Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Proposal for a Workable Firearms Transfer Background Check Law

A couple of us have thought of a background check proposal that might accomplish most or all of what we really want but with far less acrimony. So here is an idea if this is to be revisited again and assuming for the moment that the present bills are not resurrected. I’ve stolen some ideas from a colleague (with thanks) but modified them with my own additions, so any rotten fruit should be thrown at me alone. Here would be the basis of the law.

1. It is of material and social benefit to society to verify that a person unknown to you is not a prohibited person before selling or transferring to them a firearm. (the estimated cost to society of a homicide and resulting legal, health care, and incarceration issues are estimated to be over a million dollars  ).

2. The best way to verify that a stranger is not a prohibited person is through a background check via a law enforcement agency that collects all the relevant records, i.e., the FBI's NICS system or equivalent. Because it is virtually impossible to enforce mandatory background checks between private parties short of a continuous sting operation or universal registration (for which the political will is simply not present), the best way to do this is via encouragement rather than punitive means.

3. Therefore, the State of New Mexico should create the mechanism whereby any private party selling or transferring a gun can voluntarily obtain a free, instant background check through the State (perhaps the Dept. of Public Safety, DPS) or a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). Details to be worked out and could entail:

a. A full tax credit or refund from the State of New Mexico for fees incurred if this is done at an FFL.
b. New Mexico can become a "point of contact state" like Nevada under its old rules that were
repealed when its present unworkable, Everytown for Gun Safety law was adopted. The DPS and Attorney General could research how Nevada did this and initiate a similar system run out of DPS. This could even be researched to see if it could be done online.

4. If money is an issue, some sort of cost share out of general funds and a 1% excise tax on ammunition could be considered.

5. If gun control advocates need a pound of flesh, the bill could indicate that the background check provides full immunity to the seller if the person getting the gun turns out to have prohibited person status whereas in the case of a sale without a free background check, the seller would entail legal responsibility for an illegal sale, especially if the gun is used in a crime.

The bottom line is this should be cooperative. The Everytown battle has been combative. If the public wants a solution, we need to think outside the box. I really think if we did this with local folks rather than bare knuckle out of state lobbyists, we might get somewhere.


Weer'd Beard said...

The BEST way to do this is to simply have an endorsement on state-issue ID cards (Driver's Licences for 99% of the population).

The easiest way would be to run EVERY applicant for an ID card through the NICS system (or equivalent) and unless the person has a criminal history the licence is unmarked.

When somebody is convicted of a serious crime part of the sentencing is that all issued IDs be surrendered and a new ID is issued upon completion of their criminal sentence, ideally with a Scarlet "F" for Felon (H/T N Hawthorne).

And there you have it! a truly instant background check accessible to all 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and has no threat of sinister behavior from an anti-gun political group.

We don't like "universal background Checks" because A) It costs money and time to involve a gun shop.
B) It limits accessibility, say if you want to give somebody a rifle on Christmas day and all the shops are closed, or if you live in the sticks where the nearest FFL is a 2 hour drive.
C) Name, Address, Make Model Serial Number on a 4473 is a strong potential for a national registry.
D) Having a central Government computer network at the core, means that "Server Maintenance" halts ALL GUN SALES in the nation (it happens more often than you'd think) and a VERY hostile government could either mess with the system to make gun sales difficult, or defund the NICS causing a de-facto ban, much like how Illinois "banned" concealed carry. (If you don't know, concealed carry was ALWAYS legal in Illinois, just in the early 20th century they started requiring permits....then in the 70s they just shut down the departments that issued the if you HAD a permit you could carry, but unless you could get a local chief to do you a favor and draft you up one personally, there was no department or officer who's job was to issue permits, so no permits were issued)

Also this adds in another factor that I think would be good for society. I know so many people who are prohibited persons because they got caught at a young age in a relatively minor crime, (most often getting caught with small amounts of drugs in high school or college) and so as not to derail their lives with lengthy and expensive court battles, they took a plea deal that kept them out of jail, but left them a convicted felon.

Many of them never realized what a life-changing event that felony record is until decades later, but knowing you will forever have a physical reminder in your wallet as long as you live to go with the legal status that is just as forever, might get people to not only rethink plea bargaining to felony charges, as well as all the stupid crap we label people as "Felons" for.

Oh, and an unmarked licence will also serve as your concealed carry permit.

And of course the anti-gun side would NEVER agree with this, because background checks and gun violence was, is, and will never be their end-goal. Their end goal is ALWAYS banning and confiscating firearms.

Khal said...

Good points, Weer'd!