Saturday’s fatal shooting rampage in Kalamazoo once again raises a question nobody in the gun control camp has managed to answer except to demand stricter gun laws: Do background checks really prevent crime?
Back in December, the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms exposed the failures of Initiative 594 to keep guns out of the wrong hands, on the one-year anniversary of its effective date. I-594 was sold to the public as tool to prevent criminals from getting guns.
The Michigan suspect, identified as Jason Dalton, reportedly has a clean record. He passed a background check for Uber, according to the Washington Post, and he owned firearms that, if they were bought at retail, would have required a background check. With a clean criminal record, any citizen can legally purchase a firearm.
UPDATE: The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Dalton has been charged with six counts of open murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and eight counts of felony firearm and was expected to be in court Monday afternoon for arraignment. Six people died and two more were wounded in the Saturday shootings that unfolded over the course of a few hours.
Elliot Rodger, the Santa Barbara spree killer, passed a background check in California, and probably more than one because he had three handguns, all bought legally. Vester Lee Flanagan, the man who gunned down two Virginia television journalists during a live remote broadcast last year had passed a background check. Ditto James Holmes, the mass killer in Aurora, Colorado. Tashfeen Malik, a San Bernardino terror suspect, reportedly passed screening by the Department of Homeland Security.
“Far from demonstrating the lifesaving potential of gun control, the Isla Vista massacre, which took place in a state with firearm laws that are among the strictest in the nation, exposes the false promise of policies that aim to prevent violence by limiting access to weapons.”–Reason, May 2014
The question about background checks is valid, since so many high-profile shooters have passed them. Both Fort Hood shooters passed background checks. So did Aaron Alexis, the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard gunman.
In 2014, Reason discussed this problem. “None of the items on the anti-gun lobby’s wish list makes sense as a response to the crimes of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old college student who murdered Martinez’s son and five other people (in Santa Barbara). Far from demonstrating the lifesaving potential of gun control, the Isla Vista massacre, which took place in a state with firearm laws that are among the strictest in the nation, exposes the false promise of policies that aim to prevent violence by limiting access to weapons.”
Last week, the Seattle Times reported that a 16-year-old wanted in connection with the slaying of Wesley Gennings in Federal Way was armed when he was arrested at a local high school. Sixteen-year-olds can’t legally buy handguns, nor can they be carrying them, especially at a school.
Washington voters passed I-594 in 2014. A similar measure is on the ballot in Nevada this year. Oregon lawmakers passed universal background check legislation last year, and California already had it when Rodger bought his guns.
Some anti-gunners want to change current federal law that allows a delayed gun sale to proceed if a background check is not completed in 72 hours. However, that’s no guarantee anything will be accomplished. Rodger had his guns for a while before his California rampage. Conversely, Alexis attacked the Navy Yard just days after passing a Virginia background check. Some gun control proponents would not allow a completed sale at all unless the background check is passed.
The National Instant Check System (NICS) may be overwhelmed due to the higher volume on gun sales in recent years. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has supported fixes and upgrades to the system.
Here’s an opportunity for readers to weigh in. Are background checks useful and have they lived up to the hype in terms of crime prevention?
If you could scrap background checks, how would you keep guns out of the wrong hands? Is it even possible to prevent criminals and crazy people from getting firearms?
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