Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thank you NRA?

A criminal in prison recently wrote a letter thanking the NRA for "protecting my ability to easily obtain [guns] through its opposition to universal background checks." Quite predictably, this has caused quite the reaction. He goes on to say how he intends to buy a gun at a gun show once he is released.

If we want to think critically about this we need to point out a few things:

1) Under current law it is illegal for a felon to even possess a firearm. This mean that even without "universal" background checks Mr. Bornman cannot buy or even touch a firearm legally!

2) FFLs at gun shows MUST submit NICS checks. Bornman cannot legally purchase a firearm from a FFL holder, regardless of whether or not the FFL holder in question is selling at a gun show or a store front.

3) It is already illegal to sell a firearm to a felon privately. Remember point one? This is related but a little different. While private sales are currently legal (in most, but not all states) it is still illegal to sell a firearm to a felon.

4) Laws do not enforce themselves. With the above three points taken into account, we can clearly see that It is already illegal for Bornman to buy a firearm. Adding a "universal" background check law to this list would only make an illegal activity "more illegal." It would not prevent Bornman, whom clearly has no regard for the law, from obtaining a firearm illegally. It would however prevent law abiding Americans from exercising an essential civil liberty.

5) If Bornman is writing so openly about his plans to break the law and possibly hurt people, why ever let him out of prison? His letter may have more to say about our criminal justice system than it does about gun control.

So what do we make of Bornman's letter? A few things. I think its clear he's the type of individual who likes poking the hornet's nest. He has a history of writing such letters. And though I suspect that's all this is, disarmed victims are easier to deal with from his perspective so it makes sense for him to villainize the NRA.

To summarize, the argument implicit in Bornman's letter is that universal background checks would prevent criminals from getting guns. This is clearly false, no law can enforce itself. Background checks are only as good as the information in them, and even the complete ban of certain products has not prevented their sale on the black market. To blame crime on the lack of a universal background check law, and thus place responsibility on the NRA for opposing it, is disingenuous.

It does, however, stir up the hornet's nest.

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