Background checks are the most-effective, systematic way to prevent dangerous individuals from obtaining firearms.
Forty percent of firearm sales in the U.S. happen without any check at all: current federal law requires background checks only on transactions involving federally licensed dealers (FFLs). Private sales, newspaper and casual online transactions, transfers within families and friends, etc. are unexamined. Given that 30,000 Americans die from gunfire every year and three times that number survive with lifelong crippling injuries, it makes sense to ensure that all potential gun buyers pass a minimum standard.
The average background check takes less than five minutes, more than 90% pass, and the few that don’t should be examined to identify persons who are ineligible to buy guns under federal, state or local law.
Background checks work. According to the Dept. of Justice, since the Brady Bill became law, over 1.5 million legally prohibited gun buyers have been blocked from completing their purchases at licensed gun dealers, and most of those were convicted felons. This number is confirmed by the NRA’s Richard Gardiner, director of state & legal affairs, Institute for Legislative Action, National Rifle Association.
And while some will still try to bypass a background check, having a law in place will give law enforcement the ability to prosecute those individuals.
Considering the lethal toll each year in our nation, it makes sense to impose barriers to those whose past behavior shows they’re likely to misuse firearms.
LETHAL LOGIC: EXPLODING THE MYTHS THAT PARALYZE AMERICAN GUN POLICY, Dennis A. Hennigan (Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2009), page 15.