An Alternative to “Universal Background Checks”

Universal Background Checks

What is the reason so many people demand “universal background checks?”  I mean private citizens who want them, not the politicians who push that crap.   Because they do not want bad guys to get guns, right?  As good, law abiding gun owners, neither do we.  Despite what the NRA hating, anti-gun politicians and anti-gun organizations constantly scream, exactly no one wants to unwittingly put a gun into the hand of a criminal, not even us “heartless gun owners.”

First, before we dive into this topic, we must clarify what a “universal background check” is because many people out there who are in favor of them really do not understand what they are calling for.  They hear emotional appeals for them from people who are pushing gun control, purportedly as a means to save lives, and they just accept what they hear.  What a “universal background check” means is that every single gun transfer (change of ownership) goes through a background check.  No matter if it is a gun dealer selling a gun to a customer or if it is your grandmother giving you your deceased grandfather’s old hunting rifle.  ALL transfers would have to have a background check.

In theory, that does not sound totally unreasonable, until you understand what is actually involved in that, especially based on the current background system.  Most proponents of “universal background checks” do not have the slightest clue what is involved in making that happen, whereas most gun owners are intimately aware of the difficulties involved.

Why Gun Owners Resist “Universal Background Checks”
If no one wants bad guys to have guns, then why do gun owners fight against universal background checks?  One of the reasons, a big one to some of us, is because we do not trust the government, and yes, that absolutely includes me, a career government employee.  In order to ensure every gun sale is processed through a universal background check, the government needs to know what guns you and I all own.  Without that knowledge, I could sell any gun I wanted to whomever I wanted and there would be no way to track the sales to ensure a background check was performed.  “So what?” you say.  “Why does it matter if you have to register your guns?”

Because registration always, always leads to confiscation.  If not for all people, most definitely for some.  You can see it happening right now in California.  The CA DOJ has teams of agents running around the state confiscating registered guns from people.  Some of those people were merely in the process of trying to register their guns in order to comply with a new law when the DOJ showed up, arrested them and took their guns.  Long before that, in Washington DC way back in 1965, they passed a law requiring the registration of all handguns.  Then, a decade later in 1976, they outlawed handguns completely.  Since the government knew who had what handguns, it made it easy to ensure they were all eliminated.  As a gun owner, it is very easy to look around and see what governments have done once they take away all the guns, and the first step in taking away the guns is knowing who has them.

Then when you consider some of the gun laws they are proposing, it should be even easier to understand why gun owners are paranoid.  California already has a “gun violence restraining order” which allows law enforcement and family members to seek an ex parte (only the accuser, not the accused) hearing to take away the guns of a person.  They want to expand that law to allow practically anyone who knows a person to file for one.  I am a law abiding gun owner and a retired cop, but I absolutely worry that some anti-gun acquaintance of mine might go run to a judge, and based upon their completely irrational fear of guns, say whatever they could to convince a judge to grant an order calling for my guns to be confiscated.  I know how the court systems work, including in regards to restraining orders.  It is not remotely beyond the realm of plausibility to think someone would lie to a judge to get a restraining order granted, especially someone who is not entirely mentally stable.

Call us gun owners paranoid if you will, and maybe we are, but being mildly paranoid served me well in my career as a cop; it kept me alive.  There is an old saying that goes, “just because you are paranoid does not mean they aren’t out to get you.”

So, if we are being honest here, whether or not you think gun owners have a valid point in fearing the registration that would be required in order to ensure “universal background checks” were performed, I would hope that you can at least see the basis for our concerns.  History, both ours and abroad, is chock full of governments abusing their people once they have disarmed them.

Getting beyond the simple desire to not let the government know what guns we have, there are some other factors which we gun owners also see as further infringement on our rights.  In order to process these universal background checks, it is a requirement to have a gun dealer process all gun sales because currently they are the only people who can.  Even transfers that involve no money such, as a gift or trade, would have to be processed by a gun dealer.  This not only inconveniences the gun dealers who charge a “nominal fee,” because now they are taking their time to process a sale that does not benefit them at all, but it requires the parties involved in the sale to seek out a dealer to perform the transaction.  Let me explain these infringements by using my home state of California as an example.

California’s Universal Background Check System
As a California resident, where we already have “universal background checks,” if my father, a law abiding, retired government employee with nothing more serious than a speeding ticket in his long past background, wants to give me, a retired cop with nothing more serious than a speeding ticket some 25 years ago on my record, a gun he owns, any gun, but for sake of this example, say a 100 year old Winchester rifle (a cowboy gun for those who know nothing about guns), he and I must take that rifle to a gun dealer who not only must process the transaction for us, run the background check, but then since he is a gun dealer, he must complete a DROS (dealer’s record of sale) for that antique rifle.  So now, not only do I have to pay the dealer their transfer fee, which CA has limited to $10*, but I also have to pay a DROS fee which is another $25.  Once the DROS is completed, there is now a record of that rifle, including its serial number, make, model and caliber, and who it was transferred from and to.  In California, that DROS information is then entered into a state database and that information is maintained indefinitely, in other words, it becomes a de facto gun registry (enter us paranoid gun owners again…).

(*In California, that poor gun dealer must now hold onto the gun for the mandatory 10 day waiting period, for which there is only one exemption for active cops who have a letter from their department head, even if we both already own other firearms.  So, the dealer must take time from his other customers to process the transaction, which will take a minimum of 30 minutes in my best experience, then he must store the gun for 10+ days, and all he is allowed to collect for those troubles is $10?  Not that I want to pay through the nose for a transfer, but I absolutely understand why gun dealers are not happy to process private party transfers as it is a losing proposition for them and hits them directly in the pocket book.)

The way the laws in California works, it inconveniences not only both parties transferring the gun, it inconveniences the dealer processing the transfer and actually costs them money, and it creates a gun registry.  If you are okay with all of that, then you clearly are more interested in attempting to prevent legal gun sales than you are with trying to keep guns away from criminals.  Artificial delays and levying fees to exercise a constitutionally guaranteed right sure sounds like infringements to most of us.  If that does not sound like an infringement to you, imagine having to pay a fee and wait 10 days before you can exercise your right to free speech.

Setting Ground Rules
But there has to be something we can do, right?  Well, I think I might have a solution, one that would pass the stink test with gun owners and one that might appease the anti-gun folks demanding the “universal background checks.”  However, we must agree on a couple things before my plan makes sense, some of which I have already discussed.

1) Criminals do not obey laws – Can we all agree that criminals, by their very nature of being a criminal, do not obey the law?  Criminals are not walking into a gun store to buy a gun, nor are they going to a dealer to process their private party transfers.  If that is too much of a stretch for you to make, then my proposal will not make any sense.
2) No one wants bad guys to get a gun – Not even we die hard second amendment supporters.  If you cannot concede that even those horrible, gun owning NRA members do not want criminals to have guns, then we are all just wasting our time, not to mention that you are also completely delusional.

An Alternative
Now, for those rational enough to accept that criminals do not obey the law, and that law abiding gun owners do not want criminals running around with guns, we can proceed.  If the purpose behind “universal background checks” is truly to prevent bad guys from getting guns, and no one wants bad guys to get guns, then why not make a publicly accessible website on which any gun owner can run some basic information of the person seeking to purchase a gun from them, that would access the NICS system and give them a simple yes or no answer to the pertinent question: Can this person legally possess a gun?

The internet did not exist when the NICS system was created and what used to require a decent amount of time to process back then can be completed (with proper access to the proper databases) in a few seconds now.  An “instant background check” can truly be instant.

A system like this would allow private party sellers to be reasonably certain that the person they are selling a gun to is not a prohibited person.  If they don’t care about that fact now, you can rest assured they are already going to ignore the law requiring the background check anyway.

This system would not inconvenience gun dealers by forcing them to process a sale that not only does not benefit them, but actually hurts them.

From a paranoid gun owner’s perspective, this system would have no information about the firearm being transferred so there would be no need to worry about the government building a registry.

Finally, use of this system should be 100% voluntary, leaving it up to the seller whether or not they feel it necessary.  So, like in the example I gave above, with my father giving me an antique rifle, there would be no need at all to use the system.  However, if I were selling a gun to someone I do not know, I could quickly check to make sure I was not selling a gun to a prohibited person.

But What About The Gun Show Loophole?
First of all, that is utter crap.  There is no “gun show loophole.”  All laws regarding firearms sales outside of gun shows ALSO apply in a gun show.  If the transfer is a private party transfer, currently no background check is required (unless the individual state requires it like California does), but if the seller is a dealer, the sale must go through all the same steps that it would if it were taking place in a brick and mortar store.  As for my proposal in relation to gun shows, gun shows would be no different than any other sale.

Not only could there be a mobile version of the system in the form of an app for folks with smart phones and tablets, but for those “old guys” who refuse to carry a smart phone, there could be a kiosk at the gun show that would allow anyone to check a potential buyer’s legal gun owning ability.

While my proposal would not prevent criminals from selling other criminals guns (absolutely nothing can do that – look at the prevalence of illegal drugs if you think otherwise), this would allow people who are concerned about keeping guns away from bad guys a way to do so that would not cost a ton of money, inconvenience an uninvolved business, or create a gun registry.


I absolutely encourage people to comment on this topic, but please do so in a polite, thoughtful manner.  People calling names, throwing insults, or spewing anti-gun propaganda will just be banned.  Keeping guns away from bad guys is in everyone’s best interest.  The only way to improve our ability to do so is if we can have an actual conversation about the topic with everyone who the issue concerns.

The Potential Problems With Open Carry

inside-chipotle630

 

*Disclamer1* – This is being filed in the “Guns” and the “Police” categories. I am not a police officer, in fact my experience in LE is limited to watching “Cops” reruns, the movie “Super Troopers” and a ride along I did with my buddy where I was instructed to “Stay in the car, unless I start getting my ass beat, then I need you to give me a hand.” I am a career firefighter, 13 years of service and other than a gun lover, that’s all I clam to be. I am writing this as it is an issue that I see LE face and it is being caused by a group of gun owners, however it effects us all, so here we are.

*Disclamer2* – I am extremely pro 2A. Probably more so than you are. True story!

I am writing this because of a misunderstanding on our Facebook page over this post:

Capture

I had a disagreement with a follower that I don’t think really was a disagreement, I just don’t think our points were clearly enough drawn-out. I am writing this post here because I feel this is actually a very common issue and here is a great chance to air it out. You see the first thing that many pro 2A people see is someone having an issue with a particular open carrier, and they assume that you then have an issue with all open carriers. That is not the case! I will go on to explain below.

First, let me start by saying that there are 2 different types of open carriers. The first type is made of true Patriots who bleed Red White and Blue and piss Freedom. These are people who know their rights are God given and recognized by the United States Constitution. Their intentions are simply to open carry, and are usually (I hate painting with a broad brush, but this isn’t profiling, it is statistics) very down to earth people who are pleasant to talk to. There is no agenda here with this group. A tell tale way to distinguish this type of Open Carrier is that any run in they might have had with the law will usually be retold verbally. These are the folks I have no issue with.

Now lets talk about a second type of open carrier. This type is a different breed with different motives. They are attention whores who publicly give most all of us responsible gun owners a bad name, let me explain. This second type is out for one thing and one thing only and that is conflict. Their guise is that they are doing it in the name of education, or to rub their rights in the faces of the general public. You see, these guys walk around in public not with a handgun on their side (which in most places can be carried in the ready to fire condition inside of a holster) but instead with a rifle over their shoulder which is usually, in accordance with law, unchambered. Their primary choices are AR-15 rifles and AK variants as those are publicly recognizable and they know that the typical brainwashed non pro-gun bystander will assume it is of course fully automatic and dial 911 in a full panic. They don’t choose to do this with a shotgun or bolt action rifle, because that won’t get the reaction they are looking for, which leads me into the second thing these guys are armed with. Somewhere on their person in the ready to go position is a video camera, ready to record conflicts with LE. These guys brush up on the ins and outs of the law, things like when they have to produce identification or answer questions. No matter how friendly or polite the cop they encounter is being with these guys, they always reply in very frustrating way reciting lines over and over vs engaging in actual conversation.

Now you might be one of the aforementioned second types, if you find yourself getting frustrated as you read this, you are probably who I am talking to. I’ll answer your question that I already know you are asking, “If I’m not breaking the law, then what is the issue?” Well, for starters you are setting out with a loaded gun in search of conflict. Now you aren’t planning on using that gun in said conflict, instead your weapon of choice is a video camera and YouTube. The gun in your case is simply being used as bait. And that ladies and gentlemen is the problem, you are knowingly using a gun to look for trouble. This goes against everything I as a member of the responsible gun owner crowd stand for. I carry a gun every day of my life outside of work, and do absolutely everything in my power to avoid conflict. Being armed should NEVER be a basis for seeking conflict, this is in every way stupid and could end up getting someone killed.

You are probably shaking your head and thinking: “But, but, but, it is my right!” Well, here is the thing about freedoms, they aren’t without consequences. You have freedom of speech, walk up to the biggest guy you can find and tell him that his mother took real good care of you last night. You will become quickly aware that your actions do in fact have consequences. The reactions you get from police while walking down the sidewalk wearing a kilt (backwards mind you, pleats go in the rear, apron goes in the front) with an AR strapped to your back is a consequence of you choosing to be so careless with your rights. The police have a responsibility to investigate calls that are made to 911. The public safety community simply does not have the luxury to decide which calls they respond to, and are responding blindly sans the information the caller(s) provided.

I want to also point out that this second type of open carrier, in their quest to seek attention, is the type that will flood a business mistaking a “guns not prohibited” policy with a “these guys love guns just as much as we do” policy. Time and time again their actions have forced the hand of these establishments to pick a side as they were being thrust into the spotlight being hailed as “pro-gun” when in fact they were neutral. These businesses honestly had no stance on the subject, they did not and probably still would not care about guns as they were not causing a problem for them. That is until you and your Facebook/Call of Duty buddies invaded the place, dressed in your fresh from Ebay, made in China Airsoft tactard gear, and started to hurt their wellbeing as you were driving away their customer base. Yes, you were making it hard for some of your fellow Americans to provide for their families. Once again, your freedoms do not come without consequences, and in this case the consequence effects anyone who carries a gun, not just some jackass who wants to have a gun circle jerk party at a coffee shop.

In conclusion I want to say this, I have argued time and time again with anti-gunners stating that they were simply uninformed and members of the gun community were some of the most genuine, good people they would ever encounter. I still stand by this comment, as most of the people I encounter exemplify that opinion. However the majority are easily drowned out by a small but vocal minority who go out of their way to show off how big of an asshole they can be by posting videos of their shenanigans on YouTube. I mean, if someone else wanted to publicly “exercise their right” of freedom of speech by walking down the road shouting insulting words, you would probably label that person as a _________(insert your word of choice here). While this is one way a person can “exercise your right” of freedom of speech, you could also do it in a way that isn’t so abrasive to others by showing a little thing we call respect, and (gasp) still have all of your freedoms intact. Here is the thing guys, if you are hell bent on making a point, I’ll give you a piece of advice. You can still make your point without being a total douchbag in the process. Yes, it is possible to talk in a civil manner to your fellow man and still stand your ground, maintain your rights, and even educate others. If those things were ever your true intent it shouldn’t be a hard thing for you to do, unless of course you are just looking for conflict, and hoping for a chance to cash out in a lawsuit, in which case I honestly hope reading this helps you realize what a piece of shit you really are.

– Stache