As is the case with every further restriction the anti-gun left promotes, when it comes to enacting “universal background checks,” the most demonic devil is always in the details.
The Bloomberg editors insist that our present “two-tiered system” — by which they mean that we run background checks on commercial and interstate transfers, but not on private intrastate transfers — “is an insult to common sense and undermines public safety.” But that two-tiered system is exactly what one would expect to see given that the federal government is permitted to superintend interstate commerce, but is not permitted to superintend private transactions within the same state.
Moreover, it is far, far easier to write a law that applies mandatory background checks to commercial sales than it is to write a law that applies them to private transfers, because, while there is no argument as to what constitutes a commercial sale (that’s any gun transferred to a person by an FFL, via form 4473), there is a raging argument as what constitutes a private transfer.
Does loaning a gun to someone for a month count? Does giving your wife a gift count? Is there a difference between handing someone a gun at a range and handing someone a gun in your property? Should we limit the definition to transfers that take place at gun shows and via public notices, as Toomey-Manchin sought to do, or should we expand it beyond that? And who should be exempt? Your brother? Your cousin? Nobody? Only people with concealed-carry permits?
And how should the government ensure compliance? The traditional answer to this is, “by setting up a registry.” Or, at the very least, “by forcing the commercial entities that would be charged with running the checks to keep records that could be made available to the police.” (That’s apparently “not a registry.”) But if we do that, we’re not just talking about extending background checks; we’re talking about reversing a decades-long prohibition on gun registries, too. How does that play into the dynamic? …
The headline on the Bloomberg editorial is “Mass shootings show need for gun buyer background checks.” Nothing could be further from the truth. If the Bloomberg editors can find a single mass shooter from the last decade who obtained his firearm via a post-sale private transfer in a state that lacked “universal background checks,” I will be all ears. But they can’t, of course. Which is why there is no mention of such a person in their plea.
– Charles C.W. Cooke in Actually, Bloomberg, It’s Not That Simple