"Universal" background checks would not have stopped attacks in Dayton or elsewhere

In the wake of terrible attacks by deranged individuals in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio over the past week, anti-gun rights politicians and extremists are once again sinking to the level of trying to score political points amidst the blood.

Vying for attention in a crowded field of Democrat presidential wannabes, presidential candidates like former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, among others, along with Sherrod Brown, U.S. Senator from Ohio, have all raced to the microphones to express the need for so-called "universal" background checks. Even the man they seek to beat - President Donald Trump - tweeted a call for “strong background checks."

When this claim is made, I have yet to see a single "journalist" ask the natural follow up question -

"Why are you talking about background checks right now when all of the killers passed background checks? Don't you have any proposals that could truly make a difference?"

That's right - every single killer being venerated by the media this week passed a background check to purchase the firearms they used in their attacks.

The Gilroy, CA killer passed a background check to get his guns, following state and Federal law.

The El Paso, TX killer passed a background check to get his gun, following state and Federal law.

The Dayton, OH killer passed a background check to get his gun, following state and Federal law.

So WHY are we talking about background checks? WHY can we expect to see increased calls for passage of astroturf gun control group Ohioans for Gun Safety's "universal" background checks ballot initiative here in Ohio when amending our state Constitution in this way would have done NOTHING to prevent this attack?

Groups like these should be ashamed for trying to take advantage of these terrible attacks to promote their own political agenda, but they just keep doing it.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said “We should vote within 48 hours on the two background check bills that have already passed the House.” But consider the facts. These bills ...

  • Won't Stop Criminals from Obtaining Guns - Criminals, by definition, do not obey the law. These bills cannot force them to follow the law. Even anti-gun researchers have admitted that "universal" background checks are ineffective. 
  • Criminalize Private Transfers and Loans Between Friends and Family - These bills would make criminals out of law-abiding gun owners for simply loaning a firearm to a friend or some family members.
  • Are Unenforceable - "Universal" Background Checks are not universal because criminals will never comply with legal requirements. According to the National Institute of Justice, "Universal" Background Checks are unenforceable without requiring complete gun registration.

Proponents of so-called “universal” background checks claim that this legislation is the “most important” thing that can be done to stop dangerous people from obtaining firearms. This is a lie. There is no evidence that expanded background checks are useful for this purpose.

Recently, a study by anti-gun researchers confirmed that expanded background checks in California did not reduce gun homicides or gun suicides.

This finding is consistent with a review of past studies on expanded background checks by the RAND Corporation that found “evidence of the effect of private-seller background checks on firearm homicides is inconclusive.”

In 2013, the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice researched so-called “universal” background checks and determined that they would not be effective without further harsh firearms restrictions and efforts to combat straw purchasing.

Criminals are not deterred by background checks. Indeed, as noted above, the California, Texas and Ohio spree killers submitted to background checks. But for those who know they cannot pass a background check, they are still undeterred. ATF has reported, “[t]he most frequent type of trafficking channel identified in ATF investigations is straw purchasing from federally licensed firearms dealers. Nearly 50 percent ... .” A Chicago-area inmate explained this reality to researchers from the University of Chicago in relation to Illinois’s stringent firearm licensing regime for a 2015 study, stating, “All they need is one person who got a gun card in the ‘hood’ and everybody got one.”

A 2016 Department of Justice survey of “state and federal prisoners who had possessed a firearm during the offense for which they were serving” found that the most common source of prisoner firearms was “Off the street/underground market.” This was defined as “Illegal sources of firearms that include markets for stolen goods, middlemen for stolen goods, criminals or criminal enterprises, or individuals or groups involved in sales of illegal drugs.” Less than one percent had obtained their firearm from a gun show.

Background Checks Are Only as Good as The Data They are Checking Against. 

In February 2018, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that hundreds or perhaps even thousands of felons in Ohio could still be allowed to pass a background check to purchase a firearm, all because dozens of Ohio courts were delinquent - sometimes by months or even years - in their responsibility to upload some paperwork. 

Government officials and existing gun control laws failed to stop the Charleston church shooting in 2015.

Government officials and existing gun control laws failed to stop the Sutherland Springs, TX church shooting in 2017.

Government officials at every level - from the Broward County Sheriff to the FBI - failed in their duties to prevent the killer from carrying out his acts in Parkland, FL in 2018.

Government and existing gun control laws failed to stop a man who murdered people in a Nashville Waffle House less than a year after he was arrested for breaching a barrier at the White House and demanding to speak with President Trump.

Government and existing gun control laws failed to stop a man from obtaining a gun and carrying out an attack at Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati in 2018.

And we are now learning that government and existing gun control laws failed to stop the killer in Dayton, Ohio.

In nearly all of the mass casualty events, it is learned later that authorities failed to use the tools they already have in place. And yet they come seeking MORE tools, when they aren't even properly using the ones they have. WHY?

Perhaps it's because they do not understand the problem or do not truly care about the loss of innocent life. Or perhaps the answer to that question can be found in a statement made by an advisor to the Obama administration, who wrote that the effectiveness of a universal background regime "depends on … requiring gun registration…." Indeed, so-called "universal" background check proposals weaken protections against using background checks to create a registry and sets the stage for future firearm registration requirements.

Shame on these people for using these deaths to further their anti-Second Amendment agenda.

There should be no more talk of laws which only punish the law-abiding.

There should be no talk of mandating government control over private sales of guns between individuals.

Instead, those who are truly seeking to make a difference should focus their efforts on ensuring that government entities consistently, accurately, regularly input their data into the national database, and enacting and enforcing penalties on those who don't.

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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