Bloomberg Saves His Sinking Ship

posted on August 31, 2015

Oregon’s recently passed background check law, which went into effect Aug. 9, is running into serious problems, prompting one billionaire gun-banner to fork over mega bucks just to promote the law.

The state’s so-called “universal” background check law is floundering right out of the box—something big-bucks gun-hater Michael Bloomberg’s ego just can’t handle. So in an unheard-of move, Bloomberg is spending “six figures” to promote the law with television commercials in the Eugene and Portland markets—after it has already been passed and implemented!

More and more Americans are becoming aware of how the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has repeatedly failed to stop the perpetrators of high-profile crimes from obtaining their crime guns (including, recently, in Charleston, S.C., and Lafayette, La.). Small wonder, then, that a number of Oregon law enforcement officials, faced with limited resources and the constant pressures of serious person and property crimes, have decided the new background check law is low on their list of priorities, if it even makes the list at all. Small wonder, then, that a number of Oregon law enforcement officials, faced with limited resources and the constant pressures of serious person and property crimes, have decided the new background check law is low on their list of priorities, if it even makes the list at all. 

In fact, Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel recently told Oregon Public Radio that his office would not be making the new law a priority.

“At the end of the day it boils down to money,” Sheriff Daniel told OPR. “We just don’t have the funds right now to support certain levels of enforcement. We talk about person crimes, which are certainly going to be top on our priority list, and then we go down to property crime, second on our list. Then you go down to a background check type of a law, which is really not a person crime or a property crime.”

And while Bloomberg and others anti-gunners have promoted the new laws as the end-all answer to violent gun violence, Sheriff Daniel predicts it will have more of an effect on law-abiding Oregonians than violent criminals.

“They’re going to get (a gun) anyway,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. This process of having the people that are law abiding, and they want to transfer guns, go through the system, is fine. But the bad people are going to get the guns regardless. So I truly think it’s a waste of time.”

In addition to a lack of law-enforcement support in some parts of the state, the law is also hitting roadblocks with the federal firearms licensees needed to do such background check for sales even among close friends.

According to a feature story in the Eugene Register-Guard, a representative for the Fred Meyer chain has said that company will not conduct private sale background checks at its 20 stores that sell guns. Most local stores contacted by the newspaper said they would conduct the checks—for a $20 to $50 fee.

Joe Williams, who owns The Gun Works Muzzleloading Emporium in Springfield, told the Register-Guard that he hasn’t yet decided on a fee amount, but he said he was willing to provide the service “at the moment.”

Calling state police to do a check has taken him up to 45 minutes in the past, however, Williams added, and he would stop doing checks “if it becomes too much of a headache. That’s 45 minutes of my life I never get back,” he said.

The lack of law enforcement support and questionable access to FFLs to conduct the background checks has apparently frustrated Bloomberg enough that he’s willing to drop a couple hundred thousand bucks to try to buy some goodwill for the law on television. Which begs the question, “Why?”

And we know the answer: Advocates of civilian disarmament know that they cannot succeed unless the government knows which Americans actually own firearms. That process starts with creating a record of every firearm transfer. Thus, despite the consistent failure of the current background check system to make a difference when it matters most, gun prohibitionists want to make a NICS check mandatory each time a gun changes hands.

This path to firearm registration is one most Americans strongly oppose. But as the situation in Oregon proves, that fact won’t stop Bloomberg from spending his millions to continue pushing us farther down that road.

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Randy Kozuch
Randy Kozuch

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