By Douglas Cutler Jr. 4/29/13
“They deserve a vote!” – President Barak Obama, 2013 State of the Union Address
“If you want to vote no, that’s your choice,” Obama exclaimed.
On April 17th, the US Senate gave the president precisely what he demanded. In fact, the senate gave him multiple votes, including one each on the three planks of Obama’s anti-gun platform: Universal Background Checks, a semi-auto rifle ban, and a ban on magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. Every one of those votes failed to pass the Democratically-controlled senate, with Diane Feinstein’s gun ban going down the hardest, 60-40. When he learned each and every one of his initiatives went down in flames, he lashed out at those who dared disagree with him.
“All that happened today was preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check,” he remarked.
To hear the president describe it, you’d think the US Senate just gave “dangerous criminals” a free pass.
He should know.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), operated by the FBI, is an electronic search of federal and state databases to determine if a firearms transaction between a federally licensed dealer and a citizen is allowed by law. If the background check (done at the time of sale) comes up empty, the sale can proceed.
NICS is often touted by gun-control advocates as being an unquestioned success in the quest to keep prohibited people from purchasing firearms. In fact, on January 16th, President Obama said, “The law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks, and over the last 14 years, that’s kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun.”
What the president is hoping you do after reading that statement is for you to holster your most dangerous and potent weapon, and it’s not a semi-automatic firearm, with or without a “shoulder thing that goes up.” It’s your mind. Here’s why.
President Obama, like most gun owners, is aware that in order to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, one must first fill out the necessary federal (ATF form 4473) and state paperwork. That paperwork is loaded with questions about the buyer’s criminal history (if any). If the buyer has no criminal history, the truthful answers won’t stop the sale. However, if the buyer does indeed have red flags that prohibit the possession of a firearm, he or she obviously cannot buy one from any party, whether through a dealer or an individual. In fact, if the buyer lies on the paperwork (a felony); NICS is expected to figure it all out and deny the sale.
From 1998 to 2011, the FBI states that a total of 141 million checks were performed on gun purchases from licensed dealers. Of that total, 899,099 transactions were denied.
This begs the question: what happened after those 900,000 attempted gun purchases by, in Mr. Obama’s own words, “wrong people?”
According to the Washington Post, in 2010, there were over six million background checks performed by NICS and the FBI. Out of that total, 72,659 gun purchases were denied.
For perspective, picture in your mind’s eye the new Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, also called Metlife Stadium. It has a seating capacity of slightly over 82,000. If every one of the NICS denials (from only 2010) had a seat, the stadium would be almost full to capacity. In other words, it’d be a little more than what we’d expect to see at a New York Jets home game this year (or, maybe a lot more).
So there we are, with almost 73,000 of the “wrong people” sitting in the stands at Giants Stadium, waiting to hear of their fate, waiting for the federal government to call them in and make them face justice.
Take a guess on the number of cases that were referred for prosecution from those 72,659 NICS denials. Don’t cheat by looking down. Take an honest guess first.
That’s right; the government turned around and let all but 62 people go home. Talk about an epic “catch and release” program, only they didn’t really even bother with the “catching” part.
Feel safer yet? We’re not done.
Apparently the practice of identifying people who are prohibited from purchasing firearms and then “calling it a day” even though many of them committed felonies by attempting to buy a gun isn’t a recent anomaly. A US Department of Justice report from July 2004 states:
“Our review also found that few NICS cases are prosecuted. During CYs 2002 and 2003, only 154 (less than 1 percent) of the 120,000 persons who were denied during the NICS background check were prosecuted. “
An average person that took the time to understand the situation might look at this entire scenario and scratch his or her head and think, “You mean we have a system in use right now that can almost instantly tell us whether a person is legally allowed to buy a gun and in virtually every single case the government looked the other way when a prohibited person attempted to buy one?”
Yes, that’s precisely the case.
When called on the carpet by the NRA in January over batting .0008 on bringing NICS denials to prosecution, Vice-President Joe Biden responded, “…we simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks the wrong box, that checks a question inaccurately.”
Wait a minute. If, in the president’s own words, NICS kept “1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun,” and lying on the federal paperwork is also a felony, why is the federal government doing essentially nothing when the bad guys are committing even more crimes by trying to get their hands on more guns?
What good is it to have a system that identifies who the “wrong people” are when the government gives them a wink and a nod and let’s them go about their business of preying on the rest of us? What’s the point of having laws requiring background checks and forms to fill out if the government literally doesn’t care to enough to follow through and actually enforce those laws? Why on earth would the president and vice-president want to expand such a system? Are they planning on looking the other way even more?
Some of you might be sitting there thinking, “It almost sounds as if the federal government is comfortable with having bad guys trying to get guns.”
Well, you might be on to something. Take, for instance, Operation Fast and Furious.
Don’t know what Fast and Furious was about? In a nutshell, it was the federal government’s brainchild to intentionally allow sales of guns from the US to the Mexican drug cartels, presumably to “track” the guns. Thousands of guns. To the Mexican cartels. Unfortunately for hundreds, maybe thousands of dead Mexicans (and at least one US Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry) who were killed by someone wielding a Fast and Furious supplied firearm, the government conveniently dropped the ball on the “tracking” part after the guns were transferred.
Anyone else see a pattern here?
One might conclude that if it weren’t for the federal government’s ineptitude or downright sabotage of the system, the problem of guns getting into the hands of the bad guys wouldn’t be much of a problem at all.
Instead, we have leaders that claim to honor our natural, God-given right to keep and bear arms, all the while piling more and more requirements on the backs of the law-abiding public. They insist that requiring NICS background checks on private transfers of guns between fathers and sons is the just the elixir we need to keep the “wrong people” from getting guns, never mind that it’s already against the law for a prohibited person to obtain a firearm from any source.
Think of it this way: the legal, gun-owning public here in America increasingly can’t exercise this civil right without first making stop after stop after stop at one toll booth after another, taking time and costing money, only to look over and see criminals zipping right by in the E-Z Pass lane. Between receiving “free passes” from the government when they’re stupid or crazy enough to buy from a licensed dealer or savvy enough to realize they’re better off stealing guns outright, why would a “dangerous criminal” or “wrong person” bother sitting in traffic for hours with the rest of us?
In Connecticut, with its stringent firearms laws even before Newtown, Adam Lanza found himself sitting at the toll booth of a 14 day waiting period to buy a gun from a licensed dealer. Not wanting to bother with the wait, he switched lanes and took the E-Z Pass route by murdering his mother and stealing her guns. No law protected her or Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th, 2012. No new law will protect the next Sandy Hook, either, because criminals will always have that E-ZPass to kill, steal, and operate outside any set of laws we can dream up.
Who knows, maybe the next mass-murderer will get lucky and score one of the federally-supplied Fast and Furious guns on the black market and not even have to bother killing someone to obtain it.
When the next tragedy occurs and the politicians all show up, looking forlorn and angry at the problem of gun violence, placing the blame on the NRA and its members, gun manufacturers, or the Easter Bunny, just remember Giants Stadium full of the “wrong people” that tried to buy a gun illegally.
And now picture President Obama and Vice-President Biden holding the doors wide open for them, making sure this is one crisis that won’t go to waste.
Douglas Cutler Jr. is a business owner and former Connecticut State Legislator from the 51st District. He is a husband, father of five children, and an NRA life member. He resides in Putnam, CT.