All posts by Jeff Knox

The False Promise of Background Checks

The False Promise of Background Checks

By Jeff Knox

(September 25, 2014)

The idea of background checks for firearm purchases seems to sound sensible, but the reality is much different from the appearance.  In truth, expecting firearm background checks to stop criminals is like trying to catch a few particular salmon during spawning season by placing a rock in the middle of the stream and watching for the specific fish to jump over the rock. 

specious:  adjective:

superficially plausible, but actually wrong.

“a specious argument”

misleading in appearance, especially misleadingly attractive.

There are more than 15 million NICS background checks processed every year, totaling over 180 million checks since the program’s inception in 1998.  Between 98% and 99% of those checks were on regular, unrestricted people – most of whom already own at least one firearm. Of the few prohibited persons stopped from purchasing a firearm, the vast majority either weren’t aware of their prohibited status or thought their rights had been restored; they had no criminal intent.  In 2010, which is typical of recent years, only about 60 individuals – out of 15 million – were considered worthy of prosecution, and only 13 people – out of 15 million – were actually convicted of illegally trying to purchase a firearm.  Not a very impressive return from a program that infringes on an enumerated constitutional right – that “shall not be infringed” – and has cost taxpayers an estimated $2 billion dollars so far.

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