(Article by Dr. John Lott Jr.: March 03, 2014)
Last Friday marked the 20th anniversary of the so-called Brady Law, a federal gun control in honor of James Brady, Ronald Reagan's former press secretary who was wounded in John Hinckley's assassination attempt. Since it requires background checks on all guns purchased from federally licensed firearms dealers, gun control advocates celebrated the law's purported effectiveness.I'm a great fan of Dr. Lott's moral philosophy. I have purchased (and read) his book "More Guns, Less Crime" and even if I had not already reached similar conclusions based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence, I would have been swayed by his statistical analysis based on numerous research studies on the subject of civilian firearms ownership.
The description by the Capitol newspaper The Hill was typical: "The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which took effect 20 years ago Friday, has blocked more than 2 million firearm sales, preventing 'countless' killings and other crimes, gun control advocates said at an event to mark the anniversary ... ."
On Friday, the Brady Campaign claimed that half those blocked from purchasing a gun — over 1 million — were felons. Impressive numbers. But, alas, both are gross exaggerations.
However, in this article, he brought up two points which I consider ... troubling.
The first point is this statement:
In reality, the "Brady Checks" are quite ineffective in stopping criminals from getting guns. There are actually very few hard-core criminals that are stupid enough to even try to buy a gun from a dealer that does a background check.
The second point is this statement:
The media don't understand what they are reporting. Getting denied by a Brady check is not the same thing as saying that the person is a prohibited person. The correct terminology here is that there have been more than 2 million "initial denials."Here are the issues which I find unsettling:
Take the numbers from 2010, the last year the full National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICBCS*] report was produced (the Obama administration has stopped releasing this detailed report).
So let us look at these numbers, a relatively typical year. Out of the 76,142 initial denials in the federal system only 44 individuals were prosecuted and only 13 were convicted of illegally trying to purchase a gun when they were prohibited from doing so.
- The Obama Administration has discontinued reporting results of the Instant Check System;
- Only a pitifully small number of the thousands of "initial denials' resulted in convictions.
The second issue makes me wonder whether this administration is 'rigorously' prosecuting felons whose actions (attempting to purchase a firearm) make them liable under current law. OMG, millions of transactions a year, only 44 were deemed worthy of follow-up, and of those only a paultry 13 were convicted.
But, if the numbers are correct and the procedures of Due Diligence were actually, rigorously followed ....
Does this mean the the Brady Bill actually .. works? If only to force felons to take less convenient steps to (illegally) purchase firearms?
Damn, I hate it when the Feds do something right! It gives me no talking points at all.
In the meantime ,, where Do criminals get their guns?
In February, 2013, a "Daily Caller" article by J. Scott Olmstead (supposedly reprinted from "American Hunter" magazine ... the link is no longer viable) and purportedly based on :"A 1997 Justice Department
• 39.6% of criminals obtained a gun from a friend or family memberNo, that does not add up to 100% of criminal purchases of firearms; and over 10% of the reported purchases SHOULD have been prevented by the Brady Bill. I didn't do the survey, I have no access to the raw statistical data, so I am willing to accept the incomplete data as being 'somewhat' significant in that it reflects a significant proportion of such access. For the purposes of this discussion, I'll accept the 10% or so difference as being either "statistical anomaly" or "miscellaneous sources".
• 39.2% of criminals obtained a gun on the street or from an illegal source
• 0.7% of criminals purchased a gun at a gun show
• 1% of criminals purchased a gun at a flea market
• 3.8% of criminals purchased a gun from a pawn shop
• 8.3% of criminals actually bought their guns from retail outlets
I suppose that my earlier-voiced concerns about about the JR Lott article will not soon be resolved. It may be worthwhile to mention, in passing, that local gun shows in Oregon tend to make rules to the effect that 'all transfers performed on the premises must be reported to *[NICBCS]'.
But the greatest concern is Dr. Lott's basic premise, that the "Brady Law has done little to keep guns out of criminal hands".
By his own admission, "There are actually very few hard-core criminals that are stupid enough to even try to buy a gun from a dealer that does a background check."
No matter that there are still 'ways' for criminals to obtain firearms outside the law, at least the Brady law has performed the function (if limited, not perfect, and perhaps little more than a nuisance) in that it requires criminals to make special effort to obtain a firearm.
For those of us who are law-abiding citizens, it constitutes an annoyance .. and a mild, if impersonal, slander upon our character.
For Criminals, it may be more than a minor stepping-stone. It has not proven to be an impediment on the truly evil people who want a gun, but perhaps it serves as at least a temporary stop-gap between a wanna-be and his armaments.
(Fingers crossed, tongue in cheek; full disclosure ... I don't think this works very often but who knows?)