Thanks, But No Thanks
Folks who live outside Texas often think that my home state is so pro-gun that nothing resembling gun-control legislation has a chance of passing. I wish that were true. In Houston, where the Gun Tests editorial offices are located, Precinct Two Commissioner Adrian Garcia has requested that the Harris County Commission discuss and consider a resolution supporting so-called “universal background checks” (UBCs) on all firearm sales.
This hits pretty close to home, and I’ve even had some Gun Tests readers in gun-restrictive states asking why I oppose “universal background checks” because it sounds so “reasonable.”
It is not reasonable, in my view, to be forced to pay fees as high as $50 to $100 per transaction, complete extensive federal paperwork, and obtain government approval before selling or loaning my personally-owned firearms to immediate or extended family members, longtime friends, neighbors and co-workers, or fellow hunters, competitive shooters, and gun club members.
In their worst form, these laws mandate background checks on every transfer, sale, purchase, trade, gift, rental, and loan of a firearm between any and all individuals. All such transactions would need to be conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL) because private individuals cannot access the national instant criminal background check system (NICS). All of our Gun Tests firearms come into our various lead testers’ hands with proper paperwork, but if “universal background checks” were instituted, we couldn’t transfer firearms between testers or writers and photographers without FFL intervention for every transfer.
That’s egregious enough, but the double standard of charging law-abiding people for the privilege of sharing guns between friends and relatives and not enforcing existing laws regarding transfers is particularly galling. According to a September 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 112,090 people were turned down for a gun purchase in FY 2017, and there were only 12 prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys Offices as of June 2018. When existing background check laws are not being enforced, why are there calls for expanding those laws to cover private firearms transactions?
This local effort to install UBCs would put the most populous county in Texas on record as supporting a California-style ban on all private firearm sales, so I will vigorously oppose it. This type of law unduly burdens law-abiding citizens and would be ignored by criminals, so, thanks, but no thanks.