U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The Midland/Odessa Murderer may have used a homemade gun. He was a prohibited possessor under federal law. This offers one explanation for his firing at police officers during the traffic stop. As a prohibited possessor, in possession of a rifle, he would be subject to years in jail.
The Wall Street Journal reports that authorities are investigating a person who may have made the rifle and sold it to the murderer. If the person knew the murderer was prohibited from owning firearms, the sale would be illegal. From the wsj.com:
Law-enforcement officials said they have identified a person of interest they suspect of illegally manufacturing and selling the rifle used in Saturday’s mass shooting in West Texas.
Fox News reports the murderer had been ruled mentally unfit to possess a firearm. from foxnews.com:
The gunman who killed 7 and injured at least 22 others in a West Texas shooting rampage on Labor Day weekend before he was shot and killed by police was federally banned from owning or buying firearms after a court previously ruled he was mentally unfit to do so, authorities said.
The murderer applied to purchase a gun. He was denied.
“The background check was run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The NIC system did work. He applied to get a gun. He was denied a gun,” John Wester, a special agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said at a press conference Monday, according to ABC News.
No one followed up to arrest him for illegally attempting to purchase a gun. This is what happens in nearly all denials of gun sales. It is impossible to follow up all denials because many of them are false positives: they prevent people who are legally allowed to have guns from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Many others are simple mistakes, cases where the person has no idea they were a prohibited possessor. If all denials were followed up, the cost in manpower and time would be enormous. It is almost never done.
It has always been legal for people to make their own guns. If they are going to make guns for sale, they are required to have a federal license and to put serial numbers on the guns.
If the firearm used by the murderer in Texas was privately made, it was probably made legally.
If the maker sold it to someone he knew was prohibited from possessing a gun, the sale would be illegal.
It is unknown if the seller knew if the murderer was prohibited from owning a gun. The federal government prohibits private parties from using the NICS system to determine if a person is prohibited or not.
A better solution than NICS would be for the federal government to make available, on the Internet, and by other means, a database containing all people known to be prohibited from owning guns. All gun sellers could access it to determine if a sale would be legal. The system could then issue a unique identifying number which would be a defense that the seller had checked to see if the sale was legal or not.
No information about the firearm would be needed or kept. This type of system has been proposed for a number of years. Alan Korwin refers to it as BIDS, or Blind Identification Database System.
The BIDS system would allow people to check if a person is legally allowed to possess or buy guns. It is relatively unintrusive. It would allow appeals for people who believe they are wrongly included in the database. It would cost far less to maintain and run than the current NICS system.
It is unlikely to pass because it moves power away from the federal government. It moves money away from the federal government. It eliminates the possibility to turn NICS checks into a registration system.
If the firearm used by the murderer was a homemade gun, it shows most of the federal licensing and tracking system is worthless. The cat is out of the bag, the horse fled the barn, and the milk spilled, for 400 years.
People have been making and using their own guns for the entire period.
U.S. Citizens have always been able to make and use their own guns. California passed a law requiring homemade guns to have state-issued serial numbers, starting in 2019. The law is almost certainly unconstitutional.
The entire idea of serial numbers is of severely limited utility. Tracing guns does not aid in solving crimes. A few guns are returned to people they were stolen from each year. Other than that, virtually no crimes are solved by gun traces.
The current gun trace system, which started with the infamous Gun Control Act of 1968, was a compromise because Congress refused to pass a national registration system. It has been illegal to create a national registration system for decades. Lyndon Johnson wanted one. He did not get it. Instead, he got the useless compromise of the tracing system.
It is time to reform NICS, and switch to BIDS. It will cost less money, be more effective, and will reduce government control over our lives.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.