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In this post, I’ll explain what “universal” background checks and red flag laws are exactly (aside from what the media and politicians say), while answering the question as to whether they work to prevent crime.
Universal Background Checks
Let me be clear: background checks already exist and are being used at gun shows and Federal Firearms Licensees, as well as, for private handgun sales here in Michigan at least. So, what are “universal” background checks? Basically, it would affect how private gun sales are conducted, as well as, if an individual wanted to let their friend or family member borrow their firearm during hunting season, for example. In either case, it would require a federal NICS background check to be conducted through an FFL for private purchases and loaning firearms.
Red Flag Laws
By definition, red flag laws (properly known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders) are “presented as a common-sense proposal to disarm people who allegedly present a danger to themselves or others around them.” The closest example that I can think of is the movie Minority Report where the police utilize specialized technology to see into the future so that they can arrest and convict murderers before they commit their crime. On the surface, red flag laws sound like a good idea, right?
Do They Prevent Crime?
Do these pieces of legislation actually prevent crime? The short answer is no, it will not prevent crime because criminals don’t obey the law and the laws only affect law-abiding citizens. Furthermore, when it comes to “universal” background checks, NSSF raises some key issues as “‘Universal’ background checks on private party firearm transactions not only impose heavy regulatory burdens on federally licensed retailers, but they would also require a national gun registry, which is unlawful, have no effect on criminals, pose a confiscation risk for law-abiding gun owners and open retailers up to unprecedented liability exposure.” Personally, from my experience, I support background checks but believe a reputation card similar to PayPal would be more sufficient instead of a broken system like NICS or a policy like “universal” background checks.
Red Flag laws, on the other hand, violate the 2nd, 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution at least. Plus, there are indefinite time frames for gun confiscation as the duration of ERPOs is unclear. Think of it this way: if Neighbor A and B don’t get along, then Neighbor A can file a complaint with law enforcement where they’ll come and remove all of the firearms from B’s possession. Then, Neighbor B will have to spend a lot of money and time – in court – in order to hopefully reinstate their rights. An example of someone that was impacted by red flag laws is Chris Velasquez. You can also learn more about red flag laws here.
Even though these pieces of legislation are introduced – and are sometimes passed – with the best of intentions in mind, we must admit that evil exists and that we’re not God so we can’t fully eradicate evil. This is why I believe that personal responsibility and proper education/training as opposed to various anti-gun legislation is the answer. With that said, it’s important that we’re involved in our elections and to hold our local, state and federal representatives and senators accountable.