What’s not to like about background checks for gun sales? They’re sensible, logical and the right thing to do. Public-opinion polls consistently show that a large majority of Americans—even NRA members—favor background checks. It’s mostly lobbyists for gun manufacturers and ammo makers—plus their bought-and-paid-for Congressional lackeys—who oppose them.
The arguments against background checks just don’t make sense—unless your real goal is simply to sell more guns and ammo in an unregulated market.
For the rest of us, there are many points in favor of background checks—not the least of which is that background checks actually protect lawful gun owners. Here’s a look, courtesy of Message Matters, at the arguments typically leveled against background checks, and some responses that counter them:
“Universal background checks will lead to a national gun registry.”
Federal law prohibits the creation of a national gun registry. No one is proposing to change that.
The only official record of each gun sale is a basic sales receipt, or what’s called a Form 4473, that stays with the seller. Gun dealers have already been keeping these receipts for 40 years.
Law enforcement officials would get to access the records only in very limited situations, such as for criminal investigations. The completed background checks of law-abiding buyers are also destroyed by the FBI within 24 hours. That’s hardly the basis for a national registry.
So NRA lobbyists and their fringe extremist allies who lie about it anyway are just trying to fundraise off concerned gun owners and boost gun sales for the gun manufacturers.
“Universal background checks would violate our privacy rights.“
The millions of law-abiding gun buyers who undergo the instant background checks every year aren’t complaining about privacy issues. Millions more who fly on a plane give their names, show ID, and go through security. Why should it be different for gun sales?
The background check system exists to protect law-abiding gun owners from getting blamed for crimes committed with guns no longer in their possession. That’s possible only because each gun sale generates a sales receipt — which the gun dealer keeps, not the federal government.
Licensed gun dealers have already been conducting background checks and keeping sales receipts for decades. Closing the private sale loophole just brings everyone else into the same instant check system, which already has privacy protections and bans creating a national registry.
“Background checks don’t work.”
Criminal background checks are a fast, effective, and proven way to save lives and prevent gun sales to people who shouldn’t have them, including criminals.
States with strong gun violence prevention laws, including universal background checks, have lower gun death rates — including murders associated with domestic violence and suicide. Background check laws also lower the gun trafficking rate by half.
It would work even better if we close the private sale loophole that lets about 40% of gun transfers happen without any checks because the seller isn’t a licensed gun dealer. A gun is a gun no matter who’s selling it.
“Checks should not be strengthened because criminals will never submit to them.“
That’s like saying we should get rid of laws against drunk driving because people will never stop drinking and driving.
Even if one more dangerous person is stopped from getting a gun, it will matter to the family and to the community that would’ve been torn apart by the gun violence.
Criminals will try to avoid background checks, but that’s why we need a law to make it harder for them to evade the system. Even if they fail a check, they can currently find a private seller online, at a gun show, or in a newspaper classified and buy a gun with no questions asked.
“These background check proposals ban private citizens from selling their guns or even giving them to family members.”
Just like now, gun owners will be able to give their guns to family members. The legislative proposals on the table have exemptions to allow just that.
If gun owners want to temporarily lend out their guns for hunting or target shooting — or in cases of imminent danger — the proposals on the table have exemptions to allow that, too.
Just like now, private citizens will still be able to sell their guns — just not to criminals and other dangerous people who fail their background check. These people should not be allowed to get guns, period.