More Pointless Virtue Signaling On Guns

The House has passed H.R. 8, which purports to require “universal background checks.” Section 2 of H.R. 8 boldly states the Act’s purpose:

The purpose of this Act is to utilize the current background checks process in the United States to ensure individuals prohibited from gun possession are not able to obtain firearms.

Of course it does no such thing. Criminals who are prevented from buying guns from federally licensed dealers don’t go without firearms. They buy them from fellow gang members or neighborhood fences, or they use straw purchasers whose names are not in the NICS system. Often, they steal them. (Actually, criminals who are not in the NICS background check system generally prefer to obtain firearms illegally, too.)

Obviously, adopting a new law that says gang members and must run a background check before selling a gun to a fellow gang member will do no good.

As for mentally ill people who are dangerous and should not own firearms, the problem is that they are almost never in the NICS system. To my knowledge, there has never been a mass shooting incident that would have been prevented by “universal background checks.”

The bill was written by politicians who don’t understand, or don’t care, how people in the hinterlands actually use guns. Thus, there are exceptions for, e.g., spouses and parents and children–you don’t have to pay a dealer to run a background check before transferring a firearm to your son. But you would have to pay for a background check before lending a gun to a friend, even though you know a great deal more about him than the NICS system does. The exceptions are narrow; e.g., you can lend a friend a gun at a range if he is “in your presence” throughout the time he possesses the gun.

I don’t think anyone seriously believes that H.R. 8, if it passed, would reduce crime. But the Democrats think they can gain votes by demagoguing the gun issue, so virtue signaling is all that matters.

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