In 1934 the first federal gun control law was passed. It was stupid and broken from the first day. The gist was that because bad people were using machine guns to kill other bad people and sometimes good people (or cops) got hurt the federal government needed to stop the proliferation of guns.
The method picked was to make the cost of machine guns to expensive for people to afford. The debates in congress explicitly mentioned that taxing gun transfers was the only possible way to create a law that would pass constitutional review. Originally they wanted to apply the NFA to pistols but that was cut from the final bill.
In the end they put machine guns, short barreled shotguns, silencers, and pistol like rifles (Short barreled rifles).
Of course this did not do anything for anybody. The law was not enforced as it was. If somebody was caught with an NFA item that wasn’t registered they were just required to send in their $200 and register the item.
It wasn’t until 1936 that it was actually used. In this case a moonshiner by the name of Miller was caught at a supply cache which the ATF thought was a working still. Since they couldn’t arrest Miller for having a bunch of sugar they used the new NFA to charge him with possession of a sawed off shotgun.
It went to court. The entire NFA was ruled unconstitutional by the lower court. That should have been the end of the NFA. It wasn’t. The government appealed it all the way to the supreme court where the government argued unopposed. They made such wild claims as “A shotgun isn’t a weapon that would be used by the militia thus it is not protected by the second amendment.”
Yep, in 1936 the government was arguing that only “military style weapons” were covered by the second amendment. And the argument regarding shotguns was false. The military used shotguns in WW I and many other conflicts and they continue to be used.
The next federal gun control laws came in 1968. This defined a class of people that were prohibited from owning guns and made it illegal for those prohibited people to possess a firearm. In addition, it created the FFL system. This was all in response to people buying guns by mail. Congress claimed that forcing people to buy firearms from FFLs would keep bad people from getting firearms.
In 1986 the gun control act of 1968 was passed which made it illegal to add machineguns to the NFA.
In 1998 the Brady Law went into effect. This is the start of 4473s and “Instant Background Checks”.
It was going to go through but the NRA got it amended such that the government was required to create an instant background check. The requirement was that the check should come back fast enough that a person could still purchase a firearm on the same day. They required the “proceed if not denied” within 3 days. All of this kept the federal government from abusing the background checks into a de facto multi month waiting period.
If we don’t tell the FFL to proceed for 6 to 12 months then we having created a waiting period, it just takes that long.
Originally there was no system in place for an instant check so the federal government was given a limited amount of time to create the instant check. During the period from the passing of the Brady Law and the creation of NICS there was a 5 day waiting period for purchase of firearms. Again, no deny within 5 days and the sale could proceed.
There were also provisions about how long FFLs had to keep transfer records and what happened to those records if the FFL went out of business. One of the big requirements was no federal gun registry was permitted.
All of that gets us to the actual subject of this article.
A company is proposing that the NICS system be privatized. The argument they are making is that they already do a better job of background checks than the government thus they are especially suited to provide the same service for the purchase of firearms.
Because the states are not required to report to NICS they don’t. But this private company can get the information the federal government can’t. Of course they have a scare number.
According to the FBI, 43 states had met the requirements for collecting crime data according to the agency’s specifications as of Oct. 31, 2020. That means just 86% of the country is adequately covering its bases when it comes to screening gun buyers. That leaves plenty of room for the wrong person to wield a firearm.
Of course they don’t tell you why the FBI believes that 7 states aren’t meeting reporting requirements. Just that only 86% do.
According to them, using an “expert source”, a reporter for PBS:
Martha Bellisle wrote she believes the FBI’s background check database should, in theory, have “a definitive list of people who are prohibited from having guns.” This would include convicts, people who’d been committed to a mental institution, dishonorably discharged military members, drug addicts and more.
Hmmm, that’s interesting “and more” Bellisle isn’t interested in just keeping prohibited people from purchasing firearms, she wants more. Maybe it is that person that looked at her and scared her. Or that doesn’t have a high enough social credit score.
Having just spent a number of paragraphs telling us it is the states not reporting which is an issue, they bring up the church shooting in Charleston. There the shooter was able to purchase the firearm he used because the federal government (the military) didn’t report that he was convicted.
Their proposed solution?
While many government agencies stick with the NICS process, given the choice, many companies elect to partner with a private background screening vendor. That’s because the private sector is generally faster, more accurate, more comprehensive and more customizable.
While the FBI has access to database information, so do private screening companies.
The go on to imply that they would require drug testing as well.
Given all the evidence above, it’s clear that there are better methods of handling background checks than relying on the federal government. Screening buyers through the private sector could prevent needless, gun-related deaths, which means it’s certainly worth a try.
Of interest is that the only outside references are to the people that wrote/sponsored the article.