Bob Irwin’s Thoughts on Background Checks

Nevada’s “Universal” Background Checks

With all the controversy about the petition recently presented for Nevada to implement “universal” firearm background checks, I would like to set the record straight. I have dealt with the Brady background check system every day for 20 years.

Those who avoid the checks by buying from private parties fall into three general groups, actual criminals who are prohibited from having guns by law, people who just don’t want their names on a government gun owner list and those avoiding the expense of the taxes and fees.

The first group buys street guns from other criminals or steals them in burglaries. They do not submit the background checks because they will fail and probably get arrested. They already don’t obey laws so can we expect them to follow any new law? It is not likely this group will ever submit to the Brady law.

A far larger group are buyers who simply don’t want the government to know they own a gun. These are not criminals but honest folks who are not getting guns for use in crimes and present no danger to anyone. Several states are now comparing lists of gun owners with firearm buyer lists and sending out SWAT teams to pick up what they consider illegal guns. In the vast number of cases there is no crime other than living in a home with a prohibited person. Sometimes its 20 year old non-violent crime like writing a bad check for $200, that everyone forgot about except the government. On occasion police discover a violent felon who has a gun through a wrong computer date of birth or misspelling of his name. Other than those few, this group presents no serious danger to anyone by not submitting to a background check.

The far highest number is ordinary honest citizens. A private party does not charge sales tax or collect the Nevada Gun Tax, that $25 fee that our state requires for the background check. When the Brady law passed Congress it was ordered in the law to be free and it is for many states. However states are allowed under the rules to charge for local background checks and in Nevada does exactly that. So at buyers at gun shops pay 8 plus percent in sales tax and a flat $25 extra for the background check. A huge number vote with their wallets and shop private sales. These are not criminals but rather folks who don’t have a lot of extra money to throw away. Again, there is no data at all that shows they are committing crimes.

So how will “universal” background checks reduce crime? The Bloomberg campaign presents no correlation between background checks and crime at all. This entire campaign is based on smoke and mirrors. They make the assumption that honest citizens who avoid background checks commit crimes. There are no studies whatever that anyone who failed a background check failed to get a gun if he wanted one.  There is data that shows essentially all the mass shootings were committed by persons who could not legally possess a gun or took a firearm into a prohibited area. They were already breaking the law and then shooting at innocents. By the way, that’s a crime also! The truth is that criminals and terrorists will not obey this proposed law and it will protect absolutely no one.


Bob Irwin

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