James Taranto: universal background firearms checks means that anybody can request one.


James Taranto makes an excellent point about the major problem with proposals to expanding who can request a background check on firearms:

Currently access to the FBI’s background check system is limited to licensed firearms dealers, who have an incentive not to abuse it lest they lose their license. If it’s opened up to all prospective sellers of guns–that is, to everybody–what’s to prevent someone from abusing it, say by requesting a background check on Greg Sargent, who presumably has no interest in acquiring a gun?

The system only gives a yes-or-no answer as to whether the putative buyer is eligible to own firearms under federal law. But if you’re looking to dig up dirt on someone, a “no” answer on a firearms background check would give you a nice clump of it.

Greg Sargent is mentioned because he wrote an article wondering why anybody would be against universal background checks: I’m not entirely certain that Sargent realizes that the system he wants would more or less guarantee that people would end up using it to do evil, right out of the gate – and, more importantly, they’d be using it to do evil in unexpected (and unintended, for given value of ‘unintended’) ways.  Or that mischievous or malicious people could do it to people like Greg Sargent; that, in fact, they will do it to people like Greg Sargent, simply because they can.

But then again, if Sargent’s done nothing wrong then of course he has nothing to fear…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Here’s a copy of BATF Form 4473, which would presumably be the template for any new documentation necessary for universal background check inquiries. As James Taranto tacitly noted in his post, it’d be horrifically easy to abuse; you don’t even need to know somebody’s Social Security number to fill out the form.

I am telling you; this will be abused.  And if the feds decide to compensate by making the rules more difficult for everybody then reputable firearms dealers will rightly freak out, because they didn’t do anything wrong.  And when they do freak out they’ll find plenty of people on Capitol Hill who will be happy to back them up.  Fair warning.

16 thoughts on “James Taranto: universal background firearms checks means that anybody can request one.”

  1. If this UBC legislation passes, all law-abiding gun owners should immediately request background checks on all their neighbors, on the off chance that they’d like to sell their weapons to them. Any system that accepts all requests with no front-end filter is just ASKING for a DOS.
    Do these people really, really suck so badly at understanding the first-, let alone second- or third-order effects of their actions?

    1. I believe there is a front end filter, that being the charge for said background check. One of the MANY evils of the proposed law that is missed by the low information nation, is that the feds will be charging for their background check services. So the proposals I have seen will result in a “transaction tax”. So, if your dad wants to give you his old service revolver, the feds will ask for some vig.

      Also, Obama would love a DOS attack on the NCIS system, that way, no one can buy firearms. Even today, the so called “instant check” system regularly sends citizens home from the gun shop empty handed, because of delays, glitches, or “just ’cause”.

    2. Much better than a denial-of-service attack would be one or two background checks a day on random names from the phone book, just to pollute the database. When the confiscation order goes out, agents will be knocking on doors of people who’ve never touched a gun.

  2. UBC will be just as effective at preventing the misuse of firearms as requiring a prescription for narcotic painkillers is at preventing the abuse of narcotic painkillers, with the added bonus of making the people who are willing to flout the completely unenforceable law quite wealthy…..
    Democrats truly are a special kind of stupid.

    1. I think you misunderstand them – they aren’t actually trying to improve things. They just want to be seen trying to improve things, for various definitions of the word “improve”. Putting together something where the system will break down immediately, essentially foreclosing all legitimate transfers of firearms is a feature to them, not a bug.

  3. Bluntly, it will NOT be possible to do a check without involving an FFL, because currently it’s illegal for anyone but an FFL to access the system and they will NOT change that law.
    So, you’ll have to involve an FFL in any transfer. And they’ll (justly) expect to be compensated. Oh, and they’ll have to keep records for their own protection. And those records will be “accessible at any time” by the BATFEIEIO.
    (And the next push will be “no gun shops within X miles of a school”. And “X” will be broad enough to cover the entire country.)

    1. It looks like Republicans and other pro 2a entities are at a loss for how to explain the issue to the low information public. I admit it is a difficult thing to do.

      How do you beat a catchy title such as “Universal Background Checks”? I mean who could possibly be against that? Remember the federal school lunch (and breakfast, and dinner) program? Who could have been against “feeding the children”?

      Of course it is difficult to explain to people why it might be a bad thing for the feds to infringe of private property rights. And how do we explain “back door registration”? How do we explain is to the millions who already have to register firearms with the state because they live in freedom challenged regions of the country?

      And getting media penetration into the low information world about the threat of a federal private transaction tax, is no easy job. So, our side mostly just hopes the NRA can lobby a handful of vulnerable Dems in backrooms, because the front room is simply not available. Maybe it will work, but the left has the media, they have carte blanche with the “low infos”

      1. Simple. Crossover of Critical Race Theory with Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged.
        Gun Control is White Supremacist IN AMERICA!.

  4. How do the background checks even work? Would they need a name a social security number to match? I don’t know that people will feel all that comfortable giving social security numbers out to some guy they met on the internet or through the local paper.

    1. No way to repair *that* ignorance without scaring the woman out of her wits, honestly.

      Seriously, people: nobody is as anonymous as they think they are.

    2. Since when has her white supremacism and desire to murder minorities been a safety issue?

  5. The most obvious implementation is to simply require all transfers to be performed by a person or firm which already has an FFL (probably a Type 1, for dealers or gunsmiths, or maybe a Type 2, for pawnbrokers). Many dealers already do this; this is what makes mail order or online sales of modern guns legal. (Antiques, curios, or relics are another matter.) And of course dealers charge for the service, anything from $20 to $50.

    Since there is approximately zero chance of mental health information becoming available via the NICS system due to the mania for medical confidentiality, the only function of a universal NICS is to increase the cost of gun ownership.

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