Universal Background Checks
Murder is a horrible thing. Violence is unacceptable in society. On that, we all agree. Where we part ways with our fellow law abiding citizens is the method to reduce crime and ultimately make us all safer. One side will tell you that we need to regulate guns, perform background checks and they call for "common sense" regulations. The problem is, there's no such thing as common sense regulations regarding gun control. Why? They end up disarming the law abiding citizen and making that person easy prey for the criminal. To protect a gazelle from a lion, what rational being would remove its horns?
While it’s tempting to pass more gun laws to address the violence, these laws aren’t an effective means of reducing the crime rate. They are often driven out of fear rather than logic and reason.
We're told that we should really focus on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and that's certainly a noble goal. No one will disagree that we should do everything in our power to stop violent felons from committing another crime. We can all agree that with over 60% of violent felons returning to prison within three years of their release, it's a huge cause for concern.
Here's the problem. Violent felons don't typically head over to their local gun store to buy a weapon. The guns are more expensive than the black market and there are witnesses to their gun purchase that have no issue in pointing the finger at the guilty party. Most of the guns used in crime aren't purchased legally. The vast majority of the people that submit to background checks are law abiding citizens. Effectively, we're driving up the cost of guns and violating the 2nd Amendment for law abiding citizens without making a meaningful impact on the target of the background check.
When you examine the statistics, this becomes very clear. In 2013, there were 21,093,273 background checks performed and we prosecuted 44 people for illegally trying to obtain a firearm. Think about that for a minute. We're forcing 21 million people through a background check. This results in consuming about an hour of their time, plus an hour of the store's time to catch 44 people. That makes absolutely no sense at all. If you assume the average wage of $25 an hour in the US and add up the number of man hours spent that led to 44 arrests, that equates out to nearly $24,000,000 per arrest, not including the tax payer burden for the administration of this program.
I believe there's a better way. We can address this massive waste of time and money by ending background checks. We can address crime by shifting our focus on proven methods of crime reduction, none of which involve making law abiding citizens jump through hoops for little to no gain. Investigation, prosecution, incarceration and diligent release programs are some of the keys to lower the crime rate.
Investigation: We must solve crimes or the person committing the crimes will continue his/her behavior until caught. We've been making a lot of progress in this area over the past 40 years. Crime is down significantly across the board, so let's do what has been working. Apply technology, properly fund law enforcement and our justice department to ensure they're catching and locking up those guilty of committing crimes.
Prosecution: We need to address the over-crowding of our courts. Accused individuals at times go months, even years without prosecution. We have created a giant game of kick the can and while the accused are waiting for a trial, they're typically out free causing more damage. So how do we clear this backlog? We need a comprehensive review of the courts in this country. Federal, State and local must be addressed. To aid in their backlog, we need to stop prosecuting victimless crimes. I know we will all disagree on the exact definition of victimless crime but to me, if another individual's rights haven't been infringed on, it's not a crime. This will be a topic by itself at a later date.
Incarceration: Once we identify the criminal, it's not productive to allow them early release in the case of violent offenses. If you're convicted of murder, there's not much point in rehabilitation. Instead, we should focus on keeping you in a safe place where you can't murder again. Violent crimes should have very lengthy sentences. When your victim doesn't get an opportunity for rehabilitation, the same should apply to you. On the other hand, we need to stop jailing people for crimes against themselves, such as minor drug offenses. It costs society too much to jail them and it does nothing to assist the drug addict. I don't think we should spend so much time trying to protect people from themselves. If we’re really trying to help, then stop putting these individuals in jail and start putting them programs that have shown positive results.
Diligent release programs: Once we decide a criminal can be reintegrated into society, there needs to be a focus on real integration. While I can understand a label on a repeat offender, we may be making things too difficult on the one time offender that really did make a mistake and wants the chance to live a normal life. There are some good programs across the nation that are making some progress in these areas and it's one of the reasons our crime rate is down. Let’s train the one time offender to do a job, assist that individual in obtaining a job and try to break the cycle. Ultimately the change will have to come from the individual but we aren’t helping society by making it harder for the one time offender to integrate into society.
Let's double down on the proven methods that are really making a dent in the crime rate. To look at a law abiding citizen with a raised eyebrow because that person wants to engage in a legal activity isn't terribly smart. Would anyone be ok with a mandatory background check to buy a newspaper? To write a news article? A blog? Should we have to pass a background check to own a computer because child predators have used computers to find victims? Of course we shouldn't be doing those things. They simply don't work. We run programs that catch child predators in the act and put them in jail. That’s the way we stop criminals in their tracks. We get creative and we lower crime through proven methods.
It's time to put background checks out to pasture. They provide little if any value and they infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. The entire point of the 2nd Amendment is to tell the Federal Government that they may not set the conditions of the people to keep and bear arms. The 14th Amendment provides the same protections from the States. Let's end this wasteful program and shift the funding to programs that have proven themselves to be effective.
Next time your elected representatives call for stricter gun control, understand that those laws will only apply to the law abiding citizens. Understand that making it more difficult for the law abiding citizen to obtain a weapon doesn’t stop the criminal. Understand that 99.997% of the guns in America weren’t used in a murder last year. Understand that allowing the government to force you to get permission prior to exercising a constitutionally protected right is dangerous and defeats the original purpose of the 2nd Amendment. We don’t have a 2nd Amendment right so we can hunt, the 2nd Amendment exists as a check and balance to federal power.
Why would we give up that freedom for the illusion of safety?
The number of violent felons that will return to prison within 3 years.