Should Gun Owners Reconsider Defending the Federal Background Check System?

It’s been beaten like a dead horse at this point, but since the Wuhan virus breakout and subsequent lockdown state governments were implemented throughout the last year, gun sales in America have gone through the roof.

This is great news for anyone who believes in the right to bear arms. The uptick in gun sales shows that American gun culture is alive and well, above all, in anti-gun strongholds. That said, America still lives under a gun control regime and many lawful Americans have to put up with many of the unintended consequences associated with empowering a centralized bureaucracy.

Take for example the case of the National Instant Background Check System. Casual members of the Second Amendment space treat NICS as a normal facet of gun policy despite it only being fully implemented less than three decades ago. One flawed aspect of NICS that should give gun rights activists pause is the occurrence of false positives, when law-abiding citizens’ names get mixed and matched with criminals who share a similar name.

With the massive surge of gun sales taking place in America, there has naturally been an unprecedented number of transactions processed under NICS. According to the Associated Press, NICS checks blocked about twice as many gun sales in 2020 as in 2019. Roughly 42% of the denials came about as a result of prospective buyers having felony convictions.

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Per records that anti-Second Amendment group Everytown for Gun Safety was able to obtain, 300,000 people were barred from buying a firearm through NICS. In total, Tom Knighton of Bearing Arms observed that nearly 40 million NICS checks were conducted in 2020.

Gun owners will need to rethink the validity of the National Instant Background Check System in light of the aforementioned rejection numbers. The fact is that bureaucracies remain clunky and inefficient. So, it stands to reason that the more people they deal with, the more errors they will produce.

According to figures that Gun Owners of America has acquired, 95% of NICS denials turn out to be false positives. Pro-Second Amendment researchers like John Lott have explained that NICS is not much to write home about. Lott illustrated back in 2015 that NICS is not particularly effective in stopping criminals:

The number of criminals stopped by the checks is also quite small. In 2010, there were over 76,000 initial denials, but only 44 of those were deemed worthy for prosecution by the federal government and only 13 individuals were convicted. Even those 13 cases don’t tend to be the “dangerous” criminals Obama claims are being stopped. There are additional state prosecutions, but those are rare as well.

Similarly, in More Gun Less Crime, Lott explained how the establishment of NICS in the 1990s had little to no impact on crime rates, which were already in decline before NICS became fully functional in 1998.

A national background system is clearly unconstitutional to boot. Everyday Second Amendment supporters should reconsider their assumptions about NICS and work to undermine it, if not abolish it. Sure, background check systems could be devolved to the states, but a federal system is overkill and a blight on our constitutional order.