Check, Please

After I wrote,

I am loosing tolerance for the idiotic reasoning that criminals will get firearms anyway.

Lawrence Kennon wrote,

The argument is not that one should not make laws because criminals will disobey them. The real argument is that often the proposed law will negatively affect the rights or the law abiding without have much material effect on the non-law-abiding. It is basically an argument of unintended consequences.

He has a point, which I acknowledged. But then I heard this, from Kevin Starrett of the Oregon Firearms Federation on NPR:

Obviously, people who commit crimes with guns are not going to subject themselves to the background check. So who is it having any impact on? It’s having an impact on the people who are willing to obey the law, who wouldn’t do anything bad in the first place.

Keven Starrett seems to think that criminals will have an “opt-out” button that they can use to avoid subjecting themselves to background checks. That’s not how it works. Universal background checks will close off paths that criminals currently use to obtain weapons while still keeping those avenues open to law abiding citizens. They will force people who shouldn’t be buying guns to turn to illicit means of acquiring them. That won’t stop all criminals from getting weapons, but it will stop a lot of them.

A background check probably would have prevented this and many other tragedies like it:

Zina Daniel took out a restraining order against her husband after three years of abuse. The restraining order should have prevented her husband, Radcliffe Haughton, from buying a gun. Regardless, Haughton was able to skip a background check by buying a gun on the internet, which he used to shoot 7 people the very next day.

You can make all of the “criminals don’t obey laws” comments you want, but 100 percent background checks will prevent some people with violent records from obtaining guns. Some of them will find it too difficult or too risky, and others will get caught trying.

The beauty of 100% background checks is they don’t leave law abiding citizens unarmed while allowing criminals to easily get guns. Mr. Kennon argued that unless background checks are 100% accurate and nearly immediate, they’re a violation of our rights. I disagree. And so does the NRA.

Until recently, the NRA supported “mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone.” So is the NRA saying, “We used to support violating the 2nd Amendment but now we don’t”? It’s hard for me to imagine that the NRA had a genuine reversal of their interpretation of the Second Amendment. The 2nd Amendment didn’t change since Wayne LaPierre spoke clearly and strongly in support of 100% background checks and neither did LaPierre’s position at the NRA.

Nothing changed except an opportunity for the NRA to increase its popularity by obstructing the Obama administration, and gun sellers discovering that paranoia is good for sales. Gun organizations have been boasting about it. And the NRA can’t maintain lucrative gun grabber paranoia and hatred of Obama while supporting the administration on any gun control legislation, even if it’s legislation that the NRA strongly supported and even if it’s what over 90% of the American people want.

I acknowledge that Lawrence Kennon’s argument against background checks is not “idiotic”. But I can’t find a better word to describe Starrett’s statement that background checks don’t affect criminals because they won’t “subject themselves” to them. And I can’t abide the NRA’s reversal of a position they once so strongly supported, without changes in the facts on the ground other than the political landscape.

With overwhelming support among the American people for legislation that keeps firearms out of the hands of criminals while allowing law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, defeating this legislation will not be a victory for the 2nd Amendment. It would be a victory for a small group of powerful lobbyists in their effort to circumvent the will of the people and put profits ahead of the lives of law abiding citizens.

Update April 6: I originally wrote that the facts on the ground hadn’t changed except the party of the current administration. That was a mistake since Clinton was in office while LaPierre was promoting universal background checks

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