A Better Idea For Background Checks

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

What if I said that now is the perfect time for “universal background checks”? Before the crazed rage mob of anti-civil rights politicians and talking heads pop open the bubbly to celebrate a pro-freedom publication putting something like that out there, hear me out. I’m not talking about “universal background checks” as anti-gunners define the term. No, I’m thinking of a much better “universal” system.

The recent failures of Connecticut’s background check system is proof positive of a necessary revamping of the background check system we have in place. To refresh everyone’s memories, back in July Cam reported on the following:

For almost two weeks now, gun sales in Connecticut have been at an almost complete standstill, thanks to what was billed as an “upgrade” to the state’s background check and fingerprinting system. Instead, after the Connecticut State Police implemented the supposed improvements, the system appears to have crashed, and dozens of gun shops and thousands of residents have been unable to proceed with legal sales as a result.

“The software upgrade has caused severe delays in most cases and in some instances outright outages for firearm retailers to be able to run the background checks that they need to,” Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation said.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation said it’s frustrating for retailers.

“That in essence is denying the citizens of Connecticut from being able to exercise their Second Amendment right,” Oliva said.

On Wednesday, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League asked a federal judge to intervene, and Holly Sullivan, the group’s president, joined Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to discuss the delays and the possibility of court relief.

How this has any relevance is because Connecticut is one of the thirteen “full point of contact” (POC) states concerning background checks for firearm purchases. If you live in one of the non-POC states, you’d be acquainted with the simple process of heading to your local FFL, filling out your 4473, and then waiting on your NICS background check to complete within five to ten minutes. The POC states don’t rely on the federal NICS system directly, they have their own special teams of people to work out who is or is not eligible to purchase firearms. They interface with the FBI, acting as a bureaucratic middleman in the process. From the FBI’s “NICS Participation Map“:

Thirty-seven Non Point-of-Contact (POC) states/territories do not have POC status. Federal Firearm Licensees (FFL) rely on the FBI for all firearm background checks by electronically accessing the NICS.

• Non POC states/territories: Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virgin Islands, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Thirteen Full POC states have agencies acting on behalf of the NICS in a Full POC capacity. These POC states have designated agencies to conduct firearm background checks for FFLs in their respective state by electronically accessing the NICS.

• Full POC states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.

Seven states are currently sharing responsibility with the FBI by acting as partial POCs. Partial POC states have agencies designated to conduct checks for handguns and/or handgun permits, while the FBI handles the processing of the state transactions for long gun transfers.

• Four Partial POC states conduct handgun background checks and the FFLs contact the FBI for long gun background checks: Maryland, New Hampshire, Washington, and Wisconsin.
• Two Partial POC states issue handgun permits used for handgun background checks, and the FFLs contact the FBI for long gun background checks: Iowa, Nebraska, and North Carolina.

For the POC states the extra steps often equate to more burdens on gun owners. For example, in New Jersey where they have their own very special NICS arrangement, with their own highly specialized ultra intelligent state worker staff, they charge a fee for the background check. The FBI NICS is supposed to not be burdensome to people seeking to exercise their Second Amendment right and is free of charge. But not in New Jersey. There is another phrase for this and that is “poll tax”. Leave it to pinko goose-stepping jurisdictions like New Jersey to charge fees for something the federal government has been tasked to do for free, for a Constitutional right no less.

Before continuing on about the special universal background check being proposed here, there is one other situation that should be brought up concerning which states are or are not POC:

Twenty-five states have at least one Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)-qualified alternate permit, issued by a state or local agency.

• ATF-qualified alternate permit states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

It’s going to pain me to say this, because Hawaii and California are on that list above, but those 25 states can be considered enlightened (Note: CA’s qualified alternate permit is for the entertainment industry only, how’s that for playing favorites?). In short, those states issue out a permit in one manner or another, and if someone has said valid permit, no NICS is required at all when purchasing a firearm. Their permitting process and system for validation serve to meet the same goal as a NICS. Half of the country has this figured out.

What should our universal background checks include? For starters, the POC policy needs to be abolished, 100%. There is no reason for these thirteen states to function differently than the rest of the country, the process should be uniform. Beyond that, no one should EVER have to pay a fee for a background check, as is the case in New Jersey. The seven partial POC states need to get in step as well. Get every state on the same page; free background checks, somewhat instant, and through the FBI directly. The federal government actually does this fairly well.

The next portion of creating universality includes those 25 states that have qualified alternate permits. Not really, it involves the 25 states that don’t have qualified alternate permits. Every state shall issue a qualifying alternate permit to citizens that wish to obtain one. It would be state issued, just like all the other permits. Having the other half of the country enlighten themselves would make the background check system more universal and less burdensome.

This proposal should be honestly taken seriously. Maybe Representatives Dan Crenshaw or Lauren Boebert can get behind something like this? When progressive members of the anti-freedom caucus say “We need universal background checks!” we can now agree with them. Yes, the system does need to become universal. The above stated is just a fillet of how the current system is not fair to everyone, and has room for abuse/gross failure. If we’re going to have the NICS system in place and be required to comport with background checks, these ideas would better align the law with the “not be infringed” portion of the Second Amendment. Sure, it’s hard to be an absolutist and follow up with “…THIS permission system would work better.” But hey, at a minimum we can all agree things are not currently universal.