Here is why I don't believe that a Gun Registry has to be part of a Background Check:
First of all, many of us have various sorts of 'background checks' on a regular basis, and there aren't even any firearms involved.
- We get a prescription filled, and the pharmacist checks against a state database of drug abusers.
We purchase something with our credit card, and the seller verifies that we are good for the money.
We board an airplane, and the TSA checks to see if we are a prohibited flyer.
Here is one way a registry-less Background Check could work if Sally Seller transfers to Paul Purchaser:
- Sally wants to sell a firearm to Paul.
Paul provides Sally with his Identifying Information (i.e. Name, Birth, Address, SS#).
Sally calls the NICS, and provides the Identifying Information.
Sally is issued a Transaction Approval Number, good for the date of the sale.
Sally records the Date, Transaction Approval Number, and Name of the Purchaser.
Sally can and should record the firearm identification for her own records, to protect herself.
Paul copies the information for himself, along with the name of the Seller.
THIS is the alleged goal (and the ONLY goal) of the people who say 'background checks' would make us safer.
Objections that come up:
"Not everyone will participate” Guess what, I'll tell you a secret – that is true now, and will ALWAYS be true. The true criminals evade and disobey ALL laws. Our goal should be realistic – to assure that as many firearms sales as possible are made with background checks. This would absolutely meet that goal, because nobody wants to be the last owner of record for a firearm later used in a crime, and nobody wants to inadvertently sell to a criminal. Mandating sales through FFL dealers with inclusion into a federal gun registry would still not capture the 'prohibited possessors' or criminal purchases – those individuals simply steal or use the black market, the same place they get their drugs in most cases.
“It is unenforceable” The question would be, who are we enforcing this against, and there are different answers, but I think none of them lead to an enforcement dilemma. There are several scenarios:
- Suppose Paul is behaving questionably – if that's the case, the officer involved can simply to a current NICS check, and if Paul is indeed a 'prohibited possessor' then the officer can arrest him right then and there. It doesn't matter where the firearm came from; even if purchased from an FFL Paul would still be arrested. With a private sale, this would still be true whether or not there was a background check, and would be true even if the NICS check was ok at the time of sale. The only difference the latter would make is if the NICS check was done and Sally has that Transaction Approval, it would keep her from getting in trouble (which is a very strong motivation for Sally to use the NICS and insist on a background check before she sells a firearm).
Suppose a firearm is being 'traced' (which is rarely pivotal in law enforcement, according to the FBI), and the trace goes from manufacturer, to wholesaler, to FFL retailer, then to the first individual who purchased the firearm, Fred. If Fred is no longer in possession of the firearm, he must therefore have transferred that firearm to someone else. If Fred has a date and Transaction Approval number, it means he transferred the firearm with a background check, and he is ok. Under this appropriate warrant, Fred can, should, and must provide the identification of who he sold the gun to, and so on down the line of transfers. Not a perfect or easy system, but actually far better than what the police have to work with today. If Fred did not do a NICS background check, he could be charged with transferring without a background check. (Note that if Fred is just a lousy bookkeeper, NICS could still pull up any checks he ran and the date, so he could at least prove he did a check and stay out of trouble).
Suppose Melvin, who is not breaking any laws, is in possession of a firearm which may or may not have been transferred to him/her with a background check. That would be most of us today. First of all, that is not an 'issue' because most of us do not commit crimes with our firearms. Eventually when Melvin wants to transfer his firearms to someone, even a friend or relative, he can still call up NICS and do a background check. Melvin would be motivated to do so because failure to do that would incur legal penalties if later found out. He would not fear doing so, nor would his prospective buyer, because the firearm in question wouldn't be entered into any 'registry', so a corrupt government in the future which decided to arbitrarily confiscate firearms would not have that list.
Suppose Harry is 'found with a gun' and it was one he purchased years ago, before any new laws requiring 'background checks' – is that a problem...? Again, if the officer runs a NICS check on Harry now, and he has become (or always was) a 'prohibited possessor', it doesn't matter – he is now in violation, and will go to jail. If Harry bought his firearm legally 10 years ago, he is still in trouble. If he stole it, or bought it on the black market recently, he is still in trouble, and in the latter case, if Harry squeals on his source, that person is also in trouble. If Harry bought his firearm recently, and skipped the background check, again if he squeals on the seller, the seller is in trouble. Of course Harry might lie (criminals do that) and say he just found the gun under a rock, but he could do that regardless of ANY new laws. Finally, if Harry bought the firearm recently and passed a NICS at the time of sale, but only became a prohibited possessor after that, the seller is protected, as they can document that whatever they sold us on the NICS date was an approved sale, but Harry is still in trouble.
What WE have to do is educate our legislators, AND our peers in the pro-gun community, as to how EASY it would be to open up NICS to private sales, and NOT create any federal gun registry...!!!
The other part of the discussion, for the few legislators and 'concerned citizens' who have the attention span and intelligence to grasp it, is to educate them as to just WHY a federal gun registry is so very dangerous. Unfortunately, the concept of genocide, though an ongoing and consistent cause of over 4,000 innocent lives lost worldwide every single day, is so remote from those who live in the U.S., that they usually can't even conceive that it could ever happen. I just remind them that three generations ago the good citizens of Germany would have said the same exact thing.
Anyway – PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS and share this information – they MUST get a handle on this BEFORE all the back-room deals and compromises, because after that, any changes to the legislation will be extremely unlikely.
HERE is where you can find your legislator contact information - https://gunownersaction.org/legislator-lookup/
- After you enter your zip code, the page will list your legislators.
On the far right the black button says 'contact', but just to the left are the Twitter and Facebook logos.
by those logos is a 'globe' symbol and that is the link to where you can email them.
Heck, send it to GOA and the NRA too – they may need encouragement to stand firm.
For that matter, go ahead and send it to your state legislators; I'm sure they will be bitten by the "just do something" bug.
Remember, Lyndon Johnson actually got this right when he said:
"You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered."