NM Editorial Notes Big Problem In 'Universal Background Checks'

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Universal background checks are all the rage with the anti-gun left these days. Nevermind that not a single high-profile criminal appears to have gotten a firearm through a face-to-face transfer that I can recall, nor the fact that we haven’t seen a single one get a gun in such a way that couldn’t have gotten it with a standard background check.


In New Mexico, there’s been an ongoing battle between lawmakers and county sheriffs. It got to the point where the attorney general has demanded the sheriffs enforce the law as written.

However, it seems that some people–journalists, even–understand the challenges behind Attorney General Hector Balderas’ demands more than lawmakers do.

In theory, we agree with Balderas.

The Journal has traditionally held that public servants don’t get to pick and choose what laws to enforce, whether it’s guns or cooperating with immigration agents.

We even agreed with legislators that expanding background checks was a common-sense check on weapons trading. Why wouldn’t you want to background check everyone who buys a gun?

But political posturing and base pandering aside, law enforcement agencies have a point, and Balderas has a serious problem.

How are New Mexico law enforcement officers supposed to enforce this law?

If Bobby wants to sell his .22 to Susie, what’s to stop him from conducting the transaction in his own living room?

Or a more modern example: If gunluvr42 wants to sell a 9 mm to 2A4eva on Craigslist, what’s to stop the two from meeting up in the parking lot of the Española Walmart to make the trade?

Is Johnny Law supposed to start staking out Facebook groups and newspaper classifieds to make sure two private citizens don’t somehow conduct a gun sale without running background checks on each other?

It’s a fair point. However, what this misses is that a lot of those transactions will be Joe selling to his buddy Bob, thus making it even harder to enforce. After all, they won’t be going through the classifieds.


The truth of the matter is that universal background checks apply difficulties to the law-abiding while doing nothing to address the issue of black market guns. Criminals will continue to trade in stolen firearms with impunity. Others will continue to use straw buyers to obtain weapons. They will continue to get firearms and use them maliciously.

But the law-abiding will still be hamstrung by these universal background checks. They’ll still be treated as potential criminals for wanting to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

It’s pathetic.

For Balderas, it’s all elementary. He expects sheriffs to enforce this law. What he fails to note is that even if they wanted to, they can’t. They can provide background checks, sure, but stopping people from selling firearms without it isn’t a reasonable use of their time, especially since we know how few criminals get their guns in such a manner.

The problem is, despite their rhetoric, gun control isn’t really about doing things that are reasonable.

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