What Everytown Doesn’t Want You to Know About “Universal” Background Checks

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posted on June 18, 2021
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courtesy the NSSF

The Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is airing a series of new television and digital advertisements in Alaska, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas, according to The Hill. In the process, the group is spending a reported $500,000 to promote legislation mandating so-called “universal” background checks on all firearm sales.

“These ads are a reminder that background checks aren’t a partisan issue, and that the vast majority of Americans support common-sense steps to keep guns away from dangerous people,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, claimed in a statement. “Whether you’re talking to Republicans, Democrats, gun owners or law enforcement, there is bipartisan support for strengthening background checks, and we’ll keep reminding Congress of that fact until we see action.”

While there may be some “bipartisan” support for what anti-gun activists refer to as “universal” background checks, Feinblatt’s suggestion that “the vast majority of Americans” want these background checks is specious, at best. And such background checks on private sales would do little to nothing to curb crime—study after study has found that criminals get the vast majority of their illicit firearms through the black market and other illegal means.

Currently, any individual or business in possession of a Federal Firearms License (FFL) has to run a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before the individual or business can lawfully transfer a firearm to someone. Yes, these FFLs must also conduct background checks through NICS for gun-show sales, too.

Private sales between individuals, including family and friends, do not require a background check at the federal level. Yet, under certain “universal” background-check schemes, these private citizens would be required to have an FFL run background checks through NICS before they could complete the transfer of a firearm. Some background check bills go so far as to require a background check for a simple loan of a firearm. One big problem with “universal” background checks is they are unenforceable, for all practical purposes, without some kind of mandatory national firearm registry; after all, without knowing exactly who has what gun, how can the authorities then enforce the law? Thanks to the NRA, a national firearm registry is prohibited under federal law. Even if such an unconstitutional law were to be enacted, how could it be ensured that over 100 million gun owners would register around 400 million guns? If they still think this is possible, they should talk to Canada’s officials about their failed attempt to create a national gun registry.

In March 2021, the U.S House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021. In a statement after the bill passed the House, Jason Ouimet, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, noted that, “H.R. 8, so-called ‘universal’ background checks, cannot be enforced without a federal gun registry, will not prevent crime, and will turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals for simply loaning a firearm to friends or family members.​ If Congress is serious about the safety of law-abiding citizens, it should have passed concealed carry reciprocity so that Americans can safeguard themselves and their families across state lines and throughout our country during these dangerous times.”

Another problem with such legislation, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is that “FFLs face liability if a private sale is conducted for modified guns with unsafe changes from factory configuration.”

As far as a “vast majority” of American clamoring for universal background checks? A 2016 ballot initiative in Maine to mandate universal background checks failed with just shy of 52% of those citizens voting “NO.”

In that same year, universal background checks did pass on the Nevada ballot, but by the thinnest of margins, passing 50.45% YES to 49.55% NO.

The more people learn about “universal” background checks, the less they like them.

In 2019 and 2020, the anti-gun group Ohioans for Gun Safety attempted to have a “universal” background checks measure placed on that state’s ballot for the 2021 elections. The group needed to gather signatures in support of the ballot measure equal to 6% of the votes cast in the state’s preceding gubernatorial election, and had to get those signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Ohioans for Gun Safety failed to get the necessary number of signatures.

A “vast majority” of Americans favor “universal” background checks? Hardly.

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