Universal Background Checks Revisited

I am a long time NRA member and I would support universal background checks for all firearms purchases if it was done the right way. My idea of the “right way” should be acceptable to most gun owners and I would hope it would also be supported by many non-gunowners concerned about firearms ending up in the wrong hands.

For those who may not be familiar with current firearms laws in the United States, almost all firearms sales through licensed dealers must be approved through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). One exception that I know of is that in Texas if you have a license to carry a firearm (concealed carry permit) the dealer can accept that without going through NICS. A person in Texas with a license to carry has already undergone a far more extensive background check than is done by NICS.

Universal background check was used to buy this gun
The S&W model handgun I can carry in Texas because I have a license

The problem in the eyes of many is the sale of firearms between private individuals that do not go through the NICS system. It is debatable just how problematic these sales really are and how much they really contribute to crime and gun violence in the U.S. Nevertheless I would like to suggest a system that could make universal backgrounds checks a reality for all legal sales.

One problem many gun owners see with most proposals for universal background checks is the temptation of government to create a database of gun owners that could be possibly used in the future to implement massive firearms confiscation (like what happened in Australia, so don’t tell gun owners they are being overly paranoid). The system I propose would help protect against that possibility.

Why not do a NICS background check on every American when they get a driver’s license or a government id? If the check passed then put a code on the back of the driver’s license indicating the individual can legally buy a firearm.

Now when you go into a store and want to buy a firearm you present your driver’s license and the dealer turns it over and looks at the back to confirm you have already been checked. If I, as a private individual, want to sell a firearm then I ask the purchaser to show me his or her driver’s license. Simple as that. (Note that this also helps me not violate Federal law which prohibits me from selling a firearm to someone who is not a resident of my state.)

The police conducting occasional “sting operations” to find people who don’t check the license in private sales could lead to a high degree of compliance among citizens who have no criminal intent. For those with criminal intentions laws are pretty useless. That is why we have prisons.

The basic idea is that the check is done routinely for almost everyone. When NICS gets a request all they know is that someone is applying for a driver’s license or id. They have no idea if the person will use that license in the future to buy a firearm.

Sometimes people do things that should cancel their right to buy a firearm. Not a big problem with this system. Take a away their license or id and give them a new one without the enabling code. Again, a very simple procedure.

Also obviously there should be strong provisions for a person to challenge the determination that takes away their right to buy firearms. Rights should not be suspended arbitrarily but only when based on objective and well defined criteria. There must be due process of law.

There are probably details in this plan for universal background checks that I haven’t thought of, but I do think the basic premise is sound. The most important part of such a plan is that it could appeal to a lot of people, both those who own firearms and those who do not.

 

Party Like It’s 1776 In America!

Recently a New Jersey High School principal apologized for “party like it’s 1776” on prom tickets. The principal wrote:

“I especially apologize to our African American students, who I have let down by not initially recognizing the inappropriateness of this wording.” Fox News

Party like it’s 1776

The facts do not support the idea that modern Americans should be ashamed of the founding of their country, nor should they be ashamed of the fact that slavery was still an existing institution in the new country, the founding of which is associated with the year 1776 and the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Sowell summed up the impulse that drives many modern racists trying to cash in on racism when he wrote:

“Those who mine history for sins are not searching for truth but for opportunities to denigrate their own society, or for grievances that can be cashed in today, at the expense of people who were not even born when the sins of the past were committed.” Thomas Sowell: Poisoning present by distorting slavery’s past

To hear many today you would think that slavery was invented by white Americans and the sin of slavery in America somehow negates the great virtues of America in particular, and Western Civilization in general. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Although we cannot know with absolute certainty when human slavery was invented we can be fairly certain from the evidence that it was practiced at least from the beginning of the Neolithic age well over 10,000 years ago.

In centuries since people of every human race have practiced slavery, and been enslaved. Probably through the whole of human history as many Caucasians have been enslaved as people of African descent – see White Slavery and Slavery on Wikipedia. The very word “slave” comes from the name of the Slavic people of Europe who were a source of slaves to the Muslim empire of the Middle Ages.

It is true that slavery was still being practiced in America at its founding, but America was not unique in that respect – slavery was common throughout the world at that time in many places. Only a fraction of Africans exported as slaves went to North America. Many more went to South America and Islamic countries of the Middle East.

What makes America different is that it was part of the Western Civilization that by the 18th century was starting to think of ending slavery and in the end did end it, at least in the parts controlled by it. Quoting Thomas Sowell again:

“Of all the tragic facts about the history of slavery, the most astonishing to an American today is that, although slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century. People of every race and color were enslaved – and enslaved others. White people were still being bought and sold as slaves in the Ottoman Empire, decades after American blacks were freed.”

“Everyone hated the idea of being a slave but few had any qualms about enslaving others. Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century – and then it was an issue only in Western civilization. Among those who turned against slavery in the 18th century were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other American leaders. You could research all of the 18th century Africa or Asia or the Middle East without finding any comparable rejection of slavery there. But who is singled out for scathing criticism today? American leaders of the 18th century.”

“Deciding that slavery was wrong was much easier than deciding what to do with millions of people from another continent, of another race, and without any historical preparation for living as free citizens in a society like that of the United States, where they were 20 percent of the population.”

“It is clear from the private correspondence of Washington, Jefferson, and many others that their moral rejection of slavery was unambiguous, but the practical question of what to do now had them baffled. That would remain so for more than half a century.”

That question was finally answered by a war in which one life was lost [620,000 Civil War casualties] for every six people freed [3.9 million].

The Thomas Sowell Reader

Americans of all colors should be proud of America and of 1776. Go ahead and party like it’s 1776!

Was America perfect at its founding? No. Was it a step in the right direction? Absolutely!

History records the evils that men and women have done. It also records their difficult progress, step by step, to eliminate evil. In that story, the story of America is one of progress in that direction. It was not a story without error, or without evils, but it was a story of great progress, some of the greatest.

Men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others were slave owners in their lifetime, but their acts and their intellectual contributions certainly were key in setting the foundations for the elimination of slavery in America.

No American should ever apologize for 1776 to anyone. America inherited slavery from the past and among other countries in the West, especially Great Britain, America fought to abolish it. Black American slaves were not freed soon after 1776, but the fact is that 1776 was instrumental in getting to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the final freeing of slaves in 1865.

Americans are not proud of the history of slavery in America, but they are justifiably proud of their country’s achievements in ending it, and the great sacrifices they made to do so.

Yes, let’s party like it’s 1776.

Don’t Be A Dick

Dick’s Sporting Goods, also doing business as “Field & Stream,”  seems very determined to alienate a sizable portion of their clientele. The NRA-ILA (National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action) summed it up pretty well:

We have recently been reporting on the bizarre anti-gun activism of one of the nation’s larger firearm retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods and its affiliated Field & Stream stores. First, the company announced it would stop selling most centerfire semi-automatic rifles at its stores, carry only limited capacity magazines for semi-automatic guns, and ban firearm sales to certain legally eligible adults. It then took the further step of declaring it would destroy its inventory of the newly-restricted firearms at company expense. And if that weren’t enough, the news also recently broke that the company had hired expensive D.C. lobbyists to push for gun control measures on Capitol Hill.

Dick’s, in other words, was positioning itself as a rising star in the field of corporate gun control activism, in obvious contradiction of its own financial interests.

Hard Times for Dick’s as Second Amendment Supporters Respond to Company’s Anti-Gun Bent, May 11, 2018

Dick’s opened a new outlet recently in Cedar Park, Texas which is not too far from where I live. I have bought a few things in that store and was contemplating the purchase of a Ruger LC9s (highly concealable 9mm handgun to go with my Texas Concealed Carry Permit). They gave me a “SCORECARD” to keep track of my purchases and win points towards future discounts. Their prices on handguns looked to me to be pretty good and they carried all the latest models.

Unfortunately though I had to modify the “SCORECARD” – see below:

Dick’s Sporting Goods SCORECARD, Modified

Dick’s prices are good, but not any better than at least one other store in Austin, Texas that doesn’t discriminate against Modern Sporting Rifles (an AR-15, for example) and their legal accessories. They also have a pretty good price on the Ruger LC9s. Guess that is where I am going to be shopping for that particular purchase. It sure won’t be at Dick’s!

Here is my advice for Americans who value their right to self defense explicitly recognized in the Constitution of the United States in the 2nd Amendment:

Don’t be a Dick.

Don’t buy from Dick’s Sporting Goods or Field & Stream.