I saw this over on Reason, go check it out. It’s worth the read because if you’ve forgotten folks, the Republicans are on the ‘I Heart Gun Control’ train too. They just want some different provisions.
The ‘Stronger Better Background Checks’ is the mantra of the Republican legislators addressing gun control in the wake of a very public summer of mass shootings.
Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2019, is the Senate’s answer. The Democratic hard core gun banners hate it, which means it doesn’t go nearly far enough in their opinion. It doesn’t mean that the law will be effective in its stated goal of reducing gun deaths, specifically mass casualty attacks.
The vast majority of mass shooters do not have disqualifying criminal or psychiatric records. Even in the cases mentioned by Cruz, only two involved gun purchases that should have been blocked by background checks based on current federal restrictions. And those two cases are not representative of mass shootings in general. You can look at a few individual attacks and make a weak case that NICS could have done something, but that’s a huge stretch.
The Sutherland Springs shooter had been convicted in military court of crimes that disqualified him from owning guns, but the Air Force failed to share that information with the NICS. Congress responded with the Fix NICS Act, which created penalties for federal agencies that fail to share relevant information with NICS. According to Texas officials, the Odessa shooter was disqualified by a “mental health issue” that should have been flagged when he bought the rifle he used in the attack. NICS missed again for data it did or should have had.
If the background check system were working as intended, both of those mass shooters would have been stopped from buying their weapons. From federally licensed dealers at least. There is no way to accurately theorize if that would have ceased the motivation to commit their attacks. They could have bought guns in private transactions that the government could not monitor even if it notionally required background checks for all firearm transfers ala ‘Universal Background Check’.
And even if the potential shooter were denied the purchase at a federal licensed dealer, what then?
According to a 2018 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), “federal NICS checks resulted in about 112,000 denied transactions in fiscal year 2017.” While “the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) referred about 12,700 [cases] to its field divisions for further investigation,” the GAO noted, U.S. attorney’s offices had prosecuted only 12 of those cases as of June 2018.
Gun controllers would call the 112,000 denials “keeping the guns out of the wrong hands” and yet attempting to buy a firearm illegally is a crime… but only 12,700 cases were sent up further to be review, 11.3% of the ‘wrong hands’ were looked at. And of those looked at… 12… 12 only ended up in court. How serious does that make the background check system seem to public safety?
The short answer is background checks are a bad measure the way they are operated right now. And the FBI and ATF agree.
The ATF is sometimes tasked with seizing guns after the fact from people who are not legally allowed to own them. There are often delays in retrieving weapons from prohibited buyers, partly because “ATF special agents did not consider most of the prohibited persons who had obtained guns to be dangerous and therefore did not consider it a priority to retrieve the firearm promptly”
Legally prohibited person, but not considered dangerous. If they are not dangerous why are we blocking such a person from exercising a civil right? Once again folks, once again and still, if someone is so much of a threat to themselves or others that they cannot be trusted with arms to protect themselves they should not be free and unsupervised in society at large. They certainly shouldn’t operate far more dangerous devices like vehicles.
But heck, what do I know? This is just my day job. Happy Friday all.