Even Vox Concedes Universal Background Checks Don't Work

We’ve said before that universal background checks don’t do anything. It’s not hard to see why, either. Criminals buy and sell guns all the time and completely bypass the background check system. Most of the firearms they obtain are either through theft or through a straw purchase. If you shut down one potential avenue for purchasing guns, they use others.


This isn’t rocket science.

Yet Democrats are still pushing for a federal law requiring universal background checks.

The thing is, even far-left Vox knows that this bill won’t accomplish anything.

Congressional Democrats on Tuesday introduced a bill that would move toward universal background checks — legislation that, while unlikely to make it through the Senate, signals that Democrats are putting guns at the forefront of their agenda.

But a growing body of research suggests that comprehensive background checks alone won’t do much, if anything, to combat gun violence in America.

For years, the proposal — for universal or comprehensive background checks — has been the top item on gun control advocates’ wishlist. It polls extremely well among gun owners, people who don’t own guns, Democrats, Republicans — basically everyone. And it certainly makes sense: If there’s a loophole that potentially lets criminals get guns, why not close it?

But several studies released in the past year now suggest that enacting comprehensive background checks alone would have a very limited effect on US gun deaths, whether homicides or suicides.

Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said that comprehensive background checks are a “logical first step,” especially given the high levels of public support for the policy change. But the effects of such a policy, at least at the state level, have been discouraging; when states enact comprehensive background checks alone, Webster explained, “we’ve not seen reductions in homicides and suicides follow.”


Now, Vox does go on to use this to try and push for firearms licensing law, which is a non-starter at the federal level.

While many ostensibly Second Amendment supporting people can see their way to tolerating universal background checks, requiring licensing to purchase a firearm is a bridge too far. This is a constitutionally protected right. Why should I be required to get government permission to exercise it? What’s next? A license to voice a political opinion on Facebook?

But right now, licensing is Vox’s pie-in-the-sky dream, something it wants to push Democrats to adopt, but there’s not much of a chance of that happening. More to the point, Vox has to know it.

Universal background checks face an uphill battle as it stands. While I doubt the House will have much trouble passing them, it’s unlikely the Senate will even consider it. However, it’s not impossible. Republicans with a weak hold on their seats may decide working with Democrats would be beneficial come re-election time.

Licensing, however, is a different matter. Having to have a license to purchase a firearm adds a layer of bureaucracy that many Americans aren’t going to see as necessary or desirable, no matter how many columns Vox writes about it.


It’s good of Vox to note that the Democratic bill won’t do much of anything, but I hate to break it to them, that’s going to be the best they’ll be able to manage for a while.

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