Fayetteville, Arkansas – -(Ammoland.com)- According to a report by USA Today, the FBI and ATF are cooperating to seek the seizure of over 4,000 firearms from buyers who are prohibited, but were not identified within the seventy-two hours allowed for the completion of a background check.
The article expresses concerns over risks to law enforcement in going after the guns of people who shouldn’t have them, regrets the lack of success, and blames the “gun industry,” though oddly without mentioning the NRA.
The checks in question go through the NICS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. If you’ve bought a gun at a licensed dealership, you already know about this, at least the experience of filling out the Form 4473 and waiting for the telephone call to be completed. In my state, those of us with a carry license are regarded as having been checked out in advance, but we still fill out the paperwork.
The instant part of NICS is often aspirational, rather than reality, but the current system is better than the five-day waiting period that was a part of the original Brady Bill.
Given the nature of the Information Age, background checks should be an easy thing, but computers can only provide what they’ve been given, and as the shootings at the churches in Texas and South Carolina illustrate, when the data aren’t entered, waiting three days isn’t likely to generate information out of nothing. And the law can’t arbitrarily declare that rights will be delayed until enough time has gone by to overcome the presumption of guilt that the background check system implies.
But 4,000 guns taken from people who are not allowed to have them—people like the Texas shooter who have been convicted of the heinous crime of cracking the skull of his child, for example—is a good thing, right?
It sounds that way, especially when the number is compared to total sales in a given year, figures that run into the tens of millions. The totals have come down somewhat since the election of Donald Trump, and still they’re in the millions.
Why does this matter? The suggestion is that the vast majority of gun sales are legal. Suggests, though doesn’t prove, and remember that passing a check is only a statement that nothing against the buyer is in the database. But at least it says that after some degree of examination, most people purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer get a a pass a “good guy/girls”.
A bigger problem here is that the background check system is being used in exactly a manner that we have been promised that it would not be used, as a registry.
The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 specifically bars federal agencies from using the purchase records of gun dealers as a “system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions.” The exception is that the Attorney General can use the records in criminal investigations. Of course, what is a registry if not a list for the purpose of making the job of law enforcement easier, easier to find the guns of criminals and easier to require legal gun owners to turn in their guns in the future if they don’t want to become criminals.
In the aftermath of the Newtown shooting, Senator Tom Coburn proposed a system that would allow buyers to run a check on themselves and get a go/no go response to show sellers. The sticking point for Democrats was that no records would be kept.
We gun owners have been promised repeatedly that gun control isn’t about confiscation. Yet as this latest report shows, the machinery is in place, and as long as the advocates of new restrictions appear to be operating in bad faith, we cannot give them any ground.
About Greg Camp
Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.