfectly reasonable to many people, because they might keep guns out of the hands of some weapons traffickers and other criminals.” – Paul M. Barrett, Oregon School Shooting and the Gun Control Conundrum [via]

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Paul is the strangest guy on earth – or at least he has the shortest memory. Like three months ago he told NPR that background checks would likely do nothing at all, or at least nothing measurable. He’s done the same thing with magazine limits – sometimes he supports them, sometimes he’s against them.

    At least he wrote a great book.

    • He did write a good book, I don’t know that its great…

      He spends page after page in the first chapter describing essentially how unhinged, unrealistic and ineffective the modern ‘gun control’ movement is, then wraps it all up with, ‘but I agree with them’

      • I more just meant it was meticulously researched and I found it very interesting. It was a ‘great’ read for me in that respect; I love stuff like that.

        +1 on the second point; that’s kind of what I’m talking about. It’s like he goes to all this trouble to reach a logical conclusion but then rejects it in favor of an emotionally comfortable one.

        • But we have to do *something*! It doesn’t matter whether it would work, is even technically feasible, or completely irrational from a basic logical viewpoint.

    • Sigh….

      Paul is not the “strangest man on earth.”

      Paul is his own man and offers his opinions. We can disagree with him, but responding with such foolish ad hominem exposes the poverty of the intellect of the person who does so.

      Good grief.

      • Exaggeration maybe, not much of an insult. He is a strange guy, at least he has opinions that seem to shift back and forth for no apparent reason. Or he spends ink debunking proposals from prohibitionists only to say ‘but we should do it anyway’ at the bottom of the page.

        I find that strange.

        Its also strange to see a lecture about civility that doesn’t really match the content of the original comment. Did you pick this one cause its first? Or are you making your way down the page?

        • Saying his article was “strange” and then explaining why you think that is one thing.

          Declaring him to be the “strangest man on earth” is quite another. It is nothing but ad hominem and adds nothing to the conversation.

      • Good grief. I think a site wide moritorium on the phrase “ad hominem”, or at least a brief lesson in it’s meaning.

        Name calling is not inherently ad hominem. Insults are not ad hominem. “Ad hominem” is a logical fallacy where some fact (or at least claim) about the person you are debating is used in place of a logical, factual argument or statement about the topic itself.

        Only the strangest man on earth could say that is an ad hominem logical fallacy.

        Paul is the strangest man on earth. He’s said one thing at certain times and contradictory things at other times, and seems to support something despite admitting it won’t work. Not logic fallacy. It’s a statement of opinion, an assessment of a person, perhaps an insult if you’re really sensitive, but is then followed by a logical argument. At worst it’s an insult with a qualifier.

        And it’s hyperbolic, yes, but any reasonable person would have understood that I didn’t actually mean Paul ranked number one out 7 billion in a strangeness contest.

        • Being ad hominem is a personal choice they made, and while you may not agree with it, it at least is happening between 2 consenting adults. I find TTAG’s attacks against ad hominexuals to be offensive and would like to see more tolerance in a site I frequent.


    • I wonder if he would apply the same standards to voting. 6 day waiting period, government ID, forms filled out in triplicate, background check, and a special tax on the transaction.

      Surely more damage has been done by rapid fire high capacity voters throughout history.

      Everyone should be held to 10 votes or less a year. Who needs more than that?


      • I think I’d almost be ok if they passed a law where voting rights and 2nd amendment rights were to always have parity of protections. Lets see Dems keep their seats when Mickey Mouse has to provide an id, pass a background check to prove they aren’t a felon, show proof of residency, and register 10 days before getting their ballot.

    • Did anyone here even read the article? He says that background checks are a feel good measure, and that they wouldn’t have stopped any of the recent mass shootings. He still supports implementing them but he also ticks off a list of some insights that aren’t the MDA talking points. He comes pretty close to outlining the real problems we have in this country, he just doesn’t solve them the same way that you or I might.

      • You’re right, I did not read it. If he actually explained why he supports them outside of the usual tropes then I understand. That said, he has done the same thing with magazine bans, alternately saying the would and/or would not save lives, so I think my confusion and assessment stands to some degree.

    • “Universal background checks seem perfectly reasonable to many people, ”

      He could be strange, I don’t know anything about him. But the quote
      doesn’t seem to say “HE” thinks (Universal background checks) perfectly reasonable, but might be reasonable to “many people”.

  2. Has the current background check system kept guns out of the hands of criminals or been successful in any way at all? Anyone who thinks background checks for buying a gun will keep guns out of the hands of criminals is either a liar or misinformed

    • With all the lies, half-truths and misrepresentations the antis put out with the help of and championing by the lockstep liberal big media circus, how could anyone not already familiar with firearms and the “gun control” issues ever possibly be misinformed.

      We POTG could sure benefit from a communication platform as ubiquitous and effective at getting the TRUTH out as the mainstream liberal media is with lies and illogical solutions for the antis.

    • A liar or misinformed? Perhaps in the mind of a rightwinger, but it certainly can be argued that if the database were expanded to include those with mental illness and those on the terrorist watch lists (among other things), and the quality and accuracy of the database improved, that would be a step in the right direction and would keep firearms out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.

      When I see people afraid of better background checks I wonder what some of those people have to hide.

      • “afraid of better background checks”

        Lack of support for a thing does not equal fear of that thing. I personally hate the idea of “better” background checks because of the potential for the system to be twisted and abused to further a larger political agenda. The “slippery slope” discussion may be scoffed at or often dismissed but is nonetheless valid when it comes to this specific topic. We’ve seen it before and will see it again wherever power driven politics play a part.

      • Its not what we have to hide, its that the system is so terribly broken, that if you have the same name as a “prohibited person”, you will be denied a right through no fault of your own, and may or may not have a three letter agency harass you until you spend thousands in lawyer fees to get it cleared up. Nothing happens to the offending agents or agency, and no compensation to you for any lost jobs or rejection of job offers because the ATF/FBI screwed up. This DOES happen, and despite the fact that the ATF found slightly over 70,000 people who should be charged under the current system, but pressed charges against only 7 (00.01% efficiency), only to drop charges just before final ruling on ALL of them, means that the ATF has accomplished nothing but harass people they apparently cannot bring justifiable proof against, so instead they ruin them financially and destroy their livelihoods. And a terror watch list? Who’s on it? “Can’t say” Am I on it? “Can’t say” Why am I being denied a both my right to arms and to know the accusation against me? “Can’t say”.
        The “expanded background check” has been thoroughly gone over here and elsewhere, and is part of the reason such legislation has failed massively.

      • We’re afraid of the government messing up, that’s what. I have an absolutely clean criminal record, and had the shipment of my .338 Lapua delayed due to a false positive. Want an exercise in futility? Go and “prove” your innocence to your state or federal government. The government is its own inefficient and uncaring bureaucracy that is also a monopoly. That means that they don’t care about you, they don’t care about serving you quickly and efficiently, and you can’t go to someone else with better service.

        Background Check are a process whereby you are inherently guilty until proven innocent. In the real world, that means a whole lot of false positives coupled with missing negatives. So innocent people get denied and those with criminal records can get approved. That’s not a system I want to trust with my freedom. Even if a criminal attempts a purchase at a dealer, he simply doesn’t get approved (that’s if the NICS background check is actually working properly). He doesn’t get arrested. So he is free to use the black market. It’s that same market that has been supplying the US with billions of dollars of cocaine, marijuana, stolen cars, etc. despite the fact that those things are federally illegal to possess or sell.

        • “Want an exercise in futility? Go and “prove” your innocence to your state or federal government.”

          Oh, it’s so much worse than that. It’s the FBI you’re forced to “prove” something to. Background checks, as they stand today, are certainly a second amendment issue, but even more than that they’re a fifth amendment issue. Losing a constitutional amendment without an arrest, arraignment, trial or even notice and then having to beg the Federal Bureau of Injustice to get it back doesn’t really strike me a due process.

        • Hey, I know all about bad background checks. I spent a tense 10 days a few years ago when I was accused of some sort of land fraud and was told there was the equivalent of a warrant out for me. Turned out the Sheriff was looking for someone with the same first and middle name that I have but the last name was spelled slightly different.

          The NICS system needs to be expanded, mistakes in the database need to be corrected, and I would like to see local councils that a person could appear before if they were turned down in order to plead their case.

          But saying the current underfunded system doesn’t work so a better system is impossible isn’t going to cut it. The public is going to demand background checks as simply being a matter of common sense to keep convicted felons from buying weapons.

          As far as political retribution is concerned that has pretty well gone away since J. Edgar Hoover died. And no I don’t buy into any current conspiracy theories.

  3. It’s simple… open NICS to private individuals. By their logic, wouldn’t that at least *reduce* crime?

    Why don’t they want to do that? Oh, I forgot… no 4473.

  4. Please help me. What does the word “infringe” mean? Why is it that all americans can not support the Constitution and the rights given to the people?

  5. Help me out here. Each time I’ve purchased a firearm I’ve had to go through a background check. So, what precisely are we talking about here?

    Requiring *all* firearms purchases to go through the same system used when purchasing a firearm through/from a FFL?

    And, for that matter, does anyone actually think that the “bad guys” are going to go through a background check?


    • Gun grabbers want background checks for every firearm purchase, whether private face-to-face transactions or through a Federal Firearm Licensee.

      They claim (without any proof whatsoever) that background checks on all sales will prevent some criminals from acquiring firearms and provide a disincentive for people without criminal records that purchase firearms on behalf of friends who have criminal records.

      In reality, background checks on all sales are just another impediment to exercising a right and a way to get universal registration.

    • Why would he. He, like this administration is, above the law. That’s what the pen and phone method is all about. Chicago style politics and rules; no background check needed or desired..

  6. So many qualifiers in one sentence. I have a book title for him… “How not to sound convincing – maybe.”

  7. Didn’t Oregon boy steal the guns from his parents? And they were locked up? And legally owned? DUH…

    • Come on, you know if there was a universal background check requirement his first stop would have been to the nearest FFL to make sure the paperwork was in order.

    • If you read the article, he says that although he does favor background checks, he realizes they would have done nothing in this instance. He is conceding that background checks will not help here; that’s why he calls it a “conundrum.”

      He leans heavily gun grabber, but he’s not THAT clueless.

  8. ** Yes, this is off-topic. Placing this here so it will be seen. Maybe TTAG needs a forum section where we can start thread discussions rather than everything having to be apropos of an article **

    Today’s heroic police tale:
    Parma agrees to pay 16-year-old boy $40,000 to settle police brutality lawsuit

    Out-of-control Parma, OH cop James Manzo (who, naturally, is still on the job) struck a 16 year old boy twice in the head with a flashlight, because he thought he “got smart” with him. Because, officer’s safety.

    More info from “officer” James Manzo’s resume:
    Domestic Violence charges, harassment of a Black man walking a dog, the “accidental” discharge of his firearm

    James Manzo was the motivation behind a fictional character, James Mendoza in the book To Protect and Abuse.

      • Did you miss Reading Comprehension Day? I just said that perhaps TTAG needs a discussion forum section, I didn’t say that I wanted to submit an article.

        Have a nice day, friend.

        • You do realize there are other sections to the forum?

          Not sure how much more obvious they could make it.

        • Fler, he’s pointing out that they already have the feature you are asking for. Of course if you are too oblivious to see his point, you were probably too oblivious to see the feature.

        • @SteveInCO

          Do you seriously have nothing better to do than to descend upon anything that’s written and act like you have no class or sense?

          You act like a leftist, with your wacky behavior.

      • @Mark_Anthony

        Yes, I did miss the Forum link. Obviously, if I thought that TTAG didn’t have one, I must have missed it. Too bad you couldn’t have expended the same energy by simply telling me that it exists and where it is, rather than being snarky, since you felt compelled to respond.

        • If you had simply asked if there was a forum section (perhaps in an email to the site admin) before spamming a comments section with an unrelated topic, the tone of the response would have been different.

  9. It’s weird but they seem to think than when some guy buys a gat out of a car trunk behind a bar at 2AM from a guy who fences stolen jewelry that the lack of a background check is the real problem. They seem to have no concept that criminals can acquire guns through thoroughly shady means.

    That and they seem to think that background checks are some kind of crystal ball.

  10. Given that the ATFE does not even bother to investigate NICS rejections, given that that with all databases including DMV, there are many false positives or incorrect information, given that many states are well behind in providing the data, please tell me how well these background checks will work?

    How many crimes have been stopped with background checks?

    How would a background check have stopped the Oregon School Shooting?

    Hell, with all the fraud avoidance the financial industry does, there is still plenty of financial fraud that happens.

  11. “…because they might keep guns out of the hands of some weapons traffickers and other criminals.”

    Right, and if I get on the roof and flap my arms hard enough I might fly.

    • Yes, because universal background checks and limits on “high capacity” magazines totally kept Elliot Rodger from murdering all those people…… oh, wait.

  12. I have heard on news reports about incidents in which various gun stores are the victims of gun theft most of the time occurring after the gun store is closed.

    • That’s no excuse. They should still leave completed copies of 4473’s behind so the shop can log them in the morning.

      • Around here the wind would simply blow them away. The brick they could have used to weigh them down, of course, is the brick they threw through the gun store’s window to get in, so it’s completely used up, you know, like mags are once all the ammo in them has been shot.

        …See, anyone can become proficient in the art of making up silly excuses.

  13. ‘Might’ isn’t good enough.

    “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”

  14. Yes, background checks keep guns out of the hands of criminals, kinda like the complete prohibition of crack cocaine keeps it out of the inner cities.

    These people should just cast their magical spells and create a law that outlaws murder. Oh, wait.

    It must be nice to live in such bliss.

  15. I would be for universal background checks on all firearms transfers if the system was simple (Name, Social Security number and ID) and there was no resulting paperwork. The anti’s would never agree to this because they want registration / pseudo registration.

    • Illinois has their Firearm Owner ID Card (FOID) that, as a former resident, I despised. On the other side, I always thought it was under utilized. If they had made it scannable (barcode of some sort) and allowed the scan to reduce the wait times for firearms by running the necessary background check on the fly, I may have supported it. All it would need to do is automate the check and, if approved, pop the picture on the screen for a visual check of the person that holds the card. No reason for the background check (you must have the FOID card to purchase ammo, too) the just a yes/no… Instant background check, no registry!

      • Actually, the methodology that you describe could be even simpler. A person passes a background check ONE TIME and the state issues them a firearm owner identification card. Then, whenever that person wants to purchase a firearm, the seller calls in or checks a website to verify that the buyer is still in good standing. If the buyer is still in good standing, the seller finishes the sale. No registration or forms are required and no delays.

        Of course government could abuse even that system and the Second Amendment says that such a system is an infringement. But gun grabbers would never accept such a system because there is no registration for future confiscation.

  16. I read the whole article that Paul wrote and I think TTAG should have included this pull quote from it, instead of simply what they did reprint here:

    “3. But the problem we have with copycat murder-suicides would not be solved or even significantly limited by enacting nationally the sort of thorough background-check rules that already exist in some states. Implying otherwise may feel good, but it doesn’t advance the debate.”

    • It’s nice Barrett made that statement, acknowledging what the antis won’t; that there IS a background check requirement in place in many locations – especially ‘progressive’ Democrat liberal states like CA – and it has basically zero impact on the gun misuse issue other than having honerable, lawful gun buyers prove their bona-fides with a sense of being doubted, abused and inconvenienced for absolutely little, if any gain in reducing unlawful gun use.

    • But ultimately, it’s still the fault of the “gun culture”:

      4. Fostering a gun culture, as the president suggested, comes at a price. In this country, we have 300 million firearms in private hands. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment protects individual ownership of those guns. Combine those realities with instances of severe mental illness—and, crucially, the public murder-suicide template—and you’ve got a recipe for evil and heartbreak.

  17. The only way I see background checks working at least reasonably well is opening NICS to anyone thinking of selling a gun to anyone else. Then let your conscience be your guide. Oh I forgot, they tried to ban private sales. Yea, good luck with that. When the public has access to the NICS database to check background of people they might think of selling a gun to, Then and only then would you even have close to a working system, but even that wont catch them all, because you have people out there that don’t care who they sell to, because maybe they are criminals themselves.

    In short, gun control and background checks do very little to stop criminals from getting, and using guns. Guns are a fact of life just like death and taxes. We would be better served by teaching our kids that gangs and illegal drugs are bad and that guns are only bad when used incorrectly.

  18. First we need to address state laws. Where I live people sell weapons at the swap meets. No paperwork needed. I buy a lot of my weapons that way. But I wouldn’t doubt that criminals do too.

    • It’s the same in my area but the sellers are VERY choosy about who they sell to. It seems to be an unspoken rule that if you sell to anyone “shady” you will be unwelcome to sell anything there. It may be judgmental but it’s better than nothing in a town as small as mine where the good people still seem to outnumber the bad, stupid and nefarious combined.

  19. That’s an awful lot of constitutional trampling for “might”.

    Like how we interned Japanese Americans during WWII because they “might” have been sympathizers with Japan. Minor inconvenience I’m sure.

    How we wanted to to do the same thing with Arab Americans after 9/11 who “might” have been terrorists?

    Remember the 50’s and the Red Scare? More application of “might”

    Oooh maybe we can get UBC’s for parents? Stop all those folks who “might” turn out to be crap parents from breeding?

    Good thing everyone follows the law. We’d never have won that “war on drugs”…oh wait.

    What I really fail to understand is how if you have a list of people so dangerous that you must deny them a firearm, why they aren’t in a camp someplace or branded on their hand or something, or in a hole in the ground with some quick lime? If those people were so dangerous, things would be handled differently.

  20. Yeah, we really have to squash the idea that government infringement of rights is A-Okay as long as it enables a bureaucrat to keep closer tabs on someone who might harm someone … or makes a bureaucrat’s job easier.

  21. I was having a discussion elsewhere online with someone regarding the recent Supreme Court Decision and how gift-giving works with ATF form 4473. They were shocked that you can legally give someone a firearm as a gift without including them on the 4473.

    I very patiently pointed out that there are very good reasons why this isn’t an issue. Firearms are expensive, and people don’t buy them as gifts for just anybody, usually only family and close friends. There’s nothing to be gained from requiring a background check on the recipient because:

    A) It’s already against the law to transfer a firearm to a person you know or have reasonable cause to believe is a prohibited person.
    B) The buyer is going to know the recipient far better than any government database.
    C) The buyer is more likely to suffer the fallout of imprudently giving a firearm to a violent or criminal person so closely connected to them than any government bureaucrat, and more highly motivate to avoid such a situation.
    D) If the buyer knew the recipient was prohibited but intended to violate the law anyway, he wouldn’t disclose the recipient’s true identity anyway.

    They were not at all happy with this reasoning, insisting I was not qualified to judge whether my immediate family members were prohibited persons. So I went through Mother Jones’ list of recent mass shootings and pointed out all the incidents where the shooter was a prohibited person, but received one of the firearms used as a gift, because the giver did not realize he was prohibited.

    There were none. Zero. There was one, the Damageplan shooter, who had received his murder weapon as a gift from his mother. He was not a prohibited person at the time. In fact the Marines were busily training him to use fully automatic and anti-tank weapons. By contrast, there were TONS of shooters who passed background checks. There were even two who were issued their murder weapons by government agencies – one by the National Guard and another by a Sheriff’s Department.

    Faced with this evidence, the guy I was debating simply asserted, without evidence, that gift-giving was a major source of crime guns, that the fact so many mass shooters passed background checks was proof more people should have to undergo them, that mass shooters who stole their guns from family members or used friends as straw buyers ought to count as gifts to prohibited persons. I mean, a full-on meltdown of irrationality.

    So, what’s the point of this lengthy rant? Some people are simply deeply offended by the very suggestion that there are some things that individuals know better than the government, or do better than the government, or handle better for themselves without the government watching over their shoulders.

    • “There’s nothing to be gained from requiring a background check”

      Except an infringement that they can get away with, taking another step down the slippery slope to total confiscation.

      Please stop fooling yourselves! They will not stop until they achieve total confiscation, or until they’re stopped by True American Patriots!

  22. Such measures may seem reasonable, but only superficially. Once you’ve done some rudimentary reading on the subject, you’re equipped at least to listen intelligently to others’ views and to ask probative questions. Thereafter, you can devote some time to thinking through the issue and then participating more fully in discussions and debates.

    That process further informs and refines your understanding of the issue to the point that, if you’ve been honest and attentive throughout, you actually have something to say and hopefully a wise assessment. This slapdash winging it means of just running with whatever superficially sounds reasonable, however, won’t do.

    • Regressives are easy to spot. The are mean-spirited and greedy people who dislike their fellow citizens, who misrepresent their opponents either through ignorance or just willful stupidity. Many have an unhealthy firearms fetish or otherwise are single issue voters that allow a single issue to overwhelm all other social issues. Regressives tend to overuse the word “freedom” or to not actually understand what the word means. And most of the T-bagger regressive ilk have a poor grasp of English, such as weirdly random Capitalization when they are Writing something.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here