New Study Has Bad News For Universal Background Check Supporters
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

So-called “universal background check” laws are among the most popular gun control proposals if you look at public polling on the issue, but a new study offers further evidence that the laws don’t actually reduce crime, and are almost impossible to enforce.

The study, which was produced by anti-gun researchers at the University of California-Davis, looked at the implementation of universal background check laws in Washington State and Oregon. What they found is that in Washington State, there was no real increase in the number of background checks performed after the law took effect, while the state of Oregon saw a modest increase of 18% in the number of background checks performed.

The study authors did not offer conclusive reasons for the difference, suggesting that Washington State’s figures represented a “gradual” accommodation with the new regulations.

“The new laws may have had effects that we were unable to measure or detect,” said the study.

If you can’t measure the effects of the laws, did they really have any effect at all?

Now, this study simply looked to see if background checks increased, but the researchers didn’t examine whether or not crime increased once the background check laws were in place. Since the purpose of these UBC laws is supposedly to reduce violent crime, and not simply increase the number of background checks performed, you’d think the researchers would have taken a look at the crime stats as well as background check numbers, but they did not.

Had they done so, they would have discovered that violent crime has increased in both Washington State and Oregon since the laws have been on the books, which shouldn’t have happened if the gun control movement is correct about these laws leading to safer communities.

The study also didn’t look at prosecutions for violating Washington and Oregon’s universal background check law. As of 2017, there had been just two prosecutions in Washington, while I’ve not been able to find any evidence at all that Oregon’s universal background check law has led to anybody being arrested and prosecuted for transferring a firearm without going through an FFL to conduct a background check.

The fact is, universal background check laws are popular among the public because they sound good, but they don’t seem to reduce crime or even lead to more background checks. They’re a perfect example of what I call “soundbite solutions”; proposals that politicians can simply and easily describe, but that doesn’t do anything other than give anti-gun lawmakers a soundbite for the evening news and the ability to say they did “something”, even if it wasn’t something that works.