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The current system of background checks for firearms is 100% pointless. It simply does nothing what so ever. We only run a background check if you purchase from a licensed firearm dealer but if you buy a gun from a private party or at a gun show then there is no background check. So if you don’t want your background checked then you buy guns at a show or from a private party.

We either need to eliminate the current background check because it serves no functional purpose or we need to make background checks universal for all firearms purchases. The half-ass system we have right now does not restrict guns from those it is intended to while at the same time it wastes time and money.

IF an universal background check is implement what would that mean? Well it would require some sort of system that individuals can access in order to sell a gun. That system would need be ubiquitous, people would need to be able to access it at gun shows or at home or wherever they may be. At the same time the system must be secure such that it does not provide private individuals with personal information about those being checked, otherwise the system could be abused.

Those functional requirements alone will be difficult but not impossible. The system would have to be internet driven so it can be accessed anywhere. A web app or phone / tablet app would be a good choice. It would need to have restrictions on what it could tell you about a person so it won’t be abused. The information on an individual would probably be restricted to information necessary for properly identifying the individual and a yay or nay for the gun sale. Then it would need to be efficient so that it can handle a high volume of checks in very short periods. People aren’t going to use the system if it is too much trouble.

Next we would need a means of ensuring that people are in fact using the system. So universal background checks would necessitate some form of criminal charge for not using it. Also enforcement would be necessary. Otherwise people will simply not use it even if they are supposed to which completely defeats the purpose of a background check. Unfortunately this is rather difficult, we have no idea who owns what guns or how many. So we can’t monitor the transfer of ownership for firearms. That means that law enforcement would have physically witness a sale without a background check in order to enforce the laws. This might be possible for gun shows simply by putting a number of officers at the show verifying that people are doing what they should be doing. But there is really no way to enforce background checks with private sales without a sting operation. Law enforcement would literally have to attempt to purchase firearms from private parties to see if they are running background checks which is time consuming and costly. Also enforcement of that nature can only catch a small proportion of firearms sales without a background check. There simply aren’t enough law enforcement officers to ensure every private sale involves a background check.

Then even if the functional aspects of implementing universal background checks are overcome we run into the issues of an effective background check. Unless somebody has a criminal history, a history of domestic violence or has been deemed mental indigent they will likely pass the background check. In many cases the perpetrators of shootings were able to legally purchase their firearms. The problem is that we only know if somebody is violent after they have been violent so if the person has no criminal history then we don’t know. There is no way to predict if somebody will become violent in the future nor should we preemptively take away an individual’s rights for possible future actions. So we really only restrict guns from the most obvious cases where an individual should not be allowed a gun. Thus the background check will have minimal effect on gun violence.

Finally purchasing an illegal firearm is not that difficult. I have been offered illegal firearms on a number of occasions. If somebody wants a stolen gun they can probably find it. Background check will only effect those concerned with making legal purchases so it will have no effect on illegal firearm purchases.

These are the difficulties I see in implementing universal background checks. Though my point is not to say universal background checks are bad rather it is to point out where the problems are which need overcome if we implement universal background checks.

We need to either decide to drop background checks entirely or apply background checks universally. This half-ass system of background checks is pointless. In the eternal words of my father “Either shit or get off the pot!”

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