So-called “universal” background checks have become a go-to gun control push for anti-Second Amendment politicians. They come out of the woodwork to push such checks each time a high-profile firearm-based crime occurs. The fact that the vast majority of high-profile attackers already acquire their guns via background checks matters not; gun control proponents step up and demand that background checks be expanded to cover private gun sales anyway.
We saw this after the horrific attack on Sandy Hook Elementary. President Barack Obama called for universal background checks, Vice President Joe Biden called for them, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., pushed legislation containing such checks, and the whole of the Democrat Party rallied to secure them.
But a strange thing happened while Manchin was trying to sell his gun control bill: The American people realized such checks would not prevent another Sandy Hook from occurring because the gunman in that attack did not acquire his guns via some private sale in a dark alley—rather, he stole his guns. Moreover, he stole them from his mother, then killed her before going to the school.
During an April 14, 2013, appearance on "Face the Nation," Manchin admitted his gun control would not have prevented the attack on Sandy Hook.The bottom line—no amount of gun control would have stopped him, and universal background checks, in particular, would have proven impotent to restrain his evil desires. (During an April 14, 2013, appearance on "Face the Nation," Manchin admitted his gun control would not have prevented the attack on Sandy Hook.)
If Manchin is right—that is, if universal background checks would not have prevented Sandy Hook—why do Democrats continue to push such checks, and why have entire gun control groups formed with seemingly the sole purpose of securing them? The answer is that universal background checks are insidious, and instead of being the end-all, be-all gun control that makes Americans safe, they are the vehicle through which other controls—including gun registries—are instituted. In fact, universal background checks are unenforceable without a gun registry.
Think about the mechanics behind universal background checks. They treat private sales like retail sales and require a background check to be performed whenever a gun changes hands. In many cases this includes requiring a background check before a hunter can loan a gun to a fellow hunter. Viewed theoretically, the Left sees these checks as a way to “keep guns out of the wrong hands.” The theory sounds good and, when pushed after a high-profile attack, benefits from good-hearted Americans who are thinking with their emotions rather than their brains.
But ask yourself one simple question: How can the government know whether a gun is changing hands? That is, how can they know a resident in Nebraska is not selling a gun to his neighbor in Nebraska at this very moment? How can the government know that a resident in Kentucky is not selling a gun to his neighbor in Kentucky at this very moment? After all, they have to know these things in order to make universal background checks enforceable.
Consider the example of California, a state that adopted universal background checks in the 1990s. They followed those checks with numerous other gun controls, a gun registry chief among them. It is the registry that makes universal background checks enforceable, because it is the registry that tells the government the name of every gun owner and the guns that owner possesses.
By the way, in addition to adding registration to universal background checks, California also added firearm confiscation laws.By the way, in addition to adding registration to universal background checks, California also added firearm confiscation laws. Some of the laws allow for permanent confiscation and others for temporary confiscation via Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs), but all ultimately revolve around confiscation.
Universal Background Checks
Again, this is not in some foreign country—although gun laws in foreign countries could be cited to bolster the dangers of universal background checks. Rather, it is in the United States.
The fact that universal background checks are not enforceable without a gun registry was not lost on New Mexico sheriffs during a recent Democrat push to enact such checks there. On Feb. 9, 2017, Breitbart News reported that 32 of New Mexico’s 33 sheriff signed a letter warning that Democrats’ push for universal background checks would necessitate a gun registry.
New Mexico residents rallied around the sheriffs and defeated universal background checks, thereby defeating a gun registry.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of “Bullets with AWR Hawkins,” a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.