As a general rule, firearm retailers in America have done a commendable job of standing up to the firearm prohibitionists when they make nutty demands of them. These often relate to complaints about things like the types and numbers of guns being sold and the locations of stores. The retailers take some solace in knowing that they are helping people exercise a fundamental freedom. Now, the integrity of their spines is being tested with regard to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Last week I wrote about the “conditional proceed” provision that was intentionally incorporated into the NICS law when it was adopted in 1993. The “instant” part of the background check system is misleading, to say the least. The FBI has up to three business days (sometimes an entire week, depending on how holidays and weekends work into the mix) to investigate a potential gun buyer’s background if the initial check is not definitive for one reason or another.The government’s real, base historical duty as intended from those first days after defeating the British is to ensure that an individual’s rights and due process are not denied.
At the end of the three business days, the dealer is allowed to proceed with the transfer of the firearm. Without this deadline provision, the 1993 Brady Law that created NICS would have never passed into law. Reasonable policymakers knew that it would be wrong to create a system whereby the government could indefinitely deny Americans the ability to exercise a fundamental right. They also knew that it would be an incentive for government officials to get their act together and make the computer system as up-to-date and comprehensive as possible.
Now, 13 U.S. senators—a who’s-who of the victim-creation movement—have written a letter to large firearm retailers demanding that they never transfer a firearm without first getting the “all clear” from the federal government, regardless of how long the wait might be. They state that 15,729 prohibited firearm possessors had firearms transferred to them over the last five years when retailers exercised their option to proceed after the three days had passed.
It is important to always keep numbers in perspective—something the anti-gunners seem entirely incapable of doing. In the last five years, there have been 92.5 million NICS checks conducted. The FBI reports that 91 percent of all checks really are “instant.” This means that 8.3 million checks were delayed because information in the NICS system was insufficient. This is not an insignificant number in my way of thinking. Of these 8.3 million, a mere 15,729 (.00189 percent) ended up with firearms being transferred to disqualified individuals. This is .00017 percent of the entire 92.5 million checks. For a government-run operation, that is nothing short of a miracle.
The senators are taking a page from Jesse Jackson’s shakedown playbook and calling for a boycott of the retailers until they cave to their demands. They claim that “[t]he short-term inconvenience [to prospective gun buyers] is minimal.” That is because they never think of the woman who lives in the shadow of a violent predator and who is anxiously counting the seconds until she obtains the true protection only a firearm can provide. Their utopia is a place where predators are emboldened and good folks are left vulnerable.
Stores that cave to these demands become an integral part of the senators’ big gun-control machinery. They want to delay, discourage and stop as many gun sales as possible. These are the same extremists who want to see that Americans are denied constitutional rights due to the fact that their names are added to some mysterious, secret government watch list—a listing that cannot be reviewed or appealed. Secret lists that deny fundamental human rights have no place in America, period.Unlike the determined predator who will get his or her gun illegally, the good person is at the mercy of the government check system and, ultimately, the retailer after three business days of waiting.
The letter from the senators also states, “You have a duty to ensure that your products do not get into the hands of dangerous individuals like the Emanuel AME Church shooter.” The last time I checked, this is the government’s “duty.” The retailers must rely entirely on the validity and efficacy of the NICS system itself. If the system is only solid 91 percent of the time, how are retailers expected to be any better? The government’s real, base historical duty as intended from those first days after defeating the British is to ensure that an individual’s rights and due process are not denied. This is far more important than any system contrived in 1993.
If I were a federally licensed dealer, I would reverse this duty for myself. It would be my duty to ensure that I lawfully get my constitutionally protected products into the hands of Americans who need them as quickly as possible. I would not punish prospective gun owners with further delay because the government is incapable of doing its job efficiently.
I would understand that the one thing that can be controlled in the violence equation is whether the good guys are armed. The bad guys are always going to be able to get their tools of choice, usually through illicit means. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that this is the case with 77 percent of all criminals in state prisons.
One of the worst things that could happen to me is to realize that I played a voluntary role in a system that denies a good person a means of defense when it is needed most. Unlike the determined predator who will get his or her gun illegally, the good person is at the mercy of the government check system and, ultimately, the retailer after three business days of waiting.
Retailers should stand strong against the demand of nanny-state senators. They should use the government system to the best of their abilities, but they should work to guarantee that the rights of free Americans are not denied. Their way of doing this is to ensure that citizens are not deprived of their rights for more than the three business days listed in the Brady Law. This is wholly within their power. Whether bad guys get guns or any other form of weapon is not.