Background Checks Just Don’t Work — Here’s Why They Fail

Background checks are often hailed as the perfect prescription for gun violence and measures passed by the House and under consideration by the Senate could just make things worse. As the Senate is poised to consider an expansion of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, gun control advocates are more vocal than ever.

Despite the constant call for increased background checks, the existing system is already flawed, and expanding it will simply remove the rights of law-abiding citizens, according to a recent piece in the New York Times.

The recent mass shooting of 26 church goers in Sutherland Springs Texas highlights the failures of the background check system. When Devin Kelley went on to kill members of his own extended family, he had already been convicted of domestic violence and received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force. He had also been committed involuntarily into the care of a mental health facility.

The Air Force failed to report his conviction and mental health issues to federal authorities, despite having policies in place that required them to do so. This is not the first time the military failed to report a case; had it been properly reported, Kelley would not have passed the background check for a firearm.

While the current background check proposals aim to improve the effectiveness of these checks, they rely on reporting and accuracy. Accuracy problems cause two issues; they allow the mentally ill to access firearms and they prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from using their Second Amendment rights to protect their homes and families.

In both cases, background checks fail to do what they are intended to do, leaving citizens stripped of their rights and unable to protect their families.

Over the last four-year period that has comprehensive data available (2006-2010), the background check system triggered over 377,000 denials. In some cases, an applicant was blocked from buying a gun due to mistakes in reporting, rendering them unable to protect themselves and their families. Others, like Kelley, were wrongly approved by this flawed system.

Until a true fix can be found, one that repairs the flawed existing system, broad background checks simply won’t reduce the number of shootings and crime we experience. The system that allows mentally ill individuals like Devin Kelley to pass and easily buy a firearm, but blocks thousands of others for no reason simply is not working.

Passing a bill that addresses both the issue of mentally ill individuals accessing guns and preserves the rights of law-abiding, healthy gun owners will take more than simply expanding the flawed bill that is in place. As politicians struggle for the approval of specific gun control groups and bow to pressure, they are also taking irrevocable steps that infringe upon the rights and safety of gun owners and restrict those individuals’ Second Amendment rights.

~ Firearm Daily

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